Theremin & Talking Machine

Posted: 6/3/2012 3:04:26 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Thanks so much for that Fred!  I'll definitely give those vocal stimulus waveforms a try once I feel that linearity has been properly addressed.


Posted: 6/3/2012 7:32:03 PM
RS Theremin

From: 60 mi. N of San Diego CA

Joined: 2/15/2005

Talking Machine Experiment with Theremin

This is the first pedal I have ever purchased as I am not a musician rather a theremin mechanic.

As guitar amps don't like hot theremin outputs I would expect the same with the TM pedal so have an attenuator box available.

I input a .8v p-p signal into the TM from my own personal design of theremin.

This TM device will not improve a bad sound rather plays off the harmonics available and the AH sound seems best using a soft ramp wave shape.

I had a little jitter in my theremin output due to 50/60 Hz EMF around the pitch antenna in my hobby room. Normally this is not an issue but the TM triggers funny on the low end when this is present. I did a work around.

My sound bytes are pure with the steady amplitude of a pitch-only theremin  driving directly the TM, then the TM followed by stand alone RF loop volume control, then vol out into my computer sound card. Other than the AH setting all the knobs are straight up. Attack & Decay seem non-functional, I must be missing something. Pre-set #1 green lite is on.

Only the TM is used, no other effects and "no reverb" as the TM adds it's own depth & brightness to an often dry solid state theremin tone.

This is for research value only, I can't play a tune, I think I am channeling Bing Crosby!

TM-AH.mp3  82 Kb  <= new sample 6.05.12 => TM-AH2.mp3  120 Kb

Unless you're skilled in the mechanics of theremin setup and wave shape control the TM might disappoint you at $220. I enjoy it because it gives us a new method to bring forth a masculine theremin sound, thank you Coalport. Most other settings seem "unnatural" to me, but then I am no musician.

Edit: IMHO the EtherWave Standard wave shape would not develop good vocal sound using the TM.

Posted: 6/3/2012 9:02:59 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Did you try it with a hotter signal? It seems more tolerant of line levels than some of my guitar pedals to me.

The attack and delay pedals relate to the automatic filter sweep that you can use instead of an expression pedal. Specifically they control the speed of the rising and falling parts of the filter sweep.

The sensitivity knob controls the triggering of the filter sweep. When it is set to zero (12 o'clock) nothing you do will trigger it. If you turn it very slightly to the left or right, a loud sound will trigger a filter sweep. At the extremes of it's travel, even a very soft sound from the theremin will cause it to trigger. The choice of turning it to the left or right selects whether, for example, the rising part of the sweep goes ooo-aaa and the falling part aaa-ooo, or the other way around. 

I usually alternate between playing with a new pedal and reading the manual, as I find the manual makes more sense when I have had some experience of trying out things mentioned in it. I also usually use a manual downloaded from the manufacturer's website rather than the tiny, hard to read pamphlet that they so often come with.

Most pedals sound better when you have had time to become familiar with them. :-)

Posted: 6/3/2012 9:14:26 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Coalport wrote: Gordon, I love your Talking Machine video! It is entertaining and innovative.

Thank you. :-)

The challenge for the experimentalist and FXist will be to come up with new and different ways to use the sounds so that they don't become repetitive. 

Ah, well there's always a new pedal or a new permutation of pedals to explore and find a way to use. 

And I can see a place for just straight theremin + talking box in electronic music bands. It's not unusual to hear a human voice made somewhat electronic by the use of filters or ring-mods or vocoders etc, but singers with strong singing voices and ranges are a little more uncommon. So a strong electronic voice made somewhat human by the use of filters is not such a great big leap and would bring a new element to the music which fits in well with the other instruments and the listener's expectations.
Posted: 6/3/2012 10:23:58 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

Slightly OT:

I notice that Jordan Rudess has now posted a video applying the Talking Machine to an iPad music app.

The first (and so far only comment) on the synthtopia posting about it mentions a video featuring theremin and talking box.

Posted: 6/5/2012 11:01:34 AM

From: A Coruña, Spain

Joined: 9/26/2010

Did you try it with a hotter signal? It seems more tolerant of line levels than some of my guitar pedals to me.

I don't know about the TM, but I have used two EHX pedals (the Holy Grail Plus and the Tube EQ) and they both work perfectly with the theremin's output level, despite being marketed as guitar pedals.

Posted: 6/12/2012 11:58:22 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008


The ELECTRO-HARMONIX Talking Machine is going to appeal greatly to theremin FXists and comic videographers. People who ordered TM's a few weeks ago are beginning to work with the devices they have received and I predict we are going to hear a lot of this sort of thing.

WOW-WOW, NYAH-NYAH, OYEE-OYEE plus vintage PD video footage.


Posted: 6/13/2012 12:32:26 AM

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 . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Peter said : "I predict we are going to hear a lot of this sort of thing"

I fear you are right - would be a bit happier perhaps if I had shares in EH!

What shocks me a bit is that the Wah-Wah pedal has been 'round for decades, and this video hardly makes any better use of the TM than one could get from a wah..

There was someone here who did a vocal "why - oh - why" theremin piece for (I think it was) the Moog competition, which (to my ears) sounded great and was "in place" contextually.. but this:

is just horrible! (IMO)



Posted: 6/13/2012 10:35:10 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

To my ears, with the exception of the open "AH", all the sounds that the Talking Machine can produce are comical when they are used with a theremin.

This is not a bad thing but it is very limiting and I think it will wear a bit thin after a while. How many times can you tell the same old joke and still get a laugh?

I didn't find the video above "horrible" but it was certainly predictable.

The theremin is a one-trick pony but few people want to learn the trick because it's too difficult. Instead they want to find something else the instrument can do that is easy, and inevitably the old nag disappoints.

Posted: 6/14/2012 8:46:53 PM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

This is not the E-H Talking Machine, and it is not being played with a theremin, but it sure sounds like it is. The guy in this vid is controlling a sound produced by a MIDI keyboard with a home made ribbon control and a pedal.

It produces an effect very similar to the TM formants.

We are entering a new era of musical jabberwocky!

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