Complete Novice's Experience With An Instrument They've Never Played

Posted: 3/31/2005 7:17:11 PM
model citizen

From: Auckland, NZ

Joined: 3/8/2005

Or, Neil's mini-review of the Wavefront Travel Case Theremin.

Well, she arrived a little battered (broken plexi panel only) but complete, and with the next challenge in hand - find an appropriate power supply!

After rummaging through the boxes of doom @ the local electronics surplus shop, lo and behold the elusive 12v DC bipolar power supply surfaces. $9.50 + $1 for a DIN plug. A good start.

I wired up the power supply last night and hey presto there's a red light and some crazy high pitched frequency belting out the headphones. Since the kids were asleep I had to limit my testing to headphones and not through my valve bass amp :( ...although through 'phones it's easy to hear the effect of the Waveform and Tone controls.

Tuning was a breeze - didn't even read the manual, it was very obvious. Linearity was surprisingly good and the instrument as a whole was surprisingly easy to control - within a couple of minutes I was playing some Portishead ditty, with pretty reasonable intonation for a first timer (others in earshot may not have agreed!). In actual fact I really didn't think I was going to get as far as I did in the first night - it turned out to be easier than I had anticipated. Tired arms from hours of waving though!

The Waveform and Tone controls are subtle but useful, the Waveform sounding more like a midrange shift rather than a definite change in waveform. As for the sound, it's quite sawtooth, and can be fairly brash when you turn the treble up (although this was through headphones). I would've liked the ability to mix some pure sine wave into the mix, it would definitely hold more presence in the lower registers.

Headphone output isn't a pitch-preview, although it can be used as such if you ride the master volume to bring the sound up once the correct pitch is found.

What else would I like? A microphone stand adapter - I feel a little edgy with an open suitcase sitting on a table or stool...inviting Murphy to knock the thing off!

In general the quality of the unit is brilliant. Looks professionally built for a purpose and it's industrial edge certainly differentiates it from the more traditional designs...although I must say I like the look of a nicely finished wooden case with aerials extending either side!
Posted: 3/31/2005 7:48:08 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

Thanks for the review! I posted a link to this thread from the Wavefront travel case theremin page in the gallery.
Posted: 3/31/2005 11:47:01 PM

From: Los Angeles

Joined: 3/8/2005


I'm happy for you that the "important parts" were not damaged during shipping.

The wavefront is a great Theremin - I visited Gene Segal in his studio a few weeks back and was very impressed with his instruments. It is a shame he discontinued the classic model!

The briefcase model has an excellent tone, I am sure you will enjoy it very much.
Posted: 4/2/2005 11:53:52 AM

From: chicago illinois

Joined: 2/15/2005

was the electronics of the classic and suitcase theremins the same?
Posted: 1/3/2008 10:47:50 PM
Thomas Grillo

From: Jackson Mississippi

Joined: 8/13/2006

Well, I'm not a novice, but I figure this is the best place for this topic regarding the Wavefront travel case theremin.

This is a more indepth review of this fascinating instrument.

I just got mine today, and it looks great, and sounds great. it sounds a bit like an Etherwave standard, maybe brighter. I counted no less than 6 pluss octaves, not the 5 as stated by the manufacturer. It can play a full octave higher than the Standard, but that last octave might as well be on a B3, it's so narrow. I also noticed the linearity was a good bit like the E Standard.

Set up was fairly easy. Wavefront designed it to be able to tune to zero beat at the 45 degree angle of the lid.

I liked how the volume antenna can be rotated to any angle to make it easy to access. The pitch antenna can also be swung to different angles.

I ordered mine with pitch preview which happens to be on the same note as the final output tone. It normally comes without it for those who use headphones, and might not like preview going at the same time.

I also liked the built in headphone, and final output volume controlls. That'll make the sound techs happy at gigs, I suppose.

I was impressed by the fact that the serial number includes the customer's name. ;)

There is a handy mute switch.

I also liked the transparent plate which reveals the electronics board within.

Also a nice touch was the access holes right over the pitch, and volume control lugs.

There appears to be enough room inside for a soft bag to stow light items such as audio cables, or sheet music. I wouldn't put anything heavy, or sharp inside if you don't want to scratch the transparent cover.

About the only minor issues I noticed, was an interesting lack of continuous voltage outs. Interesting because Wavefront makes a CV to MIDI interface for theremins.

This theremin, like the Etherwave Standard also suffers a bit from the same volume antenna chirp on contact issue which is easilly solved with 3/8 inch cable sleeving.

As mentioned in the other review, this theremin lacks a mic stand mount, so it does need to be placed on a small table. I just use a projector table, and a thin rubber mat that prevents the theremin from sliding around. I may use a strap to be safe.

This theremin, when opened, and setup on a table takes up about as much space as an RCA theremin.

All in all, it's a great theremin that makes for a good intermediate level theremin between the E Standard, and the Etherwave Pro.

As of this writting, there have only been 87 travel case theremins produced by Wavefront. Mine was number 87 ;)

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