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Recommendations for lightweight recording equipment please

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Old Monday 4th February 2019, 21:28   #1
StevePreddy
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Recommendations for lightweight recording equipment please

Hi

Iím looking for something I can use to record bird sounds on foreign birding trips instead of taking my full kit with me, something which meets as many of the following criteria as possible:

- small & lightweight (ideally able to be handheld and operated while using bins)
- usable in humid tropical habitats
- accurate sound capture across a wide range of frequencies
- if possible, a single unit rather than a separate recorder and microphone
- easy to use

I donít want to produce top quality recordings with it, just something thatís good enough to capture sounds that I can produce sonograms from, to confirm identities of species where call is an important factor in distinguishing from lookalikes.

Any suggestions welcome.

Thanks

Steve
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2019, 13:27   #2
Dan Miller
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I researched this and ended up getting an Olympus LS-11 - no longer made, but I got mine for a reasonable price from Ebay. Here is a link to a recording I made with it yesterday, a very windy day: https://ebird.org/media/catalog?user...66&mediaType=a

I've only just started to use it, so I expect my recordings to improve.

I have also made good recordings using my camera (Olympus EM5II). I simply record video, without concern to what it is focused on. Then I strip the audio from the video for post-processing.

FWIW, I use eBird's recommended procedures for audio post-processing.
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2019, 15:08   #3
iveljay
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Olympus certainly still produce some very small high quality audio recorders such as the LS-P1 or P4, or the bigger and easier to handle LS-12 is still around I think. The main concern is that they and other recorders I own, warn (not just Olympus)against use in very humid conditions (they tend to all use simple condensor mics). Something slightly bigger and possibly even easier to use and less expensive is the Tascam DR-05 again it warms about high humidity.

Of course you will inevitably get a lot of ambient noise with any of these recorders with built in mics. though the LS-P1 and LS-P4 have a menu setting for zoom mic operation where the directionality of the built in mics can be greatly improved according to the manual.

If I sound a little vague about these last 2, it's because they are physically too small for me and have a built in USB connector which I dislike - so while I have used and own an LS-P4 it has only been in use where its size and high quality recording capability made it the best choice, however, other than their dislike of humid conditions, their zoom mic capability would be very useful to you, the Sony equivalent certainly works well on Sony video cameras.

Anyone out there who has used one of these two in humid conditions?

Last edited by iveljay : Tuesday 5th February 2019 at 15:14. Reason: Clarity
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Old Friday 8th February 2019, 17:13   #4
StevePreddy
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Thanks both, this is helpful
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Old Saturday 9th February 2019, 07:55   #5
Saxatilis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StevePreddy View Post
Hi

Iím looking for something I can use to record bird sounds on foreign birding trips instead of taking my full kit with me, something which meets as many of the following criteria as possible:

- small & lightweight (ideally able to be handheld and operated while using bins)
- usable in humid tropical habitats
- accurate sound capture across a wide range of frequencies
- if possible, a single unit rather than a separate recorder and microphone
- easy to use

I donít want to produce top quality recordings with it, just something thatís good enough to capture sounds that I can produce sonograms from, to confirm identities of species where call is an important factor in distinguishing from lookalikes.

Any suggestions welcome.

Thanks

Steve
Take into account also the tiny Olympus LS3 (7) still with the second-hand market.
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Old Monday 18th March 2019, 02:47   #6
Peter Ericsson
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I have a friend that has a Sony that seem to work very well. Just dont know the model.
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Old Tuesday 19th March 2019, 08:47   #7
iveljay
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Unfortunately the most popular Sony recorders used by birders were from their Sony Professional setup, none of which are obvious on their UK web site at the moment, though still available to buy. The latest iteration is relatively bulky and is the Sony PCM-D100. It is priced at £575 before VAT and is still available at professional AV suppliers. Not really what you are looking for though.

Its predecessor was still relatively expensive but very good and quite popular for our use: the PCM-M10, well built, easy to use, very sensitive, low noise floor pre-amps, but not very directional. the latest D100 has much bigger external mounted mics that overcome the lack of directionality of its predecessor.

Almost certainly Peter's friend owns a M10. Almost unbeatable with an external mic, though only has a 3.5 mm stereo jack, so any decent shotguns will need to supply their own phantom power. Its internal mics are very good but less directional than some. I would be very reluctant to part with mine.

So while something like a second hand M10 would be nice, compared to the likes of second hand or new LS-11s, LS-12s etc, it is still quite a bit wider but has slightly better audio performance in some ways.

Current Sony voice recorders are probably nice, but have lower audio performance than their pro range and you can probably do as well from numerous other manufacturers for less cash.

Last edited by iveljay : Tuesday 19th March 2019 at 08:57.
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