Kawai K5000 Resources
All sounds use the Additive sound features, meaning that they are suitable for the A- and D-Banks of the Kawai K5000 series. The sound samples are in MP3 format.
Update: all files are now available via the box.net widget in the right column. For each of my patches there is a MP3 sound sample, and the KA1 patch file that you save to a floppy disk, or load up over MIDI.
The Mellotron was a UK development of the Chamberlin, the first keyboard instrument that let the user play real string sounds. When you pressed a key, a tape was drawn over a tape head, playing back a sound – one tape per key. Three sounds were available per tape set, since each tape had three tracks, and additional tape sets were available. Changing tape sets was not something to be attempted on stage, however, and many players found the factory set to be enough for most purposes.
The strings were the most popular sound, made so by the Moody Blues, Yes, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, and numerous others. The sound has popped up in more current contexts, including the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ BloodSugarSexMagic, and it’s now being manufactured again, in limited quantities.
The electro-mechanical nature of the Mellotron meant that the sound could never be pristine, especially when it was taken on the road. The tapes would wear and stretch, the motor was sensitive to the electrical supply, and the built-in pre-amplifier was hardly hi-fi. The result was oddly effective and evocative (to a point), and has been welcomed into modern recording studios for its organic character.
My attempts at recreating the classic Mellotron string sound for the Kawai K5000 series synthesisers are the files named MelStr?.KA1 in the box.net widget to the right of the screen. See analysis of real sounds for more details on the process behind these sounds.
- orcstr1.ka1 – a quiet “orchestral strings” pad sound, will work well in a mix.
- wurli1.ka1 – an attempt at the Wurlitzer Electric Piano, a sound made famous on Supertramp’s The Logical Song.
- kismet.ka1 – the radio station at the end of the world. Try enabling slow portamento for effect, as demonstrated halfway through the sample.
All K5000-related files are now in a single download: link.
loading k5000 sounds
The standard way of loading sounds in to the K5000 is by saving them to a floppy disc, transferring them to the K5000, and loading them there. These days, with floppy drives and discs becoming rarer, MIDI may be the only available method. The following assumes that you have a MIDI interface installed, configured, cabled and communicating with the K5000.
If you have a working copy of eMagic SoundDiver, the editor utility supplied with the K5000. You can get a PC-only copy of SoundDiver for K5000 from this web page. It has its own patch library system, and can push or pull whole banks to and from the K5000 in one move.
However, SoundDiver can not read Kawai’s KA1 and KAA file formats, and only works with MIDI SysEx files labeled *.SYX. This is the standard MIDI format for transferring data specific to a particular device such as a K5000 synth – as opposed to MIDI traffic that all devices should handle. Help is at hand:
- If you have K5000 patches in a Bank file (KAA), there is a kaatoka1 utility that splits a bank file in to individual KA1 patch files.To convert KA1 patch files to SYX files for single patches, use Stoffel’s ka1tosyx utility.
- After that, you can load them in to SoundDiver. You can also use a standard MIDI SysEx utility such as MIDI-OX, or even a MIDI sequencer (if it supports SysEx dumps).
- Mac users: see here for Mac versions of the above utilities. You obviously can’t use SoundDiver (unless you have a virtual Windows installation?), so you’ll need to use a sequencer or a SysEx utility such as the Snoize SysEx Librarian.
k5000 sound analysis
Now on its own page, here.