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Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: Baton XD From BatBox Ltd. Part 1 Of 2

Review: The Baton XD bat detector from Batbox Ltd. Part 1 Of 2

The BatBox Baton XD is a new, dual technology bat detector, from BatBox Ltd. UK

I suppose, that after having tested and reviewed almost 40 different bat detectors, I must have developed the ability to discern a bat detector's ability right away
These days, I can practically tell how effective (sensitive) a bat detector is likely to be - Simply by powering it on...Indoors.

Case-in-point, the new Baton XD detector, from BatBox Ltd. A perfect example.
As soon as I un-boxed it, and powered it on: I could sense right-away, that an "ultrasonic mist net" had just been deployed. It could hear the faintest high frequency sounds within many meters, in any direction. It didn't take very long to realize that this one's a keeper!

 
It features two principal modes of detection: High-quality Frequency Division and Time-expansion (10x). This unit boasts a frequency response better than 18kHz to 120kHz.
 
Particularly note-worthy, is that time-expansion is among the methods of detection which this portable unit is capable of. We ought to keep in mind, that time-expansion is a technology, which has only recently been made affordable. Most especially, to the average Hobbyist. 
If you were among those bat detecting Hobbyists, who longed to have a TE detector - But could not afford one, then this Baton XD is (still) a "Big deal" for you. 
For a long time, I was among the many Hobbyists who hoped to own a detector with the ability to record in time-expansion. And I could not afford one either...

This is not to insinuate that time-expanded recordings are necessarily the "best", or most desirable of methods for recording and/or analysis -- Only that, until recently, it was simply out-of-reach for most. Including some Ecologists, in fact! Now that I think of it...
It wasn't too long ago, that the lowest-cost TE-capable unit, was selling for $1,500 U.S. Dollars. Two units in particular, come immediately to mind, in fact. 

With the release of the Baton XD from BatBox -- We now have a very capable -and- affordable unit; with which to make time-expanded recordings of echolocating bats.
The Reader may notice, that I've used the words "very capable". This is because The XD from BatBox Ltd. is the first of it's kind, to allow continuous / unattended recording (of TE calls). A rather important distinction, when one looks at the available prospects on the market today. Especially in this price range.

It may also be noted, that BatBox was not the first manufacturer to offer a TE-capable unit, in recent years. One that was affordable, that is.
The X05 Series from Ciel comes to mind. My full review of it, may be found Here.
However, this new Baton XD from BatBox, brings us to another level of (TE) recording ability. As well as the ability to choose a Professional quality, Frequency Divided output.

It's size and weight are very similar to the original Baton (which I've written about / Reviewed Here).
Some current retail prices for a Baton XD, range between about $362 (directly from BatBox Ltd.) to $436 (from NHBS); U.S. Dollars. And, of course, there are other online sources to order from as well. Wildlife & Countryside Services has it for £295 including
UK delivery and VAT.
I would encourage you to shop around for the best price


A very effective way to become familiar with it's features, is to to take a look through the free-to-download Quick Start Guide (direct PDF download Here).

As for the design, it is very similar to the original BatBox Baton; which I'm sure many are at least somewhat familiar with.

This advanced technology Baton XD still retains the ease-of-use of the original. This will be a comfort to those who have owned a Baton before. I found it to be so.

The Baton XD would be an ideal choice, for both beginning and advanced Hobbyists. 
With it's ability to connect to many smartphones: For live analysis, or recording, directly to a smartphone - Many Professionals will find it to be a valuable bit of kit. 
For instance, on Page 1 of The Quick Guide -- The Baton XD is indicated for transects:

"Baton XD is available with built-in strong magnets which will enable the unit to be attached to the exterior of most cars for mobile transect road surveys." 

In the past, I've referred to (the original) BatBox Baton as a "workhorse" of a bat detector. This new Baton XD, is an innovative new bat detector; which is sure to become the new high-tech "workhorse" detector, for many. Especially die hard Fans of the original Baton.   

The Baton XD allows the (headphone-equipped) user, to listen to both the TE (AKA 'TX') and FD audio at the same time. With the push of a button, the user may choose to listen to the TE sounds in the left side, and the FD in the right side; of the headphones -- Or, the other way around, if preferred.
Again, a brief glance at Page 1, of The Quick Start Guide will illustrate all...And of course, the ability to record to your smartphone is also an attractive prospect.

 Part 2 Of 2 of this Review will cover the following material and topics:
  • A description of the process of using it.
  • Photos
  • Accuracy and resulting Spectrograms  
  • Pros and Cons  
  • Summary
The bats are hibernating for the Winter (for the most part), here in New York USA. The BatBox Baton XD and The M500 USB Microphone (from Pettersson) were the two detectors which I finished the season with.

Part 2 of this Review, will be followed by the (long-overdue) Review of the new M500 USB Microphone from Pettersson. There are several exciting developments there as well!

Happy bat detecting!
(to those South of the Equator!) 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Latest News: The M500 USB Ultrasound Microphone

A brief, but important update, regarding The M500 from Pettersson Elektronik

Some major improvements have been made; to both the hardware and software platform.
The unit itself, is now produced in a slimline housing. It is only 13mm thick! Almost half the thickness of the original. Which is amazing!
The recording and analysis software: BatSound Touch, has also been re-done. The change (from the first software which was made available) is not simply an updated version - But is more like a totally new application - Re-built from the ground-up.

I've had the opportunity to install & test this brand-new, BatSound Touch software. And, so far, it is remarkable.
A lot more research and testing will be needed, but it won't be long before you see a full Review of this platform posted here. Also, at right around $400 U.S., the price of this Professional system, is very reasonable.

Happy bat detecting!