Hands-On with the Olympus LS-100 Portable Recorder

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Olympus knows a thing or two about making portable recorders, and its new LS-100 has the distinction of being the highest-quality model the company has ever produced. It features an excellent-sounding pair of built-in stereo condenser microphones, as well as a pair of XLR combo inputs that are capable of providing microphones with 48V of phantom power. There are 4GB of internal memory, and the recorder has an SDXC card slot that can handle cards of up to 64GB. An included rechargeable Lithium-ion battery provides the LS-100 with more than 12 hours of use on a single charge. Musicians will appreciate its 8-track overdubbing multi-track mode, as well as its instrument tuner and metronome. Its interface is very user friendly, and even features a talking menu system to help you navigate the device. It has an interesting Lissajous Function, which helps you avoid phase issues when positioning microphones. To get a better idea of how the Lissajous Function works (and our overall impression of the recorder), please watch our Olympus LS-100 hands-on review video, below:



Recording Format Linear PCM (WAV) / MP3
Internal Memory 4GB
External Memory SD Card slot (64GB max) (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
Frequency Response (integral mics) 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Connectors 2 x XLR combo, 1 x 3.5mm (mic and line), 1 x 3.5mm headphone
Phantom Power 48V/24V
Max. Headphone Output 10mW + 10W (at load of 16 Ohms)
Built-In Speaker Yes, 23mm dynamic
Max. Speaker Output 480mW (speaker 8 Ohms)
File Edit Function Yes (PCM / MP3)
Wireless Remote Control Yes, optional (RS30W)
Voice-Activated Recording Yes, Voice Sync
Play Sync Recording Yes
Pre-Recording Function Yes
Multi-Track Function Yes
Overdubbing Function Yes
Metronome Function Yes
Instrument Tuner Yes
Lissajous Function Yes
MP3 Convert Function Yes
CD Write Function Yes
Low Cut Filter Yes (100 Hz/300 Hz)
Battery Lithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Life Approximately 12.5 hours 
External Power Supply AC Adpater A514 (Included)
Compatibility Mac OS X 10.4.11 - 10.7, Windows XP/Vista/7
Dimensions (WxHxD) 2.76 x 6.25 x 1.32" (7 x 15.9 x 3.35cm)
Weight 9.88 oz (280 g)

Items discussed in article

Discussion 28

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Really quite helpful. Great presentation of this product.

Is this actually an 8-track recorder (as billed off site) or merely another stereo recorder? If the former I can only ***** six (mono) tracks in...  

Anybody know the answer?

Hello -

The LS-100 is a 2 channel recorder with multitrack overdubbing capabilities via its MTR feature.  The multitrack recording mode allows you to create a file overlaying instruments and voice.  Up to 8 tracks can be recorded, played and edited . Additionally up to 999 tracks can be recorded in the fixed 44.1 kHz/16 bit format for CD writing.

I've loved you guys for awhile, but I believe your review of this particular device is very faulty.

I received my Olympus LS-100 today and it has 2 very critical problems that make it unusable in a real production environment:

1) It does not monitor sound (via the headphones) in real-time. There is a .2 second delay, which is not only distracting, but confusing. Why does my 2 year old Tascam DR-100 have real time monitoring and this new device not? Not acceptable in a $400 device.

2) When connecting a single external device (ex. a single external shotgun mic via XLR), the monitoring will only occur in one channel. There is no option to have the monitoring go to both channels.

Our use of the Olympus LS-100 is for external audio capture when paired with RED camera's or DSLR.

I'm surpised you guys didn't test the monitoring or mention it in the review. This monitoring problem makes actually using the device to record an 8-track impossible, as you cannot monitor yourself in real-time. No musician could stand a .2 second delay. How could you possibly follow with your previously recorded track? Any track?

Very disappointed in the review and in the device. I will be returning the device unless I hear word back from Olympus that a future firmware update will fix these issues.

This recorder has some good features however I agree that the .2 sec delay makes multi track feature useless. This recorder was supposedly designed with musicians in mind. How come no mention of this in the review? I have tried to contact OLYMPUS about this issue but I got no response. B&H what's up with this?

