Invented nearly a century ago, the theremin is famously known as the first music instrument you play without touching it. In the 1950s, Bob Moog—then a high school student—began building theremins of his own design and selling them as kits a decade before he invented the first commercial music synthesizer.
Now, Moog's classic Etherwave Theremin that he personally designed in 1996 has made a comeback with new features like a dedicated headphone-out and CV output integration, so you can control modular, Eurorack, and other electronic instruments. Theremin newcomers, as well as pros, will find it is just as intuitive as ever.
I was recently given the opportunity to give the Etherwave Theremin a hands-off (get it?!) review. When you first remove it from the box, it's very apparent you are getting something very high quality, from the way the packaging is designed, to the helpful (!) instructions that tell you how to actually PLAY the thing. I set it up, surprised there were no screws to attach the antennae, however the mechanical connection is very sturdy and makes set-up and teardown a lot faster.
If you've heard a theremin, you'll recognize the sweet, long sci-fi tones that are haunting yet familiar. It was easy to quickly learn the basics and even how to (somewhat) play an admittedly rough rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
The controls that affect the sound come in handy when tuning the instrument as well as deciding what range of pitch you want. The wood and metal construction feels quite sturdy and give the sense that the $899 instrument would last a lifetime.
"As electronics goes, the theremin is very simple," Moog once said. "But there are so many subtleties hidden in the details of the design. It's like a great sonnet, or a painting, or a speech, that is perfectly done on more than one level."
"Meet the New Etherwave Theremin" (Moog)