The Song Meter Micro is the latest in Wildlife Acoustics’ passive recorder range. Building on the success of the Song Meter Mini, Wildlife Acoustics have gone one step further and managed to again reduce the size and cost of their fantastic acoustic recorder. These handy pocket sized recorders are now even more accessible to anybody looking to record wildlife.
The Micro is certainly a technical achievement. It boasts many of the same excellent features available in the Song Meter Mini while coming in at around half the width, 100g lighter and just over half the price. It utilises the same Bluetooth configuration and, with a complement of three AA Alkaline or NiMH batteries, it can continuously record for up to 150 hours. A full comparison of the differences is available from the manufacturer’s website; however, beyond its much smaller dimensions there are a few key ones to note. Chiefly among these is that it has a single built-in microphone and is unable to take an additional microphone, meaning recordings will always be in mono. Another few considerations are that it utilises microSD cards to store recordings and it is recommended when deploying the detector to always include a small amount of fresh desiccant for humidity control within the casing.
We took a Song Meter Micro and deployed it for several nights in early April to gather some recordings and gauge its overall ease of use.
The Song Meter Micro utilises the exact same configuration system as the Song Meter Mini via the free “Mini Configurator” companion app. This app allows you to easily configure the detector’s recording settings before deployment as well as check the status of the detector while it’s in the field, as long as you’re within range.
When powered on, the Micro emits a constant Bluetooth beacon, and when you are within range of this beacon the Configurator app will automatically detect the recorder and display it in the recorders screen of the app. You can then press the status icon on the app and view the current status of the detector, including SD card capacity, battery life, recording mode and number of recordings taken.
For our tests, we decided to choose a preset recording schedule to capture the dawn chorus. This calculates the sunrise and sunset times using your phone’s location data and sets a schedule accordingly. For more information about setting up your Song Meter Micro, watch our set up video below.
What we found
The Micro was quick and simple to set up within the app and the included quickstart guide and tutorial videos on Wildlife Acoustics’ website were useful if we were unsure of anything. The unit itself doesn’t come with a strap, but has various slots and holes that a cable lock, trail camera strap, rope or screw could fit through. Once mounted, and with batteries/SD card inserted, we could check through the configuration on the app, read off the LEDs to check everything was armed and ready for recording, then snap the lid on and walk away.
Upon collecting the unit, very little battery had drained. Once back in the office, we removed the microSD card and loaded the recordings into Kaleidoscope to view the sonograms and listen to the recording quality.
Examples of our recordings can be heard or sonograms viewed below.
The Song Meter Micro is an impressive single channel acoustic recorder for its size and price. It was easy to carry into the field in a rucksack – or even a pocket! The set up was simple using the configurator app and we found the array of scheduling options to be thorough. We especially liked the preset recording schedules which offer several commonly required options that are available at the tap of a button. It was useful to be able to see the status of the recorder using the LED lights within the unit itself, especially when we wanted to check the recorder was armed and ready to record still while our phone was out of charge.
The sound quality was impressive considering the tiny size of the in-built microphone. Bird calls were loud and clear and even the sound of the morning trains could be heard from the train line through the woodland over half a kilometre away. The sonograms above demonstrate the low noise of the recordings and the quality is good enough for both sound and visual analysis.
The Song Meter Micro is an excellent addition to the Song Meter range and is ideal for those looking to start recording or audio monitoring. It is particularly useful for researchers looking for a convenient unit that is suitable for wide-scale deployments in remote locations where size and weight are important factors to consider.
We really enjoyed recording the dawn chorus and hearing our local bird song, which is especially spectacular this time of year. With International Dawn Chorus Day (Sunday 2nd May) fast approaching, we would encourage everyone to set up a recorder or get out early to hear their local dawn chorus for themselves.
The Song Meter Micro is available on the NHBS website.
To view the full range of sound recorders, along with other survey equipment, visit nhbs.com. If you have any questions or would like some advice on choosing the right product then please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01803 865913.