As I mentioned in a previous post last year I bought a Telinga parabolic reflector. It is a Pro 8 with twin science mic so it has both cardioid and omni mic capsules which are output to the left and right channels simultaneously so you have options to choose between.
I have been out recording with it quite a lot and really like it. The mics do have quite a bright sound which is accentuated by the fact that bass frequencies go straight through the dish and I have found that to avoid handling noise you have to wear thick gloves and be very careful, or preferably mount it on a tripod (I use the universal mounting kit [CLICK HERE] for this). It also really doesn't like strong wind and even with a wind cover and using the omni capsule wind can be a problem. However, its portability and lightness more than make up for this. The dish can be rolled up for transporting (although it shouldn't be left rolled up for any great length of time) and the parts all fit together simply and neatly. The mics are also very low self noise and having the choice between omni and cardioid is really brilliant!
The first (and easily solved) problem I came across was that I couldn't initially tell which of the two cables coming from the pro 8 handle was the from omni capsule and which was the cardioid as they have no marks to show which is which. At the bottom of the pro 8 handle there is a 7 pin connector show below -
This then splits into two 3 pin XLRs (show below) and my problem was that they both looked identical. If I listened to the recordings carefully it was possible to tell which was which due to omni having more ambience and being less sensitive to things like handling and wind noise but I wanted to be totally sure.
I chatted to Richard Kemp from Telinga and he told me the best way to tell is to look at the L and R record signal strength and gently rub the foam covering around the mic. The strongest signal is from the cardioid so if you watch the level meters on your recorder while touching the foam you can tell which is which. This worked really well so I marked the cable from the cardioid capsule with some yellow tape as you can see in the initial picture.
A parabolic reflector works by gathering sound waves and making them converge on a focal point. This makes distant sound appear closer and compensates for distance. Here's an article by the technique's inventor explaining how it works [CLICK HERE]. The telinga reflector magnifies the sound around 10 times, which is very handy if you want to record a bird or a small insect in a tree above you! They are also very directional which makes them great for recording individual species isolated from the environment around them. The sound designer/recordist Tim Prebble has written a great article about his first experiences of using the Telinga on his website [CLICK HERE] .. and here's a great article about parabolic reflectors on WSRS website [CLICK HERE]. Not convinced about stereo recording with a parabola though! I would always go for mono. I will post some recordings more made with the Telinga soon.