Which theremin? Etherwave of B3 pro?

Posted: 8/2/2011 1:53:48 AM

Joined: 7/31/2011


Which theremin should I buy? B3 pro and the Moog etherwave both go for around $300 and the B3 delux for $200. I'm completely new to theremin but have played the violin for 9 years.

Posted: 8/2/2011 8:59:19 AM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Your question is a tricky one since it is based on personal taste... So please bear in mind that this is MY opinion. I am sure you'll get others.

I HAD a moog Etherwave and I didnt really like it... But a lot of people say it is a great entry level theremin. *IF* I was in your shoes, I'd scrape an extra $50 and purchase the B3 Pro. But the Deluxe, in the $200 range is the cheapest theremin you can get that sounds decent, if money is exceptionally tight.

If you don't mind the looks of the antenna and volume loop, I think a B3 it is a good choice for starting. Don't forget you'll need an Amp too...
Posted: 8/2/2011 4:00:28 PM

From: Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, UK

Joined: 10/5/2005

The look of the B3 Pro theremin antennas is no longer an issue.

A couple of days ago at Hands Off 2011, Dan burns announced that the B3 Pro design had been revamped. Gone are the wire thin antenna, replaced with a more classical look.

The Pro is a really cool looking instrument, with a tone that is not available on the etherwave. The wood has a professional finish that does not come across as well in the photos on the Burns website as it could.
Posted: 8/2/2011 4:40:51 PM

From: A Coruña, Spain

Joined: 9/26/2010

Maybe you have already done this, but just in case... look for both theremins in youtube, there are videos of talented people playing them that can help you decide which one you like more (although beware: the same theremin can sound very different played by differnt performers!)
Posted: 8/6/2011 10:53:18 AM

From: Colmar, France

Joined: 12/31/2007

I have to add that I as an old Etherwave Standard owner, tuner, "modder" and "optimizer" and also owner of the small B3 Standard theremin, have been very surprised by the improved playability of the new B3 Pro with the thicker antennas. Dan Burns told me that he had at the same time made some changes on the oscillator circuits. The result is that the linearity is much improved (still continuously somewhat compressing towards higher frequencies, but ways not as much as before) and the pitch knob allows to choose a comfortable tone spacing in every register (you should tune it depending the range in which you will play). The volume response is also smoother and allows a much more differentiated playing and expression.

Unfortunately I was not the winner of this instrument (there was a drawing for one at the end of the Hands Off symposium), but I would have liked to complete my collection with this fine and nice looking theremin.
Posted: 8/29/2011 12:52:49 PM

From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Joined: 1/1/2011

I started off with the B3 as a gift but it seemed more like toy compared to other theremins because of the short box. I then purchased a used Moog Etherwave standard and played it for about 8 months. Thomas Grillo produces many of his videos with the B3 Pro and I liked the sound. After a few emails back and forth with Tom discussing it I decided to buy the B3 Pro and love it.

GordonC is correct in that the pictures on the website don't do the instrument any justice. I ordered the walnut cabinet and was expecting an inexpensive wood such as ash or poplar stained to look like walnut. To my surprise it is constructed of solid walnut that is beautifully finished!

The sound is only slightly more refined than the B3 with a smoother string-like tone compared to the Etherwave. After getting used to it I use B3 pro about 90% of the time now.
Posted: 9/18/2011 3:58:22 PM

From: Moscow, Russia

Joined: 6/17/2009

Same story!
At first I ordered B3 theremin and learned to play it in the beginning of 2011. Since in that time i had no other theremins to compare with, I liked what i had, but later when I've got Moog Etherwave Standart and Dominik's Voicematic I made a comparition.
So, I love the Tone of the B3 definitely and sometime even more than the sound of my favorite Voicematic, yet it gets less stable and the spacing becomes more narrow as you get closer to antenna. I have never tried B3Pro. I supose there are good changes in relation to linearity!
As to Etherwave Standard..its been said many times on forum about its realability, stability.
And to me what is missing in ES that is the sound like PRO has)))))))
Posted: 9/19/2011 9:32:31 AM

From: In between the Pitch and Volume hand ~ New England

Joined: 12/17/2010

Sergei -

Could you please describe your voicematic? What you like about it? Linearity? A little review on it? I'd appreciate that :)
Posted: 9/20/2011 7:48:03 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

As far as tone is concerned, much can be done to the sound of a theremin through processing. As Bob Moog said in ELECTRONIC ODYESSEY, "...the theremin is completely at home in the electronic environment". If you don't like the sound of your theremin, experiment with ways to change it into a sound you do like.

If you are a violinist and you don't like the sound of your fiddle, you have no choice but to get rid of it and buy another instrument. As electronic musicians, we have alternatives not available to acoustic players. I am often amazed by thereminists who say they don't like the sound of some particular theremin when so much can be done to change it. They shop for theremins the way they might shop for a clarinet or a cello!

The addition of a high quality EQ unit can do wonders for a theremin that lacks presence, or sounds thin and brassy, or too "throaty", or whatever. The problem is that the kinds of devices that will give you the results you're looking for can cost more than your theremin - especially if your theremin is an entry level instrument.

If you like the warmth of the tone produced by tubes rather than transistors, a unit like the TLAudio 5051 (http://www.tlaudio.co.uk/docs/products/5051.shtml) can radically improve the timbre of your theremin - even if the theremin you are playing is essentially a toy. You can pick a 5051 up on ebay for about $500.00.

I understand that's a lot of money for many people, particularly for newcomers to the instrument, but if you are playing at a professional level, and presenting yourself as a "thereminist" on national TV, you owe it to yourself (not to mention to your audience) to be the very best you can be.

As thereminists, if we really want to seduce an audience, we have to outshine the novelty of the instrument we are playing with the beauty of the music we are making.

Dats a biggy!

Posted: 9/20/2011 3:22:28 PM

From: St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Joined: 4/9/2008

I own a modified Etherwave. The native sound of this instrument I find less than ideal.

Before acquiring it, however, I had purchased a Yamaha S80 synthesizer because I am principally a keyboardist.

Fortunately, the synthesizer has an analog to digital input which allows virtually limitless modification of the theremin's signal.

Everyone who has heard one of my settings has commented how much the theremin sounds like a soprano vocalist. This setting makes it a good choice for pieces such as the Rachmaninoff Vocalise.

I have created other settings with different amounts of reverb, echo, and other effects. Each would have its place depending on the music being performed.

Also, the synthesizer enables me to provide backing tracks for the theremin. Currently, I am practicing Gershwin's "Summertime" with piano accompaniment (sound familiar?).

The downside, of course, is that this rig is not very portable. The synthesizer weighs a ton, and then there are the speakers, cables, etc.

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