Buying Guide 2021 and Beyond

Posted: 11/9/2021 9:00:22 AM
George Langley

Joined: 11/9/2021

Hello all. Am looking for an analog theremin for musical performance (not just sound effects). Ideally, it would have some timbre options (sine, square, etc.) and possibly CV output to control external synthesizers.
I found the Guide to Buying a Theremin article immensely helpful, but somewhat less-helpful was the Models page, with broken links to defunct companies or products, and a mix of novelty toys to real options. So am hoping we can sum up and maintain the options currently available.

Moog - currently, their only commercially-available model is the Theremini, which, as someone described it, is really a "gesture-controlled digital synthesizer". And all other models listed on their site (Etherwave, Etherwave Plus and the Claravox Centennial) are out of production. So, short of finding a used model on a third-party site, Moog is not an option for a true analog theremin.
Burns - a number of models on their site include the original B3, B3 Deluxe (larger with 5-octave range) and B3 Pro (adds removable antennae and a mute touch plate), plus some pitch-only options. No timbre or CV options, but reasonably-priced and it seems respected.
PAiA - offers the Theremax in various kit forms - theremin, front panel/antennae, case and various combinations thereof. Offers a square wave option and CV outputs, as well as other controller options. If you don't mind a kit, this seems to offer a lot, although the FAQ lists "2 to 3 octaves" as a practical range.
Harrison Instruments - has two pitch/volume models: the 302 and the high-end 151. However, the 302 is currently out-of-stock, with a email link for pricing and "minimum order requirements"... how many are you going to need? Both feature two horizontal antennae versus a traditional pole, with a louder-closer operation, which may be off-putting for the traditionalists. Both are battery-powered and advertise a 5-octave useful range.
Wavefront - offers two models: the "Classic" recreating the original RCA theremin look; and the "Portable", housed in a briefcase! Each have a 5+octave range and feature some tonal control. A theremin-to-MIDI/CV controller is also available to control other synths and devices.
Open.Theremin - an open source project, based on an Arduino Uno, with a couple of versions available. Can piece your own kit together, or purchase kits, as well as ready-made units, on various third-party sites. Auto-calibration is a big feature of this project. But again, appears to be digital soundwaves and not analog.
Schematics - for the real hard-core DIYers, various diagrams and parts lists such as the Maestro and Pierre Genet are floating around.
Behringer - in 2020, Behringer announced plans for a low-cost "Behremin". But so far, seems to just be vapourware - nothing on the Behringer site as of this writing.
Other - lots of pitch-only items are out there, but aren't of much use for playing/performance.

So... feel free to comment, correct or add to this list. But am leaning towards a Burns or the PAiA right now. Again, am looking for true analog with full pitch and volume control for musical performance.
Thanks.

Posted: 11/9/2021 2:11:43 PM
Ruslan

Joined: 7/23/2010

The list does not include 2 most interesting theremins: Subscope (best-sounding traditional) and D-Lev (the most advanced digital).

Posted: 11/11/2021 3:08:27 PM
Flounderguts

Joined: 10/24/2020

I think that's a pretty accurate list. You would have to commission a subscope (I think...or does Dominik actually stock instruments?) and there are only a few D-Lev prototypes in existence.

I own a lot of the theremins you list. I would not hesitate to recommend a PaiA Theremax as a performance theremin. I also really like my Open Theremin V3. I cannot recommend the V4, even though it sounds nice. The pitch and volume field adjustment knobs are so close to the antennas (antennae?) that reaching for the knob influences the pitch AND volume, making it frustrating to tune! 

Some people love the Burns, but I don't play mine, much. It's finicky to set up, and not fun to play.

The Behremin was a design study (as they clearly said on their original post) although lots of synth news sites ran with it as if it were a news release. It could still come, but don't wait for it!

If you don't have confidence in your electronics assembly skills, I'd be happy to build the guts of a Theremax for you...I've built about a dozen of them. But it's not hard, even for a first ever soldering project!

Posted: 11/15/2021 9:22:46 PM
Flounderguts

Joined: 10/24/2020

As per another post by Ujan, I think we have to add the Golem Theremin to the list. The Hypnos (with a stereo output!) looks really interesting!

