Top critical review
Was the best of 4 models that I'd tried - BUT...
12 January 2013
I have a Sony PCM-M10 recorder and, because of the extreme sensitivity of the recorder's built-in microphones to even just breaths of wind, using some sort of furry windshield was really mandatory. I started off with a Rycote Mini Windjammer, which actually did quite well, at least in keeping out the worst excesses of microphone wind noise. However, it never seemed to me quite effective enough to enable me to record except in very modest wind conditions (and even then there would usually still be some microphone wind noise, but at least softened and actually enhancing certain of my natural soundscape recordings like that).
Recently I did a fairly extensive Internet search for alternative furry windshields that would fit my little recorder, and I came up with three possibilities: the GigWig Windscreen, Redhead Windshield, and the Rode Deadkitten. Because I really wanted to get the most effective that was available, I chose to order one of each. The Deadkitten came first (good old Amazon.co.uk!), while the other two took longer because they were being sent from the USA (and not by Amazon!). I was already starting to get a very good impression of the Deadkitten from a couple of field recording days using it.
Once I received the other two, at once I set about using my office fan to carry out a comparative experiment, which I then wrote up on my Broad Horizon Nature website (accessible from my personal website). I noted that the Deadkitten was actually the bulkiest of the four, and clearly contained the most (false) fur, which was particularly long. What I found was that the Deadkitten was significantly the most effective at reducing wind noise. I do not yet know how strong a wind it would take to interfere with recording using the Deadkitten, but at least I am confident that my 'range into windiness' will be significantly increased as compared with the Rycote, which actually came out bottom of the league.
One point to bear in mind with ANY windshield that covers the microphones is that it would inevitably slightly attenuate / muffle the very high frequencies - never mind that any particular manufacturer may claim that their windshields are 'acoustically transparent'. Therefore, it is really worthwhile to examine the frequency spectrum of some genuine white noise (full frequency range) recorded with one's windshield and work out a graphic EQ curve to compensate for the attenuation that you find. I have done this for the DeadKitten, and have a profile with that curve set up in Audacity, and I apply it to all recordings made with the DeadKitten. That results in a really noticeable increase in clarity and detail of the sound, and so I am really glad to have taken that bit of trouble.
So, for me the bottom line is that, while I still don't expect to be able to get a good recording while exposed to a gale, the Deadkitten does a commendable job, both in protecting from wind and in being as near as dammit to the acoustic transparency (i.e. lack of muffling or other sound reduction / alteration) that the manufacturers claim for it. I have just bought a second recorder of the same model, and will pass over the now redundant other three furry windshields and purchase a second Deadkitten for the second recorder.
One final point. The elastic of the Deadkitten is the stretchiest of the four, and this means that it can fit a much wider range of devices. You do not need one sized specifically for your model. Isn't that nice! :-)
Later addition, June 2015:
I recently lost one of my trusty DeadKittens (in a hitch-hike, actually), which had been serving me well for frequent sessions, with no obvious deterioration. Now I see that, at least here at Amazon, black DeadKittens are being supplied, even though the description says 'light grey'. Ouch! I need another, but the light colour is *essential* for me as I do natural soundscape recordings, which are often in precarious positions in rugged and complex terrain, and are sometimes in the dark, and I need to be able to spot the recorder easily at a reasonable distance, even in the dark (with suitable head torch of course). A black windshield would make the process of finding the recorder much more difficult and would necessitate my mucking around with attaching high-visibility items to the recorder, its tripod, or whatever object the recorder is perched on. I shall have to shop around to find a source that guarantees me a light grey one.
...Except that I have learnt from Rode's UK distributor that Rode have gone over to black completely, ironically in response to various customer requests, because some users had cause to want their windshields to be inconspicuous! The real answer of course would be for Rode to produce the windshields in both colours, to satisfy the different customer requirements. I guess I myself will have to try to find a alternative to the DeadKitten that is still light grey, without loss of functionality (which may not be possible, in the light of my aforementioned comparative test of different models).
Important Update, 25 April 2018
Here's why I've lowered my rating from 5 stars to only 3.
For a couple of years now I've been using Sony PCM-D100 recorders instead of the PCM-M10. The newer, black, version of the DeadKitten, while it fits the rather larger D100 (stretchier elastic), which the original design doesn't, its performance is actually inferior to that of the original design, and so my original comparison of models is now well out-of-date. And for the insanely wind-sensitive D100 the DeadKitten is woefully inadequate, as is ANY single furry windshield that I've tried on the D100. I do not have space in my rucksack to go carrying any 'blimp' type of arrangement, but at least have managed to make the recorder usable in a very limited range of outdoor situations by means of using an inner furry and a larger outer furry windshield - both custom-made from particularly thick fur, by Windcut - and very recently indeed, still fairly dissatisfied, I used my otherwise redundant new-version Deadkittens each as a middle layer in a furry threesome for each D100 recorder. That does give a modest improvement in protection, but it has necessitated my working out a new treble EQ curve, which hits a whacking 26dB boost at 20K and upwards, so I have no plans for adding any further layer that would cause more muffling!
Actually I worked that new curve out by a slightly different method, and it is clearly much more accurate than the curves I'd previously used, for it makes the recordings sound much clearer, with much finer detail and a more 3-D soundstage. It also has the advantage that it can be used extremely effectively on my older recordings made with two or even one (DeadKitten) windshield (i.e., on new copies taken from the archived unprocessed originals), the simple rule being to use the full-strength curve for 3 furries, half-strength curve (all point values halved) for 2 furries, and quarter-strength for a single furry - in each case the respective curve maximizing clarity and detail without sounding over-bright.