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back to article Olympus LS-5 linear PCM recorder

The Olympus LS-5 is a solid-state stereo audio recorder with 2GB internal storage and support for SDHC card expansion up to 32GB. About the size of a domestic phone, it looks the business and also looks strikingly similar to the LS-10 Reg Hardware reviewed a couple of years ago. Indeed, the blue hue of the LS-5 is really the …

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What a waste of effort

Nothing beats Minidisc for mobile recording. What a waste of effort by Olympus if you can get a terrific recorder like the Sony MZ-RH1.

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Re: "What a waste of effort"

If you want to make short, lossily compressed recordings on a dead medium, sure. *facepalm*

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no

The minidisk -like beta video- is still used a lot in industry settings. It's lossy, yes, but so well done that you'd never notice without an analyzer.

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FAIL

Err

I am "industry", in one of the world's larger broadcasters. I am aware of what and what isn't used- and generally, we're weeding out shitty cascade coding where we can, and certainly MD isn't something we'd recommend.

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Beta Video

You appear to have be mistaking the obsolete domestic Betamax format for the professional Betacam format.

Betacam shares a cassette shell with Betamax but nothing else. A new Digibeta recorder will set you back about 35 grand, a Betamax recorder (second hand from Ebay) about a tenner. Go figure.

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Mono recording

WTF is the point of forcing mono recording to be at a certain bit depth/sample rate? As if people recording in mono don't want high quality sound? As if people - specifically musicians - recording in mono might not use this as a cheap 'n easy way to record both on and off speaker axis at the same time to get a richer, fuller sound? As if people recording in mono might not set the unit a good six to ten feet back to get a better spatial representation of whatever it is they're recording? Why would Olympus defeat having a mono mode by crippling it to a lesser quality? There's so much you could do with it!

What's the point here? "Oh, they're recording in mono, they must just want extra time! There's no way they're Phil Spector fans who think mono is tighter and punchier!" I'd say someone was asleep at the wheel here but - along with all the other idiotic design choices of this recorder - come off as Olympus biting their thumb at their customers.

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It would be interesting to compare this..

With a Zoom H4n, which is freakishly good for the price. Every now and then, Zoom accidentally make a real gem, and the H4n is one of those- really surprisingly nice quality for the price.

Throw in that pricey Korg 1 bit recorder, and some Tascam bits, and you have a group test...

(OK, so maybe only I would be interested, because I like to collect strange sounds...)

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+1 for a group test

play with the shiny audio toys and tell us about them!

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Unhappy

comparing with Zoom

There are now 3 Zooms H4n, H2 and H1. Since they are designed for music recording, they might all be better for music than the Olympus range, which as the article points out, are for dictation.

The point on product improvement coming from reaction to criticism is well taken - maybe secretaries' don't get to have their voices heard?

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Anonymous Coward

MiniDisc is dead, Zoom H4(n) or Olympus 510M

MiniDisc should be avoided, I agree, because it is a dead format, limited capacity and also be aware some models don't allow the audio to be transferred as files via high-speed USB, instead the audio has to be played out of the device in realtime - e.g. for a hour's recording, 1 hour is required for transfer, whereas via USB this would be much quicker. Upvoted all the others here who echo the same.

I would second the H4N suggestion, or even the older H4 - which will be cheaper, both include professional balanced inputs (H4 at least does, I *think* the H4N would have too, being the updated model).

I would suggest that benefits of the 24bit/96KHz audio on this Olympus LS-5 would not be fully exploited owing to the consumer type inputs.

This Olympus LS-5 device doesn't really know what it is: is it an oversized dictaphone or a professional recorder, it's a mix of the two.

For those that need a higher quality stereo dictaphone with line in, I would instead suggest the WS-510M, originally intended for the US market, which records MP3s (with free firmware upgrade) at 256kbps, 44.1KHz 16bit. About 60quid refurbished on ebay in the UK.

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Yes, the H4n has balanced ins

It has balanced ins, with phantom power and reasonable mic preamps, a compressor/limiter too. It can also take hi-Z in (guitar etc), as well as 3.5mm mic in with plug in power support as needed. You can run it as four tracks- on-board mics and the two other ins also, if you want. As you'd expect, it works as a USB sound card too, or can mount as mass storage.. (though I prefer using a card reader). Stick a 4 gig SD card in and you're golden- there was one included free with mine.

My favourite use is to put it in "stamina" mode on a tripod (it has a tripod thread, and also a mic stand adaptor, as required), and leave it in sound activated mode (it has a short buffer, so you don't miss the start of any sounds)- can run for 24 hours like that, recording 44.1/16 wavs. Fantastic in places like woodlands, or near rivers (or even a roof in a busy urban area, if you like your city noise).

It's a great little unit for the price, for those of us who miss those broadcast grade Tascam DAT units of yesteryear.

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A bit old fashioned

Only two mikes?

4 mikes allowing spatial capture are the bare minimum now-a-days for the serious amateur or the low-end professional.

2 mikes... I had to LOL.

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re: "A bit old fashioned"

Obvious troll is obvious. Nice try though!

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JB
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When I was 11...

I would have given my right arm for something like this. Back in the early 80s we used to have so much fun improvising into an old Ferguson flat tape recorder, then listening back to the result. And there was the thrill of taking the recorder outside on batteries!

I wonder if kids today get the same sort of enjoyment from the digital voice recorders in their MP3 players or phones as we did when we hit play and record way back when.

I've dabbled with audio productions using a WAV voice recorder, Ableton Live and a heap of sound effect files, but it isn't quite the same!

Sorry for the slightly off-topic comment, but seeing this just made me think of those old tape recorders.

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Go

When I was 11, too...

I used to edit tape (carefully used a razor blade, even), had huge fun learning to sing backwards. Later, audiomaster IV and tracks on the Amiga were massive fun..

These days, I use fancy digital recorders (H4n, as mentioned above, and other stuff), Ableton, Audacity, Serato and Bob-knows-what..

You know what? It's still bloody fun. 11 year-old me would not feel betrayed :)

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