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.