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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Review Of The Anabat Swift Bat Detector from Titley Scientific - Part 1 Of 3

Review of The Anabat Swift passive bat detector from Titley Scientific - Part 1 of 3

My 6 Yr old Nephew, Gabriel - Displaying The AnaBat Swift box

The unit arrived to me here in The U.S., from Australia, well packaged. An appropriately-sized cardboard box was used, as well as well-placed blocks of dense foam (for cushioning/protection). 
The unit arrived in perfect condition, just as if it only traveled 16 Kilometers (instead of the actual 16,918!).


Box Arrived Via FedEx
Neat Sticker included

 
The Anabat Swift measures 182 x 119 x 43mm (7.2 x 4.7 x 1.7 inches), and weighs in at 400 grams (14Oz).
 
The base price of The Swift, is currently listed at $999 (US dollars). You have a choice between two available microphones, direct from Titley:

An Omni-Directional Mic (priced at $175 US Dollars).

Omni-Directional Microphone
(original)















-Or-

A Directional Microphone (priced at $275 US Dollars). 

Directional Microphone












Prices vary a bit, depending on where you order, etc. As always, I urge you to shop around. (Prices noted above, are at the time of this writing [June 2019]). Additional links to Dealers, may be found towards the end of this post.


AnaBat Swift in it's box

The Anabat Swift unit I received for testing, was provided with the (original) Omni-directional Mic. 

A few weeks from now, I will be loaned:
  • A prototype of their latest, improved Omni-directional Mic. Someone at Titley informed me that this Omni microphone, will have better performance compared to the current (original) model. 
- And -
  • A Directional Mic, whose key features are: "A lower noise floor, and better high frequency (over 100kHz) sensitivity compared to the Omni microphone."

I am anxious to test them, and share my findings, etc. For now, we will discuss the original AnaBat Swift, and Omni Mic (as it has been offered to the public since it's release).

This unit is designed to be an efficient, passive bat recorder; with many high-end features (which professionals will find very useful). Among it's features are:
  • A choice between Full Spectrum and Zero Crossing recording modes.
  • A choice of 320 or 500 kHz sampling rates.
  • Color touch screen.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Automatic Night Mode Scheduling.
  • Two SD card slots (512GB capacity each).
  • A choice of being powered by either 4 or 8 AA batteries.
  • A headphone audio output, for listening to bat calls in real time (frequency division).
  • Excellent battery life - Able to record in full spectrum, for over 50 nights, using 8 AA sized batteries.
  • Ability to be powered via a 6 or 12 volt battery, with optional fused power lead cable.
  • Can be used for transects, utilizing built-in GPS (which updates location each second).
  • An optional Security Box is also available.

AnaBat Swift in included case (Quickstart guide seen on the left)

    The Swift has a neat, lightweight design, which is also robust. When holding one in your hand, you realize that it is built to easily withstand inclement weather. It's solid build is reminiscent of The AnaBat Express. 
    Having had a (very low-cost) Trail camera recently suffer a moisture breach - I have even more appreciation for well-designed, weather proof equipment.  


    AnaBat Swift, Ready for deployment



    The Anabat Swift is easy to program, set-up, and use - not long after removing it from it's box. 
    I was pleased to see that Titley provides a printed Quickstart User Guide (right inside the box).
    Here is a "whittled-down" re-cap of the steps, from The Quickstart User Guide:
    • Insert batteries
    • Set time zone (the built-in GPS will do the rest)
    • Connect microphone
    • Select recording mode (Zero Cross or Full Spectrum)
    • Select schedule 
    • Close-up unit, and deploy
    Again, what I've listed above, is the cliff notes version - Just to give the reader an idea of how easily the unit can be deployed. I urge you to take your time with the Quickstart Guide, since it provides some excellent tips!
     
    This passive bat detector/recorder, would be an excellent choice for anyone wishing to record bats in an unattended manner - And is ideally suited to those who work with bats in a professional capacity.
    The AnaBat Swift would be a good choice for anyone needing to deploy one or more passive bat recorders in the field, for extended periods of time. 
    Collecting your recordings is easy: Open the Swift, and either:
    • Tap on the SD card Eject symbol on the touch screen, status will read "Ejected".
    • Power off the unit, and then remove SD card.

    Listening to bats via the FD audio out port

    The User Manual, is concise and well laid out. It contains a wealth of information, and I urge you to have a look.

    During my test period (so far), I have found The AnaBat Swift to be accurate in it's recordings (in regard to other passive bat recorders I've tested). One of the things which struck me straight away, was how clean the resulting spectrograms appeared (both in FS and ZC mode). The ZC example below, was made by simply using the default settings of AnaBat Insight:

    ZC Recording of Lasionycteris Noctivagans (Silver-Haired Bat) As seen in AnaBat Insight

    Since using the latest versions, of both AnaBat Insight and BCID (Bat Call ID) Software - Something unexpected has happened:

    • I've discovered a new found interest in the Zero Crossing method. A rekindled admiration of it, one might say.
    If I had to choose just one method, I'd still choose Full Spectrum over ZC. But, lately, I've found myself using it more than any other method available. I will share some additional spectrograms (both Zero Crossing and Full Spectrum) in Part 2 of this review.

    Pros:
    •  Versatility of either Full Spectrum or Zero Cross recording.
    •  Choice of 4 or 8 batteries/Long battery life.
    •  Easy set-up/deployment.
    •  Anabat Insight software is free.

    Cons:
    • May be considered expensive
    • Microphone(s) must be purchased separately.

    There are 3 main locations of Titley Scientific (AU, UK, and US). And there are plenty of authorized distributors World-wide as well, NHBS in The UK being one:



    Things I liked: 
    •  Colour screen.
    •  The headphone output, for listening to bats in real time (frequency division).
    •  Super-easy to deploy.

    Things I didn't like:
    •  I found myself wishing that the battery connection points were just a tiny bit sturdier. Some may consider this to be "nitpicky" but there it is.

    For thoughts on:
    • The AnaBat Insight software, and spectrograms

    Please see Part 2 of 3 of this review 

    July 2019 - Update: This will need to be a 3 Part review; since I will be testing two additional microphones with this AnaBat Swift. Part 3 of 3 will be primarily focused on my assessment and findings while testing them. This will include:

    • The Directional Microphone vs. Omnidirectional
    • The new, improved, Omnidirectional Microphone (vs. the original Omni Mic)
    • The resulting spectrograms in regards to the above

    Happy bat detecting!