Hi Nsurround,

Our review gives a broad overview of all of the features found on the LS-100, which isn't easy to do in a such a short video. In the review, Rob did experience something he didn't like about the gain knobs, and he talks about it. However, it appears that he didn't experience the .2 second delay.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

Sam Mallery

This is unbelivable. I was positive the "delay" was user error- surely no company would release a product that was essentially useles regarding it's primary attraction. The multitrack recording would be the first thing I'd check when doing a review- if you don't have the time to check something out, don't review it! And I wouldn't wait for any "firmware update" from Olympus- this product shouldn't have been released as is, and I will never buy a product from them.

This is a crippled, flawed device- how is this acceptable to those who like some of the features that do happen to work?....

I made some observations in the past in B&H about this recorder that detailed some issues I had about it. The main one being the headphone monitor delay that many others have experienced as in the post I replied to. This rendered the unit useless for multi-track over-dubbing which most musicians would want in a recorder like this. However I am now happy to say that this has been corrected to a great extent along with some other issues via a firmware update that is easy to accomplish via connecting unit to an external computer that has the firmware update exe file downloaded from the Olympus support site. This firmware update made a huge difference when using the recorder in multi-track mode. Now along with the excellent record qualities, even when using the internal mics, this recorder really shines and would be a great choice for those who primarily will use to record music. To bad this firmware was not available when the unit was originally released but Olympus did respond with this firmware. New firmware v1.10, old firmware was v1.00

We're concerned about the reported latency issue. We're researching this, comparing using the recorder's internal memory vs a removable card and we're also looking into how the unit responds with different cards. We've also consulted our tech liaison from Olympus America. We hope to have a more definitive response next week. We appreciate your interest in this product and your concern regarding this essential feature.

Henry Posner
B&H Photo-Video

Hi Van,

I'm sorry you're having a frustrating experience with your LS-100. It's true, Rob's review video doesn't mention the .2 monitoring delay, but he does mention an aspect of the gain knobs that he wasn't crazy about. In his tests, it's likely that Rob never experienced this delay issue. It's very time consuming to cover all of the features of a piece of equipment, and we have a very limited amount of time to conduct these reviews. Also, it's not common to be able to switch a recorder's headphone output to only monitor a single input in dual mono. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any recorders that can do that.

Anyhow, I hope the next recorder you get serves your needs better.

Thanks for sharing your experience,

Sam Mallery

Your response to this criticism is not sufficient to give anyone confidence that future BH reviews will be better. You defend your integrity by pointing yout you did bad rap one feature, but the issue is competancey, not integrity.  The person points out that the very essence of this recorder is flawed and the multitrack recording is rendered useless—this is the main reason to purchase this expensive device. The fact that the reviewer missed testing this feature speaks poorly of your editorial process. You do not even GET that. You, the EDITOR of these reviews should take steps to see that your reviews are more thorough and relevant. After reading the review, I was going to ask whether the overdub worked properly (industry standard functionality) but figured IT HAD TO or you would have mentioned it as its a KEY feature. So although  you are my store of choice to buy things in, and you have a great return policty, who wants to waste the time? Take steps to upgrade the level of your reviews and when someone points out a serious flaw, deal with preventing another one  the next time.

Hello Van.

Indeed there is some very slight latency when you monitor with the Olympus LS-100 Audio Recorder.  Olympus has indicated that a firmware update is in the works and should be available by the end of June 2012.  I apologize for missing this latency, as obviously it is a major issue for you and other customers.  I would also like to express my gratitude to you and other B&H customers for bringing the issue to our attention.  Thank you for your valuable feedback.

Sincerely,

Rob Rives

This unit looks great!  I guess I won't have to lug a massive audio recording device anymore.

Does this mean that eight (8) mono tracks can be recorded at once? eg, from the pair of xlrs, another two from the built-ins, another two from the stereo line-in (and how the other two would get in I can't exactly see) ?? Or is it a garden-variety stereo recorder?

