Moog Etherwave sounds crappy - and it's not (just) because I'm a lousy player

Posted: 11/4/2009 11:10:24 AM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Hi Nutbunny.

My first amp was a Fender Frontman 15R, which is not the world's greatest amp in many respects, but it sufficed until I could afford the amp I wanted and quite a few of the tracks on my first album were recorded using it.

Overcoming its dislike of the theremin signal was easy - I bought a cheap low impedance inline volume pedal to attenuate the signal coming out of the theremin. (If I was brave about opening up my etherwave and soldering in a resistor as it describes in the manual that would have been even cheaper, but now I like the flexibility of having it - I still use it, even though the new amp does not require it, because some of my effects pedals have a similar dislike of loud signals.

Now I have a decent amp (SR Technology Jam 150 Plus) with an even response across the range and I usually have it set up to boost the bass and suppress the treble a bit because that's how I like it!

Posted: 11/4/2009 1:47:02 PM

From: Asheville, NC

Joined: 1/25/2008

I'm using a Fender Frontman 15B until I can get my other amp built. It has RCA line inputs for playing along with a CD, which a lot of guitar amps have.

The RCA inputs handle the theremin just fine (with an adaptor or custom cable). However, the volume and EQ does not effect these inputs. I use an ART mic preamp for volume control but this is just a convenience, not a necessity, and it works great.

Not the best amp in the world and plugging up all the in/outs and power supplies is a pain when you want to move it but for a cheap theremin amp with stuff I had lying about it's perfect until I get the funds and time to finish my bigger setup.

PS: I'm using the guitar amp/line input as a power amp to drive a speaker other than the one that was in the amp (took the amp/front panel out of the case, discarded the original case and speaker, and built a new case for it).

What I'm trying to say is that if someone has one of these cheap 15 watt guitar or keyboard amps, upgrading the speaker can mean a big improvement to the sound for around $20 - $80 bucks depending. You could just slap it in the original case and go.

Here is the requisite warning:

Posted: 11/4/2009 2:36:25 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

One other thought. Here's a good example of what an etherwave should sound like.
Posted: 11/5/2009 5:00:30 AM

From: South Africa

Joined: 11/2/2009

Regarding the inline volume pedal, I shall definitely keep that option in mind, thanks. Oh and thank you for the youtube link for a representative etherwave sound. Unfortunately I have to wait until the weekend to watch/hear it at my friend's place because Youtube is a banned site here at work >:-(

I do have some friends who are familiar with the innards of amps and your suggestion of replacing the cheap amp speaker as a temporary solution is something I can ask them to help me with. Thank you.

I had to get a loan to purchase the Etherwave. I will only be able to fully pay the loan off over the next 7 months. That would preclude me from purchasing the Behringer amp even at that low price :-(
Posted: 11/9/2009 2:25:02 AM

From: South Africa

Joined: 11/2/2009

Hi guys. I finally got to try out my Etherwave on my friend's amp this weekend. It sounds great! That strange, unpleasant overtone totally disappeared when the instrument cable was inserted into the audio output, regardless of whether the other end of the cable was plugged into the amp or not, and also regardless of whether the headphones were plugged in or not.

So in effect the only time the sound appears is when the headphones are plugged in and nothing else is plugged into the audio output. Is that a grounding issue?

By the way, that Phantasma video ( was absolutely beautiful, I was spellbound! I am still trying to get my scales right so anybody who can generally find and hold their notes impresses me.
Posted: 11/9/2009 2:27:25 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

[i]"So in effect the only time the sound appears is when the headphones are plugged in and nothing else is plugged into the audio output. Is that a grounding issue?" - nutbunny [/i]

Almost certainly!

One does not need a physical connection to "real" ground to get a "ground" "connection".. Audio leads are screened, and the screen is connected to the Theremin's 'ground'.. The screen on the cable is a large area of "ground antenna" which will couple to "real" ground capacitively.. And will also, directly (capacitive coupling between cable and player) and indirectly (capacitive coupling between cable and "real" ground, combined with players capacitive coupling to "real" ground) couple to the player.

You might find you get best results if you trail the audio lead on the floor, under the Theremin, to where you are standing.. looping it about to cover as large an area as possible local to where you are standing .. This way your capacitive coupling to the Theremin's ground will be optimised.

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