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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Review: Kaleidoscope Pro Software From Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 2

Review: Kaleidoscope Pro Software From Wildlife Acoustics. Part 2 Of 2

As I signed off, on Part 1 of this review, I mentioned Technical Support... Well, as usual, Wildlife Acoustics provides excellent Technical Support. BCID and Elekon also provide Tech Support for their products. 

Wildlife Acoustics currently offers two great software applications for viewing your recorded bat calls: Kaleidoscope Viewer and Kaleidoscope Pro. 
The installation of either of these packages is fast and easy. These Apps are ideal for those doing bat surveys; or any other type of bat research where identification of the Species is needed. They also provide tremendous enjoyment for advanced hobbyists!

You may think of Kaleidoscope Viewer as an affordable alternative, to many of the standard spectrogram viewers offered by other companies. It has a few unique features; and displays bats calls accurately as well as aesthetically - The spectrograms are rendered in wonderful colours.

(This is just a random example of what the Default colours look like)

The example above, is what a bat recording looks like, when you first open the Viewer. The 'Adjust brightness, equivalent to dB gain' (Slider on the left) may be used to produce different colour variations as well. The colours can be changed to suit your individual preference - Lots of Brightness Levels to choose from!
In any case, before purchasing a "stand-alone" type of software; to view your ultrasound recordings - You should definitely pay a visit to the Kaleidoscope Overview Page, and have a look around. You may find that you prefer it, to some of the other basic viewers out there.
It's a matter of personal preference.

The fact is, that there aren't many software packages available for the automatic identification of recorded bat calls. They can be counted on one hand. Having looked into all of them, I'm here to simply share my experiences. These two software packages are among my favorites (if you purchase Kaleidoscope Pro, the Viewer is included). Kaleidoscope Pro is simply a pleasure to use. After you try it out, you'll probably wonder how you ever managed without it.

There are several files that are produced after the Batch Process has run. 
* A 'Results' standard table, which may be saved in .csv format.
* A complete and detailed Excel file.
* And, of course the new Viewer! (which opens with one file already in view).

Now, you can call me "picky", but there is something else I'd like to see:  
* A simple, easy-to-print, output file (in addition to what is already provided).

"But, there are already 2 nice .csv files available to print" I hear you say...Yes, you are correct, of course. We may also consider, that those who are likely to be using this software, will no doubt:
A. Have Microsoft Excel on their systems.
                          -And-
B. Be well-versed on it's use, such as the manipulation of data, the creation of charts, etc.

But I'd like to see something even "easier". Something that doesn't require a user to go in and move cells, etc. before printing. Something that anyone can simply print straight away.

During my short test and review period, I've come to really depend on it; and appreciate it for the extremely useful tool it is.
The best part is that you don't even have to take my word for it - You can download/install it, and see for yourself! Again, Wildlife Acoustics is extending their free trial period through June 30th 2013 - So that you can have a chance to try out their new Viewer. 

Here is another screen capture of the first dialog screen you see, upon launching the latest (Ver.1.1.3) Kaleidoscope Pro software:

(A cropped screen capture - showing the main dialog box) 
 
Some of the more memorable features (and characteristics) of Kaleidoscope are:
  • It has the ability to quickly process large numbers of recorded bat calls.
  • It's able to handle any .wav files, as well as (proprietary) WAC and ZC file formats.
  • The options to output (or convert) the files to .wav or ZC files.
  • The ability to filter out noise, and the option to place the recorded noise into separate files.
  • The ability to effectively use any GPS data provided by your detector.
  • The output it produces, is easy to read, relevant, and useful.
  • And last, but not least, the classifiers! 
    (just about all US bats and most UK bats are covered) 
To be perfectly honest, Kaleidoscope Pro is one of the coolest software packages I've seen. It is really pleasant and versatile, not to mention - Easy to use!

Here's a partial screen capture I took, while checking Results recently:

 (You can see the Results file, above the Classifiers screen)

Purchasing the software, is a straightforward and harmonious process. After adding the desired software package to your Cart, you are led through a typical Checkout procedure (it's quick and simple).
After which, you'll receive 2 e-mails: One, a standard invoice. And the other, a more detailed version which includes your software license key. 
You select/copy the license key, go to the main dialog box of the installed software, select 'Help', 'License', and paste your License ID. Enter your e-mail address - And viola! You're done!

I like the ease-of-use of this software. I really admire the fact, that it is always being improved! The software is constantly being refined, improved, and polished.  It has already been tested and analyzed in detail (by others) - And was found to be far superior, in both speed and accuracy; when compared to the offerings from other companies.
The future updates and improvements (latest versions) will be made available to licensed owners. And, I believe it's a delightful thing to look forward to. 
As such, I'll probably need to "revisit" this software package again in the future - With an update post, to keep everyone informed of any major changes and improvements.

Happy bat detecting!

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