Some acoustic signals produced by small insects are very low in amplitude and attenuate rapidly with distance. To achieve high quality recordings with such signals, the use of specialized microphones or of sound insulation chambers is necessary. This paper presents a simple and efficient method for the recording of acoustic signals emitted by small sources. Its principle is based upon the use of two simultaneous digital recordings from two microphones: one records the ambient noise while the other records the ambient noise plus the signal to analyse. Both these recordings are converted into digital files and then a simple subtraction between the two isolates the signal with a good signal-to-noise ratio. With this method of background noise removal, the recording of low amplitude sounds in an uninsulated room with common microphones becomes possible. We have applied this method to the study of 12 complete courtships of Drosophila melanogaster and particularly to the analysis of pulse sounds produced by the male in presence of a female. The study focuses mainly on the rhythm of production of pulse trains over the course of the courtship.
Drosophila melanogaster, low-amplitude sound recording, background noise removal, courtship song.