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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Wildlife Acoustics EM3

This March I was told by my MD (I am a bat consultant) that he was upgrading all of our equipment, so after much looking around, I came across the Wildlife Acoustic EM3 handheld detector. I had been aware of it, but hadn't given it much thought due to the price.

I had been using a Petterrson D240X with recorder for much of my work and although it is an excellent detector it can be cumbersome due to all the wires running to and from the detector.

The EM3 seem to fit the bill for what we wanted e.g. handheld, built in recorder (with several formats, I use WAV) and it had a screen which allows the sonogram to be displayed.

I have now had an EM3 for the whole of a bat season and have come to grips with using it. Hence this little review.

On first thoughts I didn't really like it to much!

It was quite large in the hand (although I have fairly large hands), it was complicated and not intuitive and it ate batteries (even though these are re-chargeable). The real time expansion (RTE) sounded odd compared to the D240X and the heterodyne mode although good was difficult to scan though the frequencies.

The build quality looked poor and it lacked a lanyard to secure it, when fumbling around in the dark, so it could be dropped.

However: -

I have come to love using this detector and really would be lost without it!

The sonogram screen although small is just excellent, allowing almost instant confirmation of the species your listening to (assuming it is not Myotis or other difficult species) and you can zoom into the call if you if you need to. You can toggle between a white background and dark background to save your night vision. Recorded without the need for other devices and loads of wires everywhere and instantly check the call on the screen .

Having now learnt how to set it up to my needs (check the Wildlife Acoustics website for tutorials) the detector has taken on a life of its own. I now listen in RTE as standard so that I don't miss any bat passes and don't have to fumble around with buttons on the wrong side of the detector. I have changed the trigger level of the detector so unwanted noise is not recorded and it saves the files in small snippets making sound analysis fast.

There are still problems with this detector, for instance changing the buttons to the left side would be a great help as I am right-handed, adding a lanyard to the case to prevent dropping it in the dark and installing a more sensitive microphone would all be good additions.

However with all that said, I really couldn't do without this bit of kit anymore!


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