Kenji's K5000 Message Board Digest - Overview K5000 Resources - Overview
The Eat at Joe's Kawai K5000 Message Board Digest
K5000 Overview


Overview on K5000 systhesys
 Monday, 05-Jan-98 14:03:12

      Message: writes:

      Just picked up a K5000R. I was knocked over by the sounds it made it the store.
      I became quickly depressed when I read the user Manual. The Manual
      seems like a decent reference. What I am looking for is an overview on the
      the beast works. This seems to be a very complex machine. I bought it for it's
      sonic potential. It's been fun twiddling presets but I really would like to
      understand how this works. By the level of some of the messages here it seems that
      there are some very sharp K5000 users here. Please point me in the right
      direction with respect to this mysterious machine. Thanks--- Ken 


Re: Overview on K5000 systhesys
Monday, 05-Jan-98 16:18:33 writes:

     The architecture itself isn't all that complicated once you figure it all out in
     the first place. The problem is that additive synthesis is so deeply rooted in
     audio theory, that you really can't tell what the manual is even talking about if
     you don't know some of the basics. I can't think of a good primer on sound theory,
     but here's a brief overview of the K5000:

     You have six sources (six "oscillators") per patch. Each of these can be either
     additive synthesis or PCM sounds. PCM sounds are just looped (or unlooped) samples,
     and much less powerful than the additive engine.

     Now for additive...

     Every sound you hear is comprised of several different frequencies. Most musical
     sounds you hear are comprised of a fundamental (the note you hear), and overtones
     (which are other, higher notes that are part of the sound). The reason why you
     hear only one pitch instead of all of the different tones making up the sound is
     that usually the fundamental tone is louder than the overtones, and also because
     your brain is designed to automatically locate the fundamental (usually the lowest
     tone in the series). Anyway, sounds are different from one another in large part
     due to different overtones in a sound.

     Sorry if you already know all of this, but this relates to the K5000 in that with
     the K5000 you have independent control over each of the overtones in a note.
     This makes the K5000 much more powerful than other synthesizers in some respects.

     That's what all of that ADD stuff is. You can set values (and volume envelopes)
     for each of the overtones. This represents a bottom up approach to sound
     creation (adding componants) - as opposed to traditional synthesis, which starts
     with all of the harmonics and then filters them out. Of course you can use the
     traditional filter and resonance on the K5000 to do the topdown approach too,
     so really you're squeezing something out in between when you make sounds
     on the K5000. This different style of synthesis explains why the K5000 can make
     sounds that you just don't hear on any other synth.

     The formant filter acts as powerful kind of EQ filter. You can set EQ settings
     for your sound, and then have those EQ settings evolve over time. It's kind of
     like a graphic EQ, but it has 127 bands instead of the usual 6 or so, and you
     can also create envelopes for each frequency.

     If you just want to get started quickly, you can just copy additive (and formant
     filter) settings from other patches. Some of them are saw waves (the standard
     traditional wave form). They will include every overtone and gradually decrease
     in volume toward the higher overtones.

     You can also play with the knobs while you are editing the patch and then save
     the patch. It will save changes you make with the patch (be
     careful though if you aren't trying to do this).

     In any case, this is a very mathematical instrument, which is why we wanted to
     get mathematical specifics regarding the values of all the settings from Kawai.

     Is that the info you wanted or is there something else?

     Maybe someone else can give their overview as well, or fill in some of my blanks.
     I see the message board digest turning into a FAQ in the near future....



Re: Overview on K5000 systhesys
Monday, 05-Jan-98 16:30:23 writes:

     Also go here for a good, more in-depth overview (I was just trying to explain what
     additive synthesis and the formant filter were).



Re: Overview on K5000 systhesys
Wednesday, 07-Jan-98 18:14:37 writes:

     I haven't found any books yet that are directly on the subject of additive
     synthesis. I've ordered some books on the basics of sound and music which may be
     helpful; I'll post anything good.

     There's some interesting stuff about the harmonic series in the encyclopedia,
     under "tuning." People debated for centuries what the right way to tune a piano
     would be. The problems arise from the fact that the harmonic series doesn't quite
     fit into even divisions of notes and scales. Anyway, there is some useful
     discussion of the harmonic series there.

