Imperial College London


Acoustic localisation, which relies on simultaneous multi-microphone recording, adds spatial information to recorded audio and has been used in ecosystem monitoring to count individuals to improve abundance estimates, locate illegal activities such as logging/poaching, and monitor behaviour such as habitat use or species interactions. Studies have shown many advantages of acoustic localisation, but uptake remains limited as the equipment is often expensive, inaccessible, or only suitable for short-term deployments.

Here, we present a low-cost, open-source, 6-channel recorder built entirely from commercially available components which can be integrated into a solar-powered, networked system. The MAARU (Multichannel Acoustic Autonomous Recording Unit) works in long-term autonomous, passive, and ad-hoc deployments. We introduce MAARU’s hardware and software and present the results of lab and field tests investigating the device’s durability, localisation accuracy, and other applications.

MAARU provides multichannel data with similar costs and power demands to equivalent omnidirectional recorders. MAARU devices have been deployed in the UK and Brazil, where we have shown MAARUs can accurately localise pure tones up to 6kHz and 65dB bird calls as far as 8m away (±10° range, 100% and >60% of signals respectively), louder calls may have even further detection radii. We also show how beamforming can be used on MAARU devices to improve species ID confidence scores by 20%+ and recall by 10%+ when using the BirdNET automated bird identification algorithms.

MAARU is an accessible, low-cost option for those looking to explore spatial soundscape ecology accurately and easily. Ultimately, the added directional element of the multichannel recording provided by MAARU allows for a new type of exploration into sonic environments.

More information about MAARU can be found here:

Related Project

Fully automated biodiversity monitoring in the tropical forests of Borneo

Safe Acoustics

find out more

Related Publications

No items found.