Visual & Synthwave // Kawai K5000s

The mother of all packages arrived at my home – 23 kg of additive Synth mayhem. Yet again it is Halloween, for this year’s special. In the vain of a film score such as, The Lost Boys, Bladerunner and Dune  a bit of Synthwave! Made with ubiquitous soundscaping and ambient advanced additive Synthesiser aka the Kawai K5000s from 1996.

Kawai K5000s Introduction

This happens to be one of those rather unique Synth’s that somehow time has forgot. Even though it has a quite a following, a cult following. Rightfully so, as to this today no other machine or software can make the sounds that this device can achieve. By its nature and its vast set of parameters to tweak it is something of a dark horse.

Whether it trots or gallops, it will bring you only a wild ride! Certainly a trill while reins must be held tightly when it comes to the resonates filter. The digital resonates filter has the surprise ability to take off. So ensure to hold on tightly and tweak lightly.  The keyboard of the Kawai K5000s naturally features aftertouch but this isn’t where it excels. It’s the macro controls and user assignable controls for the patch that sauces things up. On live performance it allows the user to take a patch and bring the listener on a tonal rollercoaster into oblivion and back again.

Macro control knobs and User assignable Knobs - Kawai K5000s
Macro control knobs and User assignable Knobs – Kawai K5000s

Fun facts about the Kawai K5000s

  1. Launched in 1996 at for £1399 GBP and discontinued in mid 1999. There were three models the K5000s with macro knobs, the rack version K5000r and K5000w workstation.
  2. One of the very few synths to use additive synthesis.
  3. Mathematical powerhouse which supposedly includes 5 RISC processors without including the effect chips.
  4. Patches can have thousands of parameters to tweak and play with.
  5. One of the stand out items on this synth has to be the arpeggiator. It’s programmable, and you can store multiple user patches  The arpeggios are outputed on the MIDI to other devices and can be synced to external MIDI clock.
  6. There are few if any alternatives to Kawai K5000 in terms of software or hardware. Some plugins such as VirSyn CUBE2, Morphine , Loom and Alchemy (which is included in Apple Logic). I came across another one from UVI too.
  7. The Synergy synth was another additive synthesiser which was used by Wendy Carlos



Side note: Long before it was included in Logic, Alchemy started life as an additive resynthesiser from Camel Audio called Cameleon 5000. Inspired at least in part by Kawai’s synth (the clue’s in the name), it quickly grew and expanded into something much more complex, with a vast sound library of interesting sounds, earning a dedicated user base in the process.



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