Synth Site: Kawai: K1 Synthesizer: User reviews Add review
Average rating: 3.7 out of 5
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Auris a hobbyist user from Canada writes:
I bought this for cheep as a quick G.A.S. fix. I find the editing to be a bit of a pain. The wave manual helps. I bought it after hearing some samples on the net of big breathy ambient pads and textures. I've been in the market for some sort of additive synth but since playing with a friends k5000 I haven't really touched the K1. There is great potential for some good expressive sounds the 8-bit-ness adds a fairly substantial amount of noise to the synth but i find that is what gives the synth its breathy sound. Ooodles of digital character. In short its a great little synth for you programmers out there but if you're looking for depth look at the real additive synths by Kawai such as the K5000.

Rating: 2 out of 5 posted Saturday-Feb-09-2008 at 09:56
Jim a part-time user from USA(Texas) writes:
I bought my Kawai K1 in 1989 after pricing many synths at that time. It seemed to have the most bang for the buck in 1989. The only problem was(and still is), is that it is only 8-bit technology. Hence so many sad reviews on the sounds, and deservedly so since there were many 16-bit synths to choose from at the time. Add to that no built in effects. However, in 2007, I can honestly say that in some ways this was the best synthesizer ever constructed anywhere! It was built like a tank, to last practically forever. I have many newer generation rack synths from other manufacturers that obey their commands from: a Kawai K1. A velocity and aftertouch controller that has stood the test of 17 years of pounding. The built in battery has never been replaced yet all is well. I would say Kawai is to be commended for building such an indestructable keyboard. It has the most user-freindly OS ever devised. Patches can be constructed from 1 to 4 samples and edited with ease. Multi-patches(made from 2 or more single patches) can easily be put together for multi-timbral sequencing on 16 midi channels. One "cheezy" feature tho: In a multi patch, panning can only be assigned R/L/Center. Which is ok if you only want to use 4 sounds in your sequence, and by then you've probably run out of polyphany. When run thru a mixer with reverb this synth was best at maybe one or two pianos with all 4 waves(samples) in use, hence lower polyphany. The strings were good, but also only with external reverb. Some FX patches were indiginous only to this synth and are still very interesting. Although the sounds are now obsolete, I still will give this unit 5 stars. This is one of those RARE products, be it a car or a synth, that the manufacturer put real pride into. I have 21st century rack-mounts being controlled by this thing, I just don't use its audio out jacks anymore. But sometimes......when I just don't want to power up everything.....I plug my headphones into the back of this indestructable and immortal tank of a keyboard, and enjoy it's simple but pleasing sounds. Once again: it gets a rating of 5 because of it's sheer power and "will to survive". This is the toughest synth ever made bar none.

Rating: 5 out of 5 posted Thursday-Sep-27-2007 at 02:58
rieu a hobbyist user writes:
when i bought it, i thought i made a mistake. Sounds were awful. But when i learned how to program this synth, everything was ok.. and still is. It's a good synth. But factory sounds are mainly crappy, and programming takes some time. But if you will work on it, it can be even your main synth. Aha, sometimes, even after the tunning some presets are ok only on 2-3 octaves. But it's still a good synth. Have its own soul.

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Friday-Jun-22-2007 at 13:59
nev a hobbyist user from UK writes:
The K1 is a specialist tool, really; it's definitely not a general-purpose synth so if you can only afford one synth, don't get one! Its forte is cross-modulation. Bear in mind this is a late-80s digital sample-and-synthesis machine so its basic tones are pretty limited. However, the card up the K1's sleeve is cross-modulation (or AM in Kawai-speak). This means that voice 2 can modulate voice 1, and voice 4 can modulate voice 3. The results can be a bit unpredicatable, but that's part of the fun. You tried altering a patch but it's gone bland and you're losing the will to live - but cross-modulate what you've got, start randomly selecting waveforms and hey presto, you're in weird noise territory!

I've managed had my K1 a few weeks, and I've managed to coax some nice PPG-type noises out of it, sounds that will really cut through a mix.

If you want an all-round synth with convincing bread-and-butter sounds, get something a bit more recent because the K1's presets are, with one or two honourable exceptions like 'Aah', woeful. (Then again, you have to compare like with like - how many other synths of this era can do convincing emulations?)

Talking of programming, although I'm no fan of menu-driven systems the K1 is the easiest and most intuitive one I've seen - perhaps because there aren't hundreds of parameters to alter.

The other plus point going for the K1 is the keyboard, which has velocity and aftertouch. You can pick up a K1 in good nick on eBay for comfortably under £100 ($200), which makes this a pretty cost-effective controller!

I would have given the K1 a rating of 5, but I don't like external power supplies, and my fingers can't get comfortable with the patch selection system!

Rating: 3 out of 5 posted Tuesday-Jun-05-2007 at 20:36
Twon a professional user from Georgia usa writes:
The K1 was the first keyboard I ever purchased. 18 years later '06 I gave my k1 to my 9 yr old. It still works with all the original sounds. still looks new. Yes, some sounds are chessy but some good effect sound and a good practice horse for up and coming players. I even played gigs with this in college. I am proud to say I kept it was able to pass it down. By the time my son is 18 he'll out play me....melodic

Rating: 0 out of 5 posted Monday-Jan-02-2006 at 17:47
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