Creating music out of thin air? If things like field recording, radio waves, theremin and co. are your cup of tea, the latest ‘experimental audio gadget’ from SOMA Laboratory (check out our interview with Lyra 8’s creator, Vlad Kreimer) is something you don’t want to miss.
It’s called ETHER, and according to the designer, it’s a wide-band receiver that makes it possible to perceive the electromagnetic landscape around us. There’s a whole invisible electromagnetic world that is just begging to be discovered, and a device like ETHER can inspire new ways of incorporating ‘found sounds’ into your music.
How Does It Work?
ETHER is a kind of anti-radio. 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.
For Mobile Sound Explorers
ETHER is pocket-sized (105x65x20mm) and light-weight (93g). It consumes very little power and runs on two AAA batteries. Expected battery life: more than 300 hours if you using alkaline or lithium batteries!
I hear you, you don’t want to look like some crazy guy carrying a weird device. SOMA Lab got you covered. They paid particular attention to the design, using top quality enclosures and the latest technology for the logo and the finishing. You might still be asked some questions when going through airport check-ins, but once they hear you’re a sonic explorer, you should be fine!
More Than A Sniffer
According to the desinger, ETHER was designed to be a part of your city walks and may even pick up sounds in a forest or at the seashore. Also, ETHER can perceive the electric component of the radiation as well, capturing radiation that is far above the audio range and is much more sensitive. Therefore, it has a significantly different design, functions and implementation than a simple inductive sniffer even if in some cases their functions can overlap.
Capturing The Sound Of ETHER
ETHER is very sensitive to any kind of digital circuitry that’s in close proximity. This is why you won’t find 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.
To record ETHER, you need to use an audio cable of at least 1m/3ft in length to connect it to a recording device (one of those handy recorders like the Zoom H1 work great for this).
Even with a long cable, ETHER can sound differently than when using headphones. To get the purest sound, headphones are required. Some sounds you can record only with the mind, sorry. But the best snapshots are kept in our heart so let it be a part of the game:)
What Can You Do With ETHER?
Here above you can see a cool video showing ETHER at work. At the end of the video you can listen to a rather brilliant demo track created only using sounds captured through ETHER.
Price and Availability
120€ + fees and shipping. Learn more about ETHER here.
About The Author
Founder & main editor here at ANR, 'non-musician' and music-tinkerer. His first keyboard was a cheesy Yamaha PSS-270. He still loves it.