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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Review: The LunaBat DFR-1 Bat Detector From Animal Sound Labs - Part 1 Of 2

Review of The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro Bat Detector From Animal Sound Labs

Part 1 of 2 - Hardware, User Manual, and other considerations.

Here is a review of a bat detector, whose arrival I'd anticipated for quite some time. It's The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro!


 The DFR-1 Pro
 
The unit arrived to me here in the U.S., directly from the manufacturer in Poland: Very, very well-packaged. Everything was neatly placed.
And one of the first things I noticed, were all of the good quality accessories which were included - I'm very keen on stuff like this:
 
Unpacking The DFR-1 Pro (unit is in the red bubble wrap bag)

 
An assortment of useful cables, are amoung the accessories included.


The DFR-1 fit very comfortably in my hand; and I'd say my hands are average -to- small sized. It is also lightweight, and very easy to hold for extended periods of time (many hours).
It weighs 175g (without battery and microphone), and circa 200g with batteries and ME-series microphone.

The LunaBat DFR-1, with Non-Illuminated Keys, is priced at 849 Euros.
The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro, with Illuminated Keys (indicators) is priced at 879 Euros.

The DFR-1 Pro bat detector is feature-rich. It has all of the useful features one would find helpful (especially while doing field surveys). And none which might be considered useless, or gimmicky.
 
Among the features which I find interesting and useful are: 
 
  • High dynamic range, full-spectrum recording onto standard SD cards.
  • Built-in sensors for temperature and humidity.
  • Optional built-in GNSS (GPS) with convenient blue LED indicator.
  • FD detection for listening through speaker or headphones.
  • The (Pro Version) of the detector may also be powered via MicroUSB socket, via an external 5V source, such as a power bank.
  • Information displayed on the LCD when the unit is powered up.
  • Automatic recording triggered by signal level (performance of this feature is constantly evolving with firmware updates).

Some features I find unique and particularly fascinating are:
  • The built-in high voltage generator, which uses 200V to polarize the membrane of optional electrostatic microphones (Model #'s MC-1, MC-2).
  • The volume setting is remembered when the unit is powered back on.
  • The FD processed signal may be recorded, if one chooses to.

 

The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro - Summer of 2020 Bats were flying very close (~ 40-50 feet).
 

Some points of interest from The User Manual:
 
2.3 Recording without listening   Page 7
3.1 Selecting the recording mode Page 8
3.5 Viewing temperature and relative humidity Page 13
3.8 Writing a KML file Page 14
3.9 High pass filters Page 15
4. Detector firmware update Page 17
 
 
The DFR-1 Pro is very easy to use, straight out of the box. It also has plenty of features to keep you busy customizing it 'till your heart's content. As always, I advise readers to download and peruse the User Manual, available in PDF format (direct link above). It will give a complete account of all features, great and small.
 
The DFR-1 Pro would be ideal for anyone seeking a high-end bat detector producing professional level results. In use, it demonstrated excellent sensitivity and solid recordings. More on these topics in Part 2 of this review.



The DFR-1 Pro has a good solid feel to it, and comes with a built-in lanyard.
The battery compartment door, is found on the lower back of the unit. Two AA-sized (R6) batteries fit inside snugly; inserting the + end first is the way to do it. There's a ribbon provided to assist in removal of batteries (which is very useful). 
Directly above the battery cover, is a convenient tripod socket.
Holding the power on button for just a second turns the unit on (it's labeled with the universal power symbol). The 3-line display briefly shows the current installed firmware version. Followed by Animal Sound Labs; followed by the default/ready screen.
With either the default, or user specified settings in effect, you simply press OK to record (seen on the last line of the display as: "Press OK to REC"). While the unit is in ready mode.
 

While it boasts Professional-level performance, it also has the appearance of what I've come to refer to as - the quintessential bat detector.  

 
The DFR-1 Pro (Photo from Animal Sound Labs). 
 

During my extensive testing (Summer 2020) I found The DFR-1 Pro to be a very accurate instrument. Listening to bat calls (live/FD mode) in the field was always a pleasure.
I was able to pick-up/record bats at respectable distances, akin to other high-end bat detectors. The Full Spectrum recordings were excellent!
The DFR-1 Pro consistently created excellent sonograms (more on this in Part 2).
 

Pros 
  •  Robust design, including microphone and (optional) GNSS module. 3 modules to choose from.
  •  Excellent sensitivity, and pick-up range.
  •  Outstanding (384kHz) full spectrum recording quality.
  •  Frequency division sounds great, and is customizable.
  •  DFR-1 Pro FS recordings produce excellent spectrograms...
 
Cons 
  •  No live sonograms.
  •  No proprietary software (as with The Batlogger(s) from Elekon, et al).

The LunaBat DFR-1 Pro may be ordered directly from The Animal Sound Labs website.

For those who like the look and feel of The DFR-1 Pro, I'd like to mention the entry level (affordable) version of The LunaBat: The DFD-1
 
I do my best to be very thorough when testing and reviewing a bat detector. And of course, performance, quality of recordings, and features are of utmost importance.

Much more to follow, in Part 2 Of 2 of this review; where I will cover more hardware details, recordings/spectrograms, and an in-depth look at it's GNSS system.

Until then,
Happy bat detecting!

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