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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: The Batlogger M From Elekon Part 1 Of 2

I've been trying to keep my reviews a bit shorter; whenever possible. With some new bat detectors - There are simply too many features to effectively cover on just one, long page. The new Batlogger M is an example, of such an instrument. Like other high-end ultrasonic recorders: It has a lot of features! I could easily write a review that would end up being 4 posts long...Don't worry! I won't! ...But, I feel that there will be a need to "revisit" this detector in the future - Beyond Part 2. This has usually been the case with what may be called the "Alpha" detectors; examples would be: The BatBox Griffin, The Pettersson D240X and even The AnaBat SD2.

In this, Part 1 (of 2) of the review, I'll be focusing on the main attributes and features of the Batlogger M. Here is a Link to some of the most relevant features.

The Batlogger M arrived here in the U.S., very quickly, and well packaged. As you can see, from photos: The unit comes equipped with a lot of extras, as standard accessories (these will be addressed later). Including a great, foam-lined, custom carry case. The Batlogger M fits in the case like a glove. And, it provides an ample amount of protection. The other neat thing about it, is that there's also a bit of extra space in the foam-lined case. I've found it useful for things like: A small weather meter, microphone extension cable, and a small notebook. 

I found a very well-made/fully shielded (Kumo brand) microphone extension cable on Amazon. The addition of this cable makes the unit even more versatile; and I highly recommend getting one.
Elekon even offers one on their Web site Here.


The next factor that becomes apparent, is the size and shape of the Batlogger itself: It's not square! Yes, someone was "Thinking outside the box" on this one! It's hourglass shape fits very comfortably in the hand (their Batscanner sports the same shape, by the way). At 350 Grams, it's not too heavy either.
I also like the built-on, frame of rubber armoring, it provides a positive grip in the hand. It also seems to offer a bit of protection from the occasional accidental bump, etc. It features a very accurate, built-in GPS system (more on that in Part 2).
  
In addition, when the unit is updated to the latest firmware (Version 2.2) - It's ultrasonic pick-up range expands. It's able to tune all the way down to 2kHz (on the low end) and up to 155kHz (on the high end). The previous firmware version only went down to 15kHz, and up to 150kHz.
This is excellent for singing insect recordists - like myself! Now, one may specifically target many species of singing insects. For example: It can be set for: 2kHz - 25kHz when I'm after cricket and katydid recordings. But, for a more relevant example, the unit can be set for: 15kHz - 65kHz Which is how I keep the test unit set (for my local bats).

Offering the ability to update firmware on a high end bat recorder is wonderful - Because the manufacturer can always add some great new features!
  
I believe that this may be the best handheld bat detector I've ever had the pleasure of reviewing. I realize this is very high praise. Especially when you consider the World class instruments that I've been fortunate enough to test and review over the years...The reason why I can make such a statement, is: The Batlogger M is sensitive beyond belief - The range at which it can detect and record bats is unprecedented. Yet, at the same time, is almost impervious to man-made and other unwanted noises. So far, I have estimated the "pick-up" range of the unit, and it is often over 50 meters.
Also: The Batlogger M, with it's simple Menu system, is an absolute pleasure to use. It has all the features one would desire in a bat recorder (and none of the useless ones). It also produces excellent sonograms, as good as those produced by instruments costing thousands of dollars more. 
The other (somewhat reassuring) factor is, there are other very experienced individuals (Bat Workers, Professionals, and others) - Who have reviewed the Batlogger M, and have come to similar conclusions. There are a couple of fairly well-known Professionals who have chosen it to be their primary bat detector - The only detector they use. They also happen to be Friends of mine. For excellent reviews on The Batlogger series of detectors, as well as The Batscanner, see the Blog of Roger Jones. To get an idea of how successful bat surveys and emergence counts have been performed using The Batlogger, see the Site of Jon Whitehurst
And, they are not the only ones...

This bat detecting system is particularly well-suited for unattended monitoring/recording of bat activity. It's proven to be really excellent for my nightly recordings; during this test period. The included AC power adapter, effectively removes any concern of running out of battery power (if you have access to a mains power outlet). While on the subject of power: I really like the fact, that the unit is powered by a built-in, Li-Ion battery (3.7V 4600mAh). No AA's to re-charge!
I've kept the unit On/Monitoring for ~12 hours each night. I have found it to go almost 4 nights, before needing a re-charge.

