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Somebody try the Wildtronics pro mini? (1 Viewer)

Hi fellow birds recordist,
After a little more then a year of recording with my Zoom H5 and a Shotgun mic (Beyerdynamics MCE 86 II) I'm looking to upgrade to parabolic. Sadly, the problem with parabolic is to carry it. I found the Wildtronics pro mini at an affordable price, and I am looking to buy it with the XRL mic they propose. But I fail to find review online of the product for birds recording. What do you think?
I have the Wildtronics pro mini XLR setup. I use it with a Zoom F3. I really like it and find it is quiet in terms of self noise, and provides nice clean recordings. I think the setup is well built and solid. I bring it into the field a lot and currently carry it in a soft bag with a shoulder strap.

My shotgun mic is the Sennheiser MKH-416.

The Wildtronics pro mini is a definite improvement in isolating and localizing bird vocalizations, and rejecting off axis sounds, compared to the shotgun. Being a small parabolic, higher frequencies can tend to be accentuated compared to lower frequencies. This creates a learning curve (like anything) in how to get the best recordings in the field.

There was one time I was recording a sparrow in a rural agricultural area. I thought I got some great recordings. No vehicles. No wind. Bird in a clear straight line in front of me. When I got home and listened to the recording there was a constant low volume hum/rattle I had not heard when out in the field. Turns out it was a ceramic insulator on an electricity power pole reacting to the electrical field. These were really old power poles and electrical lines. In the field my brain tuned out this low volume sound. Even though the pole and insulator were high off the ground, and not in the line of sight to the bird; they were in front of the mic and the frequency was pitched just right that it was captured and slightly amplified.

The parabolic really does a good job of capturing sounds.

Certain ambient sounds are problematic no matter what mic is used. They can be broad spectrum, or carry far/echo easily: small aircraft/helicopters, water, and mechanical metal on metal noises from machinery. A mini parabolic mic doesn’t suddenly make these go away.

Flying insects are also amplified quite well. You’ll gain a new appreciation for just how many pollinators and grasshoppers there are out there.
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Being a small parabolic, higher frequencies can tend to be accentuated compared to lower frequencies. This creates a learning curve (like anything) in how to get the best recordings in the field.
I don't have experience of the Wildtronics Pro Mini, but for all parabolas the wave length has to be smaller that the parabola diameter to get any gain from the dish. There will therefore be no additional gain up to a frequency threshold and then increasing gain at higher frequencies. For the Pro Mini the threshold will be circa 1175Hz... for a Telinga 22 inch dish this threshold would be lower at circa 600Hz. So basically, the smaller the dish, the less use it is at recording low frequency vocalizations... the Mini Pro would not be the tool for recording many doves, many owls or say a Eurasian Bittern.

The formula for the gain of a parabolic dish includes D squared, where D is the dish diameter, so assuming all other parameters are equal, the Pro Min will only produce circa 28% the of gain produced by the larger Telinga dish. Obviously there is a compromise over size and easy of use verses gain levels (and presumably a 22 inch dish is seen as the upper end of what can be managed in the field, as this seems to now be the standard full-sized dish). The sensitivity of the mics will also play a part, but gain from a dish should be without self noise and is directional, so to some extent gain from a dish is better than having a higher sensitivity mic to create the same signal strength (or applying additional gain with the recorder). In the examples I have seen of other small dishes, they are a definite improvement over open mics for high frequency vocalization, but if you are targeting more distant birds, then a larger dish will likely provide a better recording.

All dishes create increasing gain at increasing frequencies. The argument is that this compensates for the fact that high frequency sound dissipates quicker over distance than lower frequency sound. The parabola therefore 'restores' the frequency balance, recreating 'nearness'. This is all well and good, but it does mean that a recording with a parabola will not sound the same as it does to the recordists ear... the frequency balance will be different... and if we are familiar with hearing Lesser Whitethroats at c20m, then hearing a recording, which creates the impression it was only 5m away, may well sound strange. This is the argument over whether to record a 'bird's ear' or 'human ear' recording, which was raised in the first Sound Approach book.... and another reason some people prefer not to use parabolas.

...and as CMB states, dishes will pick up noises not undetected by the human ear. Goodness knows why, but when I first got a parabola I pointed it at a flying Wood Pigeon, circa 30m away, and was stunned by the amount of wing noise!'
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Thank you all for your awesome answers. After the answer of Jon Bryant, I think I will put the buying of the parabolic mic on hold. As I'm canadian, the cost including shipping and a possible surprise tax at the border is quite expensive and I'm not sure enough of the value versus result.
BUT, yesterday I juste break the bank and got myself a Zoom F3. After a long talk with the vendor (pro photo/audio guy) he confirm that with my actual shotgun mic (Bayerdynamic MCE 86 II), upgrading from a Zoom H5 to a Zoom F3 will make a world of difference on the quality of my recording and the gain I can put on the recording without floor noise (quite low on the H5).

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