Underwater Sound:
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DolphinEAR makes a great underwater microphone for your video camera, audio cassette recorder, or DAT (Digital Audio Tape) recorder.
Now you can hear whales and dolphins as well as seeing them on your videos!

The physical connections will depend on your equipment. DolphinEAR uses a standard 1/8 inch ( 3.5 mm ) stereo jack for earphones. Both LEFT and RIGHT channels are the same - providing MONO output for your recorder. Simply use the appropriate connecting cord to your equipment. You may connect to either the MICrophone input or LINE IN jacks on your recording equipment. Volume level is adjustable using the DolphinEAR volume control.

If desired you can add a dual stereo plug adapter - costing about $ 1 - so you can both listen to the DolphinEAR and record at the same time. Visit any electronics store for the cables for your equipment.

Let's talk about audio recorders. We will leave video camcorders out of this discussion because you choose those for their video quality, size, and features - not their audio or sound capabilities. DolphinEAR works great with all video gear.

Audio recorders come in several forms - reel-to-reel, cassette, mini-cassette, DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and DCD (Digital Compact Disk). There are comsumer grade models and there are professional models. Prices range from $29.95 to well over $10,000 depending on quality and features. There is a good article available from the Society of Amateur Scientists called Recording Nature's Sounds - check it out after you have finished this article.

For general purpose recording of underwater sounds, I suggest you start off simply. Go down to your local electronics shop and look at INEXPENSIVE Cassette recorders. Stay with the full sized cassettes - not the mini variety made for dictation. Here's a guide to some of the more critical specifications you will see in a catalog, or at the store:

  • External MIC. Input: VERY IMPORTANT! Make sure the recorder has some means of using an external microphone. Most do, but some models meant for voice dictation only have an internal microphone.
  • Frequency Response: this determines how 'hi-fi' the recording will be. Ideally it should be 20-20,000 hz which is roughly the frequency range of the human ear. unfortunately many inexpensive recorders cover only 100-10,000 hz. while a purest might turn their noses at this, remember that most of the underwater sounds that you will encounter will be in the range of 100-6000 Hz or so.

You can always upgrade to better, more expensive recorders when you have gained some field experience. Use a good quality audio tape for best results. A recorder with a 'counter' is nice and lets you keep notes of where and when the recording was made.

Plan a DolphinEAR outing visiting some of the places mentioned in our WHERE TO LISTEN page. When you return, play back the tape through your computer sound card, making an audio file (.wav format) that you can process and view with the software (see 'SOFTWARE' page) that comes free with DolphinEAR.