Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Batlogger M2 From Elekon

The Batlogger M2 From Elekon

The BatLogger M2 comes to us from Elekon AG, in Switzerland. It is a high-end, professional bat detector; and possesses many advanced features.

It is very versatile, and is very well adapted not only to active bat recording (during bat walks, transects, etc.) but also for nightly passive recording. I find this both an excellent and very welcomed feature. Whenever testing and using bat detectors over the years, I always use them in this fashion (overnight/unattended recording). So, I was very happy to discover this ability.

When the unit arrives, the outer packaging / outer box is as one would expect (usually, with packing tape sporting the logo "Elekon" on it). However: Once you get to the inner box - the one holding the Batlogger M2, and it's included cables, etc., then the uninitiated may begin to feel like Indiana Jones in The Temple of Doom...Searching for the hidden "switch" or pressure point which will magically allow the box to open - Granting the new owner access to this high-tech scepter.


More than one user of the new BatLogger M2 has experienced a bit of frustration, while trying to figure out exactly how this box opens...

Well, in hindsight...after experiencing what this bat detector can do, I feel that a box which has the potential to be a bit of a puzzle is quite fitting!
Here, we can think along the lines of The Sword in The Stone, and similar stories...
The formidable capability of this powerful new BatLogger cannot just be handed over to anyone. You must first pass a test, to prove you're worthy!


"With great power, comes great responsibility" - Uncle Ben, from Spider-Man.

The BatLogger M2 measures 220 x 70 x 46mm, and weighs only 222 grams. This is excellent, and it feels relatively light, and very comfortable in the hand. This is also partly due to the detector's ergonomic design. Very nice.

The M2 measures 220 x 70 x 46mm, and weighs only 222 grams. 

It feels lighter than it’s predecessor (The M) and is quite comfortable in the hand. This is due to the detector's ergonomic design.


Holding The M2 for long periods of time should present no issues, or cause fatigue for the majority of users: It features a unique shape, with an ergonomically designed handle. 


The M2 is robustly built, and even features a built-in attachment point for a (user-supplied) lanyard.


The BatLogger M2 - Using Red Theme

When considering the (unique) design of The BatLogger M2; I'd like to take this opportunity to point-out that: It's predecessor, The BatLogger M was also fairly comfortable to hold (due to it's hourglass shaped design). However, it is a heavy, solid unit.
Holding The M2 for long periods of time should present no issues, or cause fatigue for the majority of users: It features a unique shape, with an ergonomically designed handle.  
The M2 is robustly built, and even features a built-in attachment point for a (user-supplied) lanyard. 

As for features, there are numerous...

I found The BatLogger M2 very easy to use.

  • The M2 uses a built-in, rechargeable, Li ion battery.


  • It is currently priced at right around $1,200 USD, directly from Elekon’s Online Shop.


  • It is also in stock at many Dealers throughout Europe (NHBS [in The British Isles], etc.)


  • The M2 uses a MicroSD card as it’s storage medium - Be sure to get a fast/good quality SD card for best results.





  • Front / User-facing Mic for recording comments


  • USB-C connector (under rubber SD card cover)


  • 3.5mm headphone jack


  • Standard ¼” socket for tripod mounting

 

  • USB charging cables are provided


  • Live Recording Level Indicator


  • Recording Modes: Auto / Manual / Paused / Interval Mode


  • Live, adaptive Spectrogram Screen Display


  • Auto ID! 32 European bat species


  • Recent Recordings - displays Metadata for 20 recordings


  • Transect Mode - Way-points dynamically displayed in different colours


  • Sensors! Temp in ℃ / % r. H. / Lux / GNSS 


  • Also height above sea level and velocity


  • In/Out Counting feature for bat roost surveys


  • Torch Mode




An interesting consideration, is that The M2 is well-suited to meet the needs of many bat working professionals. In no small part, due to it's versatility...

