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Old Sunday 9th December 2018, 11:46   #1
Dale Forbes
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starting sound recording

Hi all,

I would like to start bird sound recording for three main reasons: 1. get better at bird sounds, 2. hopefully contribute something useful to sound databases, and 3. use (some limited) repeat playback with unknown birds while travelling.

I was thinking about something like a Zoom H4N Pro (€187) and either a Sennheiser MKE600 (€260) or a Rode NTG4+ (€240), with XLR balanced connectors.
Any thoughts on this setup? Any suggestions for a dead cat? How important is a microphone shock mount / handle? How long is the connector cable most people us? 1m?

Carrying a parabolic reflector and pro recorder is not an option at this stage (size, cost).

Last edited by Dale Forbes : Sunday 9th December 2018 at 13:19.
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Old Sunday 9th December 2018, 16:48   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Forbes View Post
Hi all,

I would like to start bird sound recording for three main reasons: 1. get better at bird sounds, 2. hopefully contribute something useful to sound databases, and 3. use (some limited) repeat playback with unknown birds while travelling.

I was thinking about something like a Zoom H4N Pro (187) and either a Sennheiser MKE600 (260) or a Rode NTG4+ (240), with XLR balanced connectors.
Any thoughts on this setup? Any suggestions for a dead cat? How important is a microphone shock mount / handle? How long is the connector cable most people us? 1m?

Carrying a parabolic reflector and pro recorder is not an option at this stage (size, cost).
Hi Dale,

The mic mount and softies are certainly good at reducing noise from holding in the hand and wind etc, but not essential if you want to leave something out at an early stage and keep costs down. The softie also provides protection to the mic. You can google DIY options for making these as well.

The connector cable I use is 1m, and feels about right to me.

I cant help with the specific equipment mentioned, looks reasonable though. Ive got a Sennheiser K6/ME66 and use a Sony PCM M10 recorder, which is a good birding set up and pretty compact, but sadly Sony have discontinued the recorder. I dont know what their equivalent would be now.

Enjoy the sound recording,

Hope all's well.
Cheers
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Old Monday 10th December 2018, 04:50   #3
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The current and only Sony portable sound recorder is the PCM D-100 retailing at over 500, a nice piece of equipment, you are paying for quality over functionality. I was using my PCM M10 last week. Main differencees between the two are improved mics and recording modes, but it still doesn't have xlr connectors so would need an adaptor, not really the best option for you.

I don't use Zoom kit, finding that between Tascam (my major supplier), Olympus, Sony and Yamaha my various needs are met, so can't comment on your choice., but it does have XLR connectors so seems good from that point of view.

People seem to find the K6/ME66 the optimum for reasonably priced bird recording, and the MKE600 or NTG4+ seem fairly comparable to each other. The trouble with shotguns is that they were not designed for long range high gain work so ideally a response from someone who has either would be welcome at this point.

Some years ago Binoseeker replied with the following to a similar question( edited for relevance):

The MKE600, battery powered, has a sensitivity of 19mv/Pa and a noise level of 16dB. (BH: 330 USD) (17,4 USD/mV )

The ME66/K6, battery powered, has a sensitivity of 50mv/Pa and a noise level of 10dB. (BH: 460 USD) ( 9,2 USD/mV )

The larger sensitivity (mV/Pa) the better.
The lower noise level the better.

It we only look at the mics listed above:
The ME66/K6 will give you best performance per USD, I think. (ME67/K6 is an alternative)

I find a suitable dead cat fairly invaluable. I spent a day filming recently and the difference in wind noise with one on my shotgun and an omni mic I was forced to use without was considerable. I use a shock mount, but you can easily hold a mic with a rolled up scarf or something to reduce handling noise. Most people who make wind noise suppression equipment seem to get it roughly right, so shop around and read reviews - I use a lot of Rycote, but little I own is made any more so I am sure there are equally effective options out there.


Realisticly what you have listed will work - no question - however the ME66/K6 is a more viable solution.
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Old Monday 10th December 2018, 08:00   #4
Dale Forbes
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thank you gentlemen for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

I suppose my primary concern with the ME66/K6 combination was its physical size. It does seem to be incredibly popular amongst bird sound recordists (and with those noise and gain levels, it is not a surprise), but I know myself well enough to question whether I would be less likely to take my sound stuff with me in to the field were it to be larger/more cumbersome.
Nevertheless, I'll give it a good think.

thanks again for you thoughts!
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Old Monday 10th December 2018, 20:55   #5
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thank you gentlemen for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

I suppose my primary concern with the ME66/K6 combination was its physical size. It does seem to be incredibly popular amongst bird sound recordists (and with those noise and gain levels, it is not a surprise), but I know myself well enough to question whether I would be less likely to take my sound stuff with me in to the field were it to be larger/more cumbersome.
Nevertheless, I'll give it a good think.

thanks again for you thoughts!
Hi Dale,

I dont have an issue with the size of the ME66 - as it is pretty lightweight. Although keeping it 'set up' in a rucksack usually ends up knackering the XLR to Jack cable as it is quite long to fit in a bag.

What would be good is a holster to put it in, for quick access. I currently use a small dry sack (c5ltr/30cm length) that is attached to a belt loop to have it as relatively quick access on my waist when in the field.

