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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 09:49   #1
Jhanlon
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Nocmig rig not working!

I've just given this a go for the first time and it's not been a success. I am failing to get any bird vocalisations/ registrations at all. Even during daytime. Close range hand claps etc register but fainter sounds don't. There are birds vocalising at 40-100m from the mic and they're not being picked up. I have even tried a large homemade parabola and it makes no difference.

Admitedly I have a crude set up - a microphone linked to a laptop placed by an open window (also trialled outside where calls should be stronger). But why am I getting this problem with microphone sensitivity? Surely closer bird calls should get registered?

I am using a couple of different microphones, Samsung S2 https://www.bing.com/images/search?v...x=0&ajaxhist=0

and another similar. They are both about 15 years old but otherwise seem to be in good working order.

I am recording directly out of Audacity on the laptop and using it to review playback on spectrogram.

Firstly, why are these mobile recorders considered better than a standard laptop and secondly why is my setup not picking up most sounds even when pointing in the right direction?

many thanks
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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 12:46   #2
iveljay
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The Samsung S2 is a mobile phone, the link you provided is to Samson S2 microphone that looks like a Shure SM58 knockoff and it is to be assumed is a straightforward dynamic vocal mike, as no one seems to have any specs.

I am assuming that you have an XLR 3 pin socket to 3.5 mm adaptor cable linking the mic to the laptop.

The most probable answer is that your microphone simply needs a pre-amp, as an audio mic of that vintage was never designed to give the output required for a standard domestic computer soundcard.

I assume that is a dynamic mic as you do pick up some sound, a condensor mic would have needed a 24v phantom power source as well, but in this case it is extremely unlikely.

Portable recorders are popular because they are a) portable and can go to the birds, and b) have suitable microphone pre-amps built in.

For computer use there are plenty of usb mics that can be bought cheaply, that while not ideal for birding other than general ambient recording will be more practical than getting a small mixer or other source of a pre-amp for your existing mics.

If its any consolation, reading the reviews from mail order specialists, the biggest reason that people return mics is because when they connect them to their computer they don't produce any viable output for the reasons I give above.
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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 17:17   #3
Jhanlon
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Great, thanks for this. I suspected it would be something along those lines but I dont have your technical knowledge. In fact Im a complete novice.

Can you (or anyone) recommend a good set up for say, 80-100? Would I be better off getting a recorder or sticking with the laptop and spending most of the money on a superior mic? At the moment I just want it for nocturnal recording from the house/ garden.
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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 19:00   #4
iveljay
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Hi James,

I like your website, the main questions that come to mind are:

a) what you going to do with your recordings?
b) what are you trying to record?

I will back off giving you any sort of recomendation (sorry couldn't resist - see further down) partly to allow anybody else to comment and also because the equipment I regularly use and am familiar with is a bit over the top for what you are trying to do.

I am a great fan of building on what you've got, but I don't own a usb mic but record into Audacity amongst other software with a usb connected mixer front end that by-passes my computer sound card. Ironically it has precisely the sort of pre-amp that your existing mics need!

However this is definite overkill and it would be nice to hear from someone who has succeeded with a simpler approach that you want.

In the mean time you may with to read a few of the earlier threads, especially this one:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=349599

Where SanAngelo put together a recording set-up that met his needs using dogged persistence and common sense at minimal expense. His starting point was a recorder and not a pc and he was being somewhat ambitious, but ended up with a solution. Excellent guy.

In case no one responds, my initial though would be to connect one of your existing mics to an 'XLR to USB' adaptor using an male - female XLR microphone cable - plug it in and see what happens. Audacity will need to be able to see it so you can nominate it to be your input source - the little box next to the microphone symbol will show it as an option. You may have to nominate it as the default input option in the audio setup on the windows taskbar - bottom right.

