Date: 1/26/18 12:35 pm
From: Andrew McGann <andrew.mcgann...>
Subject: Re: Hearing Outside Birds Inside
Hey all,

This is something I’ve toyed with in the past, with a system that I kluged
together myself. I agree that it’s a lovely idea to achieve the acoustic
effect of having open windows when it’s too cold outside to open your

The basic setup is simple enough and it’s not hard to do. But I never ended
up with a robust weatherproof system that I wanted to leave set up and
running all the time. I put together a system that I would set up and turn
on when the weather was nice and the birds were singing, and then I would
take it down when I wasn’t using it. My microphone wasn’t waterproof.

Basically, you can use any old set of computer speakers and any old
microphone. But the tricky part is that you need an amplifier of some kind
in the middle. Most small/portable audio recording devices have a built-in
amplifier and you can set the recording device to “monitor” the microphone
input on the headphone jack (without using the Record function). Plug the
speaker(s) into the recorder’s headphone jack. You can control the overall
system volume by adjusting both the mic level and the headphone volume.
While you could use a computer’s soundboard and input/output jacks, most
people will find that a small/portable audio recorder device with an AC
power adapter is what you want. If there’s no AC power adapter, you’ll go
through a bunch of batteries.

For the recorder/amplifier component in the middle, I used a Zoom (brand)
H2 “Handy Recorder”. The Amazon link to the newer version of it is here:

There are many other kinds of small audio recorders out there. Some are
obviously better and more expensive, and others are cheaper (but maybe not
worse) alternatives. Caveat emptor. But one advantage to using an audio
recorder device such as this is that you can set some filters on the
character of the sound using the recorder’s menus and settings. For
example, if you have a road nearby, it’s nice to reduce the low-frequency
sounds, such as traffic and the rumble of wind in the microphone.

Finally, a word of caution. The idea of an acoustically-transparent window
that lets in the music of the natural world is a simple and seductive idea.
But if you go through with experimenting with a setup like this, you will
probably find out why most window engineers have been working on making
modern windows and other building materials increasingly acoustically
noise-proof. There’s a big noisy world of traffic, trains, aircraft, and
other loud and unnatural sounds outside most people’s windows. There’s a
high likelihood that your outdoor environmental sounds may not match your
imagination’s expectations when you pipe them indoors. Most of us are not
lucky enough to live at the end of a long driveway on a lightly-traveled
road without major arteries nearby.

The positive side of this harsh reality is that it can enkindle a new
appreciation for anthropogenically-quiet environments. (For more on this
subject: watch this short video: ) If the idea
of natural soundscapes is what you’re really after, you may want to bring
your new audio recording equipment into the field to record a “better”
(more naturally beautiful) acoustic landscape, full of birds, where the
only “noise” is the whisper of the wind through the trees. If you capture
recordings, you can just as easily bring them home, play them on your
speakers, and let your mind drift back to the woods and fields. There is
even a modern social networking platform for hosting and sharing your
recordings, just as easily as you would share photographs. “SoundCloud” is
the site, and for top-notch profiles, check out Martyn Stewart and Lang Elliott

Lastly, if you’re the kind of person who has fallen down the budget-busting
rabbit hole of photography, or especially videography, there is an entire
universe of glorious high-end microphones, amplifiers, recording devices,
and equipment out there. It’s a slippery slope...

But the upside is that I think anything that engenders enhanced
appreciation of the natural world is a good thing!


On Fri, Jan 26, 2018 at 2:01 PM Donna Foyle <
<000000041223ffd5-dmarc-request...> wrote:

> This is an interesting topic. Perhaps people could respond to the list
> Donna Foyle
> Sent from my iPhone
> > On Jan 26, 2018, at 12:04 PM, Barb Elliot <nflickerbarb...>
> wrote:
> >
> > I am interested in being able to hear outside birdsong inside my house to
> > alert me to the presence of birds when my windows are closed. I am
> > especially interested in having such a system during spring migration so
> I
> > can hear on an indoor speaker the sound of a singing/chipping bird picked
> > up by a microphone in my yard. I think it would be great to know what
> > birds are around this way and be able to go outside to see them. My yard
> > is about a half acre and I'd like a microphone that is sensitive enough
> to
> > pick up calls/songs not just from around my feeders, but from birds
> > elsewhere on my or adjoining properties and maybe even flyovers that may
> be
> > calling.
> >
> > Can anyone recommend such a system? I am aware of the TMB company that
> > makes a wired system called Nature's Window 3 Outdoor Sound Monitor. I
> > would be willing to purchase this or a wireless system, but would like to
> > have feedback or recommendations from anyone who has used this type of
> > system.
> >
> > You can email me directly at <nflickerbarb...>
> >
> > Thanks very much,
> > Barb Elliot
> > Chester County
++Sent from my iPhone++

Andrew McGann
New Castle County
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