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RE: recording owl vocalizations

Subject: RE: recording owl vocalizations
From: "Martyn Stewart" <>
Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2005 17:52:23 -0700
Unfortunately Bob there is no short cut, there is no less expensive option
for quality recordings, you would have to take the plunge and go for
something decent, in the long run this is cheaper anyway.
For most of the more expensive mics you would need phantom power and I
believe the MZNH1 Hi Minidisk Recorder does not facilitate phantom power,
the ME series has its own K6 power supply.
A lot of the cheaper mics have very loud self noise and you would not want
that in quiet surroundings while recording.

The above place has various recording packages available (very expensive)
but do not go with a tape recorder (I don't have that much time to rubbish
it here)
EBay is your best option and have a look around.

Just remember something though here, you will be able to differentiate
sounds more so in stereo than a monaural recording, those sounds in the
background would become more apparent than a mono recording and if you want
to analyze the sounds, Stereo would be the way to go with multiple birds.


Martyn Stewart
Bird and Animal Sounds Digitally Recorded at:

N47.65543   W121.98428
Redmond. Washington. USA
Make every Garden a wildlife Habitat!

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of wahpenayo
Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2005 5:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Nature Recordists] recording owl vocalizations

Thanks for the information - very much appreciated. It's difficult to 
take the financial plunge with so little experience.

I forgot that the ME series needed a power supply, so that takes it 
out of my range for now. I could probably stretch to $200 for a mic. 
Here's some more background on what I'm doing.

I am calling the owls in by imitating their calls. They are reacting 
to me as an intruder in their territory, or as a nearby territorial 
owl. It's part of an experiment I'm conducting to compare barred owl 
responsiveness to barred owl calls vs. spotted owl calls. It's a 
small slice of the huge research effort ongoing for spotted owls.

I'm keeping track of how long it takes them to respond, what calls 
they use, the duration of their response, etc. If I record it, I 
don't have to madly try to write everything down.

But I also want to get quality recordings for digital analysis, and 
be flexible enough to handle the different recording situations that 
arise. I want to develop a library of vocalizations, complete with 
variations of standard calls. As such, I want these to be as good as 
I can get. Maybe there is no single solution.

It would be fantastic to have a 2-mic set-up for stereo recording of 
duets (which can be amazing, sounding sometimes like 3 or 4 owls 
rather than 2), and I would love to do this, but then do I lose out 
on distant calls? But a crisp, clean stereo recording of a duet would 
be something to hear. In addition to distance differences, there are 
also varying levels of background noise, from dead quiet to echo 
situations to interference from nearby streams or passing vehicles.

Is there less expensive option for a mic, or choice of mics, that 
would allow me to handle most situations? Is a powered mic necessary 
to get good recordings? I'm probably stuck between needing very good 
equipment to do what I want to do and not being able to afford it. At 
some point in the future, I do want to go for highest-quality 

Thanks again for your help, Bob

--- In  Rob Danielson <> 
> 20 feet! What fun!  $500 for a ME66/K6 should get you fine mono 
> recordings for sure.  I agree that stereo imaging can be useful in 
> figuring out who is talking to whom about what. There are often 
> owls involved in the discussion than I first detect, both in the 
> field and when listening to recordings.
> If stereo imaging interests you and the background sound levels are 
> low, I'd consider  binaural Shure 183's ($200 pair). Huge 
> over radio shack mics. You could mount them in a dummy head, a wood 
> block like Curt Olson's designs or buy a SASS fixture sans mics 
> Crown. M-S is another, more expensive option. The students here 
> over our two NT1A/CAD 179 M-S rigs that use MP2 preamps. I'm trying 
> to get a PIP compatible phantom power supply which would open more 
> possibilties.
> Isn't it likely that your presence is a pretty significant topic in 
> their discussions?  Maybe there's a lot of road and other noise so 
> there's plenty of agitation anyway. I'm sure you've thought about 
> this. If you want to leave the scene, an NH-1 or NH 910 can be set 
> record in HiSP mode for ~5 hours. Requires a PC for digital 
> To focus on calls coming from two areas, a pair of unidirectional 
> Rode NT-3's for about $300 are maybe worth considering. Perhaps 
> them on separate tripods with nice, swivel mounts, in good 
> shock-mounts with zeps? Anyway, I'd definitely think a bit more 
> stereo before taking a $500 mono plunge.  Rob D.
>   = = = = = =
> At 11:05 PM -0700 6/24/05, Martyn Stewart wrote:
> >The mini disk should fit the bill alright and you would certainly 
be able to
> >upload your recordings to your computer and software.
> >If your budget is tight, consider the K6/ME66 combination made by
> >Sennheiser.
> >The ME66 would be a better mic for the long distant calls but you 
will not
> >be able to record them in stereo unless you use two mics. A stereo 
> >will help you separate the calls much better in an analyzing 
program. To
> >start off with though, your choice would be a fair combination of 
mic and
> >minidisk. At least with the K6 power supply that you need with the 
ME66, you
> >can buy the cardioid version (ME64) and this too will run with the 
> >
> >
> >
> >Martyn
> >
> >Martyn Stewart
> >Bird and Animal Sounds Digitally Recorded at:
> >
> >
> >N47.65543   W121.98428
> >Redmond. Washington. USA
> >Make every Garden a wildlife Habitat!
> >
> >425-898-0462
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: 
> > On Behalf Of wahpenayo
> >Sent: Friday, June 24, 2005 10:43 PM
> >To: 
> >Subject: [Nature Recordists] recording owl vocalizations
> >
> >I'm working on a study of barred owls in SW Washington and have 
> >to record their vocalizations. I want to upgrade my equipment (not
> >hard to do) to get quality recordings, eventually to do comparison
> >analysis of their calls. I am looking at the Sony MZNH1 Hi Minidisc
> >Recorder, which fits my budget.
> >
> >I am unsure what kind of microphone would work best. Right now I 
> >a ~$40 Radio Shack cardioid mic. There are all kinds of recording
> >situations that I will have to deal with. Sometimes the owls are 
> >close (20 feet) sometimes 1/4 mile or more away. I want to be able 
> >record a pair doing a duet, even when they are on both sides of me.
> >
> >I have been thinking that another cardioid mic of better quality
> >would be the best overall mic, and at sometime in the future get a
> >shotgun mic for distant calls.
> >
> >So right now I am looking at the Sony NH1 and a Sennheiser ME64
> >cardioid mic. Can anyone tell me if this is the right choice to 
> >with, and will the recordings be good enough to run through digital
> >analysis software?
> >
> >Thanks for any help.
> >
> >Bob Pearson
> >Packwood, Washington
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >"Microphones are not ears,
> >Loudspeakers are not birds,
> >A listening room is not nature."
> >Klas Strandberg
> >Yahoo! Groups Links
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >"Microphones are not ears,
> >Loudspeakers are not birds,
> >A listening room is not nature."
> >Klas Strandberg
> >Yahoo! Groups Links
> >
> >
> >
> >
> -- 
> Rob Danielson
> Film Department
> University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"Microphones are not ears,
Loudspeakers are not birds,
A listening room is not nature."
Klas Strandberg 
Yahoo! Groups Links



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