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Kawai K3M




Kawai k3 synthesizer
audio demo Country: JAPAN
Weight: 5,5 Kg
Dimensions: 482 (w) x 323 (d) x 90 (h) mm
audio demo trend price : 300€
manual schematics demo video comments

Kawai K3M
Synthesizer Module (1986)

Module rackmount edition of the Kawai K3 hybrid analog-digital synthesizer: a mix of PCM wavetable and additive synthesis.
synthesizer k3m logo

display editing

info RACKMOUNT 2 rack units.
Main panel features a segment display and 63 buttons.

Back panel terminal connectors:
- Midi interface
- stereo out
- release & damper footswitch input
- program change increase footswitch input

Front panel terminal connectors:
- headphones
- cartridge slot.



edit TECH a 8-bits CPU (labeled CPU-06) manages up to 6 voices polyphony.
A voice is composed by 2 DCO at 16' to 4' octaves with individual gain mix, pitch and balancing.

each oscillator DCO can be assigned to a 2 kinds of synthesis between:
- wavetable subtractive PCM (1)
- digital additive (2).


WAVETABLE the internal 32 Kb ROM (check SP37 + SP38 EPROM) contains 32 (+1 noise ) short cycled waves coded at 8-bits.

The PCM are organized in 2 groups:
- PCM mathematically generated waves square, sinewave and sawtooth.
- PCM acoustic transients piano, brass, organ, bell, guitar, plucked, string, trumpet, guitar, slap, hammered tine, metallic wave, digital harmonic, pipe, glocken, harpsichord and sax.
FULL wavetable list HERE.


kawai k3 wave
first k3 wave on oscilloscope

ADDITIVE process sums sinewavel waveforms at variable intensities from 32 harmonics out of 128 available.


There are 31 intensity levels for each selected harmonic, this process is defined step by step then created harmonics combination is saved to a specfic memory slot.



it is possible to assign the DCO in 2 performance modes:
- split: 2 sounds are assigned on the keyboard
- unison: stacks voices with monophonic mode and portamento (but no detune)
The aftertouch can be individually assigned to 3 parameters each with 15 levels:
- balance: determines the relationship between pressure and mix balance between OSC1 and OSC2
- VCF: between pressure and filter cutoff
- VCA: between pressure and amplitude.



filter FILTER analog resonant filter is multimode:
- lowpass at 4 poles based on famous chip SSM 2044
- highpass .
VCF keyscale determines the relationship between keyboard scale and cutoff.

ssm 2044 filter

lfo LFO
a single delayed modulator and 3 destinations:
- LFO to pitch
- LFO to filter
- LFO to amplitude.
The modulator features 5 shapes: triangle, sawtooth, square, random and random chromatic (which is more linear than classic random).


adsr ENVELOPE 2 scaled analog EGs based on BA6110 chip:
- EG amplitude 4-segments ADSR
- EG filter 4-segments ADSR.
VCA Keyscale function determines relationship between keyboard scale and amplitude.

k3m tech


fx EFFECT stereo chorus based on Panasonic BBD MN3009 + MN 3011 generate different chorus effects and a kind of very short timed simulated delay. This particolar chorus can be found also many famous Roland synthesizers e.g Jx3p, Alpha Juno, Juno 106 ...

kawai k3m

memory MEMORY
- 50 RAM slots
RAM doubled if cartridge model Kawai RC-2 is present, patch and additive combinations can be also saved to sysex Midi Dump. Battery replacement involves a 3V cr2032is soldered to the mainboard.

kawai k3 battery replacement


fx EDIT programming on display is pretty annoying, fortunately there are many external softwares:
- Midiquest / Soundquest
- caged for Atari ST (LINK) (PIC)
- Kawai K3 table editor for atari 400/800XL (PIC)
- K3 / K3M programmer for Lemur system (LINK)
- Ctrlr K3 template (LINK)
or hardware sysex controllers with template like:
- Behringer BCR 2000 (VIDEO)
- Kenton Freak (LINK)
- stereo ping (LINK)

k3 k3m editor



kawai k3 synthesizer

K3 keyboard version: 61 key with velocity and aftertouch- neat jog wheel for sound tweaking, sadly missing on module.



effet VST PLUGIN / SAMPLED VERSION there is no offical PLUGIN version.
Some similar programs are available:

  name price demo
cobalt vst

Cobalt VST

Emulation of K3m but also:
-Korg DW-8000
- Ensoniq ESQ1

-Ensoniq SQ8L

No longer officially available video



demo Bass VCF
demo sample and hold filter
demo organic deep (+delay)
demo atmosphere (+reverb)
demo bass drum line
demo raw pad (+reverb)
demo sweep classic (+reverb)
demo raw raw lfo
demo digital bell sound (+delay)
demo cycle wavetable1
demo cycle wavetable2 (+phaser)
demo bass line acoustic (+external drums)
demo atmosphere II (+reverb)
demo cycle 3
demo VCF cutoff
demo wave cycle + cutoff
demo pad + phaser
demo Tb303 :)


Kawai K3m User Presets kawai k3m seq K3m Synthesizer Module demonstration
User Presets seq Module demonstration


k3m rack







K3 Reset Procedure

Turn off protection, switch on the machine pressing keys "DO" "DO#" and "RE"



k3 banner

original scan
manual original Brochure


original scan
manual original Brochure


original scan
manual original Brochure


original scan
manual original Brochure

k3 banner


If you are interested into additive synthesis, you should definitely check out
Kawai k5000S


Kawai K3M for sale

Kawai K3M for sale


k3 banner




solid solid


REVIEW "All good filters for raw digital analog pads and resonant sweeps.
The machine is pretty limited, features a machine-like interface but can be a surprise especially at good price. "

manual manual
- filters -internal PCM / quality
- mix additive/PCM
-display / edit
  - quantised values

"The K3 is truly outstanding value combining advanced microelectronics technology, innovative performance features, and superior sound quality. " K3m manual
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all snapshots, sounds, texts copyright Polynominal.com / Eric Pochesci

polynominal.com is not associated or affiliated with KAWAI in any manner.


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Kawai k3m 3.5 out of 5 based on 31 ratings. price €300