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This free plugin version of the Kawai K1 keyboard now runs on PC, Mac and Linux

Even in its hardware form, 1988's Kawai K1 - often viewed as decidedly low-budget alternative to Roland’s all-conquering D-50 - was more ROMpler than full-on synth, being a collection of multisampled instruments with relatively few hands-on editing options. So, it stands to reason that a software plugin version should be pretty authentic.

Nils Schneider’s K1v is precisely that; released to a warm reception earlier this year, this is now available not only for PC, but also Mac and Linux

K1v promises to accurately emulate the K1’s 8-bit synthesis engine and parameters, and includes 768 presets (that’s the factory bank and all the ROM cards). You can import and export SysEx presets and banks to/from the original keyboard, and you can also use the K1v as a software editor for said hardware.

You can download K1v for free from the Nils Schneider website; be sure to support the developer by donating if you like it. It's available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Windows, Linux and macOS, and in VST2.4/AU formats  

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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