Posted: 10/4/2005 2:03:47 PM

From: Bainbridge Island, WA USA

Joined: 10/4/2005

A few months ago I bought my first Theremin, a Paia Theremax. Don't worry, I don't have any questions about it, I now know that the Paia is little more than a noise maker or a toy. Last week I bought my now beloved Etherwave Standard.

I'm hooked.

Just some advice to my fellow newbies. If you want to learn the Theremin as a musical instrument, buy an etherwave, don't waste your valuable time tinkering with the Theremax. It just can't beat the Moog.
Posted: 10/4/2005 2:30:52 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

I'm sure there are those who would disagree but I am not one of them.

I love my Etherwave Standard!
Posted: 10/4/2005 2:44:11 PM

From: Bainbridge Island, WA USA

Joined: 10/4/2005

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I got the Theremax as a learning tool for understanding the inner workings. But if you want to dive into playing like I suddenly realized I did, you'll end up possibly spending a few months getting the Theremax to sound and play well where as the Etherwave works right out of the box.

But, that's just my opinion.

Opps, I forgot I sometimes have strong opinions.
Posted: 10/4/2005 6:34:46 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

The Theremax is a way to control Voltage-controlled equipment without a huge outlay of $$ -- and I would add that it performs well as a controller.

The tone quality can be improved with a couple of minor modifications and I am very pleased with the Tmax's timbre. I wouldn't say that the instrument is unplayable -- I am able to play music on it.

The instrument seems sensitive to external electrical interference from radio stations, etc... which is noticeable below middle-C. The instrument is too noisy for professional recording unless one resorts to EQ and noise gating.

Since this is the only Theremin that I have played, I may be making music despite its limitations. I am taking delivery of an Etherwave Pro today or tommorrow and I expect that it will be much better than the Theremax -- then again, it is about six times as expensive!

I agree that if one's motive is to play music (rather than tinker with electronics), the Etherwave is a better way to go... when dividing the cost difference between the Tmax and Etherwave by the hours of constructing/tinkering it works out (for me) to around $3 per hour. (The pro comes to about $20 per hour, btw).

At the end of the day -- I was skittish about laying down the $$ for an Epro without even knowing if I'd enjoy playing the Theremin other than using it to control my synth. The Tmax provided many hours of enjoyment because I like building kits, I learned A LOT about Theremin theory of operation and circuits, and discovered that the Theremin is a BLAST to play. My 8 year old son helped me build the Tmax, thus the Tmax will always carry sentimental value -- and will likely continue as a controller for my modular synth because it has a few CV out's that the Epro does not.
Posted: 10/4/2005 11:51:50 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

OK... the Epro just came in. Wonderful instrument!

Besides the clear tone of the Epro, the notes are spaced farther apart on the Epro than on the Tmax. (Another user reported that when he built and attached a Lev antenna to his Tmax the linearity and the note spacing increased.)

The notes are far enough apart on the Epro that one can hold a sustained note and change positions (say from first to third position) while holding the pitch. Alas, one cannot do the same thing on a Tmax because of the narrow note spacing.

To be honest, I'm glad I opted for the Epro before I got too far along with developing my playing technique.
Posted: 10/5/2005 12:05:17 PM

From: Bainbridge Island, WA USA

Joined: 10/4/2005

I'd have to say kkissinger that you seem to have illustrated my point far better than I could have. Though, now I'm curious if there is a notable (no pun intended) difference between the Etherwave Standard and the Epro. I only opted for the Standard but I'm sure one of these days I'll be unable to resist and find someway to drop a grand and a half on the Epro.

The Etherwave's board has three little induction coils in series just before each antenna, I think these end up doing what the Lev antenna is designed to do. But alas I have no Lev antenna, so it's just a guess.
Posted: 10/6/2005 11:43:01 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Well, I have never played a standard Etherwave, thus I don't have an answer to your question. I couldn't help but notice that on Peter Pringle's website he is surrounded by his treasured Theremins (2 or them famous RCA Theremins) and in the foreground, none other than an Etherwave Standard. In fact, Peter Pringle says that his first Theremin is the Etherwave that he built from a kit.


Had I not been in a position to acquire the Epro I would have purchased the Etherwave Standard.
Posted: 10/7/2005 1:37:25 AM

From: Los Angeles

Joined: 3/8/2005

"I now know that the Paia is little more than a noise maker or a toy."

As an owner of an Paia Theremax, and an Etherwave-Pro (and formerly and Etherwave standard), I would strongly disagree with you.

My Theremax has a much better range and linearity than my Etherwave standard ever did. I did modify the circuit, but nothing that extreme or difficult - I am a complete novice at electronics. But simply changing the wire antennaes to proper ones makes a huge difference in the range and linearity.

Once I purchased my E-Pro, I sold the standard Etherwave and kept the Theremax. I never liked the way the upper register of the standard Etherwave is so compressed.

I still play the Theremax regulary - it is extremely playable and has a very nice tone that I cannot get with my Etherwave-Pro.

You can see the photos and mods I made here:


and here (scroll down)


If you are interested, I could upload some sound samples of "serious music" played with the Theremax - mine is a quality instrument, and much more than a "noise maker or toy".

Posted: 10/10/2005 10:25:25 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Hello. Just wanted to elaborate on my comments about the Theremax's pitch antenna.

As I have gained more knowledge about Theremin technique, I have discovered that the Theremax is quite playable with the stock pitch antenna within a 2 1/2 octave range it has reasonable linearity. To control the pitches at the extreme bass and treble is somewhat difficult. Also, the antenna is (compared to the Epro) more sensitive to up-down motion and to create a controlled vibrato takes more effort on the Theremax.

The Theremax is harder to play than the Epro -- however, I want to replace the pitch antenna on the Theremax with something that has better linearity.

The Theremax has a different tone quality than the Epro -- I am still wanting to see if I can get a better s/n ratio out of the Theremax. Though I spend most of my time playing the Epro I still enjoy the Theremax very much.

Posted: 10/11/2005 1:42:44 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Well, I am happy to report that my Theremax is now playing beautifully -- clear as a bell -- certainly good enough to record with.

So, what was the cause of the roughness of tone?

Turns out that one of my scsi drives was the culprit! It was transmitting A LOT of interference that was not only causing roughness in my Tmax, but was causing it in the Epro, too!

So, I must weigh in with good (actually, now great) compliments for the Theremax. And, yes -- it has a tone that is completely different than the Epro.

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