what's a good cheap amp?

Posted: 5/9/2007 2:47:57 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

I am not using a powered mixer as I prefer powered monitors. Some of the Mackie mixers, such as the CFX12 have built-in reverb, though it is not a powered mixer.

You might be able to peruse Musicians Friend or Ebay to find Powered Mixers with built-in effects.

Your options with a PA are:

Unpowered mixer --> Power Amplifier --> passive monitors

~ or ~

Powered mixer --> passive monitors

~ or ~

Unpowered mixer --> active (powered) monitors

Compared to self-contained keyboard or guitar amps, a PA is generally less portable -- as the amplifiers and speakers increase in size and quantity you need increased hauling capacity. Also, your setup/takedown time increases with a PA -- again, the more complicated the setup, the more time it takes.

If your system is for the theremin only the need for power is modest -- a theremin's tone carries very well. If you are playing other instruments through your PA along with the Theremin, then the size of the speakers and amplifiers will depend on the demands of the music.

In any case, you will get the best results with a seperate monitor for the theremin's dry tone -- this monitor should be within a couple feet of the thereminist at ear-level. The fx (reverb, etc) can be sent to the main pa speakers.


You may also want to take a look at the Bose Personal Amplification System (PAS). Theremins sound great through them as well as other instruments. The PAS is a good solution for a high-end PA system that is relatively portable -- though, admitedly, the PAS would not fall into the "good cheap amp" category.
Posted: 5/9/2007 3:35:38 PM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

[i]Be wary of keyboard amps. They have no reverb.[/i]

What does that matter? Digital reverb is rubbish. If you have to use it, buy a specific unit. My Alesis Nanoverb is really nice to take on and offstage but it's got a nasty high-frequency hiss that just about comes through. If you really want reverb that badly, buy a plate or a spring unit.

You can't carry a PA system around with you unless you're really lucky and have the resources, especially to other towns, so if you want an amp to take about with you, for monitoring in particular, it's best to get something portable but loud. There's lots of ways to get reverb together but in my experience it's best left out of the monitors because it messes with the pitch (stuff starts resonating and when it's all in the mix your sense of pitch can get lost a little). I put the reverbed signal out front but always keep it clean in the monitors... having a keyboard amp or similar would be good for this because you'll always have the same tailored sound that you need to hear to play properly regardless of where you are.
Posted: 5/9/2007 4:12:23 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Well, the topic is moving into reverb units...

If you are just wanting to add a touch of reverb into your mix, then a cheap reverb (analog or digital) might be ok -- after all, it would sit back in the mix and its noise would be inaudible at that level.

However, if your vision is to play into a lush, ambient space with lots of reverb, then a clean reverb (free of hiss, hum, etc) will likely be more successful. As far as noise, a good digital reverb unit in general will have a better s/n ratio than analog. Some people prefer the analog "sound", and one must find ways to mask noise and artifacts that are a characteristic of analog equipment.

Plate reverbs are very nice but, due to their size, they are not practical for gigging.

As far as digital vs. analog -- I believe it is a matter of preference.

My first digital FX unit was an inexpensive ART unit that had lots of hiss and hum. Since that time I've acquired high-quality digital reverb and fx and the quality is superb.
Posted: 5/9/2007 4:27:01 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

A guy I know has a Roland keyboard amp and the theremin sounds great through it.

My Crate KXB-100 keyboard amp sounded the best when I tried out multiple amps (Peavey, Behringer, Roland, Alesis, Fender, and a few others.)

The Crate is basically a small PA system with four inputs and an effects loop. It also has built in reverb even though I usually use external effects.

Posted: 5/9/2007 5:06:28 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

The quality of the reverb isn't really something I notice. Most digital equipment is so good these days (all ripped-off designs), it's actually a struggle to buy poor equipment unless you spend tuppence.

Analog reverb units are far too expensive for my purposes, and I don't need something that delays for a long time without distortion. . . just something that lengthens a sound enough to create a gradual, softer fade than would occur in its absence. My Behringer (mwahahahah!) PM has about 15 different reverb presets, each of which can be adjusted for strength, amplification, FX IN, FX OUT, and countless other dials with varying, confusing and possibly useful effects.
Posted: 5/9/2007 5:29:03 PM

From: new haven ct.

Joined: 7/8/2005

I have two amps that I use. One is a mini Kustom PA. The amp. speakers and stands all fit in a case with wheels and a handle. For smaller gigs and for practicing, I have a Fender 110. Hundred bucks brand new, I've played all my theremins thru it at all kinds of gigs and it always sounds great. I never did anything to my standard when I got it, and never had any kind of trouble.

Posted: 5/9/2007 5:31:04 PM

From: Bristol, United Kingdom

Joined: 12/30/2006

[i]Most digital equipment is so good these days, it's actually a struggle to buy poor equipment unless you spend tuppence.[/i]

Correction: It's cheaper to build, less likely to break and can pretty much be made to do anything with a bit of sound. That doesn't automatically mean it's extremely good. If that was the case studios would be investing in top-of-the-range digital reverbs... the last recording studio I was in had a massive plate taking up half the room in the hallway. It had a baby grand, an upright and a rhodes. Constant attempts are made to emulate these things digitally, but they sound weaker, thinner and nastier. I have had the Korg MS-20 soft synth for a long time, and last year I bought a real one. Nothing digital can come close to that filter.

As for Behringer, the problem with it can best be exemplified by their pedals, none of which cost more than 30 quid, even though they're presumed to rival Boss pedals, which cost hundreds. Clue: There is never-serviced Boss gear from 20 years ago that is still functioning and being gigged today. Those Behringer pedals came out last year and many of them have already broken. The bare cost of building one of the things is (apparently) less than a pound... and in actual fact, they're all [i]exactly the same device[/i] - it's all the same Motorola chip, you program it to be a delay, tremelo, whatever.
Posted: 5/9/2007 6:46:26 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

I think we just epitomised the dilemma of the theremin as a missing-link, straddling the classical and the electronic.

Charlie has an ear for pitch, which is essential for classical forms, but is more forgiving of considerations such as reverb, whereas Alex is more rooted in music in which timbre is of great import, and he has perhaps a more laissez-faire approach to intonation, but clearly has an ear for tonal qualities.

Posted: 5/10/2007 12:30:59 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

[i]"Nothing digital can come close to that filter."[/i]

Generalities can be misleading.

(written while looking at my K2600 synth)

Posted: 5/10/2007 2:44:05 AM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

People regularly ask me, when I tell them I play the theremin, "Oh! So you're into electronica! You like Kraftwerk and stuff like that?"

That's the way the cookie crumbles, so they say.

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