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Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: The NEW Batscanner From Elekon!

Review: The NEW Batscanner From Elekon! 
Elekon - Making great bat detectors even better!

It's a wonderful thing, to see a bat detector Manufacturer making an effort to improve their products. Especially when their products are great performers to begin with. It's simply commendable. The original Batscanner from Elekon is a wonderful detector, which deserves high praise. It seems to me, that this new version has even more to be happy about.
To begin with, it's smaller than the original. In the pic below, I've placed a well-known (Tascam) recorder and a PP3 9v battery near the Batscanner - To help illustrate just how pocket-able it is:

(The new Batscanner from Elekon)

Using the Batscanner is (still) very simple: There are three buttons on the front of the unit - From left to right: The Power On/Off Button, Volume Down, Volume Up. The detector's speaker is located just below these buttons, and provides a surprising level of sound when turned up (beyond 3). Volume settings go from 0 to 5 (Zero being muted, actually).
The Headphone Socket is located on the upper right-hand side of the unit. 
And, although using this jack for audio recordings is not recommended (by Elekon) I still enjoy making an occasional recording or two (every now & then). Using a shielded audio "patch" cable (3.5mm male plugs on both ends) connected to the (Tascam) recorder pictured above: I've gotten some nice-sounding results (Blogger still doesn't have an easy way to share audio files yet).
As I've stated in the past, I'm one of those Hobbyists who enjoys the musical quality of heterodyne systems. Which would explain why I'd even bother to make a recording.

This latest version of The Batscanner, still employs the built-in, advanced algorithms as the original did. As I've mentioned in my review of the original Batscanner (Link to Part 1 Here). For those who are not familiar: The algorithms are basically a set of computerized rules that are followed when making a decision. For the purpose of our discussion, The Batscanner bat detector: The algorithms decide which sounds are from bats (desired sounds) - And which aren't. These latter sounds originate from other sources, and are therefore (largely) ignored.

The new Batscanner typically retails for under $400 U.S. Dollars, when ordering from Dealers such as: Wildlife & Countryside Services and NHBS


Keep in mind, that the Batscanner may also be ordered directly from Elekon in Switzerland (via their Online Shop).
I'd suggest you check each option to see where you can get the best deal.  

The Batscanner is a good choice for someone who'd like a bat detector that is a bit more advanced than those which are typically considered (in this price range).
The more one looks into the features of this detector, the more it seems to be a good choice. As a final bit of purchasing advice: If you're considering a bat detector in the same price range (~ 250 Pounds Sterling) then you should definitely consider The Batscanner.

Using The Batscanner is very simple: Just power on and enjoy! I normally keep the volume set at 2 and just listen. I've noticed that upon initial power-on: The volume is set at 3 (out of a possible setting of 1 thru 5). I find myself turning it down one step (to a setting of 2) when listening in typical suburban environments. In even less noisy environs (such as quiet woods, etc.) a volume setting of 1 may suffice.  

When you first power-up the unit, it begins at a frequency readout of 48kHz, this is simply by design and has no effect on it's speed/performance, or ability to detect/register a bat at either side of the spectrum.
It's a very unique bat detector: Simple on the outside; easy to use, etc. While all the "magic" is at work on the inside. Namely, those algorithms.

Something new that I've noticed with this latest Batscanner, which wasn't as evident in the first version: The Orig Batscanner had fairly low sensitivity to singing insects.
The new one is much more sensitive to their calls - but in most cases, doesn't "register" (display) the frequency.
This may be considered a mixed bag of sorts: Bat enthusiasts will be pleased that it doesn't pick-up/register the frequencies of singing insects...
Insect enthusiasts will be disappointed that the unit doesn't display the frequency of the singing invertebrates. After all, it is a BATscanner - So those who enjoy listening to Orthoptera should look for another ultrasonic device...

I really enjoy using this unit! When it does pick up bats, it does so in fractions of a second. The MEMs based microphone is fairly omnidirectional, and doesn't miss much! You needn't concern yourself with being pointed in exactly the best direction (although it always helps, of course). The point being: It is not a directional microphone.

Pros:
  • Small size - Very easily portable.
  • Excellent sensitivity, from MEMs microphone element (which is replaceable).
  • Simple operation. 
  • Great pick-up range (comparable to other detectors in it's price range).
Cons: 
  • The two-digit Frequency Display may be too bright for some. For those who prefer to preserve their dark-adapted vision.
It isn't adjustable, but I'm sure a small piece of masking tape would diffuse the light a bit (if desired). I haven't tested the unit in deep woods, so I didn't have a need to use the tape idea.
If you do try this: Be sure to use a tape with mild adhesive (masking tape, paper tape, etc.).

What's the bottom line? Whenever I'm off to a good "batty" location: Not deep woods/streams or lakes (because that is when The Batlogger M is best!); But, simply places like Suburbs fringed with woodland, or perhaps a Friend or Relative's home (which features a large back garden, etc.) - Then, The Batscanner is the choice I'd make; It would be the detector I'd reach for.
What I've done during the test period, was to bring a small notebook to jot down the frequencies displayed by The Batscanner while picking up bats. To look over later on - Pretty neat!

Note: This new version of The Batscanner replaces the original version. The original models will no longer be produced. Which means that going forward, only the new Batscanner will be available.

Happy bat detecting!

5 comments:

  1. Hi, in that price range I would be interested in seeing a field test between the Batscanner and the Batbox Duet which give you a chance to analysis the calls as also frequency division.
    Also have you tested any of the wav recorders, just interested. Thanks for the reviews :)

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  2. Thanks for your comment. I agree! A test between those two would be very interesting indeed. And I'm hoping to get the opportunity (haven't tested a Batbox Duet yet). I've seen the Duet in use on a bat walk, but haven't had the chance to test one thoroughly yet...
    As far as digital recorders, yes: I have a full review of the Olympus LS-100 here on the blog: http://batdetecting.blogspot.com/2013/03/review-new-ls-100-pcm-recorder-from.html And, I've submitted a few others to a UK-based, Online Dealer for use on their Site (TBD).
    Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Al Milano,

      I received my Batscanner yesterday from NHBS and I wasted no time in testing it outdoors. I completely echo your thoughts about the instrument. What a rich audio quality and such excellent sensitivity! It's a pity that we don't have call libraries here in India so I can't tell the species. But with its automatic tuning, the Batscanner at least helps me know how many species use our university campus (it was 4+/- 1 last night). I noted down the frequencies displayed by the Batscanner and with previous occasional recordings I could make logical guesses about their IDs.

      Thanks for your reviews which helped me narrow down on the Batscanner! Next target- to get the Batscanner's big brother out of a grant! :)

      Cheers,
      Rohit

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  4. Hi Rohit,

    Thanks very much for your comment. I'm very happy to learn of this!
    Yes, it is very nice. That is excellent news! Regarding your successful detecting. When using The Batscanner(s) for (mostly casual) bat detecting, I used the same method of paper and pen.

    I'm very glad that my Review(s) were able to help you!

    Kind regards,
    Al

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