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Moog Music Inc. Moog Theremini (EW-THEREMINI-01-01)
- Pitch correction w/ selectable scales and root note
- Built in Tuner allows you to learn pitch and scales
- 32 Wavetable based presets
- Built in speaker
- Headphone output
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About Moog Music
The employee-owned company and its customers carry on the legacy of its founder, electronic musical instrument pioneer, Dr. Bob Moog. All of Moog’s instruments are hand built in its factory on the edge of downtown Asheville, NC.
- Pitch correction w/ selectable scales and root note
- Built in tuner allows you to learn pitch and scales
- 32 Wavetable based presets
- Built in speaker (2-inch, full-range)
- Headphone output (1/8” (3.5mm) TRS headphone jack) & Two 1/4" audio outputs
- Removable pitch antenna - built in storage compartment on bottom-side
- Built in 3/8” Mic stand and Camera stand adaptor
The Theremini is a re-imagination of one of the oldest electronic musical instruments in history, and Bob Moog’s first love – the Theremin. Its design fuses the experience of performing with an instrument you don’t actually touch, with a powerful sound engine derived from Moog’s synthesizer, Animoog. The Theremini ensures immediate success to any player at any skill level, while providing ways to experiment with music, education, and gestural control.
- Recessed in the top of the Theremini is a compact speaker perfect for private rehearsal and quick setup anywhere.
- Silent rehearsal is also possible via the front panel headphone jack. Simply plug in ear-buds or headphones and the built-in speaker becomes silent.
- For live performance and gestural control, the rear panel features two line level audio outputs, a pitch CV output with selectable range, and a mini USB jack for MIDI I/O and connectivity.
Musical Success Regardless of Age or Physical Ability
Huge Sound without Touch
A completely hands-free experience combined with a powerful sound engine derived from Moog’s powerful synthesizer, Animoog.
Assistive Pitch Correction
Ensures a fun experience while allowing each individual to adjust the instrument's level of playing difficulty.
Visual Feedback and Education
A built-in tuner displays each note as it is played - educating musicians about pitch and scales.
A Re-Imagination of one of the Oldest Electronic Musical Instruments
Assistive pitch quantization allows each player to adjust the instrument's level of playing difficulty. At the maximum position, the Theremini will play every note in a selected scale perfectly, making it impossible to play a wrong note. As this control is decreased, more expressive control of pitch and vibrato becomes possible. When set to minimum, the Theremini will perform as a traditional Theremin - the analog heterodyning oscillator controls pitch and there is absolutely no assistance.
A built-in tuner supplies real-time visual feedback of each note as it is played, as well as its proximity to perfection. This is useful for correcting a user's playing position, and educating younger players about pitch and scales.
The presets section allows you to select from 32 wave or wavetable-based patches, store a selected scale & root note, set and recall a specified playing range, and specify per-patch settings for the stereo delay.
- Pitch Detection: Heterodyning analog oscillator
- Synthesis Engine: Animoog-derived wavetable
- Display: 128 x 64 pixel backlit LCD
- USB MIDI: Full-speed USB 2.0; USB Mini-B connector
- Power Jack: 12VDC 300mA Center Pin Positive (Power Supply Provided)
- External Power Supply: 100-240VAC 50/60Hz 3W (Use Only Provided Supply)
The Theremini is a re-imagination of one of the oldest electronic musical instruments in history, and Bob Moog’s first love - the Theremin. Its design fuses the experience of performing with an instrument you don’t actually touch, with a powerful sound engine derived from Moog’s award winning synthesizer, Animoog. The Theremini guarantees immediate success to any player at any skill level, while providing new ways to experiment with music, education, and gestural control. Assistive pitch quantization allows each player to adjust the instrument's level of playing difficulty. At the maximum position, the Theremini will play every note in a selected scale perfectly, making it impossible to play a wrong note. As this control is decreased, more expressive control of pitch and vibrato becomes possible. When set to minimum, the Theremini will perform as a traditional Theremin - the analog heterodyning oscillator controls pitch and there is absolutely no assistance. A built-in tuner supplies real-time visual feedback of each note as it is played, as well as its proximity to perfection. This is useful for correcting a user's playing position, and educating younger players about pitch and scales. The presets section allows you to select from 32 wave or wavetable-based patches, store a selected scale & root note, set and recall a specified playing range, and specify per-patch settings for the included stereo delay. Recessed in the top of the Theremini is a compact speaker perfect for private rehearsal and quick setup anywhere. Silent rehearsal is also possible via the front panel headphone jack. Simply plug in ear-buds or headphones and the built-in speaker becomes silent. For live performance and gestural control, the rear panel features two line level audio outputs, a pitch CV output with selectable range, and a mini USB jack for MIDI I/O and connectivity.