Which translates into this BatLogger M2 being very good for:
  • Bat Workers
  • Ecologists
  • Biologists
  • Researchers

BatLogger M2 - 'Almond' Coloured Theme - Sensor status displayed


The BatLogger M2 also possesses many additional features:



  • Ability to add voice comments during a recording session.


  • Ability to add a tag to a specific recording.


  • Ability to view and/or playback recordings directly from the device.


Ability to change the way it sorts through recordings: Name ascending, Name descending - Date ascending, Date descending.

After an adequate amount of testing, it was easy to confirm the accuracy of not only the recordings, but the M2's valiant attempts to auto ID the species detected.
Now, of course, I reside in The U.S. and the unit currently only Auto ID's European bats. 


BatLogger M2 - On windowsill - Passive recording (Green theme)



The BatLogger M2 can display the metadata of each recording such as: 


  • The Trigger frequency.


  • Temperature.


  • Profile used (Explore, Passive, etc.).


  • A graph with the spectrogram (spectrum data is averaged).



The M2 - Displaying detailed GPS satellite Info


Some of the other data, accessible directly from The M2 includes:


  • The Log (Batrec.log file) - Displaying hardware/Mic events.


  • Ability to create custom Recording Profiles (this may also be done via the desktop app).


  • Ability to check/change sample rate (312.5kHz, 384kHz or 500kHz)




Pros:

  • A feature-rich, Pro-level bat recorder, which will meet the needs of the most demanding Biologists.


  • Ability to create several customization's - Via device, and/or via the free desktop app (BatExplorer).


  • It is as sensitive, accurate, and as pleasurable to use as you might expect from a top-of-the-range bat detector.


  • It’s simple enough to use straight out of the box - Yet has enough advanced features to keep a user busy for many days - Just learning how to use them all!


  • The GPS/GNSS is extremely accurate, and the resulting .gpx files may be viewed with a myriad of Apps.


  • With a user-replaceable microphone module, this detector has the potential to last many years.




Cons:

  • It froze on me once. I had to plug it into my laptop’s USB port, in order to power it down.


  • I occasionally find the BatExplorer software to be a little slow.




It's been quite some time since a bat detector has impressed me this much. The only other (Pro-level) bat detector which was this impressive, was The AnaBat WalkAbout from Titley. The WalkAbout was a bat recorder which ticked all the boxes.


Next up, will be a full review of The BatLogger S2 - Passive/Static bat recorder also from Elekon.

Until then...

Happy bat detecting!

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Random Thought Of The Month - April

 April 2022

Neil Middleton mentioned it first; it was during one of my live webinar/reviews (available only to BatAbility Club Members).

It is the observation that each manufacturer approaches bat detecting in it's own, unique, way. In other words if one hopes to become well-versed (competent) with using a particular model of bat detector, they must not only read the User Guide in its entirety, but also:

  • Use the device extensively.
  • Become familiar with it's menus and error states.
  • Acquire and analyze a considerable number of recordings.
  • Become acquainted with analyzing and manipulating those recordings.
It's a time consuming process.

Also (in my case), to go through the motions which a Bat Biologist/Bat Worker would:

  • Collect and export the data, into standard formats (easily accessible to the largest groups of people).
  • Print out reports / verify how convenient it is to do so.
  • Create spreadsheets, etc., which will be easily accessible (readable) to the largest majority of colleagues.

Data acquired by the primary user, is frequently distributed to various colleagues, and peers around the world. Not everyone has access to the same (up to date) technology. Some may have older versions of Microsoft Office (for example).

Part of my responsibility, is to approach each bat detector or recording device, as it's own separate entity - each with its own character, and protocol for use in the field. For many Ecology firms, the solution (and/or device) being considered will be their only platform. 

Many readers might be very surprised to learn who some of the visitors to this blog are. Amoung several other distinguished visitors, are CEO's of wind farms. I've corresponded with more than one of them over the years, to help with their equipment selection. I've been quite surprised myself, at times, to learn of the caliber of people who visit. And I only find out, when they contact me directly.

