Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: The New LS-100 PCM Recorder From Olympus Part 1 Of 2

Review: Olympus LS-100 PCM Digital Recorder Part 1 Of 2

The new LS-100 PCM recorder, from Olympus arrived the other day. Further first impressions are that it seems to be a very capable piece of kit. Skimming through the specs of this digital recorder, some of the features that caught my attention were:
  • 96kHz/24 Bit capability
  • Frequency response Between 20Hz ~ 20kHz
  • 2 Low Cut Filters available: 100 or 300Hz
  • Rechargeable Li Ion battery ~ 12.5 Hour battery life
  • 2 XLR connections with 48v/24v Phantom power
It is provided with a very thorough user manual. Since I've owned and used quite a few Olympus digital recorders over the years: I was able to make some quick recordings, without reading the manual.
I don't recommend this -but- It does serve to illustrate just how easy it is to use this machine.
Once you carefully read the User Manual (preferably, with the recorder in-hand) you'll be operating it like a Pro in no-time.

I had a serendipitous recording opportunity come up:
It was around 2:00 AM, when I heard some birds chattering in the Red Cedar trees in my (next-door) neighbor's yard. Very unusual! Not only was it 2 AM, but temperatures were in the mid 30's Fahrenheit. I grabbed the LS-100 and made some recordings, without even lowering the window screen. I carefully held the LS-100 close to the window screen, in the direction of the Cedar trees.

The most interesting thing that happened, as a result of these backyard birds singing, was that the LS-100 had an opportunity to prove just how well it performs. And, what a useful addition it would be, for the wildlife sound recording enthusiast.

While I was monitoring, and recording short samples of the birds singing - There were some periods of time, when (to my ears) nothing was heard. I also made a couple of sample recordings during these silent periods as well. And, when playing those particular recordings back (using only the LS-100's built-in speakers) I heard the bird songs! I was both happy, and impressed! In short: This recorder was able to pick up and record, sounds that were outside the range of average human hearing. These are the kind of recorders I like!

Just a few details that I recall, from the time the recordings were made:

The birds were located approximately 30 feet away.
The LS-100 was being used in it's standard, Recorder function.
Mic Gain was set to 'Mid', Recording Level: Manual (both knobs set to 10)
Neither of the audio filters were in use.
Sample Rate was 96kHz/24 Bit*
*I believe this last setting, was the reason why the in-audible bird sounds were recorded (high sample rate!). Along with the great overall sensitivity, the high sample rate was able to detect, and digitally reproduce the sounds.  
Similar to the way that a full spectrum recorder, is able to make ultrasonic bat calls audible. 

I've tried creating some (aesthetically pleasing) sonograms of the bird calls - Using quite a few applications that I had available; but I've had no luck so far. Of course, most of my software is set-up for bat calls, and other ultrasounds, etc. 
Whether I'll be able to produce some good sonograms from these recorded .wav files remains to be seen. If I'm able to: They will be included in Part 2 of this review.

I'll be visiting some suburban areas this week. And, I hope to make some ultrasound recordings of singing insects. In which case, I'll have no trouble producing some nice sonograms.

The New LS-100 Recorder From Olympus Part 2 Of 2

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Batlogger M From Elekon Has Arrived!

The Batlogger M From Elekon AG (Switzerland) is here!   ...Just a short post (for now)...

Now, this is a Bat Detector! What a fantastic package. It currently comes standard with:
  • A Kingston 16GB (Class 10) memory card.
  • Power adapter for charging the built-in, high performance, Lithium battery.
  • Sennheiser earphone set, with accessories and carry case.
  • A high-quality microphone (the mic is also replaceable). 
  • A nice, sturdy, black plastic carry case - The case is foam-lined; and keeps the Batlogger and it's accessories safe.

The kit was sent to me, to be tested and reviewed, directly from Elekon (in Switzerland) via UPS Overnight! Wow! It arrived quickly.
In any case, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out a few things: This kit may be a little more expensive than some others that are currently out there - But, it's easy to see: That what you are investing in, is a very high quality product. The old adage is certainly true here - "You get what you pay for" This unit has already been proven, to be much more effective than both the SM2BAT+ and the AnaBat SD2 (and not by me). I haven't started to seriously test it, yet!

Have a look, at this beautiful Batlogger M kit: 

I'm very excited about reviewing this machine! This bat detector has it all; with each recording it can log: Location (via built-in GPS), Time, Frequency and Temperature. Add a handheld Anemometer (to record wind speed) and a Tally Counter - And, you have everything needed to perform Professional Research and Bat Surveys.
A complete system, in a small carry case!

(As a reminder: My blog can be easily translated into any language now. See the Google Translator on the upper right-hand side of the main page.

Happy bat detecting!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The New Olympus LS-100 Recorder Has Arrived

The New Olympus LS-100 PCM Recorder has arrived! In all respects, It's very nice indeed.

It got here in just a few days, to me here in Bronx, New York.

A couple of quick pics - Comes with a nice protective case.

The display is really wonderful; this quick snapshot doesn't do it justice:

(It also features a talking Menu - A female, somewhat "robotic" voice)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Parkhurst Forest Bat Project

These days, I've been doing my best to avoid writing short posts. But in this case, I'll have to make an exception:
I came across this Gentleman's incredible Website recently; his name is Jon Whitehurst. 
Not only does his Site contain an amazing amount of information; but it is all data that he and his Wife have collected themselves! In a word: Impressive.

I was also very happy to see the equipment that he uses for his bat surveys: Elekon!