I also put a few sachets of silica gel in the bag, which is great when birding in high humidity environments.

Cheers,
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Old Tuesday 11th December 2018, 08:05   #6
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Hi Dale,

I use the Zoom HN4 Pro with the Rode NTG4 mic - they work well together - I don't know enough about the other options to comment on whether its any better or any worse a set up than another combination!

Two things to know about the Zoom recorder is that:

a) it has a long startup period. This means that there may be a time after switching it on when you can't record anything. I think all recorders have some startup period but the zoom is certainly longer than what I've used before. The more data you have on the memory card, the longer it takes. On an empty card it might take 10 - 20 seconds. So to make sure you don't miss anything it pays to have the recorder on and on standby (or even just continuously recording) while you're out. This leads nicely into...

b) the Zoom H4Npro uses a lot of battery power. On fully charged standard rechargable batteries you'll get about 3 hours of recording. You can counter this by getting some really nice batteries (Eneloop ones are good, apparently) or by plugging the recorder into a portable powerbank, which is what I do. I get about 12 hours of recording this way (and of course you could increase that by getting a bigger powerbank). If you were interested in doing nocturnal recording, you can run the Zoom off the mains supply.

These are slight drawbacks that you will have to deal with in some way whichever recorder you buy. It's better to know these things but I wouldn't want to put you off using the Zoom too much - it's a really nice piece of kit for the price, robust, very portable, XLR inputs, supplies phantom power to the Rode Mic etc.
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Old Tuesday 11th December 2018, 08:50   #7
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Having read Mark's real life comments I got interested and I have just read parts of the Zoom H4Npro manual.

It deserves some sort of prize for clarity - it seems to explain everything with a diagram to match the words. Much better than some I have seen.

Not sure that I have a need for Karaoke mode, but clearly someone at Zoom has given some though to widening the user base for these devices which we all benefit from.

The visible controls are limited to the essentials and clearly labelled and the menus are controlled by a scroll and press wheel which makes things very easy.

It uses 'proper' sized SD cards, a usb socket that is big enough to attach a cable without fumbling in limited light and looks solidly built. More batteries would have been nice, but if you start doing things like that it will get bigger and less portable, so I forgive it.

I think your choice of recorder makes a great deal of sense, pity I don't need one at the moment, it would be nice to have a 'play', but thank you for drawing my attention to it.
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Old Tuesday 11th December 2018, 10:27   #8
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Thank you Gareth for the idea with the waist bag (and silicone is a good tip).

Paul, thank you too for sharing your experience. Start up time does seem to be a problem with the H4N Pro, which I why I had started to look at the Tascam DR40 v2, but there seems to be some suggestion that it has noisy pre-amps (which would be a very bad idea for our birdy use).

Jay, now that you mention it, the recorder's karaoke capabilities are an as yet overlooked feature. Imagine the possibilities available in convincing a red-capped robin chat or yellow-crowned amazon to sing "Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"
on a more serious note, ease of use can make a real difference in the field - I don't want to be fiddling, and the build quility of the H4N Pro appeals to me.
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Old Tuesday 11th December 2018, 13:34   #9
Fat Paul Scholes
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Hi Dale,

I dont have an issue with the size of the ME66 - as it is pretty lightweight. Although keeping it 'set up' in a rucksack usually ends up knackering the XLR to Jack cable as it is quite long to fit in a bag.

What would be good is a holster to put it in, for quick access. I currently use a small dry sack (c5ltr/30cm length) that is attached to a belt loop to have it as relatively quick access on my waist when in the field.

I also put a few sachets of silica gel in the bag, which is great when birding in high humidity environments.

Cheers,
I would reiterate what Gareth has said - when you're not using your kit, disconnect it all or you'll potentially damage the cable or connections on the recorder/mic.

re a holster (which would be great...!) I wear the mic over my shoulder in a bespoke harness (pointing upward for flyovers...) which seems to keep things in sufficient order to avoid damage. It's essentially a 'sock' on a looped strap.
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Old Wednesday 12th December 2018, 06:46   #10
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Hio Dale,

How are you?

I'm using the Tascam DR-44WL with Sennheiser ME66/K6. So far so good and have uploaded a few bird calls at Xeno-Canto here https://www.xeno-canto.org/contributor/EXRPOCMOXC hehehe

What I like the most with the Tascam is, I can get the recordings uploaded to my phone via wireless through the smartphone apps then send the sound for ID purposes to my friend. My setting is at [email protected] bits in stereo in WAV

Hope to see you again!

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Old Wednesday 12th December 2018, 17:37   #11
Dale Forbes
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Hio Dale,

How are you?

I'm using the Tascam DR-44WL with Sennheiser ME66/K6. So far so good and have uploaded a few bird calls at Xeno-Canto here https://www.xeno-canto.org/contributor/EXRPOCMOXC hehehe

What I like the most with the Tascam is, I can get the recordings uploaded to my phone via wireless through the smartphone apps then send the sound for ID purposes to my friend. My setting is at [email protected] bits in stereo in WAV

Hope to see you again!
Thanks Jason - your recordings were tantalizing and made me miss the tropics!
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Old Saturday 15th December 2018, 00:23   #12
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Thanks Jason - your recordings were tantalizing and made me miss the tropics!
Yeah and I like it so much!
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