Field Report: Olympus LS-11


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Olympus LS-11

When I first opened its box, I was impressed by this recorder's comfort. Out in the field recording live audio for newscasts or for the occasional station imaging featuring the man-on-the-street interviews, the bulk of a recorder can hinder a good interview. The Olympus LS-11 is a hand-held, thumb-friendly unit: It fits comfortably in the hand and most operations can be performed at thumb's reach, similar to cell phones and iPods.

As I explored the many features in this powerful recorder, I kept thinking, If only I had this when…

This would have been great to record live band performances. The stereo mics are positioned to provide the perfect stereo ambiance while still pulling in the live music and weeding out much of the crowd noise. The LS-11 even features a line-in jack to get that perfect soundboard mix. On the underside of the unit, there is a base for a screw-in tripod, similar to cameras, so the unit could be set and forgotten. The side has a thumb-wheel to adjust the record level for optimum sound.

The LS-11 would have been nice to have back when I was gathering actualities for newscasts. The two mounted microphones are conveniently located at the top of the machine, and set 90 degrees apart and could be used to get the voice of the interviewee as well as the interviewer with very little mic movement back and forth. It also has a mic jack should a mic be desired. I personally found the installed mics to be more than adequate for any recording. In fact, these mics and the LS-11 system seemed like a perfect sound vacuum, as in sucking in all sounds.

In use

Performance at a glance
24-bit/96kHz linear recorder
8GB internal memory
Accepts up to 32GB SD/SDHC card
MP3, WMA and WAV audio file recording
Built-in stereo mics and speakers
Basic internal audio editing
Includes Steinburg Cubase LE4

The LS-11 definitely does not act like the condenser mic recorders of old. While it uses a low-noise/high-sensitivity mic system, it seems to seek out all sounds and record them, and does so in a smart manner. I can remember hours wasted of setting a recorder in a lecture hall where most of the sound I recorded was the buzz of fluorescent lights or background hiss. The LS-11 didn't once over-emphasize any sound, but instead recorded the same sounds you would hear in the same room. As a test for the capacity of the internal storage (8GB) I set the recorder and let it go for 8 hours. When I checked back I still had storage space available as well as battery power, but most importantly, every sound was captured with exceptional clarity and no annoying hiss or buzz.

Speaking of storage space, the LS-11 has 8GB of built-in storage, but also comes with a slot for an SD/SDHC card (up to 32GB). The unit supports a wide range of recording formats, linear PCM, MP3 and WMA. The format you choose determines the size of the files and your personal storage usage. I found the MP3 format perfect, which allowed more space for files.

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