thinking about buying one. A few questions

Posted: 5/25/2020 5:49:28 PM

Joined: 5/25/2020

Okay so next month is my brothers birthday. My brother lives music. Everything he does is about it. Several bands, teaches it, etc. Now I want to surprise him with a theremin. But also kinda for myself and my dad because we plan the gift to be the 'usage' of it. Since the instrument seems so spectaculair and unique that I can't wait to try it myself.

So, I am currently researching it. Now I've seen there are about 5 different versions of it. Not that many, but unlike most instruments there seem to quite some differences between them, so, I am unsure which one I should get.

I have seen the cheapest one for 150 euros (Thor theremin) and the most expensive one for 608 euros (Moog etherwave Plus Theremin).

But what is a good one to buy. Since I dont know whether this particular instrument would be something my brother would enjoy (I expect he will, as he plays every instrument) and I know it known for being a very instrument, I am inclined to go for one of the cheaper ones. On the other hand, if he does enjoy it and he wants to perform with it, it'd be crappy if he'd have to buy another one for it because the cheap one won't do.

In my research on youtube I found this one

This one seems really interesting, by using voice plus Theremin. Which Theremin is this? Is this the Moog etherwave plus Theremin?

If it is, would cheaper versions of the theremin also be able to do that? If so, which? Would it also allow the use of synthesizers as well?

In several of the vids I see all sorts of stuff in the background. Loopstations, synthesizers, whatnot. What exactly do you need to play theremin? Would the theremin itself do or do you also need speakers, loopstations etc?

Lets say the voice + theremin thing in the video. What is required for that?

The last question is something about making your own. While my dad and I are willing to pay for the most expensive one if that'd be the one that would be able to do the coolest stuff, I'd like it if it could be a bit cheaper by making our own. However, I have two left hands and it'd be mostly up to my dad to make it, but he is scared. He is worried that, because he doesnt know how it is supposed to sound, he will do it wrong. He knows the basics of electricity and he is kinda handy. How easy would it be for someone with no experience with a theremin or actually putting a set of any kind together?

That'd be all for now. My apologies for not having very direct questions. I am still so unsure on a theremin I don't even know what I have to ask. But i'd love to hear what you guys think would be a good one to buy

Posted: 5/25/2020 6:04:55 PM

Joined: 5/25/2020

Hi Feben,
That's a Moog Etherwave Pro being played and since they have been out of production for a decade or so, one would be looking at a few to several thousand US dollars on the used market.  A professional quality theremin does not have a speaker so you would need an amplifier.  I use a regular guitar amp with reverb and tremolo and I keep the amp set pretty clean.  If you want to use other guitar/voice/synth effects, as many of us do, then one would just go for it.  I use a delay and looper pretty regularly.  To create music like Carolina in the video one needs a tremendous amount of talent and practice along with a looper, professional theremin and some sort of amplification system for both.

I wouldn't recommend a theremin build as my first attempt.

Posted: 5/25/2020 7:34:04 PM

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

Feben, buy the Moog Etherwave.  Get the Plus if you think you'll be hooking it up to analog synth type modules in the future, the Standard if not.  You may be able to find one used for a lot less.  Old Big Briar Theremins are early versions of the Etherwave Standard.  Don't get led into the weeds by non-engineers who can't draw schematics and can't even play the thing.

Posted: 5/26/2020 9:15:04 AM

Joined: 5/25/2020

Okay so from what I understand putting one together ourselves isn't a good option.

The version that is being used in these vids isn't an option either, as that is definitely out of our price range.

@Okay so an amplifier. So if one were want use voice + theremin, all you'd need is an amplifier, a loop station and a theremin?

@oldtemacula the sound sample was awesome. I love it. What did you use for that? (edit: Okay I listened some longer. Many false notes. If that took a lifetime of practise, I can only imagine how difficult this is. The sound itself is lovely, though)

@dewster Alright, so, a moog etherwave. What do you mean by 'hooking it up to analog synth type modules'? Mind you, I know nothing of theremins yet.
Would a moog etherwave allow... the voice thing + playing it? And would it possibly allow synthesizers to be plugged in as well?

I myself have no equipment whatsoever. No amplifier or anything. My dad has an amplifier and a loopstation and my brother probably has everything. If it's just a loopstation you really need to do the singing (as we all three like to sing) then that'd be fine. As long as I don't also need all sort of set ups and synthesizers as I can see in some vids.

