Moog Etherwave Theremin: What is it?
An instrument can become better or worse on re-release (some seem to jump up in price but not in user value), but Moog’s latest Theremin, which combines new controller features and a well-designed finish, is a redesign that creates something entirely new.
The first instrument Robert Moog sold was a Theremin kit, before developing the Moog synth along with Herbert Deutsch. The Etherwave celebrates the history of this important instrument in the evolution of synths. Known more recently for analogue synths like the Minimoog, and the Mother-32, the company can perhaps be better understood by looking at this recent incarnation of the renowned instrument.
Used often in horror films, as well as progressive rock music and game soundtracks, the Theremin retains its place as one of the most important sound effects instruments in history. It has been used by rock musicians from Jimmy Page to The Rolling Stones, and perfected by classical virtuosos like Clara Rockmore. To celebrate the Etherwave release, The Octopus Project band (featuring Yvonne Lambert on Theremin) did a special release video at the Moog Studio, (seen on the Moog website), showing that the Theremin can make good pop tracks too.
Moog Etherwave Theremin: Performance and verdict
The wood finish is highly appealing, and setting up the instrument is straightforward. (The instrument needs to be placed on a non-metallic table, with the tuning arm extending over the table edge, in order to minimise interference.) The mic stand attachment is a great addition, meaning it can be set up on stage at standing height, and used and played freely, yet contained in a small space, unlike a keyboard stand.
Volume control is done on the left-hand side and pitch control on the right, one hand controlling each. The sensitivity to small movements makes the instrument easy to play with a whole ensemble/orchestra. Vibrato can be created by a skilled player and rapid volume change can be made by adjusting the volume range button. The waveform dial sets the sound to either a pulse wave (reed) tone, or a triangle wave (vocal) tone. The brightness dial operates by either increasing the overtones on the notes to give a brighter sound or decreasing the harmonic content, leading to a rounder-edged sound on the notes. Using the pitch, volume and gate outputs, the instrument can also be used as a controller in a modular system.
Learning to play a Theremin is, like any instrument, simple in essence, yet tricky to do well. The Etherwave has been refined over decades and many companies offer them, despite their niche clientele. Different to button pushing, string playing, or reed resonating, the Theremin requires musicality and spatial awareness without the touch of hands. With a great sound, playing a Theremin which combines ease of use and output functions live is a good way to go.
The price is quite high, at £859 in the UK, but the device’s controller functions help it outperform its predecessors. Delivering tonal subtlety with a large sound, the Etherwave Theremin is a really good instrument to play and a great addition to any studio.
MusicRadar verdict: It’s pricey but with its new features, stylish finish and the same classic sound, Moog’s latest Etherwave Theremin is better than ever.
Moog Etherwave Theremin: The web says
"The latest version is the best yet, staying loyal to the original concept while adding functions that make it much more exciting."
Sound On Sound (opens in new tab)
Moog Etherwave Theremin: Hands-on demos
Moog Music Inc
Moog Etherwave Theremin: Specifications
- KEY FEATURES: Stylish theremin with a wood casing, mic stand attachment and well-designed controls .
- DIMENSIONS: 450 x 160 x 85mm (without antennas).
- WEIGHT: 2.85kg.
- CONTACT: Moog (opens in new tab)