What we see and hear around us helps us make sense of the world. But we don't perceive everything. Vlad Kreimer of Russia's Soma Laboratory – the brains behind the Pipe and Dvina instruments – has developed a handheld gadget that taps into the hidden voices of everyday modern objects, such as display screens, park railings and electronic doors. Ether picks up secret electromagnetic whispers and records the audio to a cabled audio recorder.

The pocket-friendly wide-band receiver is described as a kind of anti-radio by Soma Labs. Where radios cut out much of the background noise to focus on specific frequency bands, the 105 x 65 x 20 mm (4.1 x 2.56 x 0.78 in) Ether hears everything.

"This allows Ether to perceive the invisible electromagnetic landscape that humans created unintentionally, making possible live electromagnetic field listening and recording," explains Ether's project page. "There is lots of sonic beauty to discover amid the concrete and steel grayness of the modern-day metropolis, a true invisible electromagnetic world for us to uncover."

Soma says that Ether doesn't merely amplify low-frequency magnetic fields like less expensive electromagnetic sniffers, but its regenerating circuit and demodulator make it a bona fide radio wave receiver.

Six years in the making, Ether has a magnetic antenna like those found in long-wave radios and an electronic antenna integrated into the circuit board. The PCB also has a pin connected to it that protrudes from one edge of the device, allowing any conductive material or surface it comes into contact with to become an external antenna – including your own body.

Ether runs on two AAA-sized batteries and, as the device is quite sensitive to electronics anywhere near it, audio recording is undertaken on a smartphone or dedicated handheld recorder connected using a 1 meter (3 ft) audio cable to minimize interference.

Designed for the audio curious and for those wishing to use the electromagnetic landscape for samples and music, Ether is being made available for sale for €120 (about US$135). You can see it in action in the video below.

Product page: Ether

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