Sound Finder: a new software approach for localizing animals recorded with a microphone array

David R. Wilson, Matthew Battiston, John Brzustowski, Daniel J. Mennill (2014). Sound Finder: a new software approach for localizing animals recorded with a microphone array. Bioacoustics, Volume 23 (2): 99 -112

Acoustic localization is a powerful technique for monitoring the positions, movements and behaviours of terrestrial animals. However, its prevalence in biological studies has been constrained by hardware and software that are custom-built, expensive and difficult to use. We recently helped to relieve the hardware constraint by describing a microphone array that is affordable, portable, easy to use and commercially available. Here, we help to relieve the software constraint by developing an acoustic localization program called “Sound Finder”, which is easy to use, freely available and accurate for a variety of animals and recording conditions. It runs in the free software environment R, and in spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel and the open-source software LibreOffice. In this study, we describe how Sound Finder functions, and then test its accuracy by localizing natural sounds that were broadcast through loudspeakers and re-recorded with microphone arrays. We quantify Sound Finder's accuracy by comparing its location estimates with known loudspeaker locations and with output from other localization approaches. We show that Sound Finder generates accurate location estimates for a variety of animal sounds, microphone array configurations and environmental conditions. Furthermore, Sound Finder generates an error value that allows the user to assess its accuracy. In conclusion, Sound Finder provides accurate estimates of a vocalizing animal's location. It is easy to use, requires only widespread and affordable software and is freely available in a standard form as Supplementary material to this article.


acoustic monitoring, multi-channel recording, radio tracking, Sound Finder, triangulation