I'm reminded of a short anecdote which I am occasionally fond of sharing: Appearances may sometimes be deceiving: The sweet, unassuming owner of the bakery, may be a 3rd degree black belt. The young fellow wearing thick spectacles and a Mickey Mouse T-shirt may possess uncanny ability in hand to hand combat. That very attractive young blonde lady may be a skilled boxer. You just never know. 

Until next time, Happy Bat detecting!

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Batlogger M2 From Elekon!

I'm very happy to report, that the Batlogger M2 from Elekon, has recently arrived for review! 

It was accompanied by their new Batlogger S2, static/unattended bat recorder as well. The S2 will also be given a test and review...

However, my local weather here in New York has started to cooperate —And has become more conducive to bat activity in the past 2 days. I immediately took this opportunity to test The Batlogger M2.

I set it up on a windowsill (indoors, of course) and selected the 'Passive Mode' recording option - I had already become familiar with the User Manual, so it was very easy to navigate around it's menus.

The good news, is: When I came back to check on it a short time later, I went through the small list of recordings, and saw that it recorded a bat! 

The additional good news is: This new Batlogger M2 is not only an excellent performing, Pro-level bat detector...But it is a joy to use, and absolutely lovely as well! 

Wow! It is packed with wonderful features and abilities - I look forward to providing detailed reviews of it. Both on The BatAbility Club, and here on the blog.

For now, you can have a look at it (and some of it's features) on The Elekon website.


 


As always - Happy bat detecting!

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Review: The New Chorus from Titley Scientific Part 2 of 2

The Chorus from Titley Scientific: Review - Part 2 of 2


 

The Chorus

The AnaBat Chorus - First time use:

Connect the microphone(s) you intend to use, in their appropriate sockets (these are also labeled A & B in raised lettering directly on the unit - look closely).

Install new (or formatted) SD card, 4 new AA size batteries; power-on by pressing the 'OK' button...Give the unit half a moment to boot up (in reality, it only takes a few seconds).

Check that the time zone is correct (Clock Settings) - Press OK to confirm. Remember daylight savings time. Allow unit to acquire GPS satellite lock - And accurate time will auto-update. 

Note: You should be aware of whether or not your unit is up-to-date as far as firmware is concerned. My example unit was up-to-date on arrival.  

Select one of the pre-set modes on the right of the screen.

Clam-shell the unit closed (make sure you hear the audible click) and deploy unit.

For most intents and purposes, you'll be well on your way to acquiring excellent quality recordings, simply by following the instructions above. Which are also well-laid-out in The Quick Start Guide. This presumes you are in a hurry to deploy the unit (or possibly more than one). Please be aware: If you don't perform any further configuration, your Chorus will be using all the default settings. 


AnaBat Chorus with Lithium batteries installed

I always outline the quickest deployment scenario, for those who are interested. And that is what I've just outlined. However, for many other users, you'll want to become familiar with the other settings which may be customised. In the very beginning, you may want to have a printed version of the User Manual handy.

I read the Quick Start Guide, and deployed the Chorus - I was quite surprised to have recorded a bat! It was on December 26th, and it was 40℉ (4.4℃) - It was later identified as a Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus).

The fully detailed, step-by-step Set-Up Guide may be found on page 13 of the User Manual.

Amoung the features which are adjustable are:

  • Gain (for side A or B, independently).
  • Start / Stop times for active monitoring/recording.
  • Minimum & maximum frequency.
  • Minimum & maximum recording time.

The AnaBat Chorus runs on four AA sized batteries, which can be of any type (Alkaline, NiMh, or Lithium).
The Chorus also features a Micro USB connection, primarily for updating the unit's firmware. As well as a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, for live monitoring of sounds being picked up by the microphones.
During my tests, I tried various brands/types of batteries; as well as different SD/MicroSD cards - No issues were encountered.
During my extensive testing, I put The Titley Chorus through it's paces; including some deployments in sub-freezing temperatures. In all cases, I found the microphones to perform accurately, without any issues capturing and reproducing sound.

