Perhaps, you or your kids are budding Sherlock Holmes or an actual, real-life detective. Either way, long-range listening devices let you listen to conversations and observe events from a long distance without alerting your subject.
However, as you would probably expect, prices for listening devices vary, much like their ability to cover long distances while amplifying sounds.
In this article, we reviewed the top ten long-range listening devices or outdoor listening devices. We hope this list will help you pick out a listening device that will suit your needs.
Top Three Picks
1. Best Sound Amplifier: Hausbell Long Range Listening Device
Spotlighting at #1 on this list is the Hausbell listening device – a spy gear that sparks kids’ imagination and lets them feel like an international spy or a highly regarded nature scientist.
Well, maybe not literally. However, the point is that kids will find a lot of fun and excitement from this listening ear.
The microphone of the Hausbell listening device amplifies sounds satisfactory and gives a good enough directionality that lets the user pinpoint where the sound is coming from.
This means that with the Hausbell listening device, you could hear the sound from crickets and the birds very clearly and quite distinctly.
Furthermore, the telescope function of the Hausbell listening device also works very well since the user can focus the knob on the eyepiece and images will appear very crisp, bright and clear.
As a bonus, the headphone is designed to fit kids head (maybe a kid of less than 10) perfectly plus the device itself can be used to record short sound clips.
Keep in mind that this device could pick up the surrounding noise.
Say you have kids who are really into spy gears or maybe you are not looking for something extraordinary or practical, the Hausbell listening device travels at just about the range and can return clear sound – the kind expected from a listening ear in its category.
Made with lightweight materials
Easy to set up and use
Picks up sounds at a long-range
Produces clear sounds
The tendency of interference
Interference from the user’s environment
Short recording time (12 seconds)
No playback functions
- ☀【Ideal for Kids】The listening device is an ideal toy for kids, it stimulates children's imagination and...
- ☀【Special Design & Function】The design is appealing, 8x monocular allows you to view the objects 8 times...
- ☀【9V Battery】For the safety of transportation, the listening device does not include any battery, you...
Verdict: If you’re looking for spy gear that will immediately spark your kids’ imagination, the Hausbell Long-Range Listening device will fit right in your bill. The microphone amplifies the sound to be clearly audible with 300 feet, making it a great equipment for the money despite its short recording time.
2. Best For Long Distance Hearing: BJH Portable Parabolic Microphone Monoculars
Coming in at #2 on this list of the best long-range listening devices is the BJH Portable Parabolic Microphone Monoculars.
The spectrum for listening is incredible as it lets the user hear individual sounds from quite a distance with little to no distortion.
Add that to its viewfinder with a 10x prism optical system which lets the user zoom in closely.
That said, some users have experienced difficulty using the volume control.
Surrounding noise could sometimes interfere or overpower audio sound, or the device could be static altogether, which is why it’s not advisable to use this in a potentially loud location. These experiences, however, vary from person to person.
Also, the dome of the Ex Electronix Express listening device is flimsy plastic so be careful not to break it.
Also, because users can hear things loud and clear from a very long distance, The Ex Electronix Express listening device works exceptionally well for bird watching and ghost hunting.
Powerful ears and eyes to capture distant sounds
Easy to use
Long recording time (up to 120 seconds)
Very directional and sensitive
Clear recordings of different sounds
Tends to catch the surrounding noise, and on a few occasions it could be static
Static control button could be hard to turn
Extra care is needed with the plastic dome
- Listen to voices and sounds from 300 feet away
- Cushioned headphones included
- See things up close with the built-in 8x magnification viewfinder monocular
Verdict: With little to no amount of audio distortion and very sensitive direction, the EX Electronix listening device is worth checking out. This lightweight listening device offers a clear recording of various sounds, though its plastic dome needs extra care to allow it last long.
3. Best For Playback: Sumas SMH-3010 Bionic Ear Long Range Listening Device
Picking at #3 is the Sumas SMH-3010 bionic ear outdoor listening device which supports listening/observation up to a decent range plus the amplified sound is pretty clear.
As a plus over the Hausbell and the Ex Electronix listening devices, the Sumas SMH-3010 has a playback feature.
The Ex Electronix called it viewfinder, but Sumas called it scope. Either way, the scope of the Sumas SMH-3010 is an optical system that gives users an 8x closer look at far away subjects.
Also, worth mentioning is the fact that the use of an external recorder is possible with the Sumas SMH-3010 bionic ear listening device.
Which means whether you want to listen to the birds sing or want to collect the conversation of that neighbor of yours for Police evidence, the Sumas SMH-3010 bionic ear listening device will come in handy for this purpose.
