Aether Zither 以太筝 - built by Meng Qi, is an electro-acoustic musical instrument. It’s playing surface is assembled with springs, speakers, knobs and touch points. The combination of mechanical and electric aspects makes it an one of a kind and fully expressive instrument.
The spring interface is truly playable, very sensitive and can accept any movements from a player from the mildest tap to heavy punches. The natural wiggles of the springs would also trigger sound.
Knobs on AZ are solid aluminum type and feel great. precision values are easy to dial in.
The Synthesis engine of AZ - Sidrassi, designed by Peter Blasser - is a true analog polyphonic synthesizer circuit. It has an unique approach regarding synthsis principle. There is a parameter called chaos - it controls the modulation depth among the voices, which would result in different level of noisy texture. Addtional to it, there are also touch points which allows the player to perform touch circuit-bend.
AZ has 3 1/4 inch audio jacks, the sound from the synthesis engine can be directly fed back, or it can be externally processed before it comes out of the speakers.
In addtion to the synthesis complexity of Sidrassi, AZ also has an unique feedback route. The diagram below shows the feedback route of one channel (out of seven). As you can see, the mixed sound from synth is played on a speaker, picked up by a piezo, the signal is used to control the VCA of that voice. This would result in an effect similar to ring modulation, but in an mechanical way, the player can also manipulate the feedback with volume control and spring.
Aether Zither is made with Peter’s original Sidrassi PCB.
An upgraded smaller version would be available for purchase, price is 1200$ + shipping.
Faceplate made of fiberglass board, case made of laminated wood and monterey pine then baked to dark color.