I am a professional singer (classical, music theatre, Celtic and cabaret) and I am looking to buy and learn the Theremin. I have played an RCA Theremin in a friend's apartment and of course that sound (somewhere between a beautiful singer and violin) is to me the most beautiful and what I would aspire to have. A beautiful instrument.
Realistically and financially I have to set my sights a little lower though. Especially at first. My question is which of today's models have the best sound?
I hate the sound of the Moog etherwave. It is flat sounding, not many overtones, pitch is not linear, so certain notes sound pitchy and as it gets higher, it sounds like a bad singer trying to screech out the notes. There is no height in the sound. The pro seems a bit better but out of my price range at this time, if you can even get one.
The problems with the Burns B3 Deluxe is that it looses quality as you get lower in pitch, the antennas are flimsy and cheesy looking. But I like the sound, personally a little better than the Moog etherwave. It seems the pitch is more consistant.
I am looking at a company in Italy called Pegna which manufactures them with tubes which is much warmer to my ear. (as a singer, I prefer mics with vaccum tubes to digital, when I use a mic) Does anyone know about this company? Has anyone actually heard this live? The mp3 they have posted is lovely.
Your help in this matter from all you theremin knowledgeable people would be greatyl appreciated.
ALL SOULS NIGHT is the name of the Band we want to use the Theremin in. But we are more classicaly trained and oriented so I want the best sound, not just sound effects. I intend to use it like a classical instrument.
The best theremin is the one you like most!
You might like to check out the Subscope and the Wavefront Classic. There are some examples on Amethyste's youtube page...
(Incidentally the Burns B3 Pro has much better antennas than the Deluxe but the electronics are identical.)
I spoke with Amethyste and she was very helpful and friendly. The Wavefront has pitch linearity problems and is very difficult to play.
So are you saying that the Italian one with tubes is the best? Or the Burns? Or you just being clever? The problem is just trying to figure this out with mp3 clips.
I was also taken with the sound of Mark Keppinger's Theremin. Any idea what those cost? Will he build one? I thought the sound was lovely on it (the clip on Philip Neidlinger's site)
Not so much being clever as trying to avoid discussing linearity - as a non-melodic player I prefer to leave assessment of playability to classical thereminists.
I have not had opportunity to try the Italian tube theremin. Personally I find the Burns too flutey for my taste and the ePro is too refined (I'm having trouble finding the right word here, but "refined" will do) for me. I like the strident sound of the etherwave standard - but it needs a good amp to sound brassy rather than harsh. (I use an SR Technology Jam 150+ combo amp/mixer, along with a studiospares 600W subwoofer because my etherwave has Thierry's ESP01 bass extension module and I do love a lot of bass.)
Philip is a regular poster here (user name is hypergolic) and should be able to tell you more about the Keppinger theremin. My understanding is that it is DIY only.
Hi All Souls. I agree with Gordon on this one. The "best sounding" theremin is the one you like best. Personal tastes in timbre and tone vary greatly.
When judging the sound of a theremin, you have to take into consideration not only the instrument itself but the amp/speaker setup, as well as the way it was recorded (assuming that you are not hearing it live). One thing that cannot be underestimated is the importance of HOW the instrument is played. Clara Rockmore's beautiful custom theremin that Lev built to her personal specifications does not sound like the same instrument when played by someone else.
You suggest that with the Moog Etherwave theremin the notes get "pitchy" as they get higher. If by the word "pitchy" you mean flat or sharp of the note, that is not the fault of the instrument. That is the player. As for linearity, no theremin is absolutely linear. Not only that, linearity shifts depending on temperature, humidity, and how long the theremin has been turned on.
As a singer, you have a head start in learning to play the theremin. I would recommend the Etherwave, and there are some excellent modifications you can make to it in order to improve its range and versatility. If you don't like the sound you are hearing, CHANGE IT. As Bob Moog once pointed out, "The theremin is an entirely electronic instrument and as such it is totally at home in the electronic environment". These days there are a thousand ways to radically change the sound of a theremin using peripherals. Experiment! Find your own theremin voice.
I recently got an ELECTRO-HARMONIX "Talking Machine", a relatively inexpensive little device which has turned out to be terrific fun and it has turned a theremin that had a voice somewhere between a bumble bee and a hair dryer into an Italian tenor!
"First have music in your soul. If you have that, then you will find a way to do it." Clara Rockmore
I may be able to provide sound samples of the etherwave with Talking Machine in a couple of weeks. (Noting Peter's comments about how it is recorded, I'll be D.I.ing the theremin straight into an "M-Audio Firewire Solo recording interface", so the sound is not coloured by my amp. Play it back through the amp you plan to use for your theremin.)
("may" because I just found a local shop with a very wide range of effects boxes. The Talking Machine is on my list of effects boxes to audition. If I like it better than the other effects I try out, I'll be getting one.)
Hey there :)
I am not certain if all wavefront classics are hard to play, but I know that mine is lol. Compared to the Subscope that I have now, it feels like there might be little internal problems what I will need to take care of in the near future if I want to be able to play it. The sound of it is gorgeous, but the strange spacing is just another hurdle that is preventing me from enjoying it more. I am not certain as of how I was able to keep wanting to play the theremin while I was learning on it, a miracle in my opinion lol.
Also, don't forget that when you fall in love with a certain sound, I can be greatly attributed to the Thereminist itself: Their technique, their phrasing etc.
I think the Burns have now a concert theremin if I recall and the antennas have been improved greatly so they resemble the etherwaves. I'd be happy to send you sound files of my Subscope if you wish, there are so many settings and voice possibilities that I think it could take hours to go through all of them :) ultimately, better players and more knowledgable ones will most likely reply to this post, I've only been playing for a year, still such a novice!
By the way, Welcome to the board! I hope you'll stick around andfind the answers you are looking for.
"I am not certain if all wavefront classics are hard to play, but I know that mine is lol. Compared to the Subscope that I have now, it feels like there might be little internal problems what I will need to take care of in the near future if I want to be able to play it. The sound of it is gorgeous, but the strange spacing is just another hurdle that is preventing me from enjoying it more."
Amethyste I'm curious: what is the tone spacing like on your Subscope? Can you make it wider / narrower without substantially impacting linearity? Or is it like the EW where one spacing is fairly linear and everything else fairly not? Also, what is your preferred tone spacing (e.g. open hand to closed fist = ~octave)?
Dewster wrote: "Amethyste I'm curious: what is the tone spacing like on your Subscope? Can you make it wider / narrower without substantially impacting linearity? Or is it like the EW where one spacing is fairly linear and everything else fairly not? Also, what is your preferred tone spacing (e.g. open hand to closed fist = ~octave)?"
Well, that is a good question, Dewster. I don't have an EW and only played on it for 1 week before I got my Wavefront so I don't really remember how is the spacing on them. i think I could maybe try to fiddle around with the 2nd tuning pot in my Wavefront to see if I could improve linearity, but I am a little apprehensive to do so. now that I am thinking about it, the spacing on my Wavefront isn't something to go gaga over. The linearity on my Subscope is wonderful and so is the spacing. It was SUCH A HUGE difference when I switched to my Subscope that i fould myself instantly a better player (well to me any way). the way I tune from closed hand (not a fist really) to extended fingers = a 5th.
What do you have in mind? :)
"What do you have in mind? :)"
My current digital Theremin prototype has open hand to closed fist = ~octave. Which is good for playing many tunes in a single position, but also makes it quite sensitive to even slight movements so one must remain stock still.