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Kawai K3



Kawai k3 synthesizer
audio demo Country: JAPAN
Weight: 15 Kg
Dimensions: 964 (w) x 373 (h) x 118 (d) mm
audio demo trend price : 300€
manual schematics demo video comments
Kawai K3 (1986)
Digital Wave Memory Synthesizer

Hybrid synthesizer based on additive synthesis mixed with digital wavetable and true analog VCA and VCF circuits.


info KEYBOARD 61 velocity keys with aftertouch.
Main panel features an alphanumeric display, 61 buttons and 1 jog wheel encoder which is also nice for real-time parameters tweak.

Back panel terminal connectors:
- main outputs (impedance switch high/low)
- headphones
- cartridge data slot
- Midi interface, double
- footswitch input for damper
- footswitch input for program patch up.



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
(above) first k3 wave on vacuum tube 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.

parameter harmonix


it is possible to assign the 6 voice polyphony in 2 performance modes:
- split: 2 sounds are assigned
- unison: stacks voices with monophonic mode and portamento (but no possible 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.

kawai k3

filter FILTER
analog resonant filter is multimode:
- lowpass at 4 poles based on famous chip SSM 2044
- static 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, saw, square, random and random chromatic (which is more linear than classic random).


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.

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 k3



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 : a 3V cr2032is soldered to the mainboard.

kawai k3 battery replacement

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

k3 k3m editor



kawai k3m

k3m rackmount - same without keyboard, lacks handy data wheel.




effet VST PLUGIN / SAMPLED VERSION there are some free and commercial samples set:

  name price demo
cobalt vst

Cobalt VST

Emulation of K3 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 K3 Patches Demo Kawai K3 & microKorg kawai k3m seq
Patches Demo with microKorg Synthesizer Module demonstration




Company: Kawai
Model: K3
Class: synthesizer
Keyboard: 61 keys
Dates: 1986
Price: 300€
Synthesis: hybrid
Polyphony: 6
Oscillator: 2 DCO
Filter: analog LPF /HPF
LFO: 1
Memory: 50 slots
Demo: 6







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 Advert


original scan
manual original Brochure


original scan
manual original Brochure


k3 banner


Kawai K3 for sale

Kawai K3 for sale


k3 banner


edit jog synthesizer k3 logo Os machine kawai 6p11

solid solid


REVIEW "Nice synth with raw digital sound with smooth SSM filters."

manual manual
- filters -internal PCM / quality
-raw sound
- edit interface
  - quantised values

"The K3 is truly outstanding value combining advanced microelectronics technology, innovative performance features, and superior sound quality. " K3 manual


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all snapshots, sounds, texts copyright Polynominal.com / Eric Pochesci

polynominal.com is not associated or affiliated with KAWAiin any manner.


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kawai k3 3.5 out of 5 based on 32 ratings. price €300