ETHER from Soma Labatory is a wide-band receiver that makes it possible to perceive the electromagnetic landscape around you.
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 is pocket-sized (103x58x17mm) and light-weight (73g with batteries). It consumes very little power and runs on two AAA batteries. How long it can run on two batteries is unclear, because I still use the very same set of alkaline batteries I put into the first ETHER prototype 6 years ago! (yes the project has taken 6 years). All I can definitely say is that battery life is more than 300 hours if you using alkaline or lithium batteries.
We paid special attention to the design of ETHER, as it’s intended to be a unique accessory for the conscious modern human. We used special designed enclosures made in Europe and high-quality PCB and furniture providing long life and high reliability. So with ETHER, you get both a unique sound experience and a cool-looking high-quality gizmo.
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 pins placed on the anterior surface.
ETHER V2 has two external antenna pins. You can touch any conductive material or surface (including your body) with the pins and use objects or yourself as a big external antenna! Often it makes a totally different sound and I love to check out different metal objects on a street (rails, tubes, metallic doors, parts of buildings etc.) Two pins are connected to different points of the circuit and interact differently with electromagnetic waves. Switching from one to another or using them both, you can change the sound. Far away from a city, we recommend trying to use a piece of wire 1-4 meters long connected to one of the pins for getting some interesting sound.