The problem with sound files (not a bug)

Ever wonder why folks don’t identify your sound files? It may be because they can’t hear them. We don’t treat our sound files like photos, enlarging, cropping and sharpening, but we should. I made a video last spring on how to use freeware from Cornell to improve the sound quality of audio recording made with your camera.

Which explains how to amplify and filter audio files for clarity.


Good video and good idea to share it.
How much do you amplify using Raven Lite? I haven’t used it and can’t see the number you type in in the video. I’m getting ready to edit and upload a backlog of sound files using Audacity. Just yesterday I was looking at to see how many dB I should be shooting for for a peak amplitude and apparently Macauly Library likes -3 dB.


Thanks for sharing the video - I downloaded Raven some time ago but had no idea where to start with it. Processing audio observations can be a bit of a challenge, but is a great resource for certain species, especially singing insects (often easier to ID by call than image).

I often wonder if there is some browser/platform difference in how audio recordings sound to other users, or if part of the problem lies in speaker quality. I find that, when I have time to ID audio observations, it’s essential to use earbuds. The computer speakers just aren’t sufficient to discern the details.


Great video. Do you have any suggestion on equipment for recording bird sound on my phone? I really want to record the local owls but even with editing my recordings from my phone are just pretty poor.

I used a Nikon D7000 SLR and then drop everything in to my PC and I own a flip phone…

But my daughter, the smart phone expert, tells me that the recording device, like the camera depend on how “economical” the phone is. Like cameras and binoculars, you get what you pay for.

You will almost certainly have to move the sound file to a PC, rather than fix it with a smart phone app and even then if your photos come out pixelated when you enlarge them, chances are the sound files will have the same quality issues. You may have to consider getting a regular camera or a better smart phone…


If i use my iPhone’s Voice Memo app, I can easily Trim and Enhance the audio, which helps a lot. But, if I use my iPhone’s iNaturalist app to record a sound, there is no editing capability at all. I wish we could at least Trim the sound files in iNat’s app.

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If you’re seriously interested in this, than you can buy a parabolic microphone that will work with a regular recorder. Also some tips here

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This topic interests me in that I became a frequent user of the Record Sound option when that became available last year. This has been a godsend and fantastic time saver.

The sound quality is brilliant. I currently use the iPhone 12.

Me too, I would love the app to include a way to trim the sound files before uploading. Sometimes you patiently wait for the creature to sound out and you are aware of the seconds ticking by and you realise you are not going to be able to edit this out later and if you pause momentarily you might miss that golden opportunity.


For the sounds I use the birdNET app from Cornell University.

It helps me to trim the sounds and I think it does some equalization for birdsongs, I haven’t tried it with insects.

I select a portion of sound easily because of the visual aid, and after the app tries to identify the bird I can share the fragment with iNat.

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