A good amp can help you to improve your Theremin playing by highlighting your playing flaws. However, it might not be the only option you have. Headphones are a suitable replacement if you have a good quality pair.
However, if you insist on an amp, my recommendation is as follows:
The best kind of amp for Theremin is a keyboard amp as a guitar amp has too much power. Among the keyboard amps, the Peavey KB 1 keyboard amp will be an ideal choice. It is more affordable but still packs a punch in tone and volume.
Roland KC 200 review
If you need an amp for stage performance or gigs, the Roland KC 200 will pack enough power for the job.
- Tone: The KC 200 has excellent tones throughout. It has deep lows, smooth mids and clear highs.
- Power: This amp’s extra 100 watt spec has enough power to be able to compete with the volume from drums and/or guitar. In fact, it has 4 inputs that allow you to mix Theremin with the other instruments if needed.
- Build Quality: Solid build that can be used ruggedly. The dials are easy to manipulate and feels sturdy as well.
- No distortion: There is some contention over this topic. Personally, I didn’t hear any distortion when testing the amp. However, some reviewers online said otherwise.
- Price: Pretty pricey when compared to the Peavey KB. I recommend buying this only for gigs. If you are thinking about just a practice amp for the Theremin, this is an overkill.
- Heavy: This is a heavy amp so bringing for gigs will take some effort.
Peavey KB 1 review
The Peavey KB 1 is a good PA style kind of amp. If you need an amp that project loud and far, this is it.
- Tone: This keyboard has a very deep and strong bass tone.
- Individual controls for inputs: Another selling point of this amp is that you get to control each input’s volume individually. The controls are not very elaborate but sufficient so that you don’t need any additional mixer or pedals.
- Build Quality: The Roland Peavey is build to be very solid and heavy It also has sturdy knobs that feels like it can stand out to physical abuse.
- Portability: Compared to the Roland models, this is probably the easiest to move around. Having said that, it is not a light amp. It is built to be sturdy and heavy so moving it around might still require some muscles or equipment.
- Effects: The Peavey doesn’t have that many effects as it is not meant to be so. What it have is just good quality sound and volume. If you want distortion, this is not the amp to get.
Does a Theremin need an amp?
If you are just starting out, an amp might not even be needed.
Your playing will be terrible and no amp in the world can make it better.
What you need is a way to hear your own playing clearly. This is especially important if you want to do a pitch review.
A good way to hear your own playing without an amp is through a good quality headphone. If you already have one, then all you need is a headphone amp. The existing line output from your Theremin is not strong enough to drive directly to headphones.
A good choice will be Behringer HA400 headphone amp.
Behringer HA400 headphone amp review
The Behringer HA400 is an affordable piece of gear that sits very well for those who are starting out or just doing bedroom practice.
- Sound Quality: Unless you are an audiophile, the sound quality from this amp should be good enough. There is a little bit of distortion on the low end but nothing too serious. If you are hearing any Stereo output, refer to the tip below.
Protip: If you are using the Moog Etherwave Theremin, do note it has a mono output jack. This means you need to get adapter cable to split the channel to enjoy the Stereo sound.
- Build Quality: Pretty high quality for its price. Knobs feel solid and are easy to turn.
- Portable: The Behringer HA400 is very little and easy to carry out.
- Other uses: Beyond just a headphone amp for the Theremin, you can also use this for your late night TV watching, or boasting the volume for your PC.
- Limited amplification: The boost in amplification seems to be limited, even at max volume.
- No multiple input: It is designed to take only one signal so if you are have multiple instruments, you are out of luck.
Headphones for Theremin
If you don’t have a good quality headphone, I recommend the Sennheiser HD200 monitor headphones
- Affordable: The number one reason I recommend to beginners is its affordability, without comprising too much on the audio quality.
- Audio Quality: Despite the lower price, the Sennhesier HD200 retains its crisp and clear sound, without having too much bass.
- Comfortable: The Sennhesieer HD200 is light. It also has cushioned earpiece that makes it comfortable to wear. Clamping pressure is also just right so your ears don’t hurt from prolong usage.
- Long cable: Allows you to move anyway in your chair or position.
- Bass: Bass is not a strong point for this headphone and might turnoff bass lover. However, for a Theremin player, it is not necessary. Hence the recommendation.
- No folding up: Unlike the Sennhesier HD 280 Pro, this model doesn’t allow you to fold it up. Might be a bit inconvenient when you are packing it in your bagpack.
For critical listening of your Theremin playing, you can either get an amp or a headphone. If you already have a good headphone, I suggest skipping the amp first as it would sound terrible from your inexperience playing.
If you are going the headphone route, remember to get a headphone amp because the Theremin’s line out doesn’t have enough power to drive headphones directly.