The Baton XD bat detector from Batbox Ltd. Part 1 Of 2
The BatBox Baton XD is a new, dual technology bat detector, from BatBox Ltd. UK
I suppose, that after having tested and reviewed almost 40 different bat detectors, I must have developed the ability to discern a bat detector's ability right away. These days, I can practically tell how effective (sensitive) a bat detector is likely to be - Simply by powering it on...Indoors.
To what do I attribute this "ability"? I believe there is a saying, which goes something like "There's no substitute for experience". Case-in-point, the new Baton XD detector, from BatBox Ltd. A perfect example. As soon as I un-boxed it, and powered it on: I could sense right-away, that an "ultrasonic mist net" had just been deployed. It could hear the faintest high frequency sounds within many meters, in any direction. It didn't take very long to realize that this one's a keeper!
It features two principal modes of detection: High-quality Frequency Division and Time-expansion (10x). This unit boasts a frequency response better than 18kHz to 120kHz. Particularly note-worthy, is that time-expansion is among the methods of detection which this portable unit is capable of. We ought to keep in mind, that time-expansion is a technology, which has only recently been made affordable. Most especially, to the average Hobbyist. If you were among those bat detecting Hobbyists, who longed to have a TE detector - But could not afford one, then this Baton XD is (still) a "Big deal" for you. For a long time, I was among the many Hobbyists who hoped to own a detector with the ability to record in time-expansion. And I could not afford one either...This is not to insinuate that time-expanded recordings are necessarily the "best", or most desirable of methods for recording and/or analysis -- Only that, until recently, it was simply out-of-reach for most. Including some Ecologists, in fact!
Now that I think of it...It wasn't too long ago, that the lowest-cost TE-capable unit, was selling for $1,500 U.S. Dollars. Two units in particular, come immediately to mind, in fact. With the release of the Baton XD from BatBox -- We now have a very capable -and-affordable unit; with which to make time-expanded recordings of echolocating bats.The Reader may notice, that I've used the words "very capable". This is because The XD from BatBox Ltd. is the first of it's kind, to allow continuous / unattended recording (of TE calls). A rather important distinction, when one looks at the available prospects on the market today. Especially in this price range.
It may also be noted, that BatBox was not the first manufacturer to offer a TE-capable unit, in recent years. One that was affordable, that is. However, this new Baton XD from BatBox, brings us to another level of (TE) recording ability. As well as the ability to choose a Professional quality, Frequency Divided output. It's size and weight are very similar to the original Baton.
A very effective way to become familiar with it's features, is to to take a look through the free-to-download Quick Start Guide.
As for the design, it is very similar to the original BatBox Baton; which I'm sure many are at least somewhat familiar with.
This advanced technology Baton XD still retains the ease-of-use of the original. This will be a comfort to those who have owned a Baton before. I found it to be so.
The Baton XD would be an ideal choice, for both beginning and advanced Hobbyists. With its ability to connect to many smartphones: For live analysis, or recording, directly to a smartphone - Many Professionals will find it to be a valuable bit of kit.
For instance, on Page 1 of The Quick Guide -- The Baton XD is indicated for transects:"Baton XD is available with built-in strong magnets which will enable the unit to be attached to the exterior of most cars for mobile transect road surveys." In the past, I've referred to (the original) BatBox Baton as a "workhorse" of a bat detector.This new Baton XD, is an innovative new bat detector; which is sure to become the newhigh-tech "workhorse" detector, for many. Especially die hard Fans of the original Baton.
The Baton XD allows the (headphone-equipped) user, to listen to both the TE (AKA 'TX') and FD audio at the same time. With the push of a button, the user may choose to listen to the TE sounds in the left side, and the FD in the right side; of the headphones -- Or, the other way around, if preferred. Again, a brief glance at Page 1, of The Quick Start Guide will illustrate all...And of course, the ability to record to your smartphone is also an attractive prospect.
Baton XD From BatBox Ltd. Part 2 Of 2
As for the process of using it, it just doesn't get much easier - The Baton XD may still have just the one button. However, for those even vaguely familiar with the (simple) instructions: It's a piece of cake, really. For instance, I would direct the reader, to Page 2 of The Quick Start Guide The operation of the Baton XD is very straightforward. So much so, that an attempt to describe the graphical instructions, seems redundant.
The unit is very accurate. As for the resulting spectrograms: They are simply lovely. And by that, I mean not only aesthetically pleasing, but very accurate as well. While testing the last few bat recording units, I have accumulated a lot of data... As a result, while testing bat detectors these days, I find myself deleting the majority of recordings - Including spectrograms.
So, please bear with me, while I collect some (using The Baton XD) to post directly into this review.
The weather here in New York, USA - Has just now become conducive to bat flight/activity. And I hope to have some spectrograms pasted here very soon...Along with other data. However, I would like to do more than just post spectrograms, as I've done in the past.
This year, I thought it would be nice, to provide night vision videos of the bats; as they are being recorded: Essentially giving Visitors a more accurate experience of each individual bat detector, while in use. It is also a lot easier to include video recordings of the bats in flight, than to include audio clips only. Well, more on this later...
Back to the subject at hand: The new BatBox Baton XD
What can I say about this new Baton XD? In my experience, it's proven to be every bit of a workhorse as it's predecessor. That being the original BatBox Baton; which I've owned and used, for years. Although, this unit is even more capable and versatile. When you're in a hurry: It's nice to have a (good quality) bat detector, which you may count on, on your way out the door. It's the type of unit, which is simply there when you need it.
As an analogy: It's very similar to the compact pair of binoculars, which a Birder "usually grabs on their way out the door". As you may know, avid Birders usually own quite a few pairs of binoculars. But, many of them come to realize (in time) that there seems to be one pair, which they always reach for - At a moment's notice. That is how I would describe The BatBox Baton XD. A Hobbyist, and especially a Pro Bat Worker, is also likely to have many bat detectors at their disposal. Now, depending on exactly which, and how many they have available - Chances are, if they are in a rush, The Baton XD would be the one chosen.
Having made that statement, I shall go directly into The Pros & Cons of the unit:
Simplicity - It may be operated without even thinking about it.
Small / Self-contained - Relatively easy to slip into a (large) pocket (if need be).
Sensitive / Accurate - It's general performance, is in a word: Impressive!
Great battery life.
Features ("real") Time Expansion mode.
Attaches to a cell phone / smartphone for recording, live spectrograms & advanced features.
Recording is not built in - An external device of some type must be attached.
The unit is somewhat directional, by design - Microphone cannot be expected to be effective at more than 180 degrees.
Volume control (for FD mode) has only 2 settings.
Microphone sensitivity not adjustable - Professionals may desire this feature.
In summary: I'll go ahead and state it - Many of you may already be thinking it: The Cons listed above, may seem a bit "nit picky" to some. Fair enough.
The fact is, I've had a relatively difficult time providing substantial Cons.
For example: The two settings for the volume (in FD mode) have proven satisfactory during my tests.
I happen to like the fact, that the microphone element is protected - Recessed into the built-in "horn" in front.
As previously stated, this (Part 2) component of the Baton XD review, will be updated. Spectrograms, etc., will be added soon.