In this review we take a look at the Theremini from Moog…
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The theremin is one of the earliest pieces of music technology out there. You’ll have seen performances of people making wobbly Forbidden Planet sci-fi noises using 20th Century wireless technology (electromagnetic fields) to change pitch and volume with either hand, using invisible (death) rays.
Moog has ‘done’ the theremin before, but this is arguably the company’s most accessible release. It’s cheap, easy to use and comes with 32 presets, so you can do more than just ‘that’ sci-fi whistle. But before we get on to that…
Setting up is straightforward. Simply plug in the antenna (which is stored on its underside), go through a (simple) calibrating setup and then use your left hand to adjust volume and your right for the pitch. We might have made that sound easier than we found it, as setting up in an office full of computers didn’t do the unit any favours – an empty room with little to interfere with an instrument that relies on EM waves turned out to be a much better option.
The unit itself is very cool-looking, kind of like a Jetsons spaceship, and ideal for that 50s vibe. It’s a little plasticky – maybe a surprise for those
expecting Moog wood, but perhaps not considering the price.
Changing scales is a bit of revelation, and you’ll find yourself learning more about the subject in two minutes playing the Theremini than in a previous lifetime of listening to music theory –the scales are laid out on-screen and the sounds are a flick of the wrist away. All manner of parameters – some obvious, such as pitch and note range – are adjustable, and there’s even a delay effect to add some variation.
And talking of variation, the 32 presets take it away – but not too far – from that eerie whistle; in truth, most are of that ilk, and we could have done with some more varied tones to really experiment with.
However, for those after an easy intro to the world of the theremin and the other-worldly nature of its sound (it’s also worth delving deeper into the fascinating life of its inventor if you have time), there’s no easier way.
- 32 presets
- 2 outs + headphone out
- Pitch/CV out
- User-selectable scale and root note (stored per preset)
- Selectable note ranges
- Built-in speaker
- Adjustable delay effect
- Built-in tuner allows you to learn pitch and scales
- Weight 1.3kg