The first bat detector, to be reviewed for 2018 has arrived - It's The Batseeker 4, the latest offering from Batseeker.
New Batseeker 4
I am planning to update and revise some of the existing bat detector reviews, here on the blog. Less than a handful (of the more recent ones). The final reviews will be a lot more detailed, but they won't be on this blog. More about this later...
I'm looking forward to multiple field trips this Spring. There may also be an opportunity to test and review some visual recording equipment; possibilities include: Night vision, FLIR systems, and rigid endoscopes. Wildlife & Countryside Services carries a lot of equipment. Happy bat detecting!
An early version of The Batseeker 3. This is before the loop was added.
This review will deal with The Batseeker detectors (Versions 1 to 3) but be advised, that the latest version, The Batseeker 4 is the unit which is currently available.
The units are just over 14 cm in length, and are very light in weight. As can be seen on this video clip made by Batseeker.
The price of the unit, is it's most attractive feature: At only $44.99 with free shipping to the U.S. and Canada; it's the lowest cost bat detector currently available anywhere.
Back of the early Batseeker 3, speaker is visible.
The Batseekers are Frequency Division bat detectors, and are designed from lightweight black plastic. These detectors are constantly being improved, in many different ways - Which is great news! For just one example - The latest Batseeker 4 is now constructed using higher quality PVB plastic.
The Batseeker 3 was very simple to use: It consists of just one On/Off switch!
In it's latest rendition, The Batseeker 4: There are convenient new buttons on the back, allowing a user to easily control speaker output volume. Another significant improvement, is the addition of a new amplifier stage.
A later version of The Batseeker 3. The case loop is just visible on the right.
The Batseeker is ideal for those wanting to try bat detecting, without investing too much money. I would recommend it for first-time buyers who are looking for the least expensive bat detector available. Also very good for children - with supervision - because the Batseeker(s) will get damaged if dropped on hard surfaces outdoors.
Back view of The Batseeker 3, showing open battery compartment.
The process of using it, consists of turning it on, and pointing the side with the microphone hole (now indicated by orange paint) towards the area of suspected bat activity.
It is the lowest cost bat detector currently available.
Small and slim in size, easily portable.
It may be powered with 2 standard AAA sized batteries. However, Sanyo eneloop rechargeable NimH are highly recommended for best performance.
Lightweight plastic construction may be easily damaged (if dropped on a hard surface, etc.).
No algorithms in place to distinguish between biological and man-made sounds (all ultrasounds are detected).
The Batseeker 4 may be ordered from several sources:
The units are very quiet (practically zero background noise!), and well-suited to static / un-attended recording. Simply turn on, and point microphone side out (on a windowsill, for example). In the recent past, I've had fun using Batseekers to record bat sounds on (low-light) video clips. My attempts didn't produce great results, (I used a low-cost tablet, and a point & shoot camera at the time). When I edit the (fair quality) recording(s), I'll add them to this review. This year, I'll have infrared camera(s) available, so watch this spot for updates... As the weather begins to warm here in New York, I'll have an opportunity to record some additional bat calls. Using an audio cable this time - All Batseeker detectors feature a (3.5mm [mono]) audio out jack; and I'll add the resulting recordings to this review. So at a cost of only $44.99 U.S. dollars, you now have virtually no excuse not to try the awesome hobby of bat detecting! And, finally - I've recently been informed, that I will have an opportunity to test and review the latest Batseeker 4 soon! Happy bat detecting!
Note: This review will be updated further, over the next few weeks (with extra details, spectrograms, etc.)
The SM4BAT is the latest SongMeter system, available in both full-spectrum and zero-crossing models, from Wildlife Acoustics. It is a ultrasonic bat recorder, designed to be used as a passive/unattended recording solution. It's a single channel recording system, which is bothlightweight and compact. And has the ability to be left unattended, for long periods of time (up to 45 days!). A very concise overview of this new unit, may be seen onthe manufacturer's page Here. The SM4BAT arrives double-boxed and very well packaged. In other words, the product box is protected by air-filled cushions (as well as bubble wrap). The unit's dimensions are as follows: Height: 8.6" (218 mm) Width: 6.0" (152 mm) Depth: 3.1" (78 mm) 1.6 lbs / .7 kg without batteries, 2.9 lbs / 1.3 kg with batteries
I can also state, that no less than 9 of them will fit into an ordinary backpack. As per Wildlife Acoustics' Web site: "The new, low-power microprocessor, combined with 4 D-size batteries,
enable the longest deployment times of any other bat recorder available.
