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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 demo 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 signal output (impedance switch high/low)
- headphones
- cartridge data slot
- Midi interface
- 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:

k3m - wavetable subtractive PCM

- digital additive

the internal 32 Kb ROM (check SP37 + SP38 EPROM) contains 32 (+1 noise ) short cycled waves coded at 8-bits. The PCM is organized in 2 groups (FULL wavetable list HERE) :

kawai k3 wave - PCM mathematically generated waves e.g square, sinewave and sawtooth.

- PCM acoustic transients e.g piano, brass, organ, bell, guitar, plucked, string, trumpet, guitar, slap, hammered tine, metallic wave, digital harmonic, pipe, glocken, harpsichord and sax.

demo Hear all waves

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

parameter harmonix filter 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 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.
The VCF keyscale determines the relationship between keyboard scale and filter cutoff.

- lowpass at 4 poles based on famous chip SSM 2044

- static highpass.

demo Hear filter

ssm 2044 filter

lfo LFO
a single delayed modulator (shapes: triangle, saw, square, random and random chromatic - which is more linear than classic random) and 3 destinations:


- LFO to pitch

- LFO to filter

- LFO to amplitude

demo Hear LFO S&H

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.

kawai k3 fx Same chorus IC can be found also many famous Roland synthesizers e.g Jx3p, Alpha Juno, Juno 106 ...

memory MEMORY:

kawai k3 battery replacement

- 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.

memory Battery replacement : a 3V cr2032is soldered to the mainboard.


programming on display is pretty annoying, fortunately there are 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:

cobalt vst

Cobalt VST

is an Emulation of K3 but also:

-Korg DW-8000
- Ensoniq ESQ1
-Ensoniq SQ8L

No longer officially available



original scan

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Company: Kawai
Model: K3
Class: synthesizer
Keyboard: 61 keys
Dates: 1986
Display: segment
Synthesis: hybrid
Polyphony: 6 voices
Oscillator: 2 DCO
Filter: analog LPF + HPF
LFO: 1 modulator
Envelope: 2 EGs
Effect: chorus BBD
Memory: 50 slots
Storage: Ram card RC2
IC: SSM2044 ; BA6110



demo 4 layers mix
demo 2 synth mix
demo 3 layers mix
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 atmosphere II (+reverb)
demo atmosphere
demo feedback variation
demo dark sequence
demo electro arpegggio
demo church spirituality FM
demo cycle wavetable1
demo cycle wavetable2 (+phaser)
demo bass line acoustic (+external drums)
demo Tb303 :)
demo cycle 3
demo VCF cutoff
demo wave cycle + cutoff
demo pad + phaser
demo all internal waves

demohave some k3





- more demo
-free sample set


K3 Reset Procedure

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

edit Sample SHOP
edit Report Error


Kawai K3 for sale

Kawai K3 for sale



edit jog synthesizer k3 logo Os machine kawai 6p11

solid solid


REVIEW "LOFI synth with raw digital sound and smooth SSM filters."

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

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


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Kawai k3 Kawai k3
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