Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: The New Songmeter SMZC Recorder From Wildlife Acoustics Part 3 Of 3

Review: The New Songmeter SMZC recorder from Wildlife Acoustics Part 3 Of 3

My Nephew, Gabriel endorsing The SMZC

After testing the Songmeter SMZC for several months, I found it to provide very accurate recordings -- And along with Kaleidoscope software, very accurate species ID's.
To reach this conclusion (in this case) what I did, was:

I took the time to make identical (simultaneous) recordings, using an Elekon Batlogger M (for good measure).
Make comparisons between recordings, etc. 
Manually identified the species; and compared results.

I am (still) a huge Fan, of Kaleidoscope software. And, since a search for "kaleidoscope" on this blog, will return plenty of Reviews featuring my opinions of it -- I will not go into it in this particular review.
To summarize, however: I will state the obvious - It is the best software to pair-up with any of WA's Songmeter Recorders. They are literally, made for each other!

Here is a print-screen, depicting everyone's favorite CF bat: Lasiurus cinereus (Hoary bat):


* Long battery life - Using both Alkaline and rechargeable NiMH batteries.  
* Very easy to deploy - Set-up, from box to field is pretty straight forward. 
* Prominent LCD display (w/ back-light) displays pertinent information.
* Lower price than it's closest competitor (The AnaBat Express).

* Kaleidoscope software (which works best with it) is not free.
* GPS must be purchased separately. 
* Larger/heavier - More cumbersome than it's closest competitor (The AnaBat Express).

One of the best places to order the new Songmeter SMZC, is from Wildlife Acoustics themselves. Especially, if you are in The US, of course.
Other places to shop, if in The UK, include Wildlife & Countryside Services and NHBS.

The first two segments of this review may be accessed here: Part 1 Of 3, Part 2 Of 3.

If you are trying to decide, between The Songmeter SMZC and The AnaBat Express; I sincerely hope that my reviews of each, will help to make the decision easier. Part 1 Of 2 of my AnaBat Express review, is currently posted - But, is in a state of flux: As I continue to edit and update it. Part 2 Of 2 is also a current work-in-progress. 

Further reading: 2012 Article by Ian Agranat of Wildlife Acoustics. I recently found myself re-reading this article, written by The CEO of Wildlife Acoustics. And, I still find several parts of it fascinating (and relevant). For those who are interested, it explains the benefits of zero crossing recording, in a manner that is easily absorbed! 

I hope to add more images to this particular Post, in the near future.

Happy bat detecting!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Review: The New Songmeter SMZC Recorder From Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 3

Review: The New Songmeter SMZC recorder from Wildlife Acoustics Part 2 Of 3

Welcome to Part 2 of 3, of the new Songmeter SMZC recorder review. Let's start, by going over some of this machine's main features:

The new SMZC from Wildlife Acoustics is built tough. There are no "weak links" to worry about on it. I like the fact, that even the (already robust) Mic element, is covered by a thin, felt-like material. This is a simple way to keep any debris from ever coming in contact with the microphone. I sometimes wish that other manufacturers (of bat detectors) would do the same thing.
It's very easy to use - Install batteries, and you're almost half-way done.

The recorded bat calls are easily transferable to your laptop, via the (included) SD memory card.
This machine will allow you to record bat activity, for about 40 nights! (per set of fresh batteries)
Priced at just $649 U.S., it is positively, one of the most economical un-attended solutions available. The price will be attractive to many in the field of Bat Ecology.

For those using Kaleidoscope Software, who need to manipulate the ZC recordings - There are a lot of things you can do: Chief among these, is the ability to easily convert the Zero cross recordings of The SMZC to .wav files - For playback and analysis.
Note: Way back in the "early days" of zero-crossing technology - The process, of simply playing the recordings back, might have been considered a bit convoluted (by today's standards).

The ideal buyer might be someone who needs to deploy several recorders, in various locations - And, needs to do it quickly.

In use, The SMZC seems to have a respectable pick-up range. There is a PCB mounted, 3.5mm earphone jack located inside the SMZC box. This is provided so that you can listen to the sound input while recording; this may be used for live monitoring, to check the status of the microphone, perform test recordings, etc.

If you would like to do a bit of quick monitoring, in the field -
Just plug a pair of earphones/headphones into the 3.5mm jack, and listen for yourself -You'll notice that the omni-directional microphone is picking up everything!
{As per WA's Site: "If you need to ensure that your recorder is operating properly, the Song Meter SMZC has an integrated earphone jack inside the enclosure. Simply open the lid and plug in ear buds or headphones to monitor."}
Of course, thresholds/triggers can always be adjusted as necessary. 
The unit can be permanently mounted to a flat surface (or, on trees of various sizes) using any of the various built-in screw holes. These holes will (more than likely) be used to secure the SMZC to a tree, using several of the common best-practices in use today.
And, at this point, I must also mention (as a reminder) the available options and accessories

With the top cover safely closed-up, in preparation for mounting/deployment - The green LED light will be visible to you, so that you can get feedback before, during, and after the unit is mounted:
- A steady blinking: Indicates the unit has started it's scheduled program; and will be recording when the (appropriately set time arrives). Again, it basically serves as an all-systems-go indicator. I would like to have seen a built-in diffuser (as seen used on The SM3, and other units). It informs you that the system is awake, and will be actively monitoring when the time you've specified rolls around.

One of the best places to order the new Songmeter SMZC, is from Wildlife Acoustics themselves.
Part 3 Of 3 of this review (the final installment) will also include sonograms, and screen captures. 
Happy bat detecting!

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