Wildlife Acoustics | Bioacoustic monitoring systems for research, science, industry and governments.

How Far Can My Microphone “Hear”?

How Far Can My Microphone “Hear”?

Have you ever wondered how far away an animal can be and still be detected by your microphone? This is a question we get very frequently.

The simple answer is that there isn’t a simple answer.

A difficult question to answer

Microphones do not have a “range” in that they will capture any sound that reaches the element inside.

Atmospheric attenuation, the frequency of the sound, the direction the animal was facing, and a large number of other conditions all affect how far away a sound can be heard.

Acoustic Recording

For acoustic microphones this translates to “if you can hear it, so can the microphone”.

An owl calling from 800 meters away may be heard in a quiet forest where a mouse squeak may not be heard from 10m. Also humans have a great ability to filter out wind noise automatically, so you may be able to pick out a sound that is masked in a recording. On the other hand, there are times when you can see a sound in a spectrogram that you could not easily discern when listening in person.

Recording Bats

When recording ultrasonic sounds such as bat echolocations, a good rule of thumb is that most bat species can be detected at a distance of 30m with a likely maximum of 100m for a very loud, low frequency bat pointing directly at you in perfect conditions.