Reccomendations and Advice

Posted: 10/7/2015 11:21:52 PM

Joined: 10/7/2015

Hello, I've been a long time sporadic lurker on all things theremin for the past 15+ years. Back in 2008-2009 I built a theremin that I had found on a website of Oldtemecula's who I see is a member of this forum as well. I never overcame the challenges I had with tuning the coils I hand-wound and only ever succeeded in making all sorts of strange sounds heard over an old radio. I have experience both educationally and professionally building electronics. I'm now looking to buy or build another Theremin and I am looking for advice on what I should get.

First of all, I see myself more as a tinkerer who loves music than a musician who likes to tinker. I have no intentions or dreams of becoming a renowned thereminist, let alone a musician. I am mostly in it for fun and interest. That all being said, I would like something thats at least playable. I don't just want a toy sci-fi sound machine to pull out at halloween.

The sounds I like are quite varied, I love when notes move into and out of sounding like an instrument and sounding like a vocalist who doesn't need to inhale. I also love to play with noise and synth effects on occasion. 

Every time I think I have made my mind up on what to get I change it so I am coming here for some opinions. At first I was looking at a Paia Theremax kit to build which will require me getting an amp. Then I started looking at the Moog Theremini which would be easier to pull out and play with its built in speaker and has all sorts of digital addons. Not being a musician I was thinking its auto tune functions and digital display might make it easier for me to actually play something and if I can never get past those "dying cat" sounds I would be able to change it up to something a little more pleasing to the ears. Then I found the posts about the Theremini (most posted before the 1.1.0 upgrade) making me second guess it. Then there is the open.theremin UNO....

So, for my purposes and very realistic outlook on my professional theremin future would the Moog Theremini fit the bill? Has the oft mentioned slow response issues been at least remotely fixed in the latest firmware? Is the consensus now that the Theremini can work as viable beginner theremin (since 1.1.0)? Essentially, Can it satisfy my want of a theremin, enable me to attempt to play one, and also function as a cool toy if/when I fail miserably or is it still JUST a cool "toy"? 

Alternativly, should I still consider the Theremax or Open.Theremin UNO?

I'd consider the Moog Etherwave Standard but the cost to entry is quite a bit higher and I am not sure if I would be any happier making my beginner attempts of music on something more expensive? Does the cost to sound quality and playability justify the price difference in specific regards to a beginner who is not that musical to begin with. 

Thanks in advance for any responses as I know there are countless "what should I buy posts" and an equal number of reviews many of which I have read further complicating my decision.




Posted: 10/8/2015 12:32:28 AM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Hi Liquidtouch,

It's kind of a weird time to be looking.  I think there may be better offerings soon as Thierry seems to be throwing his hat into the ring.  Before the upgrade, and for all my bellyaching, the Theremini response didn't seem too terrible to me, as it was an inertial delay rather than a transport delay - no idea if the newer firmware did anything to make it better.  But the non-linearity and the lack of setup tweakability to the early firmware was much more of an issue IMO, and if that was sufficiently addressed (?) I'd probably recommend it.  Can't comment on anything other than that and the EWS, which is an OK instrument but probably not worth the asking price, and it's a bear to tune.  If you've held off this long you might want to hold off for a bit more as there is no super clear winner at this point IMO.

Posted: 10/8/2015 5:21:55 AM

Joined: 10/7/2015

I did see a post where I think it was Amethyste who made mention of a possible future Thierry device. It all sounded very mysterious though without much information beyond a reference to the first 4 months of 2016. Is there a forum post with more information or discussion? I am mostly curious what price range it will come out at as that would be my biggest deciding factor on waiting. I am in Canada and our dollar is horrible right now so buying domestically has its advantages.

"But the non-linearity and the lack of setup tweakability to the early firmware was much more of an issue IMO, and if that was sufficiently addressed (?) I'd probably recommend it"

This is exactly the type of information I am curious to know because its hard knowing what version people were using when posting critical (objective) reviews. Also most of the reviews I have no idea how and what they are using the device for or what their level of experience is. Coming from nothing I am sure i'd enjoy it but once I have it will I wish I got something else. Thanks for replying!

Posted: 10/8/2015 12:10:05 PM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

ok... then I'll add a few cents of mine: The theremin which will hopefully see the light in the first quarter 2016 is not only my baby. There is a renowned German theremin virtuosa in the game for all the musical aspects which my technical eye might overlook, and some adorable members of the European theremin community who contribute generously to the research, development, and pre-production costs.

The new instrument is being developed along Carolina's wish list and will thus have many of the Etherwave Pro's strong points like excellent linearity and stability, which is realized by a physically wide but musically restricted pitch range of 5 octaves with a register switching option, so that an over all range of 7 octaves will be covered. One will find similar timbre presets and probably some more. It will have a similar antenna geometry and disposition, too. But it will come in a rather flat, lightweight housing, so that the traveling thereminist will be much less embarrassed as when carrying a 13kg EPro with them.

On the technical side, it will be a classic heterodyning instrument which inherits the oscillator and antenna circuit configuration partly from two ancestors, the EPro and the tVox tour theremins, while all that analogue circuitry will be controlled and stabilized by a small integrated microprocessor. The latter will allow later modifications (different pitch or volume field configurations, more timbre presets, and so on) just by updating the firmware.

Although that theremin will be clearly positioned in the "Pro" area, the retail price should still start in the three-digit € range.

The above description is only a small excerpt of the complete specification sheet, I intentionally did not mention all features for strategic reasons, and yet, I feel that I told perhaps already too much...

Posted: 10/8/2015 7:14:52 PM

Joined: 10/7/2015

I did not mean for you to divulge more information than necessary. I am sure whatever you make will be a beauty, what I have seen and read (all online) of your engineering is impressive (Theremin Cello!). 

Can't wait to see what you and your team come up with! and I will see how long I can wait until I buy my new instrument/toy.


Posted: 10/8/2015 10:48:12 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

I'm not trying to pry either Thierry.  And I'd be happy to help out if the team needs any assistance.

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