[Top] [All Lists]

Re: PDA Recording System - Opinions Please!

Subject: Re: PDA Recording System - Opinions Please!
From: Walter Knapp <>
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 13:32:43 -0400
dcohen_ohio wrote:
> Hello all,
> I am new to this discussion forum and would like opinions on the 
> following scenario. I have recently decided to purchase audio 
> equipment for the sake of recording birds and herps in the field. I 
> would like to be able to easily import the sounds into a computer 
> for editing and cataloguing. I was just about convinced that the 
> Marantz PMD670 was the way to go until I saw Greg Weddigs posting to 
> check out Core Sounds new Compact Flash Card product that will 
> enable DVD quality recording with a palm computer. I have priced 
> this scenario out as follows: $200 for used Ipaq palm computer 
> (already purchased), $200 Compact Flash digital input device from 
> Core Sound, $160 5gb pc card storage (approx 15 hours recording time 
> at 44.1khz in mono), $180 dual slot pc card expansion, $150 used 
> Audio Technica AT835b shotgun mic (already purchased), $350 - $500 
> for portable pre-amp/A-to-D converter, and $50 for palm recording 
> software. In total this recording system will cost around $1300 to 
> $1450. Some of the questions that come to mind are as follows: 
> 1)    Why would anyone want to record at higher resolution than cd 
> quality (44.1khz)?

There is no need for listening. If recording something with high 
frequency calls you might want a higher sampling rate recorder to cover 
the frequencies. But, since you won't hear those you are then going to 
be doing it for analysis of some kind.

Even recording in greater bit depth is of questionable value given the 
conditions of field recording.

But like the sales pitch for faster and faster clock speeds on 
computers, many are getting sucked into the higher sampling rates and 
higher bit depths. It's worth backing off and asking why. Or at least 
thinking if spending the same money on better mics might yield a better 

> 2)    Is hard drive media/palm computer reliable under field 
> conditions?

Unknown, but I'd be much more worried about dropping one than with a 
walkman MD. I have dropped one of those while recording, onto hard 
pavement, and it did not even skip.

Computer stuff is designed for use indoors primarily. You can get a 
sealed case for a palm, but would be on your own to put in sealed 
connectors. The reality on hard disks, even those for laptops is the 
expected use when running is sitting on a desk.

The Palm itself is pretty delicate, that big screen is easily broken.

> 3)    How long can a palm computer last between charges?

Depends on the model, and what it's powering. My Palm Tungsten C is 
rated at about 8 days, but I don't push it. And that's with no memory 
card in it and not using the WiFi.

> 4)    Am I spending too much?

Yep, a walkman minidisc will do as good for less. Especially considering 
the mic you have.

> 5)    Are there other factors I should consider?

Count the number of individual objects you will be juggling, how many 
different connectors or cords to come disconnected. The ideal for a 
field setup is a recorder and a mic, two objects to juggle. It sounds 
like a nightmare to me.

> One of the reasons I am excited about a palm system is the ability 
> to capture geographic coordinates of sound samples with software 
> such as ArcPad by ESRI. For example, 20 ft contour lines, streams, 
> roads, and digital ortho photographs could be loaded for a given 
> area that would enable field digitizing of sound sample locations 
> for cataloguing and spatial analysis. When expanding this concept to 
> the entire nature recording community, I can see great research 
> potential such as learning more about vocal dialects.

I've done GPS coordinates for seven years now. I use field cards for the 
info, though you could enter it in a Palm. The big advantage of field 
cards is they don't crash or bluescreen. You do not have to have the 
site data attached to the soundfile.

I recently got a Palm for my field forays. But not as a audio recorder. 
It carries my database, and other references. And, my GPS is separate, a 
Garmin. Use your palm for the data about the sound, not the sound itself.

Vocal dialects won't be localized down to a few feet, they will be 
spread over a area or region.

> Is this the future of sound recording or am I being ignorant? Thanks 
> in advance.

I certainly hope not. I hope we will continue to have stand alone pro 
audio recorders suitable for field work.

Tying nature recording closely to computers is likely to raise the price 
quite a bit. Computers go obsolete in moments, field recorders can last 
far longer.

Yes, we use computers to process the sound we collected with our 
recorders, but they are not field friendly.

I see a lot of these attempts as lowering the sound quality 
expectations. They do not do as well as a good pro recorder, and often 
cost nearly as much by the time all the pieces and adapters are 
assembled. And you often get something easily beaten by a cheap walkman MD.

Do I understand correctly that with all this money you are getting a 
system that only does mono? Stereo is so much better. Though it adds to 
the mic cost.

If I was going to spend that amount on a setup, a walkman MD and a 
higher quality mic would be it. For that price you could have a walkman 
MD and a Telinga Pro V stereo parabolic. Or pretty close. That pairing 
works well. Then later you could move to a pro recorder.



<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the naturerecordists mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU