A site dedicated to the review and analysis of potential sasquatch vocalizations, Sasquatch Bioacoustic combines techniques from the domains of intelligence collection, audio analysis and bioacoustic studies to examine the evidence of sasquatch through their vocalizations. ~Monongahela

Monday, April 30, 2012

Impressively Powerful Howls from St. Louis County, Minnesota

Late breaking update Nov. 20, 2012 ... The fellows who originally recorded the Minnesota Howls have finally stood up their own website, and given me permission to reshare the audio I received from them previously. Thus I rerelease this earlier post, first published on April 30, 2012. And I add this link to the new home of the original Minnesota Howls audio file:


For the last couple of years, Mike Palecek has been recording night time audio in St. Louis County, Minnesota. On March 15, 2012, just after 4:00 a.m., his audio recorder captured the howls of four loud vocalizers as they passed through the area.

Upon first listen, the casual observer might dismiss these howls as those of a wolf pack. And such a hasty judgment would be understandable given the fact that grey wolves do exist in this region. But an astute observer will notice inconsistencies in the howls, characteristics that aren't typical of wolves, and other indicators that are commonly found in suspected sasquatch vocals.

Among those inconsistencies are the existence of vowel transitions. Most of the howls in this recording initiate with an /oo/ vowel (/oo/ as in boot). But as the howl ends it transitions to an /aa/ vowel (/aa/ as in father). This is not a common feature of wolf howls, but it is seen in suspected sasquatch vocals (/oo/ to /aa/ or /aa/ to /oo/), most notably in the "yahoo" vocal.

Other indicators to suggest this is a small group of sasquatch vocalizing include; integrated wood knocks, whoop vocals, pitch breaks and a single "moan" howl with attenuated fundamental frequency. And with close attention to the loudest howls, one may also detect a hint of the "brassy" or metallic tone that occasionally accompanies the voice of these creatures.

It has been widely discussed among researchers that sasquatch are adept vocal mimics. And a number of clips do exist to suggest they possess the ability to simulate the sounds of other animals, or even machinery. The very wolf-like nature of the howls in this recording would appear to be mimicry at work. And one could reason that mimicry of the local wolf population would be an effective subterfuge, allowing sasquatch to vocalize to each other, while not standing out too distinctly from the local fauna.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reoccuring vocal in Decatur County, Georgia

In March 2011 I was visiting family in Decatur County, Georgia, near Bainbridge. Always on the lookout for new areas to try and capture possible sasquatch vocals I took my recorders with me and over five nights of recording, I scored one great night of vocals. It included my first moan howl recording, with some good integrated wood knocks, a couple of multi-tone vocals and a nice series of whoops as the sun rose the next morning.

Nine months later, in December, a friend of mine was in north Florida attending the 2011 BFRO expedition. I suggested she check out the place where I had success with my recorder in March, and she spent 3 nights camped out and recording on her way home from the expedition. Happily, she too recorded some great vocals, better even than the ones I recorded. Her clip includes a moan howl, two whoops, some wood knocks, and a long wavering howl. But what's also notable in her clip is the voice of the main vocalizer. It sounds very similar to the vocalizer I recorded in March.

Here's a video-spectrogram that replays both clips and makes it easier to compare one clip to the other, while also highlighting some of the vocal features in each recording. I postponed publication of this post because I was just in Decatur County last week, hoping to record a third performance. But sadly that didn't happen, so there was nothing new to add to this video.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Recording Pointers for Beginners

This post was originally published on March 26, 2010 in the "Techniques for Audio Recording" section of the BFRO's blue forum. It is replicated here in nearly original form and may contain information that is less than fresh, but in many regards still useful to the entry level audio recordist. A few updates have been made to reflect the latest thinking on a number of the topics covered.


After spending many days last year with my audio recorder turned on, I've realized a few things that have, over time, improved the quality of the recordings I make. With the advent of another season of research before us, I thought it would be useful to share some suggestions, with the hope that new audio recordists (such as I) can use them to get a head start.

The best place to start is with equipment, but not in terms of defining a long list of recorders you should consider. There are other sites and discussion forums dedicated to equipment and their capabilities, so let's not retread that ground. Instead, I'll point to an affordable, entry level rig, that will let almost anyone get into this hobby without dropping too much coin.

My choice of equipment was driven by two things. One, the fact that I'm a cheap bastard, and two, that I've listened to a LOT of bad recordings in my life and along the way learned a little about what made them bad to begin with. So when I set about searching for my new rig I knew that (a) the microphone had to be as good as my wallet will allow, and (b) the recorder should be good, but its not as important as a good mic (post processing can salvage the impact of a bad recorder, but nothing can improve the hearing of a poor quality mic).

I really didn't want to spend circa $300 on a nice digital recorder such as the Zoom H2 or Edirol R-09. Instead, I wanted to piece together something for under $100, just to see if I could get good recordings out of it. Starting with the mic, I found this hand made gem on Ebay ( ) and purchased it on sale for about $55. Then for the recorder, I searched Ebay again and found that Olympus has a store front where they push all manner of older stock and refurbished new stock. I liked the technical specs of their WS-311m recorder (despite the poor onboard mic performance) and scored one at a remarkable Ebay price of just $35. With shipping, my $90 in equipment came to a little over $100, but I was close enough.

From this point on I'll just try to offer bullet suggestions with short explanations behind them:

1 - Turn On Your Recorder Before You Arrive At Your Research Area - I have missed wood knocks that happened just after I parked and stepped from my vehicle. I wasn't ready, but they were ready for me. That warning wood knock (or vocal) that announces your presence in the area has been reported by more than a few researchers.

2 - Carry A Recorder That Has Lots Of Capacity - I recommend a minimum of 12 hours recording time, both in storage capacity and battery life. The Olympus I describe above can achieve this while recording at "almost" its highest quality level (another important goal). This allows you to turn the recorder on and just let it go. There's really no reason to turn a recorder off unless you know you will be away from a computer for days and unable to offload your recordings (which should also help you justify buying a little netbook computer to take along on your expeditions).

3 - Be Quiet! Give Your Recorder A Chance To Do Its Job - Remember, you're trying to record something living out there in the woods, and you'll quickly learn that your buddies' joshing around is stepping all over those distant wood knocks and vocals that you'll hear in your headphones when you get home. Whenever possible, position the recorder away from the crowd. When in camp, set the recorder outside of camp 50 or 100 feet so that it has a chance to hear more of the woods, and less of the camp (but bring it into camp when everyone goes to bed, you may get a visitor that you'd like to catch on tape). Also, when you're out with the crew on a road hike, try to keep some distance from the most talkative part of the group. And while conversation is encouraged as an "attractive" behavior in these outings, occassionally asking folks to pipe down so you can record that whoop-knock duet is probably ok.

4 - Recording On The Go - It's unavoidable, but you'll pick up lots of noisy interference if you walk around with your recorder. A couple things I've done is to clip the external mics I use (they come with little alligator clips) to my back pack shoulder straps, away from my face. That keeps them clear of my body and minimizes all the handling noise. I then place the recorder in a zippered pocket of my back pack where it remains safe and protected. When returning to camp, it becomes an easy thing to remove the pack and leave it hanging on a tree, away from the din of campers, continuing to record.

5 - Keep Your Directions Straight - If you have a stereo mic, as the one I mention above is, pay attention to which mic is pointing where. When I'm travelling with my rig I keep the right channel mic on the right, and left on the left. That way, if I capture a vocal but am not sure where it came from, I can look at the stereo playback later and possibly determine left or right from the signal strength. I also do something similar when I "post" my recorder outside camp. I point the left channel north and the right channel south. Because they are omni-directional mics they pic up audio well in nearly every direction, except for directly to their rear. Pointing them in opposite directions again helps me know which way the vocal came in from. (If you can, use a compass to accurately determine where north is. This bit of added precision may prove very useful some day, as the post-processing software will be able to make use of that information).

6 - Play With Your Equipment - Get to know your equipment at home before you take it out in the field. Experimenting and learning the fundamentals in your living room is a lot less aggravating than trying to do it in the field. And when you do get out there, you'll be ready to go and not waste any time learning to use your rig.

7 - Establish A Listening Post - When you're out in the field you should be recording all the time. But doing anything with a recorder in your hand is tedious at best. If you put the recorder 50 or so feet out of camp as suggested above, what you've effectively done is established a listening post. But there's no reason why your listening post has to be that close to camp. Consider leaving a recorder out in the field, overnight, and just driving away. Its amazing what you can capture when you're presence is not a part of the scene.

8 - Multiple Recorders - With early success, you may find yourself looking at newer and better recorders and mics. And there are good reasons to do so. For instance, I'm writing this paragraph from the camp chair of my first squatch outing of 2010. I have my original Olympus WS-311 about 50 feet away recording from a tree where I hung it. My second recorder, an Olympus WS-500 is a half mile away, just past the top of the ridge I drove in along. It is outfitted with a parabolic microphone. Thirty minutes ago I heard two loud owl hoots in response to my whistles and wood knocks. The hoots came from the direction of the parabolic mic, so hopefully I'll have two recordings of the same sound in the morning. (Since then I've heard some voice-like vocals moving along the top of the ridge to my north, and a few strange whistles, too. Something might be coming in.)

9 - Turn The Tape Over - Or more precisely, don't let your recordings grow too long. With digital recorders the file size can get very large and make it a challenge to work with on your computer. When I have my recorder with me I try to stop and then start a new recording every 30 minutes or so. This size doesn't tax my computer too badly and minimizes the amount of file parsing I have to do in post processing. Naturally long recordings are unavoidable when you leave the recording rolling while you go to sleep.

10 - Time Hacks - It's always a good idea to mutter a few bits of information into each new recording that you start. For instance, the date and time are very important. You should also mention your location and anything unique about the environment or set up. I often indicate where I am and which direction the left and right mics are pointed in. This may seem an annoyance at first, but a year or more down the line, when you go back to listen through some of the hundreds of clips you'll have collected, you'll be happy that you did take the time to make these comments.

11 - Parabolic Dish Microphones - After you've got a little recording time under your belt, you might be tempted to invest in one of these. They have a lot to recommend them, but they have some downsides, too. First, they can capture and focus the sounds coming from the direction in which you point it, making faint sounds much louder. And if you're recording from a "listening post" over a large area, they can really pull in distant sounds nicely. But the most common parabolic dish rigs are monaural, and not stereo. So you lose the sense of depth perception that stereo recordings can offer (although stereo parabolics do exist and aren't too hard to build). And because of their size they are a challenge to use when on the move, where they create lots of "mic" noise, and pick up more of your hiking sounds and less of the sounds around you.

12 - Wind Screens, To Muffle Or Not - Last year I went a-recording and halfway though my hike lost the wind screen from one side if my stereo recorder. When I listened to the recordings later I was amazed at how great the difference was between a screened versus a non-screened mic. The unscreened mic had more wind noise for sure (but I can handle that in post processing), yet its recording was loud and crisp. The channel with the wind screen on it however had disappointing recording performance. It was less windy by far, but it was also muffled. And when I compared recording levels of sounds that had been evenly picked up by both channels, the wind screen often lowered the recording level by 5 to 9 decibels! That's an unacceptable hit to recording levels in my opinion, so I no longer use wind screens, even in the windiest conditions (recording in heavy wind is just a waste of time anyway).

These are just some of the things I've come up with in the field, and they've made my life easier. Hopefully they'll help you, too. I'm sure there are lots of other great ideas out there. Feel free to share.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Collection of Cliff Barackman Clips

Long before we all knew Cliff to be such a brilliant cable star, as he portrays every Sunday evening, I had the pleasure of examining an audio clip that he sent for my opinion. I was very intrigued by that "Will Call Hill" clip and hope I gave Cliff some useful feedback at the time.

From that initial encounter I went on to examine more of the clips Cliff was hosting on his website. In typical fashion I downloaded several of the best clips, and found they not only validate some vocals captured in other locales, but in one instance his audio includes a new vocal type for the sasquatch lexicon, the "yodel". So this post, long overdue, shares four clips that originated in Cliff's collection and demonstrates familiar vocal features, and introduces the all new yodel (which will appear in future audio posts as well).

