Swift – Frequently Asked Questions

August 14, 2017

Q1: Will the Swift configuration tool work on a Mac?

A1: The configuration tool currently only works on a Windows platform. Other users have reported successfully using Parallels to configure the Swift units. CCB has not tested this method and cannot guarantee that it will work. CCB uses the 10″ Fusion5 Ultra Slim Windows Tablet in the field for programming Swift units.

Q2: Is there software available to assist with analysis of the Swift data?

A2: Yes, we have Raven Lite and Raven Pro. Raven Lite is our free (general public) program that allows users record, save, and visualize sounds as spectrograms and waveforms. It is intended for students, educators, and hobbyists. Raven Pro is our workhorse analysis software package. It is a powerful, user-friendly research and teaching tool for scientists working with acoustic signals.

Q3: Will a AA to D-cell battery adapter work with the Swift unit?

A3: There is no technical reason to believe that the AA to D converter would not work, but CCB has not tested this configuration, so we cannot guarantee that it will work.

Q4: Do you offer any discount pricing on the Swift units?

A4: We cannot provide any discounts because the price we charge is our costs. Our goal is to provide the best unit we can at an affordable price to the research community.

Q5: Do you have a rugged housing that can withstand harsh environmental conditions?

A5: Yes, we have a version that we fit into a customized Pelican case that is sturdier and works better in areas where animals may “inspect” the units. This version has a slightly higher price – please email us for more information. This version has the microphone inside of the Pelican case and therefore has a bit of an acoustic shadow.

Q6: Can you please provide some more information on the accessories I will need in addition to the recorders and where I can purchase them?

A6: You will need to purchase 3 D-cell batteries for each unit and a SD card. We recommend Panasonic Industrial batteries and the SanDisk Extreme Pro SD card. This is a link to a 128GB SD card – any size card of this type will work.

Q7: How much data will the Swift recorder produce and how long will it run? 

A7: The table below shows approximate runtimes. These times may vary depending upon temperature and type of batteries. Please note that the units do use power when they are in standby mode. So, when programming a duty-cycled recording session, you cannot calculate the battery life solely on the recording time. For example, our testing has shown that recording 5 minutes per hour will use up the batteries in a standard unit in about 35 days. These estimates were made assuming new alkaline batteries:

Sample Rate (Hz) Approx Runtime (Hrs) Approx Runtime (Days) Data Generated per Day (GB) Data Generated over Runtime (GB)
  8,000 672 28  1.4  39.2
 16,000  636  26.5  2.8  74.2
 32,000  588  24.5  5.5  134.8
 48,000  552  23  8.3  190.9
 96,000  504  21  16.6  348.6

Q8: What is the frequency range of the Swift units?

A8: The units can be programmed to record at 8kHz, 16kHz, 32kHz, 48kHz or 96kHz sample rate. The sample rate is two times the effective recording rate. For example, setting the sample rate to 16kHz, will record with an effective record rate of 8kHz.

Q9: What kind of microphone is on the Swift unit?

A9: The manufacturer of the microphone is PUI Audio. Part number is POW-1644L-B-LW100-R. It is omni-directional and has a signal to noise ratio (min) of >58db with a frequency response of 50 Hz to 16kHz.  If you require additional information about the microphone, please email us.

Q10: I lost the USB cable you sent me. Can I use the cable that I use to charge my smartphone?

A10: The cable is a standard USB 2.0 micro USB cable. Not all USB cables will work. It must be a Micro USB cable that has four wires and can both provide power and transfer data. It can be difficult to determine if a cable is charge only or can also transfer data. The best bet is to find a cable that works well and put a label on it so that you know which one to take into the field with you. More information.

Q11: Does the Swift record in dual-channel mode?

A11: Currently, the Swift recorders do not function in dual-channel recording mode. The circuit board and microphone connector are capable of dual-channel recording. However, the microphone and the firmware are not. This is something that we plan to develop on a future version.

Q12: What is the file format produced by the Swift unit?

A12: The Swift produces WAV files. The file size is configurable using the Configuration Tool.

Q13: What is the bit depth of the Swift?

A13: The Swift records with a 16-bit word length.

Q14: What are the weight and dimensions of the standard Swift unit?

A14: Dimensions are 8” X 5” X 4” with the tree bracket attached; 4.7” X 5.1” X 2.4” without the tree bracket. The weight with 3 D cell batteries and tree bracket attached is 2.4 pounds; with batteries and without the tree bracket it is 1.65 pounds; without batteries and without tree bracket it is .75 pounds.

Q15: What are the weight and dimensions of the rugged Swift unit?

A15: Dimensions are 8.5” X 6.75” X 4”. The microphone is enclosed inside the case. We do not include tree brackets for the rugged unit. The weight is 5.5 pounds with 12 D cell batteries; without batteries, the weight is 1.8 pounds.

