Who owns a hydrophone?


At this point, the only mic I’m really thinking about adding to my field kit any time soon is a hydrophone. There are a couple of models out there, so I’d really like to get peoples’ opinions if they have experience with one.

If you own one, what brand and model? What do you feel its strengths and weaknesses are?


I have a JrF one. http://hydrophones.blogspot.com/


I have only used it a few times and havent gotten anything great with it.  I think that comes down to source and performance more than the mic.


I have a pair of JrF hydrophones too, but have hardly used them…

I have always wondered why most hydrophones suffer from a lack of low frequencies?

The frequencies exist in the ocean as whales can communciate over long distances….

Love the use of hydrophones by Japanese musician Tomoko Sauvage



I have the Aquarian H2a and one of JrF’s. I haven’t gotten a lot of use out of the JrF because the cable is so short. I have a 50′ lead on my Aquarian, and it has been quite useful. There are some weird things you have to get used to with it, like grounding issues (especially if you have 2 of them connected at once), frequency response things (water conditions and depth change everything…), etc…


I’ve used the high end Ambient and the DPA. Both are amazing – much nicer than my Aquarian. I’m very tempted to get one. I know Tim Neilson LOVES his DPA (Shaun, maybe he’ll let you borrow it to play with?). Tom Todia just got the new Ambient (quite a feat – there are only 3 in the US right now), so he should be reporting back on that one soon. If it’s much better than my Aquarian, I’ll be upgrading soon.

I’ve been working on an underwater library for a couple of years now. Should be done relatively soon. Anyone that wants to play with it, shoot me an email. All was recorded with the Aquarian H2a.

Also, love using my H2a as a contact mic. They have this nifty attachment for the mic that turns it into a nice flat contact (the mic itself is normally rounded). Works fantastically. Made lots of very useful recordings with that!


By far the best underwater recordings I have heard are from the library the guys at Tonsturm released some time ago which they recorded with the guys from Sonar Surround (now part of Ambient). The hydrophones they used were the TC4042’s ( http://www.teledyne-reson.com/product/tc4042/ ) with DS 20 Directivity Sphere Balls and are made by a company called Teledyne Reson which I think are the same ones distributed by Ambient. Here is a sample video of that library:


The frequency depth and clarity of the recordings are brilliant.


Hi all —

H2a here as well. I love this little mic, it packs a punch for the value. A few things to look out for:


• the cable is HIGHLY microphonic – you have to be extremely careful not to bump or handle it while recording.

• even with the rubber foot it is hard to mount as a contact mic (hello duct tape)

• when used as a contact mic I find the high freq response leaves much to be desired. (Admittedly, I have not used any other contact mics so I don’t know if this is maybe just the nature of the beast?) But when used as a proper hydrophone, there is plenty of top end.


Highly recommended!


Also, hey, this is my first post on the new forum! Thanks Shaun!


I have the Aquarian H2a. Haven’t used it much, it seems well built. It has the same issues most hydrophones have; lack of low end content. I guess it doesn’t sound as cool underwater as Hollywood has led us to believe.


Aquarian here. Gotta agree with Colin, it’s actually (next to the Barcus Berry) the quietest, nicest contact mic I own. Hard to adhere on surfaces due to its weight, of course.

I hereby submit this golden oldie for a stupid hydrophone trick. :-p


Ah! Cool, thx for that tip, Shaun.


I have the Ambient ASF-1. I haven’t recorded much with it just yet, but enough to know what good sources are. I have some big plans for it this summer.

Generally, with hydrophones, I find that the louder the source is, then the more clarity I’ll get from it. Something that has a lot of low or mid range through the air often doesn’t contain that same content through the water with a hydrophone. It depends on the energy/loudness of the source, though. Sometimes I’m amazed by the clarity I get with a hydrophone, and other times I’m amazed at how little high frequency content it captures. It’s technical specification for frequency range is incredible. With the right sources, it’s captures great sound design material.

Rambling on a bit. I love the mic. It’s well built, great frequency response, and is made with common pro gear in mind. I’d recommend it.


I have a pair of JrF hydrophones and I’ve been using them with mixed results. As far as I can tell shallow water recordings lack low frequencies and yield a lot of crackling. I’ve hat interesting results recording water under ice with it though.

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