A removable parabolic dish for the convenience of storage and transportation
An impressive range
Long recording time (up to 120 seconds)
Has a playback function
Reduces/minimizes background noise
Comfortable, high-quality headphones
Possible noise penetration/interference from the surrounding environment
- Build in adjustable 8X Scoop to zoom in
- Record and play back from build in audio storage up to 120 second
- Can connect to a recorder for optional function
Verdict: While the Sumas SMH-3010 comes at a very affordable price, it offers a range of premium features for smooth operation. Its removable parabolic dish makes it travel-friendly and convenient while storing and it also boasts of long recording time. Additionally, it minimizes background noise though it might have some interference from surrounding environments.
4. Best Sound Isolator: Bionic Ear and Booster Set
Kicking strong at #4 on our list of best long-range listening devices is the Bionic ear and booster set.
While the mic of the Bionic ear and booster set works quite well as a stand-alone, the dish helps with isolation and amplification of sounds.
Additionally, the Bionic ear and booster set plays right into a recorder or a phone and still feeds to the headphones, which is a cool feature.
Although difficult to use in an urban setting, and made with less than perfect material, it still does the job. You should not expect to hear super clear conversations, but this device remains quite useful for detection purposes.
Overall a very good piece of equipment which can be used to record bird calls out in the wilderness, or to pinpoint where a single cricket or frog is calling from out of a chorus.
Very sensitive and directional
Great at isolating and amplifying sounds
Can accurately pinpoint the direction of a sound
Possible noise penetration/interference from the surrounding environment
Verdict: Retailing at a slightly higher price than most parabolic microphones in this list, the Bionic Ear is the best sound isolator. It’s very sensitive and directional microphone has impressive range and can pinpoint the sound direction accurately.
5. Best For Enhanced Hearing: CampCo UZI UZI-OD-1 Observation Outdoor Listening Device
Balling at number #5 is the CampCo UZI UZI-OD-1 observation listening device.
Similar to other items that have been previously reviewed, the CampCo travels far (around 25 feet or more) and reflects the quality and clear sounds.
It also makes use of an 8x optical system like the Sumas SMH-3010 bionic ear listening device and a parabolic sound collecting dish for enhanced hearing.
The good thing about the CampCo listening device is that frequency response is very good for other than voice range such as if you want to listen to birds chirping, or crickets chirping or motors running.
It is reasonably directional enough to help isolate from or link sound to a source.
Adjusting tone helps immensely too since the user gets better sounds of different types (wildlife, humans, nature sounds, etc.).
Recording capability is a handy bonus feature.
You can think of the CampCo listening device as a good intermediate parabolic listener.
For someone who is looking for a little-above-a-basic dish for hearing further away, this is so much more. It works perfectly for domestic spying.
Easy to set up and use
Clear, audible reception
Adjustable tones for incredible sounds
Voice range frequency feedback is good but could be weak for listening to conversations.
- OPERATING RANGE: Observation Listening Device with 150 ft Range (up to 300 ft with no background noise or when...
- USES: Can be used as a spy gadget, inspector gadget, spy microphone, recording device, spy equipment, and even...
- NOISE REDUCTION: Has a parabolic sound collecting dish for better hearing - operates best in quiet...
Verdict: Combining innovative design and advanced technical concepts for collecting audio signals within 300 Feet, the UZI-OD-1 parabolic microphone is worth buying. It has adjustable tones to create incredible sounds and it also comes with high-quality listening headphones.
6. Best For Outdoor: Sound Shark Long Range Microphone – Premium Kit
Standing tall at #6 is the Sound Shark Long Range Microphone. And yes, there are two models of the Sound Shark parabolic microphones. This model, in particular, comes with a lavaliere microphone while the other model does not.
Meaning if you already own a lavaliere microphone, you don’t have to get this premium model as you will save money this way. Just get the without-the-mic model, mount your mic inside the Sound Shark, and plug it into your camera.
Further, when you are trying to compare the Sound Shark with other long range listening devices, one standout distinction is that it is an outdoor long range listening device.
The Sound Shark covers distance well, in addition to cutting out all surrounding interference – most notably wind – without diminishing the sound quality or clarity.
It features a 9-inch dish and a 16-inch collector, which can collect sound up to at least 30 feet away.
An incredible audio capturing device, the Sound Shark is perfect for independent filmmakers, hybrid photographers, videographers, or anybody that wants great sound from a distance. If you are looking for a durable mic in the field, this is going to be money well spent.
Strong, sturdy, rugged and durable
Picks sound at an outstanding range
Works well with an external recorder
Pick up pattern is more focused
Very easy to set up
Very easy to use even by people who may not have prior experience with audio capturing devices
Cuts out the wind, reduce voices and other distractions from the sides and behind the user
Long useful life (20 hours or more)
No cons. The user experience is 10/10 as of the time of writing this.
- The Sound Shark provides a great alternative to shotgun microphones. (Because of the feedback caused by it's...