This video-spectrogram includes four clips, one from Stanislaus National Forest (2005), another from Gifford Pinchot National Forest (2008), the third from Devil's Ridge (2008) and the last from Will Call Hill (2010). In these clips you'll hear long howls with pitches and resonance very similar to the human voice. You'll also hear the typical pitch breaks, falsetto shrieks, whoops, possible wood knocks and a yodel that makes these clips consistent with the other potential sasquatch vocals studied here at Sasquatch Bioacoustic.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The New Howl - A Demonstration of Sasquatch Vocal Range and Lingual Dexterity

On various websites around the Internet witness reports have described loud vocalizations that were initially mistaken for a siren due to the sheer volume and tone of the call. But as the vocals played out, most witnesses come to realize they are listening to an organic sound, and not something mechanically generated. Until recently, few recordings existed to demonstrate that characteristic however, beyond those of John Andrews and Darrold Smith. Fortunately, some new examples of "horn-like" or siren-like vocals are being captured around the country in such diverse locations as Washington, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Mississippi.

This amazing clip of a loud vocalizer was captured by "Jolie" at 3:41 a.m. on February 10, 2009, outside of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. To protect Jolie's privacy we are leaving out her last name. To the casual listener the clip sounds like a bizarre mechanical cacophony, almost like hydraulic machinery under stress. But when we put on the head phones, pay close attention, and scrutinize the spectrogram of this recording, several telltale characteristics emerge including falsetto notes, abrupt pitch changes, attenuated fundamental frequencies and integrated wood knocks.

The metallic sounds of the higher notes in this clip have a brassy tone, almost horn-like. This unique call is difficult for humans to replicate organically and is not commonly known to be produced by other North American mammals. The evidence that sasquatch are capable of such uniquely cryptic vocals are another intriguing element of study in the realm of this poorly understood creature.

This is not the first time these mechanical/metallic tones have been captured, but this is one of the clearest examples that also contains other important sasquatch indicators. It is recordings such as this that help us understand descriptions from witnesses, such as the metallic "ping" vocal reported in this BFRO report: "Hunter remembers his lengthy daylight sighting through binoculars near Dora". With time, more of these vocals will emerge and be added to the growing lexicon of sasquatch vocalizations.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Post-Processing Audio Files with Audacity

Almost two years ago I wrote a post titled "Using Audacity to Get The Most Out of Your Recordings" with the intent of passing along useful information to other audio researchers interested in getting the most from their field recordings. In the time since that post I've refined my techniques and modified a few of the approaches I previously described. So it seems appropriate to revisit that old material and update it with some of the newer tricks I use while post-processing the audio files I've captured.


Over the last few years I've had the opportunity to review a lot of "wild life" audio which normally involves digital recorders used to capture sounds over great distances. Often these recordings produce faint, noisy results that to the untrained ear possess nothing of interest. But after some looking around and a little practice, I've learned some techniques that work for amplifying weak sounds while filtering out noise to improve audibility. This has allowed me to go back and review hours of recordings that I thought were basically empty, only to discover an amazing amount of very interesting audio. This has proven so useful that I thought it worth while to pass along this information to anyone else who may want to give it a try. So here's my approach to post-processing my recordings using Audacity.

First, here's what you'll need: the free audio editing program Audacity (download from: , get the 1.3.x beta, it's stable and has the features needed for this work); a reasonably good computer (probably the one you're using now will be fine, I used a five year old laptop for most of my efforts); and a good pair of headphones (over the ear type are best, you don't want stray noise getting in the way).

The rest of this post assumes you have isolated short segments of interesting audio worth post-processing. The processes described below may not work very well on exceedingly long audio clips. If you are starting out with a large audio file and need to review it for sounds of interest, I recommend you begin with this post about using Audacity to review large audio files.


After installing Audacity, here's the process I use to first amplify, then high and low pass filter, and then noise filter a recording for best results.

-Open the audio file you wish to edit in Audacity and it will be displayed as a waveform in its own window.
-Go to the "Effect" menu, open it, then select "Amplify". The entire audio waveform will be highlighted and a window will pop up

-In the Amplify window it will provide a default Amplification(dB) and a New Peak Amplitude(dB). Normally it will automatically choose the amplification needed to achieve a new dB level of 0.0. This is often good enough for our purposes, and you can just click "OK" and be done.
-On occasion you may wish to use a higher amplification setting, which will cause "clipping" of the loudest sounds in your file. There are times when this is desirable (e.g. to over ride loud clicks in the foreground), and checking the block to "allow clipping" will force this over ride.
-Also note the "Preview" button. This allows you to test the results of the settings you've entered before committing changes to the file.Click it to see if you like what you hear.
-Finally, click OK and the whole audio file will be amplified.

The next thing I do is apply a couple of filters to minimize noise in higher and lower frequency ranges.