Posted: 11/18/2021 4:56:20 AM
Yngvox Moogsteen

From: Midwest US

Joined: 9/23/2021

I really like the Burns B3Deluxe.  For the price, it’s a great beginner or travel theremin.  I love my etherwaveplus.  I really love my Claravox.  The story of how I got my Claravox is crazy.  I had one ordered for 7 months and Sweetwater told me it would be another 4 to 6 months if I was lucky.  For fun   I began looking at eBay for a etherwave pro ( If I won the lottery.)  Ha ha ...On one of the pages Pitbull Audio said they had some Claravoxs in stock.  I assumed when I called they would say they were taking preorders.  I called.  The guy said it was probably a  mistake,  then he said “Wow, we do have three.”  While still on the phone He walked over to their warehouse found them and I picked out number 333 and had it in a week.  A special number for me and my wife.  Can’t believe I was  able to choose my  instrument.  It has been quirky on occasion but I love it.  I wish analog mode had register changing.  I also wish you didn’t need a new IPad for many of its features in modern mode.
There’s a spiritual side to this story I won’t go into now. But I will say I know how lucky I am and I am grateful ...
Theremin World has really helped me continue to learn and grow as a thereminist  Lots of knowledge and wisdom..
Thanks 

Posted: 11/19/2021 5:11:51 AM
OmTiommm

Joined: 11/19/2021

I really like the Burns B3Deluxe.  For the price, it’s a great beginner or travel theremin.  I love my etherwaveplus.  I really love my Claravox.  The story of how I got my Claravox is crazy.  I had one ordered for 7 months and Sweetwater told me it would be another 4 to 6 months if I was lucky.  For fun   I began looking at eBay for a etherwave pro ( If I won the lottery.)  Ha ha ...On one of the pages Pitbull Audio said they had some Claravoxs in stock.  I assumed when I called they would say they were taking preorders.  I called.  The guy said it was probably a  mistake,  then he said “Wow, we do have three.”  While still on the phone He walked over to their warehouse found them and I picked out number 333 and had it in a week.  A special number for me and my wife.  Can’t believe I was  able to choose my  instrument.  It has been quirky on occasion but I love it.  I wish analog mode had register changing.  I also wish you didn’t need a new IPad for many of its features in modern mode.There’s a spiritual side to this story I won’t go into now. But I will say I know how lucky I am and I am grateful ...Theremin World has really helped me continue to learn and grow as a thereminist  Lots of knowledge and wisdom..Thanks

Wow lucky you.  3 left and you got the one with 333.
Interesting your post caught my eye immidiatly.
Would actully love to hear the story behind it.  I have been seeing lots of weird repetitive numbers when I opening myself up to the spirit side or whatever it called.  Didnt know even its such a thing at firtst.
Somehow I think more like theremin found me than me found the theremin lol
I didnt have any music background, never thought about in my life I will play any instruments..and ending up able to play some my favory songs and connect to my heart was a truly blessed.

Posted: 11/19/2021 5:26:19 AM
Yngvox Moogsteen

From: Midwest US

Joined: 9/23/2021

The theremin called to me also after forty years of guitar,banjo mandolin, sitar and many other instruments.  It connects to you like no other instrument. A totally zen experience.

Posted: 1/22/2022 6:42:40 PM
Gibarian

Joined: 12/27/2013

Good news! A Moog employee commented on the future of the Etherwave in today's Claravox workshop with Dorit Chrysler:

Etherwaves are currently not being produced at the Moog factory but it is on their radar to reintroduce them to the market.

Posted: 1/22/2022 7:54:43 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"Etherwaves are currently not being produced at the Moog factory but it is on their radar to reintroduce them to the market."  - Gibarian

I wasn't listening as closely as I should have been right there, but I sorta got the feeling they mainly didn't want to say they were completely closing the door on the EW?  That it was more of a non-answer than an answer?  Maybe I just need a new secret decoder ring.

They totally sidestepped the several questions of how many Cvoxes will be produced.  "We make the future."

They also acted like the long term locked up / mute issue was news to them - it's been common knowledge among users for months now.  "We'll look into it."

Posted: 1/22/2022 8:21:27 PM
Gibarian

Joined: 12/27/2013

"I wasn't listening as closely as I should have been right there, but I sorta got the feeling they mainly didn't want to say they were completely closing the door on the EW?  That it was more of a non-answer than an answer?" - dewster

Yeah, "it's on our radar" is rather vague, though it sounded like "most likely yes just unsure when" to me, subjectively.


"They totally sidestepped the several questions of how many Cvoxes will be produced." - dewster


If I recall correctly, 2000 was quoted as the total number of units produced, but my memory is fuzzy.

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