Passive acoustic monitoring of wildlife requires microphones. Several cheap, high-performance open-source solutions currently exist for recording sounds, but all of them are still reliant on commercial microphones. Commercial microphones are relatively expensive, specialized on particular taxa, and often have opaque technical specifications. We designed Sonitor, an open-source microphone system to address all needs of ecologists that sample terrestrial wildlife acoustically. We evaluated the cost of our system and measured trade-offs that are seldom acknowledged but which universally limit microphones' functions: weatherproofing versus sound attenuation, windproofing versus transmission loss after rain, signal loss in long cables, and analog sound amplification and directivity with acoustic horns. We propose three microphone configurations suiting different budgets, sound qualities, and flexibility requirements, which all cover the entire sound frequency spectrum of sonant terrestrial wildlife at a fraction of the cost of commercial microphones.
K. Darras, Bjørn Kolbrek, Andreas Knorr