From the Olympus webiste:

 Features two channel recording with eight channel playback. Run both left and right inputs into one track for deep, rich sound. Once tracks are recorded; edit, mix-down onboard, and even burn directly to a CD without a PC connection.

Hello -

 8 tracks cannot be recorded simultaneously. The LS-100 features two channel recording with eight channel playback. Run both left and right inputs into one track for deep, rich sound. Once tracks are recorded; up to 8 tracks can be edited simultaneously, mix-down onboard (overdub), and even burn directly to a CD without a PC connection. 

With the LS-100 can you carry extra charged batteries for rapid field replacement when the charge runs out, or is the rechargeable battery built-in and you have to recharge the whole unit before continuing to use it?

Hello -

The LS100 employs a user removeabe/replaceable  LI-50B Lithium-Ion Battery (3.7V, 925mAh)

Because of this battery's excellent power retention properties  -  you may carry several with you for quick and reliable field replacement.

Hi,

Could you please tell me whether it is possible to transfer a pre recorded music file to this device to then be able to narrate over the top of it?

Many thanks

Hello -

Yes - no problem at all.  You can easily transfer your content via SD card or the line input jack. Then, you can take advantage of the 8-track overdubbing multi-track mode that will allow you to add a narration track to the pre-recorded track.  Overdubbing lets you make a recording and then go back later to add additional parts over the original recordings. It can be used by musicians to add a supplementary recorded sound to a previously recorded performance or by vocalists to sing harmonies with themselves.

I am using the LS-100 with a 64GB SDXC card. When I use internal LS-100 memory everything is fine. When I record files to the SD card the wrong file "last modified date" shows up when viewing the LS-100 file via USB on my computer. If I copy the file from the LS-100 SD card to my computer, the wrong date remains. The correct date is set on the LS-100 and on my computer. If I use the SD card on my computer wiithout the LS-100, I can store files and they show up with the correct date. The LS-100 picks a Dec. 2010 date strangely enough. I would appreciate any cofirmation of this problem on other LS-100s. I actually exchanged my 1st LS-100 for another and the 2nd one has the same problem.

Good morning.
Is there a way to have a mono output for the headphones when we record just 1 mic connected to 1 XLR. At the moment I can listen the sound just L or R. Thank you.

Hi Pietro -

Unfortunately you are limited to listening to just one channel through your headset while you are monitoring. You can double up the mono track in post production/editing so you will have a 2 channel mono mix track.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I want to use the LS 100 to gather sound and burn it into a CD can I do this useing an imac osx 10.68 2.16 GHZ and intel core 2 duo with 2.5 GB 667 Mhz DDR2 SDRAM

I just bought an Olympus LS-100 to have a portable recorder with XLR and Phantom Power. I appreciate it for sound quality and quietness of mic inputs, however there are some issues that could be relevant:
1 - the display is very hard to read in bright light
2 - with Phantom Power the internal battery duration is about 2 hours and this could be a problem
3 - when recording at 96 kHz, a 20-30 dB notch filter centered at 26 kHz (21 to 31kHz) while the display is on. It disappear 9-10 seconds after the display switches off.
Of course it is not relevant for our hearing range, however for high quality recording or for scientific recording (e.g. animal sounds, or other wideband sound/noise recording) thia is a real problem. Keeping the display off during recording solves the problem but of course makes impossible to monitor recording level and rec duration.
I'm waiting a response from Olympus - Italy. Maybe it can be solved with a firmware upgrade, maybe the notch filter is required to remove a noise from the display when it is on.
Gianni Pavan
bioacoustician

Sir/Madam,I have just purchased the LS 100 recorder today. The first time i start the device, the recorder asks me to set date and time and then gets stuck on "Remote (storage)" page. Then none of the buttons work at all. What do i do?

Hi Taher -

The recorder is ready to use when the date/time and voice guide settings are complete. Have a formatted memory card inserted as well.
 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Having just purchased a ls 100 the recording quality is excellent but I'm very disappointed with the headphone monitor the sounds low and the quality’s poor