Moog Theremini Theremin

Distant Voices Theremin

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Posted: 2/16/2013 11:09:48 AM
coalport
From: Canada
Joined: 8/1/2008

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Here is a demonstration of the DISTANT VOICES THEREMIN made in the Czech Republic. It is a pitch-only device that seems to be mainly for FX. Has anyone here ever played one of these babies?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bNPZhv9iV8

Posted: 2/16/2013 2:35:53 PM
dewster
From: Northern NJ, USA
Joined: 2/17/2012

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Lots a yakkin!  And a nice demo of various guitar effects!  Gotta name drop Jimmy Page when selling these pitch only things, which makes it almost seem like a positive thing.

Love the "ADJUST" knob, would have liked to have seen him adjust it some.

This Theremin seems to rely heavily on strong coupling between the oscillators.  The tone is kind of bland but kind of harsh sounding, I wonder if it's the coupling doing that.  I bet they make these for almost nothing.

I think I heard a reference to TW near the end (7:14)? 

This video makes me strongly want to build & sell a decent $50 pitch only Theremin and clear maybe $25 on each.

Posted: 2/16/2013 4:31:35 PM
RS Theremin
From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA
Joined: 2/15/2005

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It is wonderful to see a new young face on the theremin journey. My hats off to him demonstrating his results with a product that people can put their hands on, you know what I mean!

Dewster you are correct in saying his oscillators are coupling too much. My demonstrated sound samples in the past were at this point of understanding, we learn as we go, my theremin research was then about five years old.

Any time you “need” to rely on external effects to enrich a theremin sound then the design falls short of its full potential. Effects are nice but are they hiding something?

Heterodyning generates the original theremin sound and the journey is about how much character a designer can retrieve from using this natural phenomenon.

Christopher

JamStageCz: Use a piece of raw copper clad board under your complete circuit board and connect to ground. This should help round out your audio wave form peaks. Here in the States we say good fences make for good neighbors. That is the RF relationship you want to establish between your L1 & L2 coils.

Posted: 2/16/2013 10:32:12 PM
FredM
From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................
Joined: 12/7/2007

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"This Theremin seems to rely heavily on strong coupling between the oscillators.  The tone is kind of bland but kind of harsh sounding, I wonder if it's the coupling doing that."  - Dewster

Yeah - Tight coupling, probably deliberate so that the "theremin" mutes beyond the null point (oscillators pull into lock and stay in lock)..

With pitch-only "theremins" this is an issue, because the VFO can (will) move above the REf  frequency when a person moves away from the instrument.. and one ends up with the bothersome background tone unless you turn it off.. Automatic muting (as my H1, which compared the frequencies and actively muted if the VFO > REF) is really needed... But the simpler way is to couple the oscillators so they lock tightly, and the weaker change in capacitance as one moves away is not enough to free them.

"I bet they make these for almost nothing."

Yeah - looking at the range, it might even be a couple of 555s or even CMOS gates as RC oscillators ;-) ... Doesnt sound any better than a couple of 555s thru an XOR IMO.. (in fact, the only thing that makes me doubt that a XOR is used is that an XOR sounds more pleasant - perhaps its RC oscillators into a diode mixer - whatever the technology is irrelevant IMO, when the results are as awful as this)

I do not share any enthusiasm for toys like this - they do nothing, IMO, to further interest in the theremin..  IMO, this toy makes the SC theremin look (and sound) like a Pro instrument by comparison!

"My hats off to him demonstrating his results with a product that people can put their hands on, you know what I mean!" - Christopher

You can "put your hands on" dozens of useless toys like this - Its just more clutter in an already cluttered market IMO. I see nothing laudable about selling junk, even if you do demonstrate it first.

I take my hat off when someone demonstrates something worth buying, and has this available to buy, not when someone demonstrates a toy which aint worth buying, even if they have a container load they can sell!

 "bland" and "harsh sounding" are a good choice of words IMO, and when combined, these qualities rarely make an inspiring musical instrument.. To me, there is one word for the sound - its HORRIBLE! - I have heard better sounding BFO metal detectors! .. and those are probably equally playable.. ;-)

Fred.

Posted: 2/17/2013 2:21:22 AM
GordonC
From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK
Joined: 10/5/2005

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As it happens, I wouldn't object to a pitch only theremin with a square wave output for a project I'm considering...

My idea is to construct something along the lines of a Kowalski theremin, which consists of a pitch rod, a volume pedal and a control panel with controls to make staccato notes and in other ways modify the audio signal. 

As I am no electrician i have decided to do this by putting together existing tools to make a hybrid device consisting of an ipad mini, an irig stomp to get audio from a pitch only theremin (during development, my etherwave) in and out of the ipad, an eowave usb expression pedal and an apple camera connector to connect the pedal to the ipad. On the ipad I'll be running audulus, a modular synth app, behind a custom graphic user interface app - touchosc.

One of my intentions is to use audulus's zero crossing component to convert the theremin audio to a stream of frequencies that I can do maths on before using it to control the frequencies of some of audulus's oscillators, for instance to create harmonically related combinations of tones that I can select and switch between whilst playing. And to do the classic synth trick of having three slightly detuned oscillators to thicken the sound. You've heard a synthesiser try to sound like a theremin? Well, turnabout is fair play, say I! Square waves would be fine for detecting zero crossings. I'd still want decent linearity, mind you.

