Tom Farrell -> Theremin -> Theremin comparison chart

Theremin Comparison Chart

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Feature Comparison of Current Theremin Models

In the following table, a box labeled "?" indicates that I don't know: it should not be interpreted to mean that the feature is missing or that it is necessarily present. If you are a manufacturer and I have made any error, I'm sorry, please contact me and it will be my pleasure to make corrections as soon as possible. If you know the answer to one of the boxes labeled "?", please contact me to tell me so I can fill it in. Thanks!

The instruments shown in the grid are not ordered by any rank; the position of a brand or instrument in the list is not indicative of anything about its quality. Features listed are only those that are intended for use without modification: features requiring modification to the stock instrument are not listed. Prices are shown in United States dollars and do not include shipping. The tilde ("~") symbol means "approximately". Prices may have changed between the time of publication of this page and the time you download and read it. Some prices are converted from other currencies and the conversion rate may have changed between the time of publication of this page and the time you download and read it. Quantity discounts are not shown here and may apply. Check prices with the manufacturer or vendor before making a purchase.

 

Brand Moog Music PAiA Kees Enkelaar Jaycar Burns Wavefront No1derland theremin.co.uk Theremin Planet TAK Theremaniacs ApogeeKits Brand
Model Etherwave Standard Etherwave kit Theremax Mk. 1 Kit mk.1 Zep Handheld GS B3 B3 Deluxe B3 Pro Classic Travel case 002 008 009 stereo Pocket Pocket kit Eclipse Elysian Pitch theremin E-Wind Standard Kit Junior theremin kit Model
Availability Now Now Now No Now Now Now Now Now Now Now Now ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Now Now Now Availability
List Price $399 $349 $231.40 $205 ~$52 ~$86 $83 $79.95 $99.95 $152 $199.95 $350 $1350 $625 ~$117 ~$357 ~$550 ~$196 ~$137 ~$315 ~$791 ~$191 ~$700 $125 $79 $21.95 List Price
Assembled Yes Board Kit Yes Yes Kit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Kit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Board Kit? Assembled
Origin US US US Australia Australia Australia US US US US US US US US UK UK UK UK UK UK UK Europe Japan US US US Origin
Primary functionality
Pitch antenna Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Pitch antenna
Pitch field adjustment knob Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? Yes Two (fine, course) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? Yes Yes No Pitch field adjustment knob
Pitch field size (*1) Very big Very big ? ? ? ? ~2-3 ft ~2-3 ft ~2-3 ft ~2-3 ft ~2-3 ft ~2-3 ft ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 13 in ? ~2-3 ft ~2-3 ft (*3) ? Pitch field size (*1)
Can you play a melody on it Yes Yes Yes ? Yes ? ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Can you play a melody on it
Volume antenna Yes Yes Yes Yes Plate Plate No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Two internal No No No Plate No Yes No No No Volume antenna
Volume field adjustment knob Yes Yes Yes ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Two Yes ? Volume field adjustment knob
Volume field reversible No No ? ? ? ? ? No No ? ? Yes Yes Always reversed ? Volume field reversible
Volume linearity Superb Superb Very good to superb ? ? ? Superb Superb Superb ? ? ? ? ? ? Volume linearity
Volume chirp suppression No No Yes ? ? ? Yes Yes Yes ? ? ? N/A (internal) ? ? Volume chirp suppression
Antennas removeable Yes Yes No Yes No No No No No No No No ? Yes ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ? Yes (*3) No Antennas removeable
Controls
Tone color control Yes Yes Yes ? No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No ? No No No Tone color control
Waveform control Yes Yes No Yes No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No ? No No No Waveform control
Ring mod No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No Ring mod
Mute switch No No Yes (foot) No No No No No No No No Yes: Touch plate ? ? No Yes Yes No No No No No ? No No No Mute switch
Frequency selection No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No Frequency selection
Audio output
Audio out jack Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (RCA) Yes (RCA) Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Stereo No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Audio out jack
Speaker No No No No ? Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No no No No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No Yes Speaker
Pitch preview No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No   No No Yes with stereo splitter No No No No No Pitch preview
Headphone out No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No Yes No ? No No No Headphone out
Tuner out No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No Tuner out
Control of external devices
Pitch CV out No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Pitch CV out
Volume CV out No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Volume CV out
Velocity CV out No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Velocity CV out
Gate/Trigger out No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No Gate/Trigger out
MIDI out No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No MIDI out
MIDI chromatic MIDI chromatic
MIDI pitch bend MIDI pitch bend
MIDI pitch glide MIDI pitch glide
MIDI chords MIDI chords
Case
Mic stand mount Yes Yes ? Optional No No Yes No No Yes Yes: recessed Yes: recessed No ? No Yes Yes No No No Yes No ? Upon request No case No case Mic stand mount
Feet for table Yes Yes Yes Optional Yes Yes No ? ? Yes No, but table ok Felt feet No ? ? No? No? No? No? Yes? ? ? ? Upon request Feet for table
Stands on floor (legs) No No No No No No No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No No No No No Stands on floor (legs)
Case Painted wood Unfinished wood Unfinished wood Finished cedar Plastic box Plastic box Plastic box Plastic box Plastic box Plastic box Painted wood Finished choice of Cherry or Walnut Finished walnut Black or grey travel case ? available in many colors ? ? ? ? ? Finished plywood Finshed wood jewelry box Finished wood Plastic ? Case
Power
On/Off switch Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (*2) Yes Yes Yes Yes ? ? No Yes Yes Yes Yes ? Yes ? ? Yes ? Yes On/Off switch
Battery operated? No No No ? No No No 9v No No No No ? ? Yes 9v 9v 9v 9v Yes No 9v ? 9v ? 9v 9v Battery operated?
AC Power supply Included Included Included ? Not included Not included Included No Included Included Included Included ? ? Optional $ Not included Not included No No No Included No ? ? No No AC Power supply

