ETHER Lets You Hear & Record The Electromagnetic Landscape

SOMA Laboratory has introduced ETHER – a wide-band receiver for electronic musicians that makes it possible to hear and record the electromagnetic landscape around you.

Here’s what they have to say about it:

ETHER is a kind of anti-radio.

Instead of being tuned to a specific radio station, it receives all the interference and radiation that a traditional radio tries to eliminate in order to create a clean signal. It captures the radio waves “as is” from hertz to gigahertz, because it doesn’t contain the tuned input circuit that filters out all frequencies except the narrow band of a specific station. This allows ETHER to perceive the invisible electromagnetic landscape that humans created unintentionally, making possible live electromagnetic field listening and recording.

As the inspiration for this project, I took the design of the very first radios (early 1900s) that had no tuning wheel. At this time there weren’t many radio stations, and all of them used Morse code. It was possible to distinguish each transmitter by ear, as each one had its own specific timbre or “voice”.

ETHER has both magnetic and electric components for sensing radiation. For the magnetic component, it has a built-in magnetic antenna, like the ones used in old long-wave radios. The antenna has maximum sensitivity on ETHER’s axis. By changing the orientation, angle and position of ETHER, you will change the sound. For the electric component, it has antennas printed on the PCB and the special input pin placed on the anterior surface.

You can touch any conductive material or surface (including your body) with the pin and use objects or yourself as a big external antenna.

To record ETHER, you need to use an audio cable of at least 1m/3ft in length to connect it to a device like a ZOOM recorder. Even with a long cable, ETHER can sound differently than when using headphones. To get the purest sound, headphones are required.

Pricing and Availability

ETHER is available now for 120 Euros. See the SOMA site for details.

23 thoughts on “ETHER Lets You Hear & Record The Electromagnetic Landscape

  1. Wow, I already see awesome applications for this….not only for music but perhaps background for meditation…n for seeing what lovemaking would generate….I’m getting one!!

  2. Does it come with a tin foil hat??

    Seriously – I like this! They need to go the next step and develop some sort of wearable visual display to allow the user to ‘see’ electromagnetic radiation. To see and hear the EM world would be pretty amazing.

    1. Currently it’s only one sensor and one mono audio channel, right? Would be cool expand this into directional hearing that translates into stereo or even surround sound. Then you could locate sources of signals by orienting yourself much easier and kinda gives you the ability to see the 3D landscape of those waves.

      1. This could be quite confusing IMO. It seems to me, that the strength of electro-magnetic fields does not necessarily correlate with the distance to their sources.

  3. I wonder if that feedback we’re hearing is related to the device “hearing itself”. I’d imagine it would be difficult to shield the device from its own emanations.

    1. I was wondering if you were trying to record as you walked around wouldn’t the recorder’s close proximity to this create some emf as well?

    2. “To record ETHER, you need to use an audio cable of at least 1m/3ft in length to connect it to a device like a ZOOM recorder. Even with a long cable, ETHER can sound differently than when using headphones. To get the purest sound, headphones are required.”

    1. Once again, nope. Kubish’ devices use em waves in audio range (so 50hz hum will be 50hz hum). This works in radio band too. It’s much more sensitive with a broader range, although it looks similar, the tech behind it is different

  4. Good idea, but i think it is too noisy. Not really useful to find new synth footage. Maybe, the next Model, with a intelligent noise filter…

  5. I hate to be one of “those people”, but it seems this would be infinitely more useful if it were to have recording capabilities built in. Then again, I am not an engineer and do not know what that might entail in order to be practical.

    1. From the website: “ETHER is very sensitive to any kind of digital circuitry that’s in close proximity. This is why I didn’t put an SD-card recorder or something like that inside. You also have to make sure to keep other electronic devices that you carry (phone, laptop, recorder) at least 30cm/1ft away to avoid interference, but ETHER definitely works well when you walk around with a smartphone and laptop in other pockets and bags. “

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