The high-resolution recording has audiophile appeal, but it’s debatable whether audiophiles would choose this recorder because of its transport control shortcomings and sonically distressing speakers. Like the LS-10 – and, it appears, the forthcoming LS-11 – there is no audible fast forward/back facility to help search for a section.
What's worse than a nasty, tinny speaker..? Two of them
You get this level of functionality on an iPod and even MiniDisc gear before that, why not on a £200 audio recorder? Olympus describes the LS-5 as “delivering what musicians, journalists and podcasters have been waiting for…” but if you can’t audibly shuttle during playback, then prepare for a lot of waiting to locate those sundry soundbites.
There are different mic modes, which are only available to the compressed audio and CD-quality 44.1kHz/16-bit settings, anything higher than that is verboten, as is the mono option. The mic effects should be handled with care, some modes introduce artefacts: Wide is airy, but somewhat gutless; Zoom is good for capturing conversation in noisy environments – offering background noise suppression – but not ideal for music given its filtering artefacts. Narrow also subdues ambient noise – but not as extreme as Zoom – and is a good compromise for challenging environments.
Identity crisis: when recording (left) resolution info is shown at the bottom,
but during playback (right) the only information you see is the file type at the top
Annoyingly, playback mode doesn’t indicate any of the mic modes used nor the audio file resolution choices – just the file type appears at the top next to the cryptic file name. Yet at the bottom, the recording format details are shown along with icons depicting various mic mode settings. It’s handy to be reminded of this, but during playback, this bottom line of recording info blanks out and really should be used show more about the actual file being heard. Still, the Function key can be assigned to jump to the Properties page that will provide file format information.
Next page: Gimmix! Play Loud
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.