<shrug> Probably I'll pick up a theremaniac's one-stick once everything else is working, which might be a while as eowave are waiting on the next batch at the moment.

Posted: 2/17/2013 3:06:24 AM
FredM
From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................
Joined: 12/7/2007

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Gordon,

If you want a logic level square wave pitch only board, just let me know - I must have at least 20 prototype boards sitting in a box which would do that job.. Just give me a couple of weeks notice (I tend to lurch from one panic job to another at the moment, each lasting a few days - but within a period of 4 weeks usually have some slack) and I can salvage one and send it to you.

"I'd still want decent linearity, mind you." I really doubt that you would get acceptable  linearity from one of the cheap theremin toys.. I know it sounds like I am promoting the Silicon Chip stuff a lot lately - Im NOT! .. But from looking at the "distant voice" video, I suspect its linearity is no better than what you would get from the SC, and that it will have lower sensitivity / shorter range.

I might even have a couple of EW pitch sections built on breadboard - These would be without EQ inductors (those are too expensive to leave in discarded prototypes) and If I find one you are welcome to it.. I will supply the inductors for £15 total, and fit a 4013 mixer which gives a absolutely clean square difference output.

In fact, even if I dont have a EW pitch section board ready built (I sometimes strip them down) I could knock one up complete with Eq inductors and 4013 mixer in well under an hour, at lower price than anything you could buy - but it would just be a hand wired pad board! no box or antenna or PSU.

Fred.

Posted: 2/17/2013 4:43:03 AM
RS Theremin
From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA
Joined: 2/15/2005

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Fred said: "I take my hat off when someone demonstrates something worth buying,"

Amen to that!

Gordon I tried to look up that Kowalski Theremin and did not find it. I did find the Theremin Enthusiast Club and found over 500 theremin enthusiast's email addresses in the States from over five years ago. Now that is interesting, so the theremin was once popular? Well it isn't any more as my webpages allow me to monitor the World. Your IP is out of the UK duh.. but I believe Fred's is out of Germany?

I always feel I must tip-toe around here. LOL

Christopher

Edit: Gordon that theremin had the "intimate" sound of heterodyning that I like.

Posted: 2/17/2013 4:50:45 AM
GordonC
From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK
Joined: 10/5/2005

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Fred, you are such a generous man. Thank you.

The eowave pedal will be a month or two, so there is no desperate rush for it here. The time scale you suggested would be fine. Also my irig stomp audio interface can handle anything from microphone level to line level, so logic level should be good.

 

(edit: Fred, my email address may have changed since we last exchanged emails. Use gordonrcharlton {at} gmail {dot} com - note there is an R between the gordon and the charlton.)

Posted: 2/17/2013 4:58:04 AM
GordonC
From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK
Joined: 10/5/2005

threads posts

 

Christopher, I spelled it wrong. Kovalsky.

 

Posted: 2/17/2013 1:22:05 PM
FredM
From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................
Joined: 12/7/2007

threads posts

That Kovalsky theremin is quite interesting, but I cannot find any really usable technical data on it - and cannot really determine what the "articulation" controls do.. The video shows left hand fingers playing something (looks like keys of some kind) but the right hand seems to be entirely responsible for pitch..

I have put a .pdf document together with what I have been able to extract - this can be downloaded here:

http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-53072/l/russian-theremin-articles

The best link I found was here at TW

http://www.thereminworld.com/Article/14375/another-sad-news

Which was to these scanned files of Russian radio magizines:

ftp://ftp.radio.ru/pub/arhiv/1972/09.djvu%20

ftp://ftp.radio.ru/pub/arhiv/1974/09.djvu

You can view these files with this free software: http://blog.kowalczyk.info/software/sumatrapdf/download-free-pdf-viewer.html (I downloaded the "Portable" version which worked fine and didnt require installation)

One thing has really bugged me about theremin technology for years, and which I found again int this search, is the huge volume of data referenced to Russian archives which one cannot get access to -

I probably get more emails from Russians wanting me to build theremins or having questions about them than any other nationality! Yet they have all this stuff, and can read the language..

What is the Russian Theremin institute doing? - All fine and well publishing modern circuits based on CMOS logic, but anyone can play with those - Lets have the MEAT! Lets have some exposure of what the real geniuses developed, and insights into their ideas and developments..

It is only those who have access to and can understand the contents of these archives, who can give the world this information - but they sit on it - probably boxes and boxes of stuff which could enliven theremin exploration and development and bring pride to those from the Theremin Homeland.

Fred.

While looking for data on the Kovalsky theremin, I found this article on Leon Theremin which people may want to read..

http://www.ee.washington.edu/faculty/nikitin_pavel/papers/APmag_2012.pdf

And this rather interesting article related to theremins and UFO's..

http://www.ufoinfo.com/news/sergei.shtml

 And since UFO's have been mentioned, another pdf I found (its astounding what one finds when looking for something else ;-) was this article on the theremin and Memetics.. Not for the fainthearted! LOL ;-)...

http://www.waymouth.org/john/theremin.pdf

 

In all, what with Lev Theremin wanting to freeze Lennin so they could bring him back to life (he was mortified [pun intended] when Lennins brain was removed and pickled), and the other disclosures I have seen today, I am now sure... Interest in the theremin, and many of the people who are/were really deep into it, are geniuses - but also completely and utterly mad as hatters!

 

 

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