Since its introduction during the 1920's the instrument which bears Leon Theremin's name has been evocative in image and tone. PAiA's Theremax theremin captures this spirit in an instrument based on the same heterodyne principles as the original but with embellishments made possible by the economy of integrated circuits and solid state electronics.
In addition to the traditional mellow sine-like tone, Theremax's Timbre control can mix in a harmonic rich square wave to produce a signal that's ideal for use with external filters and processors. And to control outboard units, there are Pitch and Volume Control Voltage outputs.
But the features that really set Tmax apart as a gestural controller are it's Velocity Control Voltage (proportional to how fast you increase the Volume) and Gate/Trigger outputs. A convenient foot switch input allows muting the internal tone source without disabling the CVs.
Panel Controls are conveniently grouped at the front of the instrument to minimize unwanted interactions during set-up. Tech-heads will appreciate the use of four r.f. oscillators to maximize sensitivity and provide wide dynamic range, as shown in the schematic and design analysis.
What do builders think? Tomas Mulcahy has written for Sound On Sound and describes his theremin experiences on his web site . In addition to a Theremax review there are also links to current theremin manufacturers.
Richard Wixner of Another Plane Records has produced a CD of his work with the PAiA Theremax, Theremin Fantasies. His work demonstrates the rich tone of the Theremax, and the limitless possibilities of the instrument as a sound source for creative production post processing. Richard uses production effects and techniques, sampling, and some custom mods to build his soundscape.