Gimmix! Play Loud
There are gimmicky reverb playback enhancements too, but alas, no bog standard equaliser. Even so, we have a capable portable recorder here, although the built-in stereo speakers still sound terrible. Powered by two AA batteries, the Olympus claim that they last for 23 hours is only for PCM audio recording, which is less demanding than the number crunching required for the compressed formats. Still, the recorder can run from an external PSU if needed for a long stretch.
Sonically appealing, but lacks refinement as a standalone recorder
A new feature that can certainly help on longer form projects is the Audio Divide option that simply splits up the track at the point where you pause playback. Yet this function is a let down because it only works on PCM files, when it’s the MP3 and WMA compressed options that offer longer recording times, but neither format can utilise this feature. Adding to the list of gripes, there’s no track naming function, so the numbered recordings just have more numbers tacked on the end when divided. Indeed, the thinking seems to be to rely on the user with the editing software to do all the work, at the cost of offering better functionality on the device.
The LS-5 shows that Olympus doesn’t care to address the criticisms of the LS-10. The issue being that both the LS-5, and the LS-10 before it, are based on dictation machines. By making these models robust, and with a decent the sonic performance, Olympus believes that the LS-series has a place for musicians and audio professionals. Yet, operationally, the LS-5’s hardware/software combo fails to address the demands of users at this level, and couldn't be described as a sound choice. ®
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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*
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.