Below a comparison between two recordings made simultaneously using two Marantz PMD660 recorders.
This is an evening roost choir, consisting mainly of about 200 Western Cattle Egret, with also the calls of European Robin, Blackbird and Magpie (At 1:15 a car passes on the back of the recorders).
No high pass filter was used.
By listening with headphones, to start both tracks at the same time and then mute them alternately by pressing the button with the volume symbol on the right side.
top left: Analog Cassette recorder WM-D6C – top right: MiniDisc Digital recorder MZ-R50
bottom left: DAT Digital Audio Tape recorder TCD-D3 – bottom right: Digital Audio recorder PCM-M10
Storage media used by the above recorders
During about forty years of recording, I have used various types and models of recorders, from the first bulky analog models, such as Uher 4000 series, to the latest digital recorders equipped with SD or micro SD solid state memory cards. Of the later I own several models of various brands, such as Sony, Tascam, Marantz, Olympus, Zoom, Roland, Fostex… perhaps I forget some brand…ah, the Philips DVT 7500 (what a disaster!). Although I also have large recorders equipped with solid state memory, I have always preferred compactness, sometimes losing a few decibels of signal due to this.
Since I was using cassette decks, my favorite was the Sony WM-D6, quickly replaced with the WM-D6C model (see the photo above), although the Dolby C equipment was of no use for recordings in nature, as well as the Dolby B of the previous model was not.
Later came the era of the Digital Audio Tape, the DAT, of which the first model I bought was the TCD-D3, a really well made item by Sony, then replaced with the TCD-D7 and immediately after with the TCD-D8, visible in the photo, which I still have jealously!
Then came the Minidisc, also for this I bought several models, but my favorite for field recording remained the Sony MZ-R50, also visible in the photo.
Finally, with the advent of solid state recorders that record on memory cards, from Compact Flash Cards to tiny Micro SD Cards, there has been a succession (as well as a collection) of models. Among all, my favorite always remains a Sony model, the PCM-M10, which in everyday use I prefer to the one that at today (January 2021) I believe to be the best of all portable solid state recorders ever built: the Tascam DR100 mk3.
All this by giving up the XLR 48V phantom power connection, in favor of the less resistant, but more compact, Jack 3.5 mm Plug In Power feeding microphone system.
This was my first parabolic microphone system: a 53 cm Rochè fiberglass dish that I bought directly from Jean Claude Rochè‘s Oiseaus Musicien (now Sittelle) in the early 1980s.
The parabolic dish is quite heavy when compared to the current polycarbonate and PetG dishes. I paired one of the best dynamic microphones out there at the time, the Beyerdynamic M88N(C). This Hypercardioid microphone, with slight variations (M88-TG), is still in production today. I liked this combination very much for the “roundness” and “warmth” of the sound that was obtained from it, although it is a microphone inserted in the dish, which notoriously degrades its quality compared to the microphone free from parabolic disc.
To be honest, I would say that even today it still remains the best combination to use in the dish if you want a sound as natural as possible, personal opinion of course!
This is a recording I made in 1990, as soon as the Sony TCD-D3 DAT was released. At that time, a TCD-D3 paired with a Beyerdynamic M88 and the Parabola Rochè, was for me the best portable ensemble for field recording. In the background we can hear several Italian sparrows (Passer italiae) singing, a species that has become rare in just about ten years (from 2010 to 2020).
However, the signal obtained from it was very low, even using the parabolic dish, incomparably low when compared with the signal obtainable by using a condenser microphone. But I liked the sound that came from its use: what could I have done to get more recording signal?
After a few years of use, I came in contact with Klas Strandberg, the owner of Telinga. Talking to him about various things (first of all the purchase of one of the first productions of the Telinga Twin Science model), I explained my problem, and he said to me: “Marco, no problem at all, I can solve it for you, I’ll build you an ad hoc preamplifier (designed by Sten Wahlström, the father of the stereo parabolic microphone) for your dynamic microphone, with which you will get an amplified signal without having to introduce noise from the using of this preamp”, …the rest is history!
The microphone preamplifier built by Klas Strandberg to Sten Wahlström’s specifications
This is a very rare recording to be made in Italy. The Aquatic Warbler, Acrocephalus paludicola, is rarely found in Italy and is present only during migrations, both spring and autumn. I recorded this subject on 21 April 2000 at the Palude of the Busatello, Gazzo Veronese, Verona – Italy – using a Telinga Twin Science parabolic microphone and a Sony MZ R50 Minidisc recorder.
Until the end of the 1980s, the species was regularly found during the spring period (see the PDF below), with some subjects singing between the last ten days of April and the first ten days of May. Since then its presence has become increasingly rare. The last report dates back to April 21, 2000, and this recording proves its presence.
Questa è una registrazione particolarmente rara da effettuarsi in Italia. Il Pagliarolo, Acrocephalus paludicola, si rinviene raramente in Italia ed è presente solamente durante le migrazioni, sia primaverile che autunnale. Questo soggetto l’ho registrato il 21 aprile 2000 presso la Palude del Busatello, Gazzo Veronese, Verona – I – utilizzando una parabola Telinga Twin Science e un registratore Minidisc Sony MZ R50.
Fino alla fine degli anni ’80 la specie si rinveniva regolarmente durante il periodo primaverile (Vedi il PDF sopra), con qualche soggetto in canto tra l’ultima decade di aprile e la prima decade di maggio. Da allora la sua presenza è divenuta sempre più rara. L’ultima segnalazione risale proprio al 21 aprile del 2000, e questa registrazione ne testimonia la presenza.
First reports for the Two-Spotted Cricket in the North East of Italy date back to 2003 (see PDF file below).
