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  1. #1
    New Member
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    May 2009
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    Northern Arizona
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    Confused in the Country

    Greetings from Arizona Indian country,

    My name is Ron. My wife and I are retired now and spend our time learning about birds and enjoying our grandchildren.

    I stumbled upon Media College during a google search and was certainly glad I did. The audio tutorial was just what I was looking for. It has given me a basic understanding of the audio process.

    I have a rather unique situation and could use the input of seasoned sages such as yourselves. I did do a search of the forum postings, but did not find the info I needed.

    I know I'm a neophyte, so please go easy on me. Ready....here goes:

    We live on a few acres and I want to set up a system to listen to and record the various birds in the area.


    The equipment I currently have is:


    1 - bionic ear parabolic microphone (the type hunters use)

    3 - sonic sleuth parabolic microphones which is basically a child’s toy that our grandchildren use to listen to wildlife.

    1 - digital voice recorder


    Even with a volume control, my wife and I worry about our grandchildren getting hearing damage using the sonic sleuths.

    I have used a Y splitter and plugged into the headphone jack of the sonic sleuths and tried to record coyote sounds and birds, but the signal is too much for the digital voice recorder. The recording is horribly loud at best even with the voice recorder set at low sensitivity.


    My goal is to:

    Set up the parabolic mics in such a way as to cover a large part of the yard and combine the signals into one; filter down the unwanted frequencies; reduce the output to an acceptable db level AND record to the digital voice recorder and or my laptop.


    As I understand, the circuitry in parabolic mics amplify the output signal to about 40-50 db.

    What I don't understand is: Does this amplified signal rise to the level of a "line input" or is this amplified signal still within the range of a "mic input".


    Equipment I have been looking at:

    A vocopro DA1055 karaoke unit that has 6 mic inputs with a 3 band parametric eq on the microphone side of things. It also has a 7 band eq but apparently this is used with the "audio input" from a cd or dvd unit.

    I'm not sure if I can "cable out" from the mic output and back into the "audio input" for the cd/dvd so I could use the 7 band eq. This is probably a question for the tech people at vocopro, whom I will be calling on monday....but I figured I put it out here for comment.

    My other option a simple audio mixer like a behringer 1220 with 4 mic / line inputs as well as the other line inputs, 3 band eq and tape output.

    I am also considering a 31 band graphic equalizer to further filter down the unwanted frequencies so things like a quail distress call (approx 4khz - 11khz) can be better heard.

    As mentioned above, I'm just not quite sure if the output of the parabolics are mic or line level.

    The digital voice recorder only has a mic input for an external input while the laptop has a selectable mic / line input.

    While cost plays a factor in my ultimate decision....my biggest concern is with my wife. If I don't get this right the first time, I'll have to deal with her.

    And I'll tell ya folks, over the years she's gotten pretty good at flinging day-old fry bread at me. So good in fact she could probably take down a jackrabbit at 25 yards.

    I thank you so much for your input in this matter. I know it's an odd request, but any nudges in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Ron

  2. #2
    Headphone level is about the same as consumer-type line level, on the order of 0.1 volt. I'd guess you're overdriving the digi recorder. Plug it into the line input on the laptop and make a test recording. It will probably be hissy, but not distorted - if so this pinpoints the problem.

    You can probably buy an attenuator to stick in line between the headphone output and the digi recorder. At this point buying any kind of mixer is a potentially fry bread levitating act.

    Once you have the overload problem fixed, then you can think about a mixer. Be aware, however, that the more mics you have open at one time, the more you will degrade the signal-to-noise ratio. With only one mic at a time picking up an animal sound, but three picking up background...well, you can see where this is heading.

    Since you're probably working in stereo, you could limit yourself to two mics, one on each channel. That way, when you hear something interesting, you can play back that channel alone.

    Instead of buying a graphic equalizer, if this stuff is going to wind up on the laptop, just download some free equalizer/compressor software.

    Greetings to your wife. Let's hope she doesn't take to tossing cast-iron skillets.

  3. #3
    New Member
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    May 2009
    Location
    Northern Arizona
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    Quote
    Quote: karl eilers
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    Headphone level is about the same as consumer-type line level, on the order of 0.1 volt. I'd guess you're overdriving the digi recorder. Plug it into the line input on the laptop and make a test recording. It will probably be hissy, but not distorted - if so this pinpoints the problem.

    You can probably buy an attenuator to stick in line between the headphone output and the digi recorder. At this point buying any kind of mixer is a potentially fry bread levitating act.

    Once you have the overload problem fixed, then you can think about a mixer. Be aware, however, that the more mics you have open at one time, the more you will degrade the signal-to-noise ratio. With only one mic at a time picking up an animal sound, but three picking up background...well, you can see where this is heading.

    Since you're probably working in stereo, you could limit yourself to two mics, one on each channel. That way, when you hear something interesting, you can play back that channel alone.

    Instead of buying a graphic equalizer, if this stuff is going to wind up on the laptop, just download some free equalizer/compressor software.

    Greetings to your wife. Let's hope she doesn't take to tossing cast-iron skillets.


    Greetings Karl,

    Attenuator.....attenuator......I like the sound of that word.

    It has a certain Schwarzenegger-ish feel to it.

    I've been walking about the house saying - hasta la vista; db


    Since the nearest radio shack is about 40 miles away, I'll be giving them a call a little later and see what they have.

    You make a valid point about using the laptop instead of the digital recorder. Since my one son uses the recorder for college lectures, I'd rather not take a chance of messing it up.

    I'll still check into the attenuator for use as a backup. The laptop is kinda like me...old, temperamental and getting more tired by the day.

    With regard to limiting the number of parabolics, That too is a very rational line of thought. That could free up one of the children's parabolics so they could still run around the property with; while at the same time keeping the bionic ear safe from both the children and the dogs. That thing cost more than all three child's parabolics put together.

    As far as my wife She overheard my son and I talking about your response and wanted to see the posting I did.

    When she read what I wrote about her, she gave me...."the look"

    But that quickly melted into a wry semi-smile. The same smile she displays when I tell people that I've been married long enough to know to never to buy anything for the inside of the house without checking with her first.

    Thank you Karl for your input. When I figure it all out and get everything going, I will post my results.

    My buddy's wife is from Minnesota. She tells horror stories of saber-tooth deer flies and how you only have two seasons out there:

    Winter.....and road construction


    Cheers,
    Ron

  4. #4
    Actually, winter was until Tuesday (30-something F a hundred miles north) and I just drove thru 120 miles of road construction. So's about right.

    We also have mosquitos any six of which can carry off a doberman.

    Maybe your son can do the trail with the laptop? Then if it gets screwed up, it's his fault.

    Just for reference, I know of no bird whose call contains anything lower than 250Hz. If you set a sharp cutoff there you should eliminate a lot of wind noise.

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