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This Week’s Preset: TimeLine – “Bokeh Bells”

You’ll never believe what I found sitting on the side of the road in my neighborhood a few months back. This fully operational Kawai K5 digital synth! So I took it home and fired it up. I didn’t know much about the K5, so I took a quick look at Vintage Synth Explorer. They say:

“The K5 is a digital synthesizer that employs additive synthesis harmonic-building as its method of sound creation. Basically, you can vary up to 126 harmonic levels generated by a sine wave via a bar-graph type graphic display to create, shape and change your sound. De-tuning can also be used to thicken or augment sounds too. In addition, each harmonic has an independent choice of four 6-stage envelopes for further tweaking and shaping.”

The K5 debuted 1987, and seems to have it’s own distinctive sound that will certainly remind you of the late 80s. It doesn’t look like the K5 has much of a following, but several fans online describe this synth as “underrated”. I haven’t had enough time with it to fully formulate an opinion, but I will say this—you can create some unique sounds with this thing.

I decided to plug the Kawai into my trusty Strymon TimeLine delay and see if I could come up with a few song ideas for my new album. I came across a percussive, bell-like patch, which was split with a bass sound on the lower keys. On it’s own the sound was a bit thin, so I immediately thought to beef it up with TimeLine’s dTape machine. The dTape machine delivers the complete experience of sought-after sliding-head tape echo machines, with every attribute faithfully recreated.

On the dTape machine, TimeLine’s four bottom knobs control the following:

Filter knob – controls Tape Age
Grit knob – controls Tape Bias
Speed knob – controls Tape Crinkle
Depth knob – controls Wow & Flutter

I wanted to go for the sound and feel of a very old tape echo machine with worn out and damaged tape. I set the Wow & Flutter to maximum, the Tape Crinkle to near maximum, and the Tape Age to about 2 o’clock. The result is a sound of a machine that is in desperate need of service, with a warbled wash of echoes. Just the way I like it. (But you can certainly dial back the controls for a tape machine that sounds like it came fresh off the factory floor, with a brand new tape cartridge).

Take a listen below.  The clip starts with TimeLine bypassed, and then it is engaged at 0:08.

Listen here:

Preset details:

The image below shows the knob settings and secondary parameters. Dial it up on your TimeLine and give it a shot.

This Week's Preset - TimeLine Tape Echo


Here’s a video that I put together that contains this TimeLine preset, along with several others!

Download the preset:

Using Nixie or the Strymon Librarian? Download the preset and load it into your TimeLine.

What do you think?

Made your own tweaks to this preset? Post them below. Are there other preset types that you’d like to see in upcoming blog posts? Let us know what you think. Thanks!

Kawai K5 Strymon TimeLine Demo

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4 Responses

  1. Man, I remember reading about that when it first came out, hoping I could one day afford one, never getting around to it.

    I think I’ll watch CL a little closer now!


  2. Hi:

    I found this link and was curious how the Japanese photographic term ‘bokeh’ fits in…your use or Kawai’s? I read the article but didn’t see the name discussed.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Murray, I do a lot of video and photo work so I think the term was on my mind. The bell-like sound of this Kawai patch coupled with the soft edges of the tape echoes conjured up images of bokeh balls. 🙂

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