These adaptors are sold on Mr Bezos main source of income at all price ranges and I have no idea which ones are the best for your needs, but as you can buy an integrated unit (doing away with the need for a seperate cable) that provides (in theory) what I suggest for just over a tenner - a quick read of the reviews should help and if the thing doesn't work the chances are that you can return it.

Sorry for the long reply, but I like folks to get what they want.
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Old Sunday 19th November 2017, 21:16   #5
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Hi James

Although I have a couple of microphones and a laptop it never occurred to me to try recording in the way that you have. Instead I bought pretty much the cheapest recorder I could find with decent reviews on Amazon (Tascam DR-05), luckily I already had a 32Gb micro-SD card in an old camera. It has consistently surprised me and I've clocked up 600 plus hours of recording without a hitch. I know other people have good things to say about the Panasonic and Zoom recorders.


I have a couple of Sony analogue recorders including a pro Walkman and I much prefer the little Tascam.

The beauty of a pocket recorder is as iveljay says - that you can take it to the birds. I'm currently trying to rig up a weatherproof set up that I can leave out in likely areas (hopefully undetected!) to see what crops up. I'd never dare do that with a laptop.

This has not turned out as I'd expected - I thought I might get the odd wader or night migrant flying over - but in fact it's the stuff on my doorstep which has caught my attention. My location is fortunate though - in the middle of nowhere - surrounded by woodland and with a big lake close by.

A couple of things to bear in mind - if you get the bug it's quite time consuming. I kid myself that it only takes about an hour a day to go through the previous nights recordings but it's more like an hour and a half, and if something of interest crops up I can spend ages fiddling with it.
This may not be the best time of year for recording many species (which could actually be a blessing as I was almost overwhelmed by how busy things were earlier in the year).

Lastly - it can be very addictive!!
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Old Monday 20th November 2017, 02:39   #6
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I must admit most of my recording is done using recorders, I have the computer capability, but it is fun being a bit retro and if you are mobile it is the easiest approach unless you have to email your results to someone ASAP when a laptop is vital.

However, if I didn't have a recorder, the hang the mic out the window attached to a computer and see what I can pick up has its attractions. I may well try it out myself - its the sort of fun approach that can, as Torchepot points out, can get quite unexpected results.

One word of warning to James, the mics he has are likely to be most sensitive pointing at the likely source, or at least hanging horizontally. Pointing straight down will likely be best for recording noisy worms. They will likely have some sort of cardiod pick up pattern which put simply means they are good at picking up sounds from the front but get progressively worse as you move to their rear.

The other advantage of a recorder I failed to mention is of course, that they usually have two quite capable microphones built in.
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Old Monday 20th November 2017, 13:13   #7
Jhanlon
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Thanks for the replies, much appreciated. (Glad you like the website, Iveljay).

To answer those questions: 1) I'm trying to record nocturnal migrants flying over the house. 2) I probably won't do much if anything with the recordings but i guess it would be nice to put them on social media via a link to Soundcloud etc. I'm not bothered about 'perfect' recordings in the way I can be a perfectionist with my photos but obviously more distant, faint registrations will need to be of a reasonable quality for identification purposes.

There's a chance in the future i might try live mobile recording (eg on a rarity finding holiday in Shetland) but that's a long way off. I might also try recording from my bat detector but again, a very low priority.

This thread seems to be steering me towards using a recorder and it seems that's what everyone is doing - am I really the only one trying to do it directly off the laptop??! The Tascam DR-05 seems cheap and has been mentioned more than once.

My mic is actually currently connected with a 3pin to USB lead (my old lead was a large/6.5mm jack) so I don't think a USB adapter is necessary.

I would still like to know if there are good pre-amp mics that are cheap and worth considering as an alternative, if only because I too am a believer in building on what you already have and also doing things in stages.

I am hampered by a couple of things. I am a klutz with this technology and very easily lost, understanding only layman's terms. The time issue has been mentioned too and it was a concern of mine. With a young family and busy schedule I don't have much time to spare (even less to conduct research). An hour on occasional days may be doable, 1.5 hrs is pushing it! For this reason I will probably record only on an occasional basis when i have the time to review it.

