Claravox Centennial Theremin - Post Your Thoughts Here

Posted: 10/22/2020 4:27:33 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

Personally, I'm absolutely thrilled about the new theremin. It looks great, sounds amazing, and is sure to be a staple for professional thereminists.

Who's in?

Posted: 10/22/2020 4:56:03 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Thanks for the heads-up on this Jason!  It's about time Moog got back into the real Theremin biz.

"Both the front and back panels are cloth-backed, and I’m personally a little curious about its long-term durability and cleanability. This is an interesting material choice, and time will tell how it holds up."  - Jason

That does seem like a rather weird choice.  I like the overall case shape, rather mid-century modern.  And the wood is pretty.

I wonder:
1. What the "RESPONSE" knobs do to the behavior of the axes? 
2. If the axis front end is any different when the "PERFORMANCE" knob is switched between "MODERN" and "TRADITIONAL" - I'm thinking maybe not, particularly if MIDI can control both. 
3. If they're using the Theremini front-end (I hope not). 
4. If the MIDI implementation cripples the bandwidth of the entire instrument?
5. What the controller input jack on the back can control?

$1500 seems fairly reasonable if the gestural bandwidth isn't too low.

[EDIT] From the Moog web site:

"Front-panel Pitch and Volume knobs give quick and immediate control for dialing in to new playing environments, side-entry calibration ports create easy access for fine tune adjustments, and dedicated Response knobs allow for the creation of recallable custom antenna curves in Modern mode."

So it sounds like it might actually be two instruments in one?  "Side tuning ports" probably means EQ inductor.  Not sure why one would want a "custom antenna curve" outside of "as flat as possible".

I also don't see a lot of use for pitch quantization - it's too bad they didn't include true pitch correction because it's really useful and not all that hard to do.  Also no real-time tuner display, which even the Theremini kinda sorta has.

So it seems to be a Theremini and EW+ in one box?

Posted: 10/22/2020 5:10:54 PM

From: Berlin Germany

Joined: 4/27/2016

The three melodious sound samples were played by Grégoire Blanc. Can't distinguish that timbre from the E-Pro. 

Posted: 10/22/2020 5:18:34 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

There are several more sound samples here:

Posted: 10/22/2020 6:02:52 PM

Joined: 10/22/2020

i think the sound samples are great. i am assuming this theremin has all the same types of connectivity as the etherwave pluss and has no need for a chip ?

Posted: 10/22/2020 6:45:31 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

FABart from what I can tell, it has lots of connectivity. I put a close-up shot of the back panel in the article. There's a USB port, MIDI IN/OUT, CV outputs for Pitch and Volume, headphone and main audio outputs, and inputs for a sustain and expression pedal.

Posted: 10/22/2020 8:01:12 PM

From: Minnesota USA

Joined: 11/27/2015

I thought I would be the guinea pig to try one of these.  I was ready to push the order button, but I decided to hold until someone can answer some basic questions.  I talked to Kraft Music (where I planned to buy it) first to see if they knew anything, but they had the same limited information that's shown on the website.  They suggested that I call Moog directly, which I did.

I spoke with Nathan at Moog, and although he has played a little with one, it seems that we may have to wait for the manual to be released to understand some of the features.  Nathan did put me on hold while he asked engineering about whether it has pitch preview, and apparently it does not (really??).  There is the tuner output which has unmodulated (by volume) audio out, but to turn this into pitch preview we would probably have to run it through a mixer to control at least volume and probably filter it somewhat.

Yes it has midi in/out, but what do they do?  That was not answered.  Is it some implementation of pitch and volume information, or does it only serve for preset management? 

When I asked about the architecture and whether it was based more on the EW Pro or the Theremini (Dewster's comment above is what made me recoil in horror) I received a boilerplate answer that the Claravox has evolved from all of the Moog theremins that came before.  When asked a more framed question about whether it has an analog front end more similar to the EW Pro (it seems that way based on the controls and sound) with some of the digital processing of the Theremini, he suggested that this was probably a fair assessment.  I think nobody except the engineers really knows at this point, and they aren't taking calls. Nathan did promise to email me with more information, and he has been a good guy in the past.

So even though I could cancel a Kraft Music pre-order before it ships, pending further information that will hopefully be forthcoming soon, I didn't pre-order it today.  The EW Pro came and went before I was infected by the theremin bug, and I vowed if they ever came out with a suitable replacement I would jump on it, but I'm trying to show a little restraint until information becomes available.  Honestly I don't need another theremin, but I also have more pairs of underwear than I need, so there's that argument.

But no pitch preview?  Do we really need to implement this ourselves on a $1500 theremin when the EW Plus has it?

Posted: 10/22/2020 8:18:51 PM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

I really need to add a "like" button to the forums. Thanks for the additional info pitts8rh!

Posted: 10/22/2020 8:38:51 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

If I had to build what they are describing, I'd probably use a single front end and multiple back ends.  That way there wouldn't need to be any switching at the antennas.  Analog Theremins tend to have a lot of C padding at the antenna, digital Theremins can be OK with that too as long as there is heterodyning going on.  But heterodyning down to baseband can cause frequency acquisition issues at low pitches, so maybe they do something like offset the fixed oscillator for MODERN mode?  Or maybe they aren't going for the theoretical gold...

I might also separate the I/O functionality along EW / Theremini lines, so the MIDI would only work with the digital backend, and the CV outs could be either analog or digital in origin, but not both.

"So even though I could cancel a Kraft Music pre-order before it ships, pending further information that will hopefully be forthcoming soon, I didn't pre-order it today."  - pitts8rh

If this goes anything like the way the Theremini release went, you might as well just go ahead and order it because no real info will be forthcoming from any other source any time soon.  I waited and waited and finally just gave up and bit the bullet on a refurb.  (Though gambling $270 on a toy is a lot easier to do than $1500!)

"But no pitch preview?  Do we really need to implement this ourselves on a $1500 theremin when the EW Plus has it?"

That is sorta weird since so many pro players depend on it, and this is marketed as a pro level instrument (with a pro level price).  There's a headphone out, so most of the HW is there already.  I get (somewhat rightfully) hollered at for not having pros playing my stuff and giving me feedback, so what is Moog Inc's excuse?  Perhaps the presumed dual internal architecture makes it difficult to implement?  No one brought it up in the meetings?  I dunno...

Posted: 10/23/2020 12:50:58 AM

From: Scotland

Joined: 9/27/2012

Jason - I really need to add a "like" button to the forums.

I'd second that!

My finger has been hovering over the 'Buy' button for a wee while now: not exactly sure what is stopping me from pressing it.

The cost price of an EW here is £500, Theremini is £300 and the cost of the new Claravox is £1500 so it would follow (?) that the gubbins inside of the Claravox are not just a rehash and mash-up of the EW and Theremini. Kind of deep down, I'm thinking maybe that this is the case but hoping it isn't.

Maybe they are and in many ways, what does it matter if what is on offer is a an instrument which is a quality instrument, gives a good performance and doesn't fail every 10 minutes?

If it delivers the goodies...

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