What thermin should I get (Amazon)

Posted: 3/10/2016 4:43:57 AM
cubby208

Joined: 3/10/2016

Hey I have for a long time wanted to get a thermin.  I currently play cello so I wont be starting at completely 0 level. I guess im hoping to learn the 2nd most beautiful instrument :)

Anyway I figured their would be like one type of thermin on Amazon... however this was not the case.... When I researched how these things worked I got the feeling that unlike wooden instruments their is no such thing as a really really really good theremin vs a good one.  Is this correct?  Its all just circuitry right?

Anyway I am looking for a thermin preferably under 100 bucks or close to it that is of good quality.  Is this a crazy thing to ask?  Any links you would suggest on amazon?

 

Thanks much!

Posted: 3/10/2016 12:28:26 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"Anyway I figured their would be like one type of thermin on Amazon... however this was not the case.... When I researched how these things worked I got the feeling that unlike wooden instruments their is no such thing as a really really really good theremin vs a good one.  Is this correct?  Its all just circuitry right?"  - cubby208

Via my research and reading the various fascinating observations Thierry makes about the zillions of units he has studied and worked on, and my rather limited experience with two Moog models, it seems to me that there is no such thing as a really really really good Theremin, regardless of the price.  I believe Theremin himself made the best instruments for his time, but that was during the infancy of electronics.  Digital means are the only way I know of taking 100% control of everything and producing an inexpensive, ultimate instrument, but the field is so small it hasn't attracted many who can and will do this.  Livio's CapSensor board (http://www.theremino.com/en/technical/schematics) is probably the best way to go if you can do modular integration yourself.  (I see they now have something called "dynamic latency" in the firmware, which makes sense if it's what I think it is.)  Otherwise, maybe grab a LostVolts to whet your appetite and see if that gets you going.

Posted: 3/12/2016 4:55:55 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

Thanks dewster. 

It's a shame there aren't more (i.e. any) theremin stores where you can go try them all side by side in person!

Getting a "good" theremin for under $100 is going to be very challenging unless you find a great deal on a used model. Most of the sub-$100 models only have a pitch antenna, so you can't play with phrasing.

Some important factors to look for in a theremin are:

timbre - are you stuck with one sound, or can you modify the tone to fit the music?

linearity - how evenly are notes spaced out as you play from the lowest to the highest register?

range - can it be tuned to play in various ranges? Some models like the Etherwave can be tuned as wide as 5-6 octaves, but good luck playing them! I often tune to 3-4 octaves and then adjust the pitch control on the front to spread it out slightly more or less depending on what I'm trying to play.

aesthetics - I put this on the bottom of the list because it matters the least to me, but some might consider it to be more important.

I haven't been hands-on with a B3 theremin, but some people speak highly of them. I have several Etherwaves that suit my needs just fine.  I've modified one with Thierry's ESPE01 module and kept the others "pure" for variety.

Posted: 3/22/2016 2:36:41 PM
bisem

From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Joined: 1/1/2011

I returned a LostVolts theremin and recently sold my B3 Pro.  In my opinion the Moog EWS with the ESPE01 module is the best option avail right now if you are on a budget. Once you are hooked on the theremin with no going back the Subscope is an excellent choice which I use more than my EW Pro.  BTW...what's up with the EW pro selling for $8000 on Ebay?  Is anyone really paying that price?

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