- The Sound Shark can capture audio from 30 feet, or more, compared to 3 to 5 feet for a typical shotgun mic.
- Record a speaker from up to 6 feet as if they were wearing a lapel mic.
Verdict: The Sound Shark Equalized XLR kit is a great alternative to shotgun microphones, capturing audio from up to 30 feet away. The microphone is strong, sturdy and rugged, making it highly durable and easy to set up even without prior experience.
7. Best Low Noise Amplifier: Wildtronics Amplified Mono-Stereo Parabolic Microphone
Talking tough at #7 is the Amplified mono-stereo parabolic microphone. This long range listening device is a thoughtful improvement over the items listed #1 to #5 because, for one, this listening ear has advanced features (low noise amplifier).
This helps to keep noise at its lowest so that the user can capture clear, uninterrupted audio sounds while improving the way sounds are recorded.
Another unique feature of the Amplified mono-stereo parabolic microphone is its in-built mixer that allows three microphone channels to be mixed into two signals.
Amplified mono-stereo parabolic microphone, with its 3.5mm line-level output and hand-held recorders, can improve the recorder’s signal-to-noise ratio, thereby resulting in better sound quality and synchronization.
Regardless, the Amplified mono-stereo parabolic microphone has found its use in nature recording, sports broadcasting, law enforcement, videography, surveillance, etc.
Needless to say, if you are a professional in any of those fields who want to achieve professional-grade results, the Amplified mono-stereo parabolic microphone is a good investment.
Increased audio gain
Broadened frequency response
Reduced mic self-noise
Improved isolation of the subject
Minimized handling noise
The cone feels weak to the touch
- 3 Low noise microphones, Left, Right, and Mono Channels
- Direct Headphone, Line, Amplified Mic Output as well as XLR Outputs
- Large, clear, durable, 22 inch parabolic dish
Verdict: The Wildtronics amplified parabolic microphone is designed to be the best performing and most advanced parabolic microphone on the market. This vastly improved parabolic microphone offers multiple connectivities without special cables, though its price is a bit steep.
8. Best For Tape Recording: Detect Ear Professional Listening Device
Sitting comfortably at #8 is the Detect Ear professional long-range listening device.
Detect Ear Listening Device mounts on a tripod (not included) as does other devices on our list plus the manufacturer claims it has a range of about 900 feet.
Early feedback about this item has however proven the 900 feet claim not to be entirely accurate.
The Detect Ear has a 20-inch plastic dish, three-band equalizers, an output jack for tape recording, and an input jack for communication.
Amplifies sound really well
Picks up sounds at a long range
Quick detection of sounds
The plastic segment is pretty flimsy
Verdict: With a long listening range, the Detect Ear Professional Listening device quickly detects sound and amplifies it really well. The plastic construction is a little flimsy and it takes significant storage space, but it performs very well for its intended purpose – amplifying audio signals from a long distance.
9. Best For Long Range Listening: CozyHomelover Portable Parabolic Microphone
Our #9 listening device is the CozyHomelover portable parabolic microphone.
The CozyHomelover’s viewing optics lets users view subjects 8x closer and has a telescopic pole which makes it ideal for bird watching and game hunting.
The manufacturers put the range at a maximum of 300 feet. That’s not exactly true, but with its relatively high sensitivity and focused sound pattern, it should support an okay range.
The CozyHomelover portable parabolic microphone also features a sound recording system and a playback function which supports 12/30 second snippets
The best use cases of CozyHomelover portable parabolic microphone will be at a concert or in a seminar when you’re too far away from the stage.
Comfortable full-size headphones for reducing surrounding noise
Lightweight, top quality headphones
Relatively high sensitivity and range
Possible noise penetration
An internal recorder cannot be saved for later download; it records over itself
- applied to listen to voices and sounds from up to 300 feet away
- Sees things up 8 times closer by the 8x powerful viewing optics
- Ideal telescope for studying birds and wildlife
Verdict: This multi-purpose gun-style listening device is an excellent photoelectron toy that views things up to 8 times closer. There’s possible noise penetration from your environment, but the microphone has relatively high sensitivity within 300 feet.
10. Best For Kids: Hey!Play! Kids Hearing Dish Electronic Long Range Listening Device
Appearing at #10 is the Hey! Play! kids hearing dish electronic listening device.
The Hey Play kids hearing dish electronic listening device is yet another audio device in the category of items reviewed in #1 to #5 on this list.
It features headphones, volume control, an indicator light, a viewfinder hole, a sound collecting dish, and a microphone – all features of a beginner listening ear, and one that might be most suitable for domestic/indoor listening purposes.
The target group is quite apparent except for the range and effectiveness of the Hey! Play! kids hearing dish electronic listening device at managing sound and noise.