Posted: 5/26/2020 12:48:44 PM

From: Minnesota USA

Joined: 11/27/2015

I'll give another vote for the Moog Etherwave Standard or Plus as a first and possibly lifelong purchase.  And although there are many bargains to be had out there for used instruments (it's easy to become disillusioned), there is some merit to buying new so that you are sure that it is in proper working condition.  It is a strange and wonderful instrument but it is helpful to not have to guess whether something is wrong when you encounter it for the first time.

The Etherwave Standard generates it's own voice by the analog process of mixing two oscillators and outputting the difference frequency as audio. The tones or timbres available can be adjusted by two variable potentiometers that perform some limited waveshaping.  There are some pleasant voices to be found in there, but many are harsh and nasally, and you will eventually want at least an outboard reverb and possibly more processing. And as a minimum you will need either headphones or an inexpensive instrument amplifier (generally an acoustic guitar or keyboard amplifier and preferably not a regular electric guitar amp).  You can also plug into any home audio system that you may already have.

The Plus model contains an extra circuit board that converts the pitch and volume of the basic theremin into industry-standard control voltages (this is the "CV" acronym you'll see) that are compatible with the zillions of analog synthesizer keyboards or modules out there.  This then makes the theremin perform solely as a pitch and volume controller, and the actual audio is generated in the outboard analog module or keyboard.  This extends the theremin's versatility and provides an almost limitless range of voice and special effect capabilities. 

You can upgrade the Standard model to the Plus version later if you want to wait, but it does require some basic skills.  If Moog no longer offers the Plus upgrade kit, I have a few factory-new CV boards.

I'm sure Dewster can elaborate on this, but I was up earlier and beat him to the reply.  Ha!

Posted: 5/26/2020 12:54:51 PM

From: The East of the Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

The standard Moog Etherwave, a suitable microphone, a loop station and an amplifier + loudspeaker(s) (keyboard amplifier, 'acoustic' guitar amp, powered monitor or small P.A.) are the minimum needed for the type of things Carolina Eyck does with her theremin + voice compositions. The standard Etherwave gives the theremin sound on its output, the Etherwave Plus has additional CV (Control Voltage) and Gate outputs that enable it to control synthesizers, synth modules and some effect pedals/boxes and has an additional headphones output as well.  One can make it as simple, EW Std theremin -> amplifier + loudspeaker(s) or as complicated with EW Plus with synths/modules/racks and/or effect pedals hooked up via the CV/Gate outputs as one wants.

Posted: 5/26/2020 10:08:11 PM

Joined: 5/25/2020

Okay, thanks everyone. So, either the moog etherwave or plus. The option for it to work with synthesizers and modules makes me feel like this is the thing that we want to do it eventually. The idea to upgrade a standard model to plus version later probably isn't the most ideal option. Because my dad isn't too hyped about the idea of doing something like that and the last time I tried to soldering was about 20 years ago and I grabbed the wrong side. I still remember the melting skin. So, I think the best option is a moog etherwave plus.

The costs are kinda high, with all the additional equipment included, but my brother has all these things and the gift is ultimately for him so I think that is fine. It's more for my.... wish to try it I'd need to buy additional stuff. Well, from what I understand, just to try the theremin you don't really need anything. Or does it produce no sound unless you have an amplifier?

Dreadvox, do you happen to know where I could get the cheapest moog etherwave plus? Or someone else, but I'm also from the Netherlands. Neither marktplaats or seems to sell one. I've seen it on amazon but with the shipping... if you know something/somewhere cheaper

Posted: 5/26/2020 11:46:38 PM

From: The East of the Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

The EW Plus does give the most options and versatility, and compared to other good quality musical instruments the price isn't that terribly high. I got mine from and Bax Music may have them too, check both and compare prices. Moog used to have kits for Etherwave Standard and Plus and DIY upgrade kits to make a Plus from a Standard Etherwave, but I don't think those are available anymore nowadays. A slightly more expensive option would be to order from Wilco Botermans and have the options of a custom color, rounded corners and/or installing of an ESPE01 module (bass extention/smoothing though decoupling of oscillators)
(Etherwave Plus @

Posted: 5/27/2020 10:30:04 AM

Joined: 5/25/2020

Thanks guys! I bought the EW plus. I can't wait to get my hands on it. And get it ready for my brothers birthday but I will have two weeks before that. If I have any questions I know where to be

Posted: 5/28/2020 12:18:45 PM

From: The East of the Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

Cool. Forgot to mention that it is best to have a microphone stand to mount the theremin on, and a suitable audio cable to connect the theremin to an amplifier, and to make sure that the amplifier it is plugged into is earthed (NL: geaard, verbonden met randaarde).

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