The Batlogger M From Elekon Part 1 Of 2
I've been trying to keep my reviews a bit shorter; whenever possible. With some new bat detectors - There are simply too many features to effectively cover on just one, long page. The new Batlogger M is an example, of such an instrument. Like other high-end ultrasonic recorders: It has a lot of features! I could easily write a review that would end up being 4 posts long...Don't worry! I won't! ...But, I feel that there will be a need to "revisit" this detector in the future - Beyond Part 2. This has usually been the case with what may be called the "Alpha" detectors; examples would be: The BatBox Griffin, The Pettersson D240X and even The AnaBat SD2.
In this, Part 1 (of 2) of the review, I'll be focusing on the main attributes and features of the Batlogger M.
The Batlogger M arrived here in the U.S., very quickly, and well packaged. The unit comes equipped with a lot of extras, as standard accessories (these will be addressed later). Including a great, foam-lined, custom carry case. The Batlogger M fits in the case like a glove. And, it provides an ample amount of protection. The other neat thing about it, is that there's also a bit of extra space in the foam-lined case. I've found it useful for things like: A small weather meter, microphone extension cable, and a small notebook.
I found a very well-made/fully shielded (Kumo brand) microphone extension cable on Amazon. The addition of this cable makes the unit even more versatile; and I highly recommend getting one.
Elekon even offers one on their Web site.
The next factor that becomes apparent, is the size and shape of the Batlogger itself: It's not square! Yes, someone was "Thinking outside the box" on this one! It's hourglass shape fits very comfortably in the hand (their Batscanner sports the same shape, by the way). At 350 Grams, it's not too heavy either.
I also like the built-on, frame of rubber armoring, it provides a positive grip in the hand. It also seems to offer a bit of protection from the occasional accidental bump, etc. It features a very accurate, built-in GPS system (more on that in Part 2).
In addition, when the unit is updated to the latest firmware (Version 2.2) - It's ultrasonic pick-up range expands. It's able to tune all the way down to 2kHz (on the low end) and up to 155kHz (on the high end). The previous firmware version only went down to 15kHz, and up to 150kHz.
This is excellent for singing insect recordists - like myself! Now, one may specifically target many species of singing insects. For example: It can be set for: 2kHz - 25kHz when I'm after cricket and katydid recordings. But, for a more relevant example, the unit can be set for: 15kHz - 65kHz Which is how I keep the test unit set (for my local bats).
Offering the ability to update firmware on a high end bat recorder is wonderful - Because the manufacturer can always add some great new features!
I believe that this may be the best handheld bat detector I've ever had the pleasure of reviewing. I realize this is very high praise. Especially when you consider the World class instruments that I've been fortunate enough to test and review over the years...The reason why I can make such a statement, is: The Batlogger M is sensitive beyond belief - The range at which it can detect and record bats is unprecedented. Yet, at the same time, is almost impervious to man-made and other unwanted noises. So far, I have estimated the "pick-up" range of the unit, and it is often over 50 meters.
Also: The Batlogger M, with it's simple Menu system, is an absolute pleasure to use. It has all the features one would desire in a bat recorder (and none of the useless ones). It also produces excellent sonograms, as good as those produced by instruments costing thousands of dollars more.
The other (somewhat reassuring) factor is, there are other very experienced individuals (Bat Workers, Professionals, and others) - Who have reviewed the Batlogger M, and have come to similar conclusions. There are a couple of fairly well-known Professionals who have chosen it to be their primary bat detector - The only detector they use.
This bat detecting system is particularly well-suited for unattended monitoring/recording of bat activity. It's proven to be really excellent for my nightly recordings; during this test period. The included AC power adapter, effectively removes any concern of running out of battery power (if you have access to a mains power outlet). While on the subject of power: I really like the fact, that the unit is powered by a built-in, Li-Ion battery (3.7V 4600mAh). No AA's to re-charge!
I've kept the unit On/Monitoring for ~12 hours each night. I have found it to go almost 4 nights, before needing a re-charge.
I'm very fond of the display on the Batlogger M; and the way it constantly changes and updates its current status. While detecting bats, it is calculating/indicating the peak frequency. It then displays the peak frequency of the last bat call recorded. Very nice! It's undoubtedly, the most aesthetically pleasing display I've seen, since the BatBox Griffin. Yes, I'll say it: It looks really cool! The brightness is also fully adjustable.
Some additional Pro's and Con's:
Built-in Li-ion battery, provides long up-time even in low temperatures.Incredible sensitivity / Able to create good recordings of bats at great distances.The most pertinent information is constantly displayed.
The stock microphone is not weather or waterproof. Although, Elekon does offer two models of (optional) microphones that are (details in Part 2). [Note from Martin: The Batlogger M now comes with the FG Black microphone which is more weather-resistant.] The second Part will cover topics such as: How well it records bats, a summary of a typical workflow, a synopsis of how it compares to other high-end recording devices (in it's price range), and the quality of the bat calls recorded.
Part 2 of 2 Review of The Batlogger M from Elekon
When a new bat detector arrives for me to review: One of the main things, that I always look for, is its ability to detect bats at good distances. It just happens to be one of my major interests, as far as performance goes. It always has been my favorite "yardstick" in measuring performance. In years past, I didn't have access to the excellent locations that I do now (some excellent habitats are among them). Therefore, the majority of my bat detecting was done from home - a passive (overnight) monitoring situation. So, the ability to pick up bats at greater and greater distances became important to me. And, I suppose old habits are hard to break...
The point is, The Batlogger M is able to detect and record bats, from greater distances than any other device I've ever tested. It's as simple as that. And I am well pleased. The interesting thing, is that at the same time - The unit will not record non-bat sounds. What we're discussing here, is a very unique instrument.
In a side-by-side comparison, with the AnaBat SD2: During the course of one evening - The Batlogger M consistently picked up and recorded bat calls, while the AnaBat did not. These bats were at a distance of over 45 Meters, in this particular case. I believe these results are very telling!
Another major feature, that is amazing in and of itself - Is the built-in GPS. In a word? Wow. I realize, that some view the GPS feature as unnecessary (especially well-experienced Bat Workers). But, I believe that generally, most appreciate having the feature. In the case of the Batlogger M, it really integrates very well. The GPS is efficient, and very precise. I quickly found out just how accurate the unit is: When I noticed that it basically "knew" which room of my home I was in! In addition, there is a integrated feature that knows which direction the Batlogger was pointed in, at the time of a bat pass. An electronic compass. Not only does this help make transects and other surveys extremely accurate; but it opens up additional possibilities (for future advances). You can get a glimpse of just what it's capable of, when working with Elekon's BatExplorer software.
Some things that I like: It is comfortable to hold for long periods of time (Bat Walks, Surveys, Transects) The position of the microphone. Front-mounted speaker provides plenty of clear audio.The SD card is easily accessed - No screws, doors, latches, etc.There are 5 different Trigger Modes to choose from. There is the Standard (default) microphone There is the Ultrasonic microphone FG Black There is the Extension Kit which includes the FG Green microphone.
Some things that I'd change: I would like the unit to have a Date & Time feature that is independent of the GPS. In other words, not related to the built-in GPS. Currently, if the GPS is active - It will synchronize the unit's time via satellite. Some may welcome this feature (I don't). Although the microphone is robust, and fairly impervious to all but exposure to water - I would still like to see a bit of foam (such as a tiny windscreen) just for added protection.