The manufacturers say it has a range of 200 feet tops, a claim which may or may not be true given the little feedback for this item.
However, this is beginner spy gear, the kind you will want to get for your fun, nature-loving 6-year-old child.
Simple to set up
Easy to use
Supports sound up to a decent range
Great for sound experiments
May not hold up for long
- INSPIRES IMAGINATION- Whether they are pretending to be a detective solving mysteries, or a scientist...
- SUPPORTS STEM LEARNING- More than just a fun addition to your child’s spy kit, this listening device...
- EASY TO USE- This listening apparatus is lightweight and easy to use. All you have to do is put on the...
Verdict: This hearing dish is a cool spy toy that inspires your child’s imagination and creativity while playing spy games. It’s easy to use and your child can hear sounds within 200 feet. It also comes at a bargain price, rivaling most toys on the market.
What Is A Long Range Listening Device?
A long range listening device is normally used by spy detectives and other undercover agents to har conversations from far distances and prevent being discovered.
These devices allow you to pick up even faint voices and sounds from long distances and are essential for some detective work.
Types Of Long Range Listening Spy Devices
In general, there are two types of long range listening devices.
Microphone-Based Listening Devices
Microphone-based listening devices are the most common type as we have covered above. These devices use a sensitive and powerful microphone to pick up long range audio.
The mic is often placed in the center of a parabolic dish and so operates on a point aim and listen principle.
In fact, you can use some of these devices to listen to sounds of even 100 yards away. These types of devices are great for outdoor use because they do well as notice isolation.
Transmitter and Receiver Listening Devices
Transmitter and receiver listening devices use a bug transmitter and receiver. In this case, you have to place the bugging transmitter in the location you want to be listening to. You would then carry the receiver with you.
These devices are great for really long distance listening of up to even 500 meters. However, the drawback is that you have to have access to the location you want to listen to.
How Does a Long-Range Listening Devices Work?
Also popularly known as a parabolic microphone, a long-range listening device is used for collecting and focusing sound waves on a single point.
It works similarly to a satellite dish, but its main advantage is that it has great sensitivity and the ability to focus on one direction. It’s also great at blocking other sounds outside the focus range.
Some of the main uses of such devices include broadcasting, sports events, recording in windy conditions, and eavesdropping on conversations.
It can also be a discrete way of listening to conversations discreetly over long distances instead of planting a bug that can be detected more easily.
How Far Can Listening Devices Work?
What Should You Look For When Buying a Long-Range Listening Device?
There are multiple factors worth considering when looking for the best parabolic listening device to suit your needs. Here are several important factors:
The best long-range listening device will allow you to get the audio with great clarity from a considerable distance. These devices feature a high-tech audio amplifier combined with a noise reduction feature, resulting in high-quality sound.
Low-quality parabolic microphones perform poorly in both fronts, with the result being slightly better than using your bare ears. That’s why most microphone that attaches to your cell phone is popularly known for being poor pieces of listening equipment.
All these long-range listening devices come with different recommended range, and you should adhere to it for the best results.
When considering range, you should also think about whether you need a long range listening device that works through walls.
Keep in mind that the recommended range only works under the ideal condition at a time when the environment is dead quiet, though you might not always get that.
That’s especially true in rainy or windy conditions or when something is obstructing you and your target point.
Some long-range listening devices can record the audio on an SD card or attach a video or microphone recorder easily.
Other parabolic listening devices can only be used for listening, though it’s not as easy to record. That means the parabolic microphone you choose all depends on your needs.
Some of the best parabolic microphones used for long-range listening require a significant amount of battery power, and hence they are difficult to run purely on battery power for a long time.
As such, you should choose a product that uses regular batteries that can last for a couple of hours for the best results.
Overall, the long range listening device which managed to stand out to us was the Sound Shark long range microphone.
Thanks to its ability to cancel out interference and keep noise as low as possible, and ability to pick up audio at an astonishing long range while maintaining a focused pattern, choosing the Sound Shark long range listening device as our favorite pick wasn’t a difficult decision.
At the end of the day, you still want to buy the best you can afford and will give you value for your money.
Keep in mind that “long range” is relative. Parabolic microphones also can’t blast through walls or thick objects. They are dependent on having direct line-of-sight access to the sound source.
Additionally, most listening devices use a 9-volt battery (Detect ear uses two AAA batteries) but don’t come with any. Be sure to check with the seller to know what accessories (if any) are included with your purchase.
If you feel that we left out some other great long range listening devices, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comment section.
Other Stealth Devices
Sometimes you don’t want to be Sherlock Holmes and use long-range listening devices. For example, maybe you just want to ensure the safety of your home and monitor your children, nanny or elderly parents. For this, you could just use a Bluetooth speaker with a hidden camera.