The SM4BAT FS has a recording run time of 250 to 450 hours (e.g. 25-45
10-hour nights) depending on bat activity and other factors." There are several features which make this bat detecting system desirable:
It's particularly well-suited for those in need of unattended monitoring/recording of ultrasounds; especially bat activity.
It is capable of recording an unprecedented number of bat passes - up to 45 nights! directly acrossmultiple (up to 2) SD cards.
It's very easy to use, and no PC is needed for the set-up, or actual recording.
The new SMM-U2 microphone's low noise and superior sensitivity, makes it an excellent addition to this Song Meter system. More on this Mic later... The Song Meter SM4BAT is designed using very heavy-duty poly-carbonate, which is impervious to extreme weather conditions. It was definitely designed with the needs of Ecologists in mind. As with it's predecessors (earlier Song Meter systems) it is very easy to set-up and use. The SM4BAT FS may be purchased directly from The Wildlife Acoustics page Here. As always, the Customer
Service/Support aspect of Wildlife Acoustics: In a nutshell, their
Technical Support is second to none. This new SM4BAT FS has proven to be excellent for my nightly recordings.
Another neat attribute of the SM4BAT I like, is how the microphone units
are protected. Using a well-secured, dark gray foam. In the printed
materials provided, Wildlife Acoustics explains just how waterproof
their SM4BAT platforms are. As in the past, they also provide tips and best practices for outdoor deployment. The Song Meter SM4BAT has been designed with great pick-up range. There is a PCB
mounted, 3.5mm earphone jack located inside the SM4BAT's enclosure. This is
provided so that one can listen to the sound input while recording; this
may be used for live monitoring, to check the status of microphone(s),
perform test recordings, etc. No tools are required to open the unit.
With the top cover snapped back on, in preparation for
mounting/deployment - The green LED light will be visible to you, via a
built-in diffuser. So that you can get feedback before, during, and
after the unit is mounted:
- A steady, repeated blinking: Indicates the unit has started it's
scheduled recording. This informs you that the system is awake, and is
The installation and configuration of the SM4BAT is
a very easy process.
Just install batteries - 4 D cells (Energizer brand recommended), a Class 4 SD memory card, and you're more than halfway done.
Some of the other main features are: The LCD
display - Which is easy to read, and will help you set all device
Among the main things you might want to do are:
- Set the Record Start and Stop times, set the internal clock.
- Adjust Sensitivity values which you can use to fine-tune the level for the triggering. There
are a few other things, which you will learn all about from the User
Guide; which happens to be one of the best I've ever seen. It
has been a pleasure to use. And thanks to Wildlife Acoustics'
Kaleidoscope software: The analysis of bat recordings has been a breeze
ever since! I've
got lots of recorded bat calls to listen to, and create various
The SM4BAT happens to be the approximate size of other comparable
unattended recording solutions. In fact, it is a bit smaller than some.
It is easily portable, fitting one (along with accessories, etc.) into a
backpack is effortless. Without batteries installed, the unit is very
light. As previously stated - The fact is, you can fit 9 of these units in a typical backpack
(with room to spare).
Sensitivity and filtering are
fully adjustable, across the spectrum of the unit's abilities.
The fact that the unit can be used as a "Set-and-forget" recorder (for up to 45 days) is a plus.
The unit is very economical; especially when compared to similar systems which are currently available.
The Kaleidoscope software, from Wildlife Acoustics is very versatile; and produces nice-looking (and informative) sonograms.
With the great help/suggestions and support I received from the Folks at
Wildlife Acoustics, I ended up with a diverse collection of recordings.
The nice thing about it, is that I was able to test a lot of different
variations of settings. In a short period of time. You can basically go
either way, in your approach to the use of this system: You may choose
to rely mostly on the default settings - And take a more simple approach
(which is exactly what I did in the beginning of the test period). Or,
you may be the type who enjoys tinkering & experimenting. In which case, you'll find a fair number of combinations, for customizing preferences. Happy bat detecting!