Q16: Is it possible to utilize this unit in harsh environmental conditions such as those experienced in the Arctic or northern Canada?

A16: We would recommend the rugged unit with lithium batteries for these conditions because of the need for additional power for operation in cold climates. The electronics will be fine in sub-zero weather, but the batteries will degrade much faster and alkaline batteries will not even function if it is really cold.

Q17: What is the working temperature range of the Swift unit?

A17: The electronics are rated to -35 degrees Celsius. Alkaline batteries will not function at this low temperature – you will need lithium batteries. We anticipate the maximum operating temp to be about 50 degrees Celsius.

Q18: Is it possible to program multiple recording periods per day with different schedules on different days?

A18: No, this is not a current capability of the Swift unit.

Q19: Is it possible to program the recording time in relation to sunrise/sunset?

A19: This is not currently possible, but it is something that we want to do in the future.

Q20: One of my units lost its microphone windscreen. Where can I get a replacement?

A20: We use the WindTech 10380 Military High Density Windscreen from B&H.

Q21: I’m trying to use rechargeable batteries, but they don’t last as long as you say batteries should last. Why is that?

A21: In general, rechargeable batteries do not work as well as regular alkaline batteries. Our experience is that they work fine when they are new, but very quickly degrade over time. We recommend Panasonic Industrial batteries or Duracell Procell batteries. Additionally, if you need even more recording duration, you could use lithium batteries. These will greatly extend your recording time.

Q22: I’m getting an error message that says that the firmware is not compatible with the Swift program. How do I update the firmware?

A22: Be sure that you have downloaded and installed the latest version of the Swift Recorder Configuration Tool from our website. If you are still getting a message about firmware incompatibility, close the program and unplug the Swift from the USB port. Then plug the Swift back into the USB without the Configuration Tool running. Wait a minute or two while the Swift USB driver installs. Then try starting the Configuration Tool and it should connect. If you continue to have problems, please send us an email.

Q23: I’m getting an error message when trying to sync the Swift unit with time on my computer.

A23: Be sure that you are using the American date format (MM/DD/YYYY).

Q24: Do you offer any acoustic analysis training?

A24: Yes, we offer a week-long introductory-level Sound Analysis Workshop, usually twice per year. The workshop is intended primarily for biologists interested in analysis, visualization, and measurement of animal sounds. We cover basic principles of spectrographic analysis and measurement of animal sounds, as well as specific tools and techniques in Raven Pro, a sound analysis application program developed by BRP. Spring workshops also include a brief introduction to techniques for targeted field recording using directional microphones.

Q25: How do I determine the right gain setting?

A25: Gain is basically the microphone equivalent of the volume knob on a speaker. When the gain is higher, the microphone becomes more sensitive. This means that at a high gain level, you capture more sounds, but run the risk that the sounds are so loud that it overwhelms and distorts your recording (this is called clipping). We recommend starting with the default gain level and then turning it up a bit at a time and checking the quality of the recordings as you go. The right gain setting is highly dependent upon your ambient environment and the target organism.

Q26: How do I know how to distribute my Swift units to get the best recording coverage of my area of interest?

A26: This is highly dependent upon how loud the target organism is and whether you want the same individual to appear on multiple recordings. If you’re trying to estimate abundance or distribution, having the same individual call show up on multiple recorders is not necessarily a good thing (you can end up double counting). The default settings of the Swift “hears” a bit less than what you would if you were standing in a spot as if you were just a little hard-of-hearing.

Q27: My Swift unit has started recording non-stop instead of the schedule that I programmed. I have been getting an error message when I disconnect the unit from my computer “Unhandled exception has occurred in your application” and “Year, Month, and Day parameters describe an un-representable Date Time.” and the message box of the Swift program reads “ERROR: ATTEMPT TO READ INPUT REPORT FAILED (Report ID = 3).”

A27: This is usually due to a poor USB connection. When you are configuring the Swift through the USB connection, keep some slack in the USB cable (avoid making the USB cable taut) to reduce any stress on the USB connection. There is a tool we have for resetting the Swift variables to their default state thereby fixing the issue. You’ll need to download the software tool here: https://cornell.box.com/s/99r53vsiq8aprhhy1p9ilpj29x5i6kgl   Unzip the download and install it on your computer, then follow these instructions to complete the process.

Q28: Do you have a comparison matrix for SWIFT and other commercially available bioacoustics recording devices (passive archival units)?  

A28: As we are working continuously to improve the performance of the SWIFT platform, the comparison matrix keeps changing. Based on the available specification and data, following table provides a general performance comparison of SWIFT units in relation to other commercially available devices.

SWIFT Overview and Comparison













If you have additional questions, please email BRP.