I'm very fond of the display on the Batlogger M; and the way it constantly changes and updates it's current status. While detecting bats, it is calculating/indicating the peak frequency. It then displays the peak frequency of the last bat call recorded. Very nice! It's undoubtedly, the most aesthetically pleasing display I've seen, since the BatBox Griffin. Yes, I'll say it: It looks really cool! The brightness is also fully adjustable. Some additional Pro's and Con's: 

Pros:
  • Built-in Li-ion battery, provides long up-time even in low temperatures.
  • Incredible sensitivity / Able to create good recordings of bats at great distances.
  • The most pertinent information is constantly displayed.
Cons:
  • The stock microphone is not weather or waterproof. Although, Elekon does offer two models of (optional) microphones that are (details in Part 2). 
The second Part will cover topics such as: How well it records bats, a summary of a typical workflow, a synopsis of how it compares to other high-end recording devices (in it's price range), and the quality of the bat calls recorded. Sonograms will be posted. And, I also hope to include sound recordings of bat passes; as they are reproduced by the built-in speaker.



 
Happy bat detecting! 


Review: The Batlogger M Part 2 Of 2

5 comments:

  1. I’m a biologist and thinking about starting with detecting bats. Therefore, I’m looking for an adequate detector and associated software.
    Here in Germany, the batcorder from ecoObs is quite popular – do you have any experience with this detector?
    I saw your review about the BatLOGGER from elekon – I’m also interested in this one because it’s not that expensive and seems to work fine for you. But what I didn’t find is a clear statement how well the automatic species analysis works. Can you tell me a bit more, please? Is it working fine and absolutely possible to identify most of the species? Or is it necessary to identify most of the bat echoes manually?

    Thanks a lot for your help!
    With best regards

    ReplyDelete
  2. Than you very much for your comment, and excellent question. Please accept my apologies for the delay in my response. I am still open to the opportunity/possibility of reviewing the ecoObs Batcorder. I will need to follow-up with the Folks at ecoObs (http://www.ecoobs.com/). So, to answer your first question: Unfortunately, I don't have any hands-on experience with The Batcorder (yet...).
    As for the BatLogger, From Elekon: In short, it is a phenomenal system. It is able to detect/record bats at greater distances than any other detector I've reviewed. At this time, it is my favorite. In my experience, the automatic species analysis works very well. I haven't had the opportunity to compare it to the leading system: Which is Kaleidoscope from Wildlife Acoustics.

    If you need to ensure the most accurate automated species analysis possible; then you just pair Elekon's Batlogger M with Wildlife Acoustic's Kaleidoscope software: And you have a winning combination!

    I use this combination myself, and can recommend it very highly. I will also be sending you a reply, via e-mail, which will include some further opinions and details, etc.

    Thanks for your patience!

    Happy bat detecting!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello Al Milano,
    Thanks for the wonderful reviews. I have been following your blog for over a year now. I am a bat worker from India and am now looking to buy a bat detector.

    My work would mainly involve recording voucher calls for call libraries and walking acoustic transects. Based on your review I'm thoroughly impressed with the Batlogger M. As a full-spectrum detector, is it suitable for my kind of work? My other options are the EchoMeter EM3+ and the Petterson D240X (which is most widely used for such purposes here in India) But your reviews (of all three instruments) put me in doubt about the Petterson's ability in comparison to both the EM3+ and the Batlogger. Also since both the EM3 and Batlogger have inbuilt recorders they reduce the bulk and extra wiring of carrying an extra recorder.

    The other doubt is regarding the analysis with full-spectrum recordings. I've worked a bit with TE recordings from D240x on BatSound which is pretty straightforward and easy. Are the recordings from Batlogger neater and the analysis in BatExplorer smoother with better detailed measurements of call parameters?

    Hoping for an early response.
    Regards,
    Rohit

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Rohit,

    Thanks very much for the kind words. Yes, The Batlogger M is in fact an impressive machine. Very well-suited to the kind of work you'll be doing.
    The EM3+ is a very versatile machine. If I had to use an analogy, I would compare it to a Swiss Army pocketknife. The D240X is very good at two of the things it does: Time expansion; and, one of the best-sounding Heterodyne detectors I've ever heard.
    Being perfectly honest, The Batlogger M is my favorite of the three. And, to answer your last question(s) - The simple answer, is Yes.
    The other two prospects you mentioned are good, but my personal preference - For ease of use, and having lots of interesting/valuable data placed right in front of you, is: BatExplorer. With only one caveat: You will want to make sure, that the bats in your area are covered - In Elekon's list of bat species for (the current Version) of BatExplorer.

    Wishing you the best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the prompt reply Al! You've convinced me to get a Batlogger :)

    The final caveat that you've mentioned is in fact quite a glitch. The bats in India are not covered in Elekon's list (there are very few published call libraries for Indian bats). Will it be easy to analyse calls the traditional way on BatExplorer- scrolling through recordings and picking calls out?

    Thanks once again for your help!

    ReplyDelete