The first two groups of singing notes refer to Field Cricket, the last two groups refer to Two-Spotted Cricket.
As you can see, in the first part of the waveform, relating to Field Cricket, the initial notes are less wide than the following ones, while in Two-Spotted Cricket they are all more or less of the same amplitude.
Also, Two-Spotted Cricket singing is faster than Field Cricket; this partly reflects reality, as, although depending on temperature and environmental conditions, Two-Spotted generally sings faster than Field Cricket.
The maximum frequency in Two-Spotted Cricket is approximately 600 Hz higher than in Field Cricket (see the above spectrogram).
And now a curiosity: on May 21, 2009, in the mountains of Verona (Monte Baldo), I recorded the song of a Barred Warbler (shown below); in the final part of the song we can see and hear the imitation of a cricket song (Field or Two-Spotted Cricket?), the three final notes, clearly audible in the audio file and clearly visible both in the waveform and in the spectrogram.
If we look for the imitated specie, we could first of all think to a Field Cricket, since this cricket is abundant in the environment where the Barred Warbler was singing; however, since the imitative learning period usually occurs in the first months of life, it is not unlikely that it could be the imitation of Two-Spotted Cricket, since the latter is widespread in the African wintering quarters of Barred Warbler.
This is not a scientific dissertation, but only an extemporaneous thought!
WARNING to the volume of audio listening because of the high signal distortion on the left CARDIOID channel!
A few years ago, on a rainy morning, I devoted myself to storage some
recordings made in 2009 with Edirol R9 and Telinga Twin Science Mic inside a
Telinga dish. I was listening to a recording of Crested Tit when I visually
noticed on the PC screen that one channel was partially saturated, unlike the
second channel where the recording was perfect.
As often happens, using the Twin Science Mic I can save at least one of the two
The frequencies emitted by the analyzed call of Crested Tit (2,2-6,4 KHz), for
the right OMNI directional channel (below in the picture above) appear to be characterized by at least 4-6 db lower than the left channel where there is a CARDIOID capsule.
The intrinsic mic noise of the two types of capsule seems to be approximately
similar, while the background noise is obviously different with the road traffic
noise in the distance more pronounced in the right OMNI channel.
In practice, using a Telinga microphone system Twin Science Mic, it’s like to
have two completely independent systems together in the same apparatus,
something we now take for granted because it existed for many years, but I would
call a stroke of genius that Klas Göran Strandberg, Telinga Owner, had at the time!
Here the well-known naturalist videomaker Marco Omodei Salé at work. He mainly works in the Dolomite environment, but does not disdain filming species of the plain, where he spends most of his days.
At the link below we can see some wonderful videos he made in recent years
Here he is tuning the settings of one of his many cameras, in this case a Panasonic GH5s combined with the Naturesound 24 cm diameter mini stereo parabolic microphone.
Here we see Marco camouflaged, ready for action!
Here is a splendid chamois, visible in the video camera display
To achieve a recording of a subject in its soundscape context (which represents the acoustic photograph of the environment we are investigating), we need to use a stereo recording, better if a wide focused parabolic stereo microphone system.
By adopting the stereo configuration with the capsules positioned in a “non-traditional way”, quite outside of the focal point of the parabolic dish, Guido Pinoli and Gianni Pavan were able to obtain (at Pian di Spagna Como-Sondrio – I) an enlargement of the background sound scene, approaching the perfect stereophonic effect that is difficult to achieve when using a traditional parabolic microphone.
And now an excellent soundscape recorded on 2020-May-21 by Guido Pinoli at “Capanne di Marcarolo” nature park (Genoa) – I – Parabolic stereo Microphone, 33 cm Dish.
Here are two very short examples of video recording with audio coming from the same 33 cm parabolic dish, same Primo EM172 microphones, but powered by the video camera through Phantom 48V.
Thanks to the courtesy of Marco Omodei Salé
Canon XHA1 and 33 cm Stereo Parabolic Microphones System
Marco Omodei Salé, the author of the two videos above; the wildlife filmaker is perfectly camouflaged ready for a naturalistic video shooting session
See also http://www.naturesound.it/2020/12/04/video-and-audio-recordings/
Last morning I was looking for some call or song of migratory birds that in this season migrate through our latitudes, when I was attracted, in audio headphones, by the buzz of an insect, a particularly “annoying” buzz. I directed my Sennheiser ME66 half shotgun directional microphone towards the sound source, by means of hearing, without first seeing what and what the subject was. Once the sound was focused, I noticed that it was emitted by a Hoverfly sp. laid on an Elderberry leaf.
That seemed unusual to me in that I had never noticed this behavior by the hoverflies, but I must say the truth that it is not a group of insects to which I have ever paid particular attention.
At first I thought of something inherent to a territorial / reproductive behavior.
I took some photos, made some short videos, but above all I made some audio recordings. Talking to my friend Cesare Brizio, particularly well versed in some groups of insects, he suggested a possible explanation for this phenomenon, assuming a sort of warming up before flying away in displacement and courtship.
Formulated this hypothesis, in the next days I devoted myself to a more accurate observation. Actually I was able to notice that, after having made some short flights, some subjects landed on the leaves exposed to the sun, almost imperceptibly vibrating the wings but at a considerable “speed”, at the same time emitting a particularly high hum in frequency with respect to the frequency in Hertz at which we are used to hearing the normal buzz of flight. This hum then tended to increase more and more in frequency until it reached a point where the subject suddenly took off, instantly changing the buzzing to the classic flight buzzing.
So, may be a behavior to be defined as described as a sort of warm up, or may it have to do with a territorial / reproductive behavior? In the absence of any bibliographical information, I will continue my observations, if only to satisfy my curiosity!