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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 2

Review: EM3 From Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 2
Judging by the number of hits the blog has been getting lately - It seems to further confirm, that "Bat Detecting Season" is approaching! This is nice to know.
It's also nice, to have a brand-new bat detector available, to try out for this season: The Echo Meter 3, from Wildlife Acoustics. I've received a few questions recently, regarding this new detector - So, I'll try to address them in this (Part 2 Of 2) of the review.

The construction of the EM3 itself, feels fairly solid. There are no protruding parts on the unit, that you need to worry about breaking off or damaging.
The only time, that you will need to exercise a bit more caution, is when the (optional) Garmin GPS unit is used. Although, I will point out that the Garmin unit itself, is solid and fairly robust.

The Garmin (Model # GPS18x LVC, 5m) GPS unit: This compact & lightweight unit is sold by Wildlife Acoustics, to attach to their new EM3. I haven't been able to find the unit on the Garmin Web site.

Unfortunately, the EM3 will not fit into it's nylon (padded) case while the GPS unit is attached. In fact, even if detached from the back of the unit, both devices cannot fit inside the carry case. Some may want to use some type of small case, to protect the Garmin unit while traveling. Again, it appears that Garmin does not offer a case for it. While on the subject, Here are some macro shots of the EM3's Ethernet port / and the Garmin GPS unit's Ethernet connector:



Some of the things I like about the GPS unit:
How easy it is to pop onto (and off of) the back of the EM3 detector.
How the EM3 recognizes it (ala "plug & play") in a short amount of time.
How it synchronizes the EM3's Time Setting to the correct date and time.

I like the positions of the main control buttons on the EM3. With regular use, it's easy to become accustomed to the layout of everything on it. I suspect that a small number of users may find it "too busy" as they say. It helps, if it is your main (or only) bat detector; in which case - It's a moot point. If you (are lucky enough!) use more than one (high-end) bat detector - Then, you need to skim through the User Manual again (before heading out in the field).

I really like the way the microphone was designed! Excellent placement - The way I prefer a microphone to be: Front & center. It is recessed; and another great factor, is that it's protected by a nice felt-like material.

The EM3 has several User-selectable options. Such as, being able to choose a sample rate of either 256 or 384kHz. Choosing a sample rate of 384kHz gives you a recording rate of 192kHz, which is very cool. Those who are interested, can become familiar with this unit by reading the User Manual. This can be accessed Here. It has been made available in Adobe PDF format, in both English and French.

The EM3 packs a lot of technology and features into a fairly small unit. Once your main settings have been set, and your preferences selected, it only takes a few button presses - To begin monitoring, recording, or un-attended recording.
After an evening of recording, and inserting the unit's SD card into the PC: I was able to easily select & play large numbers of (Wav) files - Using something as simple as Windows Media Player. A couple of things I'd like to see:More increment choices for the dB thresholds - currently: Only 24, 18, and 12dB are available.
More info on the live display. Although I do like the Battery status indicator, Card Capacity, and Record indicator* (*known as the Trigger Indicator). I would like to see an indication of the number of triggered events.
The supplied charger (A/C adapter) is very convenient. The fact that this instrument writes it's recordings to SD cards is also convenient. Since, as we are all aware - Just about every device accepts an SD card.

I've noticed that the battery life is good (using the NimH batteries provided). As with many NimH batteries, they don't seem to do as well in colder temperatures. Using it in the Fall or early Spring may prove problematic.

This concludes my review of the new EM3, from Wildlife Acoustics. I may add an additional part, or addendum; at some point in the future. I plan to do a bit more testing of the review sample, before returning it to Wildlife Acoustics.

Happy bat detecting!