The first step is to apply a "Low Pass Filter".
-Go back to the Effect menu, open it, look toward the bottom and click on the Low Pass Filter.
-In the resulting "Low Pass Filter" window the settings I use most often are as follows:
-36 for the "Rolloff (dB per octave)" setting
-the default (0.7) for the "Filter quality" setting
-and 1750 for the "Cutoff Frequency (Hz)".

After making these settings, click OK and the frequencies above 1750 hertz will be continually reduced in volume by 36 decibels for every octave above 1750. The result is a recording with much of the high end hiss minimized (allowing everything below the 1750 frequency to "pass" unmodified".

Next use the High Pass Filter to minimize low end rumble and wind noise.
-Return to the Effect menu, open it, look toward the bottom and click on the High Pass Filter.
-In the resulting "High Pass Filter" window the settings I use are:
-36 for the "Rolloff (dB per octave)" setting
-the default (0.7) for the "Filter quality" setting
-and 315 for the "Cutoff Frequency (Hz)".

With these settings in plave, click OK and the frequencies below 315 hertz will be diminished by 36 dB, for each octave blow 315 Hz.

(Before discussing Audacity's Noise Removal tool, let me suggest that if you have access to Adobe Audition, even an older version like 3.0, it's Noise Removal tool offers far better results than anything I've been able to achieve with Audacity.)

Next, we want to use Audacity's "Noise Removal" tool.

-First, click the little icon at the top of Audacity that shows a magnifying glass with a plus symbol in it. This will zoom you in one step for each time you click it.
-Zoom in until you can see the individual seconds of your recording, left to right across the top of the spectrum window.

Look for a section in your recording that has the "noise" you want to remove, but contains none of the faint background sounds that you want to keep. It takes practice, but you'll be able to spot these areas eventually; they're normally the flattest part of the recording's spectrum.

Once you've found that quiet, white noise spot in your recording, use your mouse to click and drag across a couple of seconds of the white noise. This highlights a short segment of your file and defines an example of the noise signature to be removed by the Noise Removal tool.

-Now, go to the Effect menu again and from there select the "Noise Removal" tool. A little window will pop up and at the top, in "Step 1" you'll see a button labeled "Get Noise Profile".
-Click it, and the noise sample will be captured.

-Next, on your keyboard, hold down the "ctrl" key and hit the "A" key (Ctrl-A for short). This will select the entire audio file again.
-Now go back to the Effect menu and select the Noise Removal tool a second time.

In the Noise Removal tool section labeled "step 2" there are five settings you can adjust. For starters, try using these settings:
-Noise reduction(dB): 12
-Sensitivity(dB): 0.0
-Frequency smoothing (Hz): 150
-Attack/decay time (secs): 0.15
-Noise - Remove (radio button selection)

The Noise Reduction number is where you get the most bang for the buck. If it's a fairly quiet file you're working with, then a setting of 6 might be fine. If it's a very noisy file, you might try 12, 18, or even more. But be sure to use the "Preview" button in the lower left corner to see what your result will sound like. If you have the Noise Reduction number set too high, your result will have a "tinny" or metallic sound that is worse than the original noise. You want to select a number low enough to minimize that metallic sound, and high enough to minimize the noise in your recording.

-Click OK and the noise will be filtered from your file.

By this point, the Noise Filter, Low and High Pass Filters have probably knocked the overall volume level of your recording down a bit. So, as a last step, it might be advisable to re-perform the "Amplify" step described above. This should bring the recording level back up to 0.0 dB and make it suitable for basic listening on computer speakers.

Note that we haven't saved our work at any point in this process. Now might be a good time to to do so. But instead of saving it, you'll want to export it.
-Do this by selecting the "File" menu and then clicking on "Export".
-A box will pop up where you can enter a new file name (a good idea so that you don't over write the original file).
-Type in a new name and then hit OK.

As with anything, a little experimentation might improve your results. So feel free to play with the settings discussed above. But for a quick start to getting the most out of your audio files, these suggestions should work for most people.

Now you're done. You have an amplified sound file, with noise effectively reduced, and extraneous low and high end frequencies tamped down to improve audibility. It's time to give the file a play back through your head phones. Turn the volume up to a comfortable setting and you should be amazed at how much better the original audio sounds, and how many faint or previously inaudible sounds you can now hear clearly.