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Old September 3rd, 2008, 03:40 PM   #1
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Olympus LS-10: The Un-Planned Test & Review

Thanks to a quick blurb by Noah Kadner on his site I decided to try out the newly released Oly LS-10 handheld PCM recorder for myself. The short version to the review: Get one, you won't regret it. Here's the long version:

The "test" so to speak, consisted of the unit sitting in the center console of a Toyota Prius while driving to lunch with a friend. What made it unplanned was that I had literally just taken the unit out of the retail box, snapped on the included windscreens (which are basically useless but will help protect the mic elements) put it in it's holster with the mic-heads sticking out and put it in the car to show my friend during lunch. (He wanted one too so I had his unit in the car also still in the box).

However unknown to me at the time was I had inadvertently hit the "rec" button twice while handling the unit (the power was still on after I had setup the menus) and so it ended up recording the entire lunch-break session, from the time I drove to my friends house, eating and during the ride home. Imagine my surprise when I noticed I had more than an hour recorded on the unit when I got home...more about the content of that trip below...

In listening to this audio I was absolutely amazed at what the Oly picked up; you can hear literally everything from the road rumble, A/C fans, turn signals, radar detector and of course our conversation ALL had their own space in the audio without one overriding the other. The vocals were clean and crisp, the road-noise was low and defined, the stereo imaging was natural... you really have to listen to this to appreciate all the aspects to the clip.

The unit was setup with everything at "normal", so there was no enhancement of the stereo field (which is an option), the low-cut filter was "off", "MIC SENSE" was at low or "normal" and the GAIN was set to AUTO. At this setting there was almost no perceptible pumping when the limiter kicked in.

However, somewhere through this clip I had again handled the unit and inadvertently switched the MIC SENSE to "HIGH" (@ 3m 25sec) so then the levels got doubled. At this setting the limiter was constantly being hit so the pumping is very audible, but manageable. If this had been a real, intentional test the GAIN would have been set manually eliminating any pumping.

The clip was recorded at DAT standard 48khz 16bit uncompressed WAV; the conversion was done at 320kpbs MP4/AAC to reduce the file size for posting here.

WARNING: Although it's been edited down the content of this clip contains over 7 minutes of completely **irreverent** "male humor" and nonsense (R-rated at times), remember we didn't know we were being recorded. So if you're at all offended by that type of humor you'd hear on Howard Stern for example, then consider yourself warned.

Remember that at 3m 25secs the clip level will double so be prepared.

NOTE: There seems to be trouble getting the clip to upload, I'll try later.
Robert Lane
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Old September 3rd, 2008, 05:21 PM   #2
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I have not tried the Oly LS-10, but in regards to other Olympus products, I would expect exceptional quality. (though they are not known for audio products???) Case in point: I used to carry an Olympus 35mm snap-shot camera on shoots. (before digital) Took great pictures. On an India docu. shoot, a pro photographer accompanied us. He had an Olympus snap-shot camera in addition to his high-end Nikons' and other pro cameras. Said he actually used one of the snap-shots for part of a major ad. Olympus use to advertise consumer 35mm's ."What big shots use for snap shots". That's true.
My Olympus 35mm met it's demise on an ice-climbing shoot. I now have a Fujifilm digital, takes nice photos outdoors, but sucks in low-light conditions. Very weak flash.
Sorry for the non-audio rant.
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Old September 4th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #3
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I picked up and LS-10 over the Labor Day Weekend and recorded ambiences while visiting family in Reno, Nevada. I've owned an RO9 for a couple of years as well as an HHB MDP500. I like both of those units but in just one weekend I really prefer the LS-10, not just for size but for sound quality. The stereo field is very natural sounding and the recordings have an airy, open quality that I don't hear on my RO9. I recorded with mic sense at high and gain on manual, very happy with the sound and the recorder will be going everywhere with me.
The Dog and Pony Show. Sound Design, Mixing, Composing. www.dogandponystudios.net
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Old September 7th, 2008, 11:42 AM   #4
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I'm very interested in purchasing this unit but I was hoping to get some feeback from users who have used the OLympus LS-10 for weddings. I have a friend's wedding coming up October 4th and would like to use the Ls-10 for audio back up. Do you guys think it is up to the task?
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Old September 8th, 2008, 03:02 PM   #5
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I give up

I've tried several times to upload the sound file but it won't make it up no matter how I change up the clip. At some point I'll find a place to post it but for now you'll just have to take my word for the fact that this little hand-held device sounds nearly as good as other, more professional digi-corders with XLR inputs.
Robert Lane
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Old September 8th, 2008, 05:30 PM   #6
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Tee-hee thanks for the plug. Full review here:

Call Box High Tech Sweet Potato Audio Test

We took the LS-10 with us to China for the Olympics(as tourists) and shot stand-up 'news reports' using it and a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 digital still camera (which we bought in Akihabara while on a little side trip to Japan.)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35: Digital Photography Review

It worked as a great double-system production package you could fit in one pocket but shooting 720p high def with 24-bit 96Khz audio.

Here's some of the results(you can even see the Olympus in the shot):

YouTube - China Report - Beijing Broadcasting

YouTube - China Report - Hotel Rooms


Last edited by Noah Kadner; September 8th, 2008 at 06:48 PM.
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