     Also look under "Fourier". Additive systhesis is sometimes called Fourier systhesis
     because it is based in part on the mathematics he discovered. Also "Pythagoras",
     who discovered the harmonic series in ~500 B.C.

     Hmm, maybe I'll write a book . . . 


I love this board.....questions
 Friday, 09-Jan-98 02:00:06

      Message: writes:

      this is a great board. i am considering doing a trade for a k5000r and upon
      reading all the rave reviews and detailed desriptions about the prgramming , a
      certain keyboard comes to mind and it was alot less inexpensive. can you say
      casio cv-101? i dont know if this has been brought up before but i dont even
      own a k5 yet,bu the vast and complex programming style sounds very reminiscent
      of the cv-101 . is this anything like that baby? i was offered an esq-1 and i
      almost bought it but after i found out that it was all built-in samples that
      you worked with i decided to pass. then i found out the kawai is the same thing. do
      the preset samples limit your sound creativity? thanks for the great info.!!

      ps- is the rack version very fiddily to work with? that's one thing i hate is
      pushing alot of menu buttons. it can drive you mad! cheers....



Re: I love this board.....questions
Friday, 09-Jan-98 05:42:31 writes:

     Really the samples were just kind of tacked on as an afterthought to add a
     little more sonic power to the K5000. Although I played with them a little bit too
     much when I first started (because they were easy), now I would usually only
     use them for:

     1 - Noise (white noise etc...)
     2 - Percussion

     Most K5000 programming is more powerful if it is done with additive synthesis,
     which has nothing at all to do with samples. There's a description of additive
     synthesis earlier on this board.

     Are you talking about the CZ-101? The CZ-101 was just standard subtractive
     synthesis. I have one, and while I do have a warm fuzzy affection for my little
     CZ-101 (especially since you can get them for around $80 US), it has almost
     nothing in common with the K5000.

     Maybe you mean the VZ-101. This used "interactive phase distortion" synthesis.
     This was a unique synthesis that, from what I can gather, had a bit in
     common with FM/AM synthesis, but still was not at all additive. You can probably
     crank some really bizarre noises out of one of these, but I've never heard
     one... (someone correct me about this synth - because I'm probably wrong :)

     Additive synthesis is a rare technique in the music world. It's possible that
     there have been less than a dozen different synths commercially produced using this
     method (unless you include drawbar organs - which really don't count).

     There is a little (almost five year old!) discussion of older additive synths
     archived here:



Re: I love this board.....questions
Friday, 09-Jan-98 11:36:23 writes:

     Like Kenji said, the samples are just to supplement the additive engines, mostly
     by providing attack and noise sounds. You might want to read up on additive
     synthesis before you dive in. The controls are definitely not fiddly if you
     use the supplied software and program it from your computer. The software lays out
     the architecture of the unit right in front of you. 


SOFT and LOUD sets
 Sunday, 11-Jan-98 17:57:06

      Message: writes:

      I will be buying a K5000R soon, but I have
      bought a K5000W manual to learn the synth.
      One thing that the manual is VERY fuzzy
      on is the LOUD and SOFT sets in the ADDITIVE source. Does this mean that you
      can have TWO sets of values for EACH of
      the 64 Harmonics which are switched by
      velocity. OR does it mean that SOME Harmonics play at High velocity and the rest
      play at Low velocity. Someone PLEASE
      clarify!!!!! The first example would be WAY
      COOL!!!! But Kawai has already thrown me
      a curve by given the the K5000R a "piss-poor"
      4-Part Multi-timbral. So I don't want to get my
      hopes up ahead of time :) ADDITIVE RULES!!

      Ivan McKinney 


Re: SOFT and LOUD sets
Wednesday, 14-Jan-98 01:09:09 writes:

     The manual claims velocity switching, so I tested it out to make sure. Here's what
     I did:

     I set the "soft" harmonic set to play the first harmonic (the fundamental) and 
     the fifth harmonics (two octaves and a third above the fundamental). I set the
     "loud" harmonic set to play the second harmonic only (an octave above the

     I then turned on the velocity switching for the ADD sets and it worked 100% as
     expected. I hit the key softly and I heard the fundamental with the fifth
     harmonic above it. As I hit the key harder and harder, those two harmonics became
     more and more quiet as the octave crept in, until at full velocity, I could
     only hear the octave. 