Even in this condition:



As per Page 10 of The User Manual:

Amoung the Acoustic Microphone Specifications we have:
  • Electret mics with excellent sensitivity and low noise floor: -24dB sensitivity, with 80dB signal-to-noise ratio.
  • Built-in low noise preamplifiers.
  • Frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz.


For the Ultrasonic Microphones we have:
  • Weatherproofing, for use in rainy conditions.
  • Built-in low noise preamplifier.
  • Improved frequency response, when compared to previous generation electret-based ultrasonic Mics.
  • Useable frequency response of 10kHz to 140kHz (response rolls-off beyond this point) - Which would be interesting to experiment with...
These are great specifications.

The Barred Owl (Strix varia) calls, recorded with The Chorus (in stereo/2 Audible Mics) may be heard on my YouTube Channel (Batdetectors1). Distance to unit: Approximately 75 Meters.


Eastern Coyotes were approximately three times as far; which is probably why I have yet to locate a solid recording worthy of sharing…


The Chorus produced excellent sounding recordings, both in acoustic mode and ultrasonic mode: The file names of acoustic recordings may be set to have an "ac" prefix. While the ultrasonic recordings may be set to have a "us" prefix.



Pros:
  • Robust construction.
  • Very flexible - Due to dual Mic options.
  • Ability to record in FS or ZC.
  • Independently adjustable gain (for each Mic).
  • Myriad of versatility: The ability to schedule Ultrasonic and/or Acoustic recording for different times of the day (24 hour period).
  • The quality of the recordings are excellent.

Cons:
  • May be considered expensive, when factoring in the cost of an additional Mic.
  • Not as quick to deploy as the AnaBat Express or AnaBat Swift: Having more features and abilities, equates to more time to configure before deployment.
  • AnaBat Insight software not as fast or robust as others.

The Chorus may be purchased directly from Titley Scientific (main Website).
You will also find it in stock at many Dealer's Sites, including Wildlife & Countryside Services and at NHBS.

The Titley Chorus - Things I happened to like and dislike:

I liked the robust build, the simple Dashboard/4 icons, the choice of Mics, and relative flexibility of settings like: Filter, independent gain for microphones (A/B).

I didn't like the time and effort required to go from power-up ~to~ deployment. Again, since The Chorus has more features and variables available, this equates to a bit more time to configure.

If you haven't read it already, see Part 1 of this 2-Part review Here.

As is the custom for Titley Scientific devices - there is a hidden game on this unit as well... It's called 'FlappyBat' and I must say, it's rather cute. Here's how you can access the game:

When you hold down the Power button to turn off the detector, You'll see the menu pop-up that lets you choose between sleep and power down. At this menu, press the mode button and a new icon will appear. Arrow across to this one and press OK...

The latest (auto) update/version of AnaBat Insight software has really made a difference in overall performance! A lot of major and minor issues have been addressed with this latest update. It's much more robust now (noticeably better overall). I experienced no freezing of the application, even on my slowest laptop.




Until next time - Happy bat detecting! And animal recording!
🐾🐺🐦🐸

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Review: The New Chorus from Titley Scientific Part 1 Of 2

Review: The Chorus from Titley Part 1 Of 2 

The Chorus - Shown with 2 Mics installed for audible sounds

The Chorus is shown above with 2 audible microphones installed (for recording of non-bat/non-ultrasonic sound). My sample/loaner unit was provided with the ultrasonic microphone as well; so there will be plenty of testing and results shared here... I already got a serendipitous recording of a Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) using this new unit!

External Dimensions: 194 x 123 x 50mm (7.3 x 4.8 x 2 inches)
Weight: 400 grams (14 Oz.) Without batteries

The Chorus is a very solid unit. It's molded in a Shrub Green weatherproof and shockproof housing. It's a well laid-out design, similar to several other weatherproof, static recorders on the market.
However, a user should be advised/reminded: When closing The Chorus, for deployment, you must insure you hear a loud snap when you close the latch. Which, again, is similar to other static recorders currently on the market.

