Monday, May 23, 2011

New Ultrasonic Microphones from Avisoft Bioacoustics

USG 116Hnb kit with EP3 electret and USG 116Hn kit with CM16/CMPA microphones from Avisoft Bioacoustics

Many of you may already be familiar with Avisoft Bioacoustics, a manufacturer of high-end bioacoustic recording equipment. I've had the exciting opportunity to test and review two of their brand new, low cost 'Nano' units. Although they may still be considered far from beginner's units (especially with regards to price), I believe experienced Sound Recordists will really like these new kits. Although we've all heard it many times, it bears repeating here: "you get what you pay for" And, this is certainly the case when it comes to these new offerings from Avisoft.
In this case, to give you an idea, of the quality and craftsmanship that goes into each of these units; I'll put it this way: If Sound Devices made bat detectors, they would probably look like these!
Two new kits have just been released, from the Folks at Avisoft. One is the USG 116Hnb kit with EP3 electret microphone, the other is the USG 116Hn kit with CM16/CMPA. These are brand-new recording devices, released this year. These can only be used with the bundled Avisoft-RECORDER USGH software.
As per Raimund Specht, of Avisosft - There will be two different versions:

Part #31170, USG 116Hnb kit with EP3
max sample rate: 300 kHz
electret microphone EP3 (without mic extension cable)
no polarization voltage generator (can be added on request)
fixed gain
Price : 1400 Euros + VAT & customs charges

Part #31172, USG 116Hn kit with CM16/CMPA
max sample rate: 750 kHz
with polarization voltage generator
CM16/CMPA condenser mic including 2 m extension cable
gain adjustment knob
Price : 2600 Euros + VAT & customs charges
Note that the CM16/CMPA condenser microphone can only be used with the model 116Hn. The less expensive model 116Hnb does not have the required polarization voltage generator (which could however also be added on request).

The manuals are available online at

You can watch and analyze the recorded .wav files with the free SASLab Lite software that is available from

The USG 116Hnb kit with EP3 electret microphone kit, is very compact; so it's very portable. It was the first unit to the "test bench". It is supplied in a nice foam lined carry case, along with a gold-plated USB cable. An XLR extension cable was also provided, with the review samples, to facilitate remote placement of the actual mic units.

The Avisoft recording software is amazing, and exactly what one would expect from a world-class bioacoustic lab. While it has enough features to keep one busy experimenting for weeks, it also is not difficult to get up and running. However, I must stress; that it is imperative that you read the User Guide. You will not be able to make any successful bat recordings without consulting the manual, for software configuration.
Along with a full, spiral-bound User's Guide; the recording devices are supplied with a pamphlet-style User's Guide. This is similar to a "Quick-Start" Guide and is very convenient for quick reference. But again, make sure that you keep the full-sized User Guide close by. Installation of the software and hardware is fairly easy. A unique business-card-sized USB drive is provided, which is loaded with Avisoft software, and a bat call library.

Unfortunately, I had nothing but non-stop rain and wind during the evaluation period. So, sadly, I cannot comment on the actual performance of the prototype kits that I was supplied with.
But, these are definitely bat detectors to keep an eye on, for the near future.

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