Audio mode is rather more interesting because it turns the LS-5 into a USB microphone. However, tests in this mode proved rather unreliable. When recording in both Sonority and Garageband, rather granular distortion crept in and wandered off again like dodgy FM reception. The buffering latency also went a bit haywire, going from its default delay at the bounds of acceptability to about half a second, with some noise added for good measure, and then back to normal again. Work in progress, evidently.
In Audio mode, the recorder can function as a USB stereo microphone
Talking of which, use Sonority for any length of time and you’ll come to the conclusion that people who design dictation machines really have no idea about what makes a good audio editor. While this application does, surprisingly, allow layering of multiple tracks, it doesn’t have a loop/cycle function. It has a sprinkling of effects yet has the audacity to charge for more useful effects that the open source application, er, Audacity offers for free.
Sonority: a bit of a clanger really – the effects offered for free are barely adequate
Click for a larger image
Also, if you fancy recording directly using the LS-5 as a USB mic, the only way you know what the input levels are, is when you start recording. Prior to that, there’s no input monitoring or pause/standby function. The real killer is playback. Hit the spacebar and away it goes, hit again – it’s going to stop, right? Nope, it keeps playing. It’s Shift-Spacebar to stop. WTF? Somebody at Olympus needs shooting, and given that this division works with dictators, you never know your luck.
As a standalone recorder, the performance is pretty much identical to the LS-10. Choose the right mode and recording is clean and well-defined and easily configured, thanks to the handy controls on the side for recording level, along with switches for mic sensitivity and low cut filter.
Next page: Transport Dispute
Re: "What a waste of effort"
If you want to make short, lossily compressed recordings on a dead medium, sure. *facepalm*
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.
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?
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.
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.