In other words, it is possible for someone who is unfamiliar with such devices - to close the unit, "close" the latch, and deploy the unit: Not completely sealed against the elements - without it being properly closed & sealed.

I've made a very short video, demonstrating exactly what I'm referring to. On my Bat Detector Reviews YouTube Channel - It may be seen Here.


The Titley Chorus (please ignore the cheap batteries!)

I'd like to discuss another issue straight away: something else, which was a concern of mine since it's arrival: Our local super-cold temperatures / and how in the world was The Chorus going to fare?

It's not as though I didn't have my local wildlife vocalizing (due to cold weather). On the contrary: Barred Owls (Strix varia) and Eastern Coyotes (Canis latrans) treated us to performances just about every night.




No, it was my concern (my "worry") about whether or not The Chorus would be able to perform in such cold conditions...
After a quick scan through the User Manual, what I'd vaguely suspected was confirmed: It is the batteries' ability to provide voltage (in below freezing Temps) and not The Chorus which is the deciding factor. 
That is to say, when deploying the unit in sub-freezing environments (< 32 Degrees Fahrenheit / 0 Degrees Celsius).
Temperatures here were commonly <23 Deg F/ -5 Deg C at the time that I began testing (and much, much colder since then). ...It's the batteries which are "the weakest link', and not the machine.

How can you ensure best performance in cold weather? 
The short answer: Use Lithium batteries (as many of you are already aware).
To ensure the very best performance and longevity - It would be wise to go for the best (most highly rated brand(s) you can get). Energizer brand Lithium batteries are very good:


The Energizer brand Lithium batteries are reported to "Perform well in extreme temperatures from -40°F to 140°F." I have found them to perform admirably in my local (Upstate New York) conditions.

Eneloop brand rechargeable NimH batteries are still a very good bet, as a second choice. Especially for use in non-freezing weather conditions. I have a good selection of batteries available here: From the very cheapest (untrustworthy) -to- the top of the range. I also have a tendency to try the different brands in the detector(s) I'm evaluating. So far, I haven't experienced anything out of the ordinary to report.


The Titley Chorus may be ordered from a number of Dealers. Such as NHBS:



As well as directly from Titley Scientific - Here. (for $499 [US Dollars] with one free acoustic microphone).

Via either one of the links above, you may select the preferred configuration when ordering. Generally speaking, these are:
  • Chorus with one (free) acoustic microphone
  • Chorus with an additional acoustic microphone (giving you the set-up shown in my photos above).
  • Chorus with an (additional) ultrasonic microphone.

The Chorus powered-on in subdued light


Some key features:
  • The ability to add additional microphones - Both acoustic, and ultrasonic (more on this later).
  • Lasts for up to 40 nights (full spectrum ultrasonic) or 300 hours (acoustic) on 4 AA sized batteries.
  • It is a static recorder, which operates unattended -and- No phone apps are required for setup.
  • Temperature sensor.
  • Transect mode available!
  • Bar graphs on main display show a live representation of sound levels picked-up by unit.

The bottom of The Titley Chorus - Showing the tripod socket

I like the ease with which you can navigate the menus; the main screen is called the Dashboard.
The unit is powered on by pressing the OK button.
There is a useful sticker inside the cover, which conveys the basic instructions. 

The Chorus would be a very good option for: An Ecologist, Bat Worker, Wildlife Researcher, et al, looking for a capable, unattended sound recording solution. Again, it is capable of recording both ultrasounds and normally-audible sounds.
As an experienced wildlife sound recordist, I'm immediately interested in any static recorder able to competently record audible sounds of wildlife. 
In fact, I couldn't help but to make comparisons of audible sound recordings from The Chorus versus a Zoom H1n digital recorder, which I use for impromptu wildlife sound recording! Now, we all know that this can't be considered a "fair" comparison - but, I couldn't help to experiment anyway!

