So, Ann is a singer and an instrumentalist. It only seemed natural that she should own the musical instrument that most resembles singing. I, as the electronics nerd I am, have always wanted an excuse to build a theremin. So, a few years ago now, I bought her a Moog Etherwave kit and we built it together.
The Etherwave is a fully analog solid-state synthesizer, and it’s obviously a good instrument. I think it’s one of those ‘standards’ in the music world. It’s like buying a Fender guitar or Pearl drums: Not the absolute fanciest, most expensive instrument there is, but certainly better than average, and professional grade.
Fortunately, you can also get it as a kit. I’m pretty sure you can’t get a set of Pearl drums as a kit…
…er, wait. I guess you can. Anyway…
We had fun staining and finishing the case, soldering it all together, calibrating the oscillators and tuning it just right. She must like it, because she’s been playing it at least a couple times a week for years.
The one thing she kept mentioning is that she wishes the pitch response was more linear. We tried adjusting the tuning to compensate, no go. We installed Thierry Frenkel’s ESPE01 module, which helped noticeably, but it’s still not perfect.
Open Theremin to the rescue?
So, I started looking into other types of theremins and stumbled upon the Open Theremin by GaudiLabs. It’s a totally different approach to theremin design. Instead of analog reference oscillators, it uses an Arduino Uno to generate the reference signals. It also uses the Arduino to monitor the signals from the antennae and generate audio outputs from a wavetable. The digital feedback loop allows for an instrument that’s self-tuning and programmable! Reviews online were very positive about pitch linearity, too. Exciting stuff!
So I bought one, and Ann and I assembled it:
Assembly was pretty easy, and went completely smoothly.
More to come, I’m sure!