(The Link to his Site has been added, under 'Great Bat Organizations & Other Links')

Happy bat detecting!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Similarities Between Backyard Birding & Bat Detecting

It's easy to understand why so many people enjoy bat detecting and recording. Especially when you take the time to consider the similarities between Backyard Birding & Bat Detecting.
And Birding, is said to be the most popular pastime in America (probably the World).

Now, I should state right up front, that I am also a long-time Birder. I've been keeping a 'Backyard Bird Journal' for several years now. And, back when the problems with my spine & my Fibromyalgia didn't have such a grip on me: I also enjoyed attending the local Bird Walks.

There are various levels of "dedication" for backyard Birders. And, of course, various levels of effort expended by each (unique) individual Birder. And the opportunities afforded to each of us plays a major role.

I suppose, that one of the most important factors, is how easily it is to glance out one's window - Into the back garden. Are the windows facing your garden large or small?
Some may actually set aside some time, during the early morning hours, to intentionally do some bird watching. While others (like myself, these days) will rely on what they might glimpse while going about their usual morning routines, etc.
Of course, it almost goes without saying, that: More effort put forth, results in more birds seen.

Now, if we consider bat detecting...Or more specifically, bat recording. We immediately see some advantages:

  • There is no need to wake up at Dawn (or other early morning hour) to see the best (most interesting/unique birds).
  • There's no need to constantly check what's going on, via the back windows.
  • There is no concern about missing the bats, because with minimal preparation: No bats will be missed.
For hobbyists who enjoy monitoring and/or recording the nightly activity of bats - Even modest equipment makes the process almost fully automated.

A typical scenario: The equipment is set up, at the back window in the early evening (an hour before Sunset, is the most recommended time). And in many cases, if weather permits, you may simply check the recordings the following morning.

So that while you slept, the local bat activity was diligently being recorded by your trusty bat detector!
Now, if you're like me - You check the bat detector's recordings several times before turning in for the night!

For me, it's a very cool feeling; to hit the Playback button - And hear the chirps of bats that have just recently flown-by your back garden : )

Whatever the case is: The various recordings, along with any other data collected may then be noted - In your bat journal. For example, I've been keeping detailed records of my nightly bat recording sessions, since 2007.

I enjoy going over my notes; both paper & electronic, to see when bats were detected. The same way a Birder enjoys going back, through their Journal to see when (what time of year) a specific bird was seen. Among the things that fascinate me, are factors like:

  • What time of night/early morning were bats flying?
  • Exactly how early in the year were the first bats recorded?
  • Which months of the year produced the most bat activity?
  • How far into Autumn/Winter were bats still being picked up/detected?

And, depending on how advanced your bat detector's features are:

  • What was your exact monitoring location?
  • What were the temperatures?
  • Light levels?
I also like to record/take note of other weather factors in my journal/notes. Primarily wind (speed & direction), as well as precipitation. These two factors are well known to have a profound impact on bat activity. Many of these factors will tell you, if bats can be expected to take flight or not.

I've read a bit recently, about the phases of the Moon having a effect on bat flight activity. So, in addition, other factors that I've started keeping track of are: Humidity, fog, etc., and phases of the Moon.

Happy Bat Detecting!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Review: British Bat Calls A Guide to Species Identification by Jon Russ

A brief Book Review - 'British Bat Calls: A Guide to Species Identification' By Jon Russ

Once again, I'll state that: One does not need to be a resident of Britain, in order to appreciate and use this book. Which is the reason why I ordered a copy for myself.
Although I live in the US, after some shopping around online, I decided to order my copy from NHBS. Unlike some online-shops in the US, they had new copies in stock, ready for shipping. And the price was reasonable (£29.99 | $46/€35 approx.)

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

I very quickly read through the first few pages. Followed by the Acknowledgments. And was utterly relieved to find that there were no references to any of the egocentric, stingy, American companies. Ahhh! What a relief! The same was true for the Preface section! And, I did read through it more slowly and carefully. Yay! I was so happy to learn that I could now proceed, free & clear.

I'll state right up front, that I found this book wonderful and refreshing. And, it has required quite a bit of effort on my part, to keep this review brief! This review could have easily ended up being four pages in length. I try to keep all of my book reviews brief.

Next up, was Chapter 1 - Introduction.
Among other topics, this chapter provides a short explanation of the discovery and history of bat echolocation.

Chapter 2 - Bats and sound
Provided very useful, and easy to understand descriptions of the properties of sound. The Author did a wonderful job of clearly explaining the various facets of sound, along with the "how's and why's"of bat calls.

Chapter 3 - Equipment
This section covered the subject of bat detectors :) And succinctly explained just about everything you'd want to know about them. Several other topics were related, including the various methods of recording bat calls.

Chapter 4 - Call analysis
How to use and understand sound analysis software. Very informative coverage of this topic, discussed in several parts. This chapter alone, is worth the price of admission.

{I know that it may be an old adage, but I enjoy this book more with each chapter I read}

Chapters 5 and 6 - Species echolocation guide and Species identification
These particular chapters may not be very useful to me (since I live in the US), but the information they contain - On each species covered, is simply amazing. Chapter 6 alone, makes this book a must have for any bat enthusiast residing in the UK.

It's safe to say, that I own many books on the subject of Bats. And, I'm also planning to review a few of them here soon. I can state here and now, (with certainty) that this book surpasses the others on it's overall (up-to-date) content, and execution.
In conclusion, the book is very well laid-out. It's very informative, and a fantastic reference, to re-visit again and again! ...Now if only a bat expert from the US (of Jon Russ' caliber) would publish a book similar to it (for North American species)...And soon! I'd be very happy!

Happy bat detecting! 

General Thoughts About Active (handheld) Bat Detectors Part 2 of 2

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