To elaborate - The Zoom H1n recorder is designed from the ground up, to do one thing: record stereo sound as well as possible (within it's [low] cost constraints!).
The Chorus (and similar devices) must record wildlife - Reliably, accurately, over long periods of time, and in the most extreme weather conditions imaginable.
From the jungles of South America, to The Great White North (😉 Canada) and beyond... These are no small feats, by any stretch. 

Obviously, this product would be very well-suited for anyone needing to record ultrasonic and non-ultrasonic sounds. In other words - It would be a great match for Biologists working with animals which vocalize in both audible, and sub-audible (ultrasonic) spectrum.

This review is continued, in Part 2 of 2... Where I covered a bit more about this very capable recorder. 

Happy bat detecting! 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The New Chorus from Titley Scientific - First Impressions

The New Chorus, static/stand alone recorder from Titley Scientific, is more than just a bat/ultrasound recorder. It is also a very capable audible sound recorder for capturing a myriad of wildlife vocalizations.

The type of unit it is, would commonly be referred to as a passive detector (when discussing bat recordings). 

It performs the same way, when it comes to wildlife sound recording. At the risk of oversimplifying - It is the type of recorder one would set-up in the field (be it woodland, swamp, mountains) and return to retrieve the SD card (recordings) after a period of many weeks. 


At this time, I'd like to share my "first impressions" synopsis...

The new Chorus (occasionally referred to as The Anabat Chorus) is an impressive machine. It arrived (to me here in The US) from Titley's HQ in Australia, professionally well-packaged (as usual). When purchasing Pro-level equipment, from leading manufacturers - You'll find well-designed boxes/packaging, which keeps equipment well protected.


My loaner unit for test, is a full-production unit. The same as any customer around the world would receive. My particular unit was provided with one ultrasonic microphone (for bat recording, etc.) and two normal microphones (for most other wildlife vocalizations). 

Some of the very first aspects which struck me upon unboxing were:

  • It's very robust design. Reminiscent of a Hummer, or some other tough vehicle. Hefty and sturdy.
  • The interior of the unit, especially battery compartment and SD card slot - seem almost ergonomic (for lack of a better description). That is to say, I could install and remove the batteries & SD card very, very easily.
  • Each of the microphones may be installed & removed easily, with good tactile feedback. There's no mistaking whether or not the Mics are fully seated. 

I like the yellow display; and more importantly, the range of features which are easily accessible to the end user.

Until next post...

Happy bat detecting!

Monday, January 3, 2022

An Early Look At Something Coming Up Next - The Chorus from Titley Scientific

Well, this is a bit premature... But, in any case:

The brand new Chorus made by Titley Scientific has arrived, for testing and review. As with their other static recorders: It's very easy to set-up/deploy.

I couldn't help but to read the Quick Start Guide, and The User Manual; and subsequently, to do a short test deployment. To my surprise, it recorded a bat.

I was very surprised, since it was December (the 26th, to be exact). And the evening temperatures were right around 40 degrees F (for the most part).

As per the latest version of Kaleidoscope software, and manual IDing by yours truly - It was, in fact a Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus). The only question I have, is: Is it suffering from WNS? Or did it just wake-up for a drink of water? (at the nearby trout stream). For now, I can only speculate...

This new static unit from Titley works really well - and I've found zero negatives about it (except the slightly higher price).
I find no faults in it's design at all: Batteries and SD card are installed & removed effortlessly. 
I like the way it's ultrasonic microphone simply records bats (and not any other non-bat/non-animal sounds). Very neat so far!

So, as for The Chorus - I like it a lot so far! I look forward to posting Part 1 of the review soon...


Happy New Year & Happy bat detecting!

 

The Batlogger M2 From Elekon

The Batlogger M2 From Elekon The BatLogger M2 comes to us from Elekon AG, in Switzerland. It is a high-end, professional bat detector; and p...