My only New Year resolution is 24bit 192k multichannel, and in preparation for the Papua New Guinea field trip I’m investing in a few new mics – first is a pair of MKH80X0 mics, suspect it will be a matched 8040 pair in the tiny Rycote rigs but the other mic I am interested in is a parabolic dish, to put either my DPA4060s in or an MKH8020.
I have to confess I have never used a parabolic dish, although I understand how and why they work, and their shortcomings (eg low frequency response is dependent on the size of the dish) but I’d still love to try one before I invest – anyone local know anyone local with one? And failing that, have you used one? What was your experience? I understand they are super narrow in their pickup, which is why I’d like one for PNG – to isolate birds and/or insects – whenever I’d use it I’ll also be recording with multichannel ambience mics, so my motive is to capture isolated spot elements for ambiences….



I read this article about Bernie Krause who mentions the Telinga parabolic dishes and also his own DIY efforts – after checking the Telinga site it seems their flexible dish would be ideal for travel – ‘virtually unbreakable’ combined with the Universal kit for mounting and holding it…


So if you’ve used one, how have you found them for handling noise? And seeing as they are very directional, do you work with headphones on or off? What mic do you use with it & how are the results?


A few links to read if you’re interested:

– Nathans experiences at NoiseJockey

– A relevant question (and answers) on Yahoo Group nature recordists group

and a few example recordings:

Jim Morgan: “The recorded sound of a kitchen timer bell at 15, 30, 60, 90, 150, 300 feet. Note the significant attenuation of the higher frequencies that increase with distance. Recorded with a 23 inch Telinga Twin science parabolic microphone in an open field with no obstructions between the bell and microphone.”

Bell test 15 30 60 90 150 300 ft by fundador


Melodious blackbird by Martyn Stewart

Håkan Olsson: “Bat sound recording with Telinga and AT 4022 in an opening in the forrest. I only noticed one bat hunting.”

bat sound by nordicnature

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) by nordicnature



9 thoughts on “Parabolic

  1. Larry Elliott

    I recall using some back in the days of NZBC television.

    One was made from a microwave dish about 1200mm diameter. This was mounted on a camera tower and aimed at the cricket pitch to get bat on ball sounds. The other was about 300mm and had an STC 8 Ball mic on it and used for general sports fx. Both worked reasonably well but no better than an 815 816 which had the benefit of a wind shield and was much easier to hand hold. Why US TV companies still use parabolic dishes now that there are so many good shotgun style Mics I have no idea.


    1. tim Post author

      I’ve used 816 & MKH70 mics – they are very good, but as I understand it a parabolic dish provides more isolation & sharper targeting at longer distances, and I am very intrigued to hear the results if used with eg an MKH8020 with extended high frequency response

      1. Larry Elliott

        The extended LF performance of the 8020 may be problematic but this should be able to be filtered out.

  2. Peter Caeldries

    Hi, I’ve used a Telinga with an AT 3032. Defenitely use headphones to point them in the right direction. Difficult to point right just on sight. Also, use the wind cover they sell. I have been on on a number of recording trips with Chris Watson and he uses the Telinga with the twin science mic I seem to remember to isolate species. In fact it was Chris who introduced me to the Telinga. The dish really draws sounds closer. Good to ‘zoom in’ on individual species. Of course, anything in the ‘zoom path’ gets drawn closer as well. As such the parabola is unusable in windy environments.


    1. tim Post author

      I’m not sure if there is much point doing stereo with the dish (i’ll be capturing stereo and/or quad ambiences with other mics) – if its that tightly beamed not sure any stereo movement would match a camera point of view/perspective…. the dish is really to get individual birds/insects etc to then seperately place/pan in the space… I do have a pair of DPA6040s though, so could try a little stereo pair in it

  3. rene

    I once used a parab at a hockey game just because I had access/permission for both.

    I found my results to be similar to what noisejockey posted – pretty bandwidth limited and focused but not entirely isolated in a noisy environment. I was able to hear the players talking to each other on the ice from a stage a couple of hundred feet away, but I could never isolate the voices in the subsequent recordings.

    I think in your situation you’d end up with good results when only a few birds are making noise, but it’d probably not be worth much for dawn choruses or the like. parabs in quiet environments can really be nice, and parabs in noisy ones can yield nothing but trash.

    I trashed my hockey recordings fwiw. 🙂

    1. tim Post author

      its like a ‘sound focusing’ scale isn’t it? ie.

      omni > cardioid > hyper > telinga dish > some kind of laser targeting?

      but also very much dependent on the situation, environment, acoustic, content etc…

  4. Jon Clark

    I used to have a Telinga flexible dish and it did a good job of focusing in on sounds but I found it to be very difficult to spot on something. I’d hear a bird in a tree and, with headphones on, start scanning and eventually find it if it hadn’t flown off by then. If you can see the bird, that helps. I also seem to recall that handling noise was quite a problem because with the flexible dish not only did I have to be careful of handling but any breeze would rattle the dish; it was quite resonant and “ringy”. I found the dish to be a little more trouble than it was worth but that’s a personal preference thing. I was working for a well financed operation at the time and purchased an AT-895 adaptable array mic and that worked well for the kind of things I was recording (I believe it’s discontinued now).

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