theremin amps!

Posted: 7/25/2012 1:59:55 AM

From: Washington, DC

Joined: 2/8/2011

Hello everyone! I know it's been a long time, but I am back with more questions! Now that I have Thierry's wonderful ESPE01 module installed on my theremin, I am slowly trying to upgrade the rest of my gear.

I am still using the TB-15 amp from Moog, and I am ready for something better. Too much buzzing, distortion, etc. While I don't need anything fancy, I do want something that will last. (so quality is important!)

I like the looks of the Behringer KT108 15-Watt Keyboard Amplifier. But is this going to be another Moog amp (i.e. crap)? Any advice would be appreciated!

Posted: 7/25/2012 3:18:21 AM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

15 watt is pretty small... I HAD one and didn't like it... I use a Fender that is a 30 amp and i like it much more... I am sure others wiill pitch in, Especially Gordon ;)

Posted: 7/25/2012 4:38:29 AM

From: Small town Missouri on Rt 66

Joined: 2/27/2011

Finally a subject I understand!

Almost every 15 watt modern amp (and quite a few vintage ones) I've seen go from crap to something I won't say in the company of ladies. Their biggest shortcoming has been in the cruddy 8 inch speaker, small cabinet, and ill conceived tone controls.

The only reasonable one I've seen was a Vox pathfinder, and it was modified with a 10 inch speaker and tone stack tweaks.

A decent amplifier will cost as much or more than your theremin did.

One could do much worse than Fender. I have a vintage Fender deluxe reverb amp that sounds wonderful with a theremin, but even a modern, re issue of it will set you back about 800 US dollars. Mine has been upgraded to 40 watts, and has two 10 inch speakers.

Guitar amps will give mixed results because they are designed around an electric guitar's response. They will have a midrange notch around 700 hz, varying with different models, and will overdrive at theremin signal levels.

In my sometimes not so humble opinion, a small, 100 watt class PA amp with a 2 way speaker or two should serve well. The bigger the speaker, the better your low end will sound. There are quite a few reasonably priced ones with 15 inch speakers for the lows. I would not go any smaller than a 12 inch. A powered monitor speaker is also an option. If you have a decent home stereo, that would work in a pinch.

That being said, the amp that most often has my theremin plugged into it is an all tube 30 watt single 12 inch speaker guitar amp that I designed and built.

An amp designed for bass guitar would probably work well too. I have an all tube, 200 watt Fender bass amp with a 15 inch speaker that I'm going to try soon. It's in storage now, and because it weighs about as much as a small nation, I've been putting off dragging it home.


Posted: 7/25/2012 5:09:31 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

I can recommend (since I own one for a long time) the Behringer K450-FX. It's a 40W amp with a 10" speaker and some digital effects (Reverb etc.) built in. It is not expensive (about €150 here) and the most important: It's THE amplifier on which I did the whole bass module developing and testing. And yes, with this amp and the ESPE01 module, you may remove the plaster from the ceiling... :-)

Posted: 7/25/2012 5:21:43 AM

From: Small town Missouri on Rt 66

Joined: 2/27/2011

I forgot to mention any brand names. My opinions are based on my experience using these brands, and servicing them. Because of what I've seen inside their covers, I usually build my own equipment.

Peavey. Best built of all brands I've worked on and reasonably priced.

Fender. Not bad, but not as well built as in the old days, and a bit pricey.

Behringer, Kustom, Nady. Chinese made. Not that great, but very good price and they do the job, if you work within their limitations. Kustom has a special place in my heart, but their new equipment is Kustom in name only. I own and use equipment from all 3 of those brands.

Marshall. Not the worst I've seen, but waaaaaaaaaay over priced for the quality.

JBL, Mackie, Crown. reasonably well made, but expensive.

Bose. Run away, screaming.


Posted: 7/25/2012 5:32:54 AM

From: Small town Missouri on Rt 66

Joined: 2/27/2011

Looks like Thierry posted while I was typing the above post.

I'm going to throw my hat in with him.

Behringer equipment does the job, and Thierry's amp sounds like a winner to me.

Posted: 7/25/2012 6:14:14 AM
Chainsaw Willie!

From: Just a short walk away from Nike Missile Site S-13/14

Joined: 1/28/2011

Bass guitar amps were mentioned.  A feature of modern bass amps is a switchable -10dB attenuator built into the input.  Maybe this would be enough to plug a Moog (or other line level Theremin) direct without overdriving?  I dunno, I have a Gallien Krueger 400RBIII head and a GK Backline 112 combo, but no Moog to test it out.

Also many bass combos have tilt-back cabinets that allow you to tilt the speaker at 45 degrees and point it right at your head.

But I have not tried a Theremin through a bass amp.  Maybe the treble response would not be so good?  Seems like a good thing to experiment with though.

Posted: 7/25/2012 6:58:26 AM

From: Small town Missouri on Rt 66

Joined: 2/27/2011

I suggested a bass amp because I've played my Les Paul through the amp I mentioned, and it sounded wonderful.

I will get around to playing my theremin through it... I promise :-)

Posted: 7/25/2012 7:36:26 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

I should perhaps add that for my daily hobby (building, repairing and modifying theremins or even practicing and playing myself at home) I use a different setup: I have an active studio monitor speaker Yamaha MSP3 mounted on a mic stand directly behind my head.

The Yamaha with its 5" speaker (plus a tweeter) and "only" 20 W power will for sure not make the same air pressure in the low register, but it is very "honest" in an almost embarrassing way. This allows me to diagnose almost every theremin problem, to adjust pitch and volume response, to fine tune wave shaping circuits etc etc... And at the same time, this precision speaker tells me how bad I'm playing in a way that I'm sometimes very surprised how much better my playing can sound when connected to a more "gracious" or "forgiving" amp/speaker setup.

Posted: 7/25/2012 2:06:26 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

I've been using a Roland KC-150 keyboard amp.  It has 4 input channels including line in for accompaniment from an mp3 player and a mic input.  It has decent low-end sound, but I like to thicken up the tone a bit with VST plugins as I play.   

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