There seems to a be a lot of info out there on this subject but as always it's time-consuming getting to the most useful bits!
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Old Tuesday 21st November 2017, 00:02   #8
iveljay
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In theory the xlr to usb link you have should have some sort of pre-amp included in the electronics that do the conversion to USB, the fact that it wasn't sensitive is a little dissapointing.

Most inexpensive usb mics tend to be designed for less strenuous use than you really need.

Ironically Samson do a usb mic that may be what you need, however, I am reluctant to suggest that level of expenditure without trying it out myself. The reviews are generally favourable, but as ever they should be read so yiu know what others think and again if it doesn't work it can be returned.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001R747...2fb74727c4fc_S

This is the reason why I am hoping that someone with experience in using a laptop with less elaborate interfaces than I am familiar with joins in this thread.

The Tascam DR-05 looks to be a nice little starter recorder, though its not one I have used, unfortunately most of my Tascam kit is mains powered or at least not designed for the birding use. The stuff I have works well and most of these portable recorders are dead easy to use.

I understand your frustration with sound recording, things are not standardised as they are with most recent technology and there is a learning curve which you may not have time to take on with your work, interests and small children, many of us have been there.

If you really want a push and go solution - the small recorder is it. You may need a bit of help on the best settings and most folks in this bit of the forum can help. Remember that they are not waterproof and don't like being dropped, however transfer of your recordings to a computer is generally straightforward.

Having just had a quick look at the DR-05 manual on-line it looks quite typical with a lot of its features more suited for music recording, but that is normal for most similar units, you can ignore much of these as unnecessary complication.

So if the laptop approach is getting too complicated or time consuming Torchepot's suggestion may be the way to go for you.

Last edited by iveljay : Tuesday 21st November 2017 at 00:15.
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Old Tuesday 21st November 2017, 12:27   #9
Jhanlon
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That mic looks very similar to the ones I have and the cost is similar to what I paid for mine c15 years ago.
I think you may be right. If it's the simplest and easiest solution, the recorder it is. I do have a friend nearby who is getting on well with his set up which is basically a recorder in a bucket. He admitted to lacking the technical knowledge and experience to suggest other options to me but may be able to help once I have a similar setup to him, especially with things like weatherproofing options.

I'll sort something out in the New Year and hopefully by the time I'm back on here I'll have some level of success to report. Thanks again.
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Old Tuesday 21st November 2017, 12:39   #10
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For serious (DIY) nocmig recording this looks very interesting


http://oldbird.org/mike_home.htm

And this too

http://www.lycobirds.com/nocturnal-f...lls/microphone


And here

http://www.nemesisbird.com/bird-scie...t-call-primer/

Last edited by Torchepot : Tuesday 21st November 2017 at 13:30.
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Old Thursday 30th November 2017, 18:31   #11
iveljay
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An update:

I bought a (now discontinued) Samson Q1U usb microphone for a variety of reasons. The replacement Q2U is available but costs more but has an xlr connector as well which I already have on numerous dynamic mics.

It certainly has no problem recording into Audacity with no further work required than just plugging it into any old usb port. It seems relatively tough having bounced it across my steel reinforced desk (accidentally).

It is noticeably directional and will happily record my attempts at animal noises from the other side of the room. It may be a different matter outdoors with no walls to act as reflectors and at some stage in the future it will be positioned outdoors to see if it can pick up anything interesting.

It is probably the wrong time of year around here as I am getting no obvious nocturnal visitors other than something that sent a sack barrow flying one night - presumeably badger or fox, Since there have been both but usually closer to the local farms - we have had deer but I have no hoof prints.

Anyway I needed a USB mic anyway and will at some stage carry out experiments to see how useful it is as part of a nocturnal recording system, probably alongside a camera trap to identify any noises.

Don't hold your breath, but if anything useful is achieved by this minimalist approach you will hear it here first!
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