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Others in the family enjoy this moog instrument, but find it hard to play, as there is no guide to where to wave your hands - the positions of the notes change with the setting of the pitch control, and the length of time the instrument has been turned on, so it changes . . .
I presume it will take some time to become proficient on this exciting contraption, but I don't care - making sounds that wave out of key, change key, fail dismally and sound horrible are all great fun. The problem I am having is thinking of things to play, not playing things; I really don't mind if it sounds strange - that is the nature of the beast - I am an older musician, having played many instruments for the last fifty years, so my pitch is very near perfect - allowing me to make confidence gaining observations on YouTube watching other Theremin players do marvels on the instrument - the confidence I gained was because almost all of them lost the key on occasion. I therefore do not mind when I do it - I have only had it a week, and make fewer misses every day.
One thing I have found with the instrument, is that it works more precisely when attached to a microphone stand, well away from anything else - indeed, on a table larger than itself, it makes no noise whatsoever. The dog was amused by the screeching noises made when it ran past..
Anyone who wants a Theremin, but does not want to make a kit, could do a lot worse than trying this instrument out - it is well priced, well made and great fun.
Playing a Theremin is hard. Really hard, and this has helped keep this instrument mostly off the radar, and relegated it to obscure cameos in science fiction movies for decades.
This is the instrument that could change all of that. Moog is flexing their software muscles here, and the Theremini has sound generation capabilities fueled by their Animoog sound engine, a powerful software wavetable synthesizer for the IOS platform. There are 32 presets available ranging from the classic Theremin scary Halloween tones to deep Moog bass drones, to interplanetary space ship flybys.
It is tempting to try and compare this new instrument to the traditional Theremin (and believe me, there are those who seem unable to do anything else), but to do so would be missing the point.
Having had a chance to borrow a Moog Etherwave from a friend and practice with it for several months, as a synthesist I found that its rather narrow tonal range, limited ability to interface to other synths and difficulty to play in tune (thanks to my shoddy technique) didn't offer enough incentive for me to seriously pursue it any farther. I'm guessing that the traditional Theremin has always had a limited number of people who are really interested in learning to master this difficult instrument. However, the lure of a gestural-based instrument that could neatly interface with both vintage and modern synths has always been great, and this is just what the new Theremini brings to the table, courtesy of the brilliant engineers at Moog.
When I saw the info for the Theremini, I imagined that this would offer much more of interest to my tastes. This has certainly turned out to be true for me, and I suspect it will for many others as well.
The big news here is the completely variable pitch correction software, and this is what makes it so attractive to the wistful novice Thereminist/Synthesist. With this control turned all the way down, the instrument responds just like a standard Theremin, with pitch infinitely variable as you move you hand close to the pitch antenna. As the control is turned up, the pitch is more closely locked into place with hand movement, until when completely up only the notes of the selected scale are produced, with no wrong or off pitch tones. With the control about halfway up, you can easily hit the right note and still be able to add subtle vibrato and other cool inflections. Having completely adjustable control between the two extremes is an excellent feature, and very liberating. An on board tuner shows you what note is being produced by note name (also functioning as a silent preview before you raise the volume of a note) and a deviation indicator for pitch shows how close to the proper pitch you are for each note. You can choose from 22 different normal and esoteric scales to spice up your creations, and the volume antenna lets you fade sounds in and out, pick out and shape any individual notes or continously glissando through the selected scale.
Be aware that, depending on the scale selected, the tuner will only show the notes available in that scale, and the deviation bar of the tuner shows the distance necessary to reach the next note of the scale (which may be far). This can be confusing to some users, leading them to think that the tuner is inaccurate, because selecting different factory presets on the Theremini also selects different scales, which changes how the tuner responds. Tested against a Peterson strobe tuner, it is actually accurate to about .1 cents, which is very, very good.
Built in stereo digital delay adds depth to the sonic landscape, and I found that after a bit of practice, I was up and creating my own ethereal melodies. Super Fun! As my technique improves with practice, I'll be able to dial down the pitch correction until hopefully at some point I'll be able to hit the proper pitches on my own! The instrument allows you to calibrate both the actual usable playing space, as well as the note range that can be fit inside it, enabling you to fine tune the playing experience to your particular tastes. This is a more complicated calibration procedure than the simple controls provided by a standard Theremin (typically just a single knob) but with some practice and patience it can yield a much more customized playing experience.
