Friday, August 26, 2011

Review of The SM2BAT System From Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 3

Review of The SM2BAT system from Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 3

The SM2BAT happens to be the approximate size of other comparable unattended recording solutions. In fact, it is a bit smaller than some. It is easily portable, fitting one (along with accessories, etc.) into a backpack is effortless. Without batteries installed, the unit is very light. In fact, you could probably fit 2-3 units in a backpack (depending on the size of the backpack).

The layout of the unit is nice and simple. The SM2 platform features a large LCD display, several jumpers for setting filtering parameters, and a green LED (for status indication). Sensitivity and filtering are fully adjustable, across the spectrum of the unit's abilities.

The fact is, that once you've read the User Manual(s); and become familiar with operation of the unit - You'll probably find your bat recording becoming so automated; that you'll become lazy! Especially, for those of us who are used to the typical set-ups required for overnight bat recording. In most cases, this consists of:

Standard check of the detector - Battery condition, and any other settings
Standard check of the recorder - Same as above
Locating your audio cable - For connecting the two
Masking (adhesive) tape, etc. for temporary mounting 

Once the SM2BAT is set-up, you can let it go for a few days, a week, or more! And, the unit will diligently record bats, every evening - From sunset to sunrise. So, you can see how easily one can become "lazy".
Click Here to see a graphical representation of the unit's specifications.

OK! On to some more good stuff!

Among the features I like:
The fact that the unit records unadulterated sound, in 192kHz, is great!
The nice selection of audio filtering combinations available. There are lots of options selectable from the jumpers. Below, is a pic of how the unit's jumpers were set at the end of my testing:
Over the testing period, they were slowly migrated, from left to right : )

The fact that the unit can be used as a "Set-and-forget" recorder (for up to 9 days, in any case) is a plus.
The unit is very economical; especially when compared to the similar systems that are currently available.
If you have a quick look at the Comparison Chart, on the Wildlife Acoustics site, you'll see what I mean.
The SongScope software, from Wildlife Acoustics is very versatile; and produces nice-looking (and informative) sonograms.

With the great help/suggestions and support I received from the Folks at Wildlife Acoustics, I ended up with a diverse collection of recordings. The nice thing about it, is that I was able to test a lot of different variations of settings. In a short period of time. You can basically go either way, in your approach to the use of this system: You may choose to rely mostly on the default settings - And take a more simple approach (which is exactly what I did in the beginning of the test period). Or, you may be the type who enjoys tinkering & experimenting. In which case, you'll find no shortage of combinations/settings available to you.

Among the features that I'm not crazy about:
Obviously, one of the drawbacks, is that it cannot be used as you would a typical hand-held bat detector. You can't just grab it and go, on your way out to the woods, or to attend a Bat Walk.
I also wish there was a way to insert and remove the SD cards a bit more easily - Instead of having to remove one of the D-cell batteries each time.

The additional offering of the free, WAC2WAV software - Which is of course, as the name implies: For converting the propriety Wac files into universally used Wav files - Could be placed in both the 'Like' and 'Dislike' category. Likes would be: That it is free, and very versatile. I must confess, that it does offer some features that I find fascinating. Such as systematic removal of noise - In the form of separate Noise Files that are automatically created. As well as a few other neat little options.
But, at the same time, the Dislike would be: The fact that it is needed in the first place!

There is still the matter of providing sonograms, and possibly some recordings; produced by the SM2BAT. The fact that my original hard drive is (temporarily) inaccessible prevents me from posting them easily.
So, I'd rather just go ahead and extend this review a bit: Stay tuned for Part 3 of this Review...

In conclusion, I have a feeling that I'll be writing some more posts demonstrating the abilities of The SM2BAT Platform soon. In addition to the final installment of this review (AKA Part 3). I may be "re-visiting" this unit, and the Pettersson D240X in future posts. Since at this time, I consider both of them to be very impressive.

Click here for Part 3 Of 3 of this review

Happy bat detecting!


  1. Don't believe the comparison chart. They are comparing non-equivalent attributes. SM2 battery life of 9 days - dream on!3 or 4 at best with Duracell so far. Wac2Wav suggests they are aware of shortcomings in their own analysis software. Potential users are well warned to be aware of the cost of extra's (4x 32GB SD cards ($120 each), a external power supply lead ($125) a new hard drive for your laptop to cope with GIGABYTES per night... if you buy one of these, make sure you understand the extra costs first (I wish I had!).

  2. Thank you for your comments!

    I'll just say, that we will all need to wait just a little bit longer...There are several manufacturers, from various points on the globe who will be releasing AMAZING new bat detectors in the coming months ;)

    Also, feel free to e-mail me directly, if you'd like - I love discussing bat detectors!

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    I am sorry that you are less then satisfied with your SM2BAT. We stand 100% behind our products and their advertised specifications and take customer satisfaction very seriously. I am happy to discuss your issues at +1 (888) 733-0200 or email "support2011 at wildlifeacoustics dot com".

    Kind regards,

    Sherwood Snyder
    Product Manager
    Wildlife Acoustics