SOMA Labs ETHER (EMF 'anti-radio' receiver/drone/noise)

Was delighted to receive Soma’s ETHER ‘anti-radio’ in the mail from Moscow yesterday. Serial #25!

To be honest, between this and the newly announced Nanoloop hardware, I can’t be happier about battery-based devices. I don’t think ETHER will leave my pocket or bookpack, it’s just a wonderful wonderful device, both in physical design and reception quality.

I’m in Austin. With all the electronic activity happening in town for SXSW, opted to take it out for one hour of unedited audio last night downtown. This thing is an amazing device, somewhere between a theremin and a radio in that you play it and receive transmissions at the same time.

AN EVENING WALK: ONE HOUR WITH THE SOMA ETHER
(Raw Audio, Downtown Austin TX, March 11, 10pm-11pm)

33 Likes

ETHER is not just an inductive sniffer like some projects you can easily find online.

Oh… that’s exactly what I thought it was until I started listening to this. Cool stuff. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

This sounds amazing! What kind of neighbourhood did you walk through? Any idea what the signals were?

1 Like

@lijnenspel — Thank you! I was happy with my first attempt to play the thing like an instrument/receiver. It gets GREAT reception, too, so it was a lot of looping around a noise when I could find something. I was hunting specifically for noises so I sought out electronic locations. This was downtown Austin; best sounds were initially in basements of buildings I could access, or stairwells, as the building seems to radiate as a large collector for EMF. But I committed to the walk, too, so it was mostly outside on street and alleyways. Brightest and most aggressive sounds were on 6th street (our drinking district) where there was a lot of plugged in noises from SXSW. Fun sounds around police who were collected in a cluster. Big joy found in any wired-up keypad or electronic meter. The parking meter that prints out a receipt was singing what sounded like a vocoding Bing Crosby, too.

12 Likes

Thanks for sharing, your excellent recording helped push me over the edge to ordering one! How did you manage to record this, without interfering too much with the signal? The site suggests a meter long cord, but I’m guessing the Ether doesn’t need to be that far from your recording device. Just wondering what equipment I might need to make my own recordings.

I had the same exact question. My Ether Radio is en route as well. I was wondering, too, whether a meter-long cord would suffice; or if the Ether Radio as well needed to be a meter apart from the recorder.

@sketcherazzi @Ecoustic

Thanks, both! - Not to marginalize the concern but I wouldn’t overthink it. I had a field recorder connected to headphones to monitor, and a line out (trs, stereo 3.5mm) out from the Ether. The cable itself was 3 ft line and unshielded, monoprice quality.

So answer is a 3 ft cable is decent length from Ether to recorder - and then a headphone out from the recorder to monitor.

Have either of you ever played theremin? If so it will feel pretty familiar, just in reverse. Basically once I felt any feedback developing I’d move the Ether in that three foot chord radius; you can kind of find a field of noise in there. It’s sort of like being in a 3D field.

But again, don’t worry about feedback - The recorder itself might be a cool interference to bounce off of occasionally - I bounced onto my phone a few times in the recording.

Have fun!

5 Likes

Thanks for the detailed explanation! As much as I love the raw sound, I’m also planning to run the Ether through different effects on my phone in AUM. Can’t wait!

1 Like

Thanks for the info! The video you posted months ago (in Austin?) is the reason I got the Ether. It wasn’t available at the time. Apparently, this is version.2, an extra antenna and some other neat doodads that fail to come to mind art the moment, but essentially the same animal. Thanks again!

1 Like

Totally out of context, “reverse theremin” is a fascinating concept in general :smiley:

5 Likes

Super interested in what those extras are! How cool!

Wonder if the extra antenna clips onto the unit.

Agree! Additionally out of context, you can do this with the Etherwave Plus, though indirectly. Just send the CV out into an offset so +5v of pitch becomes -5v pitch. Send that into a synth that accepts such pitch voltage and the synth voice will go down in octaves when you approach the pitch bar and up when you gesture away from the theremin. You can reverse the volume output similarly. Both are pretty fun.

There’s an extra wheel to adjust high-frequency amplification and an extra antenna pin.

1 Like

Here’s what Soma had to say about the new version:

Firstly, it has an additional wheel that adjusts the amount of high-frequency amplification and degeneration before the detector-demodulator. Because all spaces and areas are unique, ETHER now allows you to amplify and reach the most interesting of sounds in any given environment. Secondly, it adds a second pin for an external antenna. Try touching either one or both of these antennas and connect them to different metallic objects. Your body and objects will become extended antennas that add sensitivity extracting even more sounds.

7 Likes

a second pin? I received my ETHER a month ago or so, I suppose it’s the new version - but it only has one pin on top.

Same here. Received mine less then a month ago.
Is there really a new version?

I too just received mine, only one wheel and antenna :sweat_smile: guess I should have waited a bit. Still really enjoying walking around with it. :slight_smile:

1 Like

It’s a bit confusing because the original version was being offered as well. There was a notation about a v.2, about it being available, but not prominently mentioned. So I’m not sure if what I’m getting is a Beta version of v.2. Hopefully not.

1 Like

For whatever value, I think I’d still prefer the first version. (of course that’s the one I have, so hopefully this doesn’t sound rationalizing) - but part of the joy of the thing is having no dials other than volume. It receives what it receives, which is pretty wonderful. I’ve never felt like the reception is missing anything and if a frequency is too strong i like physicallly moving to fix it and having that part of the recording.

I wonder if I’d be too finicky with adding extra antennas or playing the extra dial and possibly losing a moment that just occurs on its own.

That said, I’d likely get the extras too!, :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
Just saying as a counter to not feeling FOMO over the extra add-ons.

5 Likes

can’t find anything about a v2 on their website, the one i got look like this:

one switch one led one dial one antenna - anyway it’s not a problem, it does sound good.