     The K5000 then also lets you choose between 12 different velocity curves so that
     you can have different response patterns.

     The short answer?

     -Yes, the K5000 has velocity switching (really it's cross-fading, not switching
      - which is much better of course anyway) between two completely different
     harmonic sets.

     Yummy yummy (another feature I haven't played with yet - just like that excellent
     morphing feature which has not been touched yet)! Too many toys, too little



Formant n' Macro Q
Tuesday, 17-Feb-98 06:03:02 writes:

     Hello K5000 fanatics. I love the synth... manual is desperate though (sigz).

     I have two questions which I hope someone won't mind answering. They might be in
     the manual, but I certainly didn't get a clear answer from it.

     i) how do you save the current macro settings to your patch? Very useful so that
     you don't need to send all 16 knobs at the begining of every song via midi. I
     read that someone knew how to do this. If I juSt choose "write" it never saves
     the macro's.

     ii) anyone care to explain what the formant filter REALLY does? It just isn't
     ennough to twist the knob and get an interseting peep. Math won't scare me... the
     more technical the better. Didn't find any explanation in the manual for this
     one either...


     I'm very greateful for this site... it has been a few months that I've been
     looking for a useful place for the K5000. My warmest greetings to you all.

     Plush Studios.


Re: Formant n' Macro Q
Tuesday, 17-Feb-98 16:58:59 writes:


     2. You can look at the formant filter either as a customizable EQ that changes
     over time, or as a shapeable VCF type filter, but in the end these both mean
     pretty much the same thing. Subtractive synths (most synths that use the
     VCO/VCF/VCA architecture are subtractive) typically have some or all of the
     following filters: lowpass, highpass, bandpass, etc... Combined with resonance,
     which creates a peak at the cutoff point, this process creates a shape for the
     filter dependant on the settings. This, combined with the different waveforms
     you can select (which are defined by the differences in their harmonic series' -
     which means that once again the K5000 can achieve a much greater range by using
     additive synthesis, which lets you custom shape all of the harmonics)
     generates the timbre characteristic of a subtractive synthesis sound (not the
     K5000). With formant filter you can create a much larger number of different
     shapes to filter your tone by creating your own filter shape in the editor.
     Furthermore, not only can you apply an envelope to the filter bias (the filter
     frequency), as in subtractive synthesis, but you can also apply envelopes to all
     of the different frequency bands. It's really pretty amazing - and that's why the
     K5000 is so cool. With additive synthesis and the formant filter it should be
     able to do everything subtractive does, plus a whole lot more!

     For one given note, you could also create a patch that sounds like it's filtered
     without using any filters at all - subtractive or formant. You would do this by
     editing each of the harmonics so that they get louder and quieter at the right
     times (I think Jens' emulation of pulse width modulation does just that - it's
     really neato). This of course would be alot of work, which is why the envelopes
     for individual harmonics aren't used as much as they could be.

     What makes the formant filter process different from this harmonic shaping process
     is the fact that it generates it's frequency shape from specific frequency
     values (which are listed in a table in the manual - and can be modified and
     modulated with the "bias" control) as opposed to the additive process, which
     generates it's frequency shape from the harmonics of the note, which are relative
     to the fundamental tone (which in an ideal - and typical - situation is the note
     you press on the keyboard).

     What all of this means is that on the K5000S you have three different ways to
     create filtering effects (not including LFO's) - as opposed to the one envelope
     you usually get with subtractive synthesis. You could generate some incredibly
     complicated envelopes with this machine, because these can all be running
     (adding and subtracting form each other) simultaneously for an overall effect.
     I could be wrong, but it seems that there has yet to be written a patch that takes
     full advantage of *everything* the K5000 can do - it would just be such a large
     amount of work and also really hard to keep control of everything when it gets
     so complicated.

     Hope all of my little parenthesis and ramblings didn't confuse anyone, but I'm
     easily sidetracked.