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Date: Mon, 1 Nov 2004 13:54:09 -0800
From: Nathan Laredo <http://nathanlaredo.com>
To: levnet
Subject: Etherwave Pro Review and Photos vs Etherwave
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My long-winded review of my first weekend with the Etherwave Pro....

In case anyone is interested, I got a shiny new Etherwave Pro on
Friday.  If your Pro was delayed a day, I'm likely the reason.   I got
a Minimoog Voyager the same day Bob Moog was in San Francisco talking,
and I wanted to have him sign both the Voyager Anniversary Edition and
the Etherwave Pro, so I got bumped to the head of the shipping list
and moogmusic got one out overnight.   Amazing.   I've always wondered
what motivated list bumping, and this is the first time it's happened
to me.

First, the photos....

Bob demonstrates his effects:
    Audio from Bob's 29 Oct 2004 talk at robotspeak.com (46MB)

The Etherwave Pro photos on the moogmusic.com website are misleading. 
There is no frame of reference to tell how large it really is.   It's
quite a bit bigger than I'd initially expected.   I took some photos
with my etherwave next to it to give people a better idea of what to
expect, but my fancy camera was suffering from old fasioned dust and I
wanted to get the photos out to people rather than sit in photoshop
and tweak:

A closeup of the front (the weird blobs are dust inside my camera):

A dusty semi-profile shot:

The back of both the etherwave and etherwave pro aligned for comparison:

And unrelated to this post, a photo of the FM transmitter I've grafted
on my etherwave:

There are full resolution versions of every photo available by
omitting the "sm-" from the urls above.  There are other photos in the
same directory as well that may be interesting.   For those of you
with a keen eye noticing the object to the right, it's a 1930s Mills
Diamond Front dime slot machine.

Now on to how the Etherwave Pro plays...

This thing is a dream.  From the first moment I plugged headphones in
and turned it on, not even bothering with the pitch preview, it blew
me away how much easier it felt to find the notes I wanted and play
them.   It has several waveforms to choose from including one that
sounds very much like a sine wave.   Using this setting, there aren't
really any harmonics for the filter settings to have any effect on,
but to me it was the most pleasing sound.

I enjoyed the selectable range between low, mid, and high.  There is a
steep drop off to nothing at the furthest usable distance from the
pitch antenna.  I had fun playing with this steep pitch drop playing
in the bass range with barely any hand movement at all with the pitch
setting to "high"

Next, I tried the pitch preview.  I was a little disappointed to learn
that the pitch preview didn't have any of the waveforms, ranges, or
filtering applied to it and sounded nearly identical to my original
Etherwave's pitch preview.   In the different ranges the pitch preview
is often in a different octave, making it a bit harder for me to play,
but if you missed it before, this instrument is much easier to play,
so even without pitch preview I was nailing more notes than I ever
remember nailing before.

I read another review that talked about how the unit on the included
stand didn't feel very solid.   I would have to disagree, at least
with the unit I have.  I couldn't make it wobble at all when mounted
on the stand.   Given how low the bottom of the unit sits, I can see
why the stand was included.   A standard microphone stand would be far
too tall for the Pro, unless you happen to be two meters tall.

Having just gotten the Minimoog Voyager with its many control voltage
inputs, I decided to see what I could do with the volume and pitch
control voltage outputs of the Pro.

Since this is a theremin list, I won't go into detail about the new
Minimoog Voyager, but in short, it's a very very sexy piece of
hardware.   I was both able to directly play the minimoog with the
theremin with every sound I could possibly dream up, and I was able to
have the theremin modify the performance on the minimoog, acting as a
multiple octave pitch bend and a virtual volume pedal.  Of course I
only have two hands, so the best I could do was play the keyboard with
one hand (it's not polyphonic anyway) and use either the pitch antenna
or the volume antenna with the other.

On asthetics, I love the way the connections for power and line output
and control voltages are on the bottom of the unit.  This looks much
better than having wires hanging out all over.   I was kind of
disappointed that the blue LED in the moogmusic.com photo was red in
my unit.   The back of the unit became much more interesting to me
with the addition of Bob's signature.  Moog Music would do well to put
out a signature model of the Etherwave Pro, though that would make
mine much less rare.  The back of the cabinet as nearly as I can tell
looks and feels just like metal with two hand-sized openings in the
top and bottom.  This has me worried that dust will cake up inside and
I'll need to open it up periodically and clean it out.

The wood is beautiful.  It has one woodworking "oops" that I can see,
but I'd say that adds character and proves that every one is probably
a hand-made original.

So, what's on my wishlist for a future model?

I'd like to see the "tuner" and "phones" connections replicated on the
bottom (or moved to the bottom) so that I don't need any cables coming
out of the front of the unit.

I'd like to see the "tuner" output have every sound control applied to
it except for volume modulation.

I'd like the filter to have options for separation, double low-pass,
lowpass+highpass, and cutoff frequency.

I'd like the waveform selection to morph between sine, sawtooth,
square, and various square pulse-width variations.

(the last three can be simulated by plugging the pro into the voyager,
but that's way too expensive for people more sane than me...)

That's all I have for now in my first weekend with the Etherwave Pro
and Minimoog Voyager....  I have a full MP3 of Bob Moog's talk in SF
recorded on Friday that I'll post in http://nathanlaredo.com/theremin/
 later this week.

If anyone wants more technical info,  I'm also the type of person who
owns an oscilloscope and knows how to and loves to use it.

-- Nathan Laredo