Solid state recorder for bird calls

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A good friend spends a lot of time in the bush, photographing birds,
particularly lyrebirds. He would love to be able to record their songs as
well.
Is there a solid-state device, or kit, that would be suitable to record a
few minutes of quality sound at a time?
Is there a way he could use his laptop to record quality sound? Could that
be as simple as buying a good microphone?
I really owe this man a favour or two, and if I could help him in this, he
would be delighted.
I have posted this to both groups because it is relevant to both, I think.



Re: Solid state recorder for bird calls



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to record a few
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Yes, lots of those around.

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Yes, but its not very portable.

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Yes.

would be delighted.

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Re: Solid state recorder for bird calls



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Thank you all for your responses.

I have tried a USB microphone (a cheapie from Logitech) using the free
package Audacity to record the sounds. It works well enough for me to give
it a try with a little parabolic dish. Unfortunately Audacity doesn't
provide much in the way of controlling the input level, saying that if
clipping occurs, decrease the level from the input device. What I need, I
think, is a volume control between the mic and the laptop. I have found a
couple of kits that amplify a signal from a little mic to headphones, but
neither has any means of controlling the signal level.
Does anyone know of a module, or kit, that would go between a USB mic and
the laptop and enable control of the signal level?
Possibly screwed to the back of the small parabolic dish that I have ordered
from Oatley.
The Sooper Snooper kit from Oatley  (Silicon Chip, September 2001) is about
right, and a careful reading of the specs shows that a preset pot can be
replaced with an external pot as a volume control. If I can't get something
ready made I will try that.




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I made one of these to adjust the balance levels
between a cassette deck and PC sound card.
You will need a resistor, linear pot, plastic case and
female RCA jacks.
Ask on rec.audio.tech and someone will provide the
values for the resistor and pot.
The whole lot will be under $10 and take half an hour
to put together.



Re: Solid state recorder for bird calls



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Another thought.
Use the recording mixer controls of your sound card.
Not sure how you configure this for a usb mic, but
alternatively get a regular mic and use your
soundcard's mic in socket.



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No, mic inputs on PCs are horrible quality.
If you want good quality then you need a proper external mic preamp
and use the line-in sockets.

Dave.


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There should be a level control on the mixer etc.

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a USB mic
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Audacity might not be the best choice. On reading Help and so on, I gather
that it depends on the input device having an adequate output control



Re: Solid state recorder for bird calls



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Mic preamp you can make yourself
http://www.record-producer.com/learn.cfm?a30%80
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finger to keyboard and composed:

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FYI, here are some pictures of the Sooper Snooper kit:
 http://www.siliconchip.com.au/cms/A_101734/printArticle.html

http://us1.webpublications.com.au/static/images/articles/i1017/101734_2mg.jpg

- Franc Zabkar
--
Please remove one 'i' from my address when replying by email.

Re: Solid state recorder for bird calls


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A few minutes is nothing these days with modern storage capabilities
and bit rate MP3 compression.

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Laptop is bulky. Many people use PDAs or MP3 players which can also
record.

The microphone and pre-amp is the thing that will drive the quality of
your recording. You'll pay (or should pay) a lot more for these than
the recorder itself. Presumably for such purposes you would need a
long range directional microphone.
You can get portable battery powered pre-amps designed for just such
purposes too.

Google for Portable Podcasting, should be plenty of info out there and
gear recommendations.

Dave.


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I am no expert in sound recording but I do know that a good sensitive
microphone is absolutely essential - particularly a uni-directional(??)
one, in this case. I mean, if one cannot pick up the sound properly, one
will not get a good recording, eh?? That's what I think, anyway :

One would think that a laptop could be suitable (size and weight
notwithstanding) to carry around cos it is fairly easy to get recording s/w
which can record sound frequencies well over 40KHz. I have no idea of what
frequencies a lyrebird can put out.

I am told that an average humans can only hear up to 20KHz - I wouldn't have
a clue as my hearing has been damaged due to excessive loud music in a
misspent youth :)

Anyway, that my 2 cents worth :)

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I use a minidisc recorder for field recordings. The recorders are fairly cheap
these days since mp3 seems to have taken over the consumer market.

You can get small portable stereo condenser mics for most of these sort of
portable recorders as well. These are sensitive enough to pick up a good image
of this type of sound. I've used it for both frogs and birds with good results.




Re: Solid state recorder for bird calls


finger to keyboard and composed:

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FWIW, Silicon Chip magazine published a "Sooper Snooper" project in
2001:
 http://www.siliconchip.com.au/cms/A_101734/article.html

It used a parabolic reflector (home made?).

"This particular Sooper Snooper is the one you would use to listen in
to distant conversations, bird calls, etc anything in the open air
which would normally be too far away or too faint to hear."

- Franc Zabkar
--
Please remove one 'i' from my address when replying by email.

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What's your budget?
The Edirol R09 will do the job and it accepts an external mic as well.
http://www.edirol.net/products/en/R-09 /


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Flashmic is one piece that immediately comes to mind.
http://www.tag.com.au/component/option,com_acat/method,category/id,53 /
However, to do it properly you really need a shotgun mic with portable
recorder and a good set of headphones.
Microphone - Sennheiser ME67 capsule with K6 power unit.  Recorder like the
Edirol or M-Audio, Marantz PMD671, and a set of Sennheiser HD25 headphones.
http://www.syntec.com.au/product.php?productid16%443&cat28%4&page=1
http://www.audioproducts.com.au/APGNZEnduser/PDFs/MarantzPro/PMD671_Datasheet_ENGLISH.pdf

Cheers,



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http://www.audioproducts.com.au/APGNZEnduser/PDFs/MarantzPro/PMD671_Datasheet_ENGLISH.pdf
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The helpful responses to my post have been most gratifying.
The up-market suggestions are all beyond my means, mouth-watering though
they are.
I have ordered the Oatley Sooper Snooper kit and when it is up and running I
will look at improving the microphone if that is an option. I think it will
be possible to record to the laptop, and I think there must be a simpler
piece of software than Audacity. One thing at a time. I will post again with
my results, and thanks again.



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http://www.audioproducts.com.au/APGNZEnduser/PDFs/MarantzPro/PMD671_Datasheet_ENGLISH.pdf
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Did you look at minidisc recorders on ebay? They are going for as low as $20.
Transfer to PC can be done using optical on most units (s/pdif). 80 minutes per
disc and the unit runs on AA batteries and is extremely light and portable.
Using a small portable stereo condenser mic with it, the whole thing fits neatly
into the camera bag or backpack.

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http://www.audioproducts.com.au/APGNZEnduser/PDFs/MarantzPro/PMD671_Datasheet_ENGLISH.pdf
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I've just downloaded a copy of Audacity, as I had never used it before.  It
looks rather simple to me, and I would suggest if your friend is serious he
will need a decent editor.  I think Audacity will fit the bill for recording
and editing on a laptop.  However, you will need a decent mic preamp.  I
would also suggest a long mic cable so the laptop can be kept well away from
what you want to record.
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