For many decades now, the true beauty of most Moog instruments is that they have offered a wealth of features and capabilities available to those that choose to dig deeper, and the Theremini is certainly no exception in this regard. As a stand-alone instrument, the Theremini frankly seems kind of limited at first glance. There isn't much available to the user past selecting the presets and some rudimentary editing (and this has seemed to frustrate some less experienced users), but there are a large number of "under the hood" goodies that can be easily and powerfully accessed via Midi, and these will allow you to customize how you choose to interact with the instrument. Pitch Quantization, note scales, note range and root key (and much more!) are all under instant Midi control, as are the filter, delay and wavetable controls. Using a typical set of Midi pedals and switches allows you completely re-shape the instrument and playing experience on the fly while performing. Placing the Pitch Quantization under Midi pedal control is especially satisfying, as it lets you precisely control how much it affects the pitch, while leaving your hands free for better control. If you're using a Midi-capable sequencer for backing accompaniment, this even allows you to tie exact control of the instrument directly to the musical score, freeing the performer up to concentrate on precise antenna control.
The small built-in mono speaker is nice for easy practice, but be sure to connect the stereo line outs on the back to a decent amplification system to get a taste of what the Animoog-powered synth engine can really deliver! The built in headphone jack disconnects the speaker and allows for late-night playing without disturbing anyone (very thoughtful inclusion, and true stereo performance here as well).
Some quibbles with the unit are that it feels a little cheaply made, to be expected I guess with so much packed into it at such a low price point (this unit costs just a bit more than the cheapest Moogerfooger pedal!!!). The knobs feel a little wobbly, but seem to work well enough. There's a volume knob, but it only affects the volume of the built in speaker and headphone amp, and has no effect on the main stereo outputs (which can be controlled via Midi, of course). It's handy to have immediate control of the overall volume, and hopefully this can be added in a future software update.
Speaking of updates, a USB port on the back allows for connection to a computer for this and other activities. An editor is in the works and should be available shortly (it's now available, see below) to let you create or modify your own presets as well as access other under the hood features. A MIDI interface can be connected here as well to allow control of modern synths via Theremin, and a CV out jack on the back helps you interface it's Theremini Goodness to more old school instruments. Each antenna can be assigned to your choice of a Midi CC number. The CV out jack can be assigned to follow either antenna, and can be externally scaled to allow a standard 1V/oct synth to track it for more than 6 octaves, effectively turning the Theremini into an absolute analog monster. These are the touches that really propel this unit beyond the standard Theremin capabilities.
Although there's a stand connector on the bottom of the unit, it fits the smaller European stand connector, which is admittedly kind of weird. An adapter is easily available for around $3, however. Having it on a stand is a definite advantage, although the grippy rubber feet on the bottom allow it to perch quite nicely on a tabletop as well, which is where my unit spent its first few weeks until I got an adapter from Ebay.
As a final thought about the relationship between the new Theremini and a standard Theremin, although they do share some similarities (mainly gestural control) they really are very different instruments. If you really like what the Theremin does ( look, sound and play like a Theremin) then that's likely the instrument for you, and Moog and others make some fine ones. However, if you're interested in an instrument that goes way beyond those boundaries in just about every direction, then you may find that the new Theremini is just what you've been looking for. In my experience, thinking of the Theremini as a replacement Theremin is like thinking of a MiniMoog as a replacement Harpsichord.
This is a serious reimagining of a classic instrument, and Moog has brought a lot to the table in a cool looking instrument that brings the power of the Theremin to everyone, even a novice like me!
Edit: Moog has already released a firmware update that fixes a problem where sometimes the volume antenna would not work. This would cause the unit to turn on, but not make any sound. Although I didn't have this problem with my unit, I noticed that one of the reviewers here seemed to have this exact problem, and their unit would likely be fixed by downloading and installing the newest update. Also worth mentioning is that the USB connector on the back is a mini-style connector so you will probably need an appropriate adapter cable to interface the Theremini with your computer or IPad.
Moog has now released their FREE editor for the IPad (Windows and OSX versions to follow) and this really will make a great addition to the capabilities of the unit. All of the current editing possibilities are brought out to a very nice graphic interface, and this allows for creation and editing of as many presets as you want. A librarian is included with a bunch of new cool presets, and this also gives you the capability to store your new creations, and email them for archival purposes (or even share them with like-minded individuals). Presets can be easily swapped between the librarian and the 32 user preset slots on the Theremin, allowing you to precisely set your unit up for stand alone live performance.
Keep in mind that since this unit has user updateable firmware, all of this just represents the capabilities of the unit RIGHT NOW. Who knows what goodies the future holds in store?