Special notes

(*1) Several instruments are rated "good to superb" for pitch field size because the actual pitch field size is several feet, which places the instrument in the "superb" range for pitch field size, but the case is smaller, and it's my opinion that if the case size is smaller than the actual pitch field it can negatively impact pitch performance because the hand controlling volume could effect the pitch field, resulting in an effective pitch size which is smaller. Your opinion may vary from mine on this.

(*2) Press and hold to operate.

(*3) Depends on how good a job of assembling the kit you do.

Definitions

General info

Availability
How available is this instrument? "Now" means it's in regular production and available for ordering. "Limited" means it's made in small quantity on a regular basis. "Ask" means it's only made occasionally and you should inquire with the manufacturer about availability.
List price
The price of the unit, if sold direct by the manufacturer, or the manufacturer's suggested retail price, if sold by dealers. Prices are shown in US dollars. Some prices were converted from other currencies and may have varied since time of publication.
Assembled
Is the unit assembled? "Yes" indicates the unit is sold fully assembled. "Board" means the unit is sold with a pre-fabricated circuit board which must be installed in a case, potentially with a few additional parts to be connected by you. "Kit" means you get a printed circuit board and a bag of electronics parts and you have to solder all the parts to the board and fully assemble the unit from scratch.

Antennas

Pitch antenna
Does the unit have a pitch antenna? "Yes" indicates it does. "No" indicates it does not. "Plate" indicates that a plate is used instead of a rod antenna.
Volume antenna
Does the unit have a pitch antenna? "Yes" indicates it does. "No" indicates it does not. "Plate" indicates that a plate is used instead of a rod antenna.
Antennas removeable
It's sometimes handy to be able to remove the unit's antennas, for example for shipping. This indicates if the antenna(s) are removeable.

Behavior terms

Pitch linearity
Pitch linearity refers to how evenly spaced the notes are from each other in the pitch field. It is normal that when too close to the antenna, the spacing becomes non-linear, so this is ignored in giving a rating. This rating is an expression of opinion, and may be based on my own opinion or on opinions I've read in community discussion forums.
  • Superb - the note spacing is very linear as theremins go.
  • Very good - it's a little non linear, but not enough to be very bothersome.
  • Good - there's some distinct non linearity, but it's definitely playable.
  • Poor - It's very non linear, but not so bad that you couldn't use it for great non-melodic sound creation in "free music".
  • Bad - It's so non linear as to be unuseable for anything but making noise.
Pitch field size
Pitch field size refers to how large the pitch field is. If a pitch field is too small, either the notes will be too close together (making it difficult to play because you have to make such tiny, precise motions) or you won't be able to fit many notes in the space (restricting what you can play with it). This rating is based on either my own experience, information provided in community discussion forums, or information provided by the manufacturer.
  • Superb - The controllable area of the field exceeds two feet.
  • Very good - One and a half to two feet.
  • Good - At least one foot.
  • Poor - Less than one foot.
  • Bad - Less than six inches.
Volume linearity
Volume linearity refers to how smoothly the sound fades from nothing to full volume as the hand is raised above the volume antenna. Most thereminists seem to prefer a very smooth volume response. This rating is an expression of opinion, and may be based on my own opinion or on opinions I've read in community discussion forums.
  • Superb - Volume fades smoothly in from nothing to full volume with no noticable non-linearity.
  • Very good - There may be some very slight snappyness to the sound coming on but it's not noticeable without paying careful attention. Once on, increases and decreases in volume still seem smooth.
  • Good - There is some distinct snappiness to the volume coming on, and/or increases and decreases in volume don't sound completely even, but this isn't prohibitive of good playing in most circumstances.
  • Poor - Volume response is overly snappy, and/or very non-linear, making it difficult to control volume as desired. Problems are distinct enough to effect musical performance.
  • Bad - The volume seems to have only two states, on and off.
Volume chirp suppression
Many theremins make a little noise when the thereminist touches the volume antenna. This is sometimes referred to as a "chirp", although descriptions vary. It's a problem because many thereminists like to be able to touch the antenna to ensure silence.
  • Yes means the instrument is silent when the volume antenna is touched.
  • No means the instrument "chirps" when the volume antenna is touched.