Thursday, May 22, 2008

O'Reilly weighs in on the Olympus LS-10

The other day Transom published a thorough review of the Olympus LS-10, and today it's O'Reilly Digital Media's turn. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: These two sites offer some of the best audio recorder reviews around.

After reading both of these reviews, I'm pretty certain that I'm going to stop recommending the Zoom H2 to podcasters and journalists looking for a cheap handheld recorder with decent audio quality. While the H2 is just 2/3rds the price of the LS-10, and can double as a USB microphone for a PC, the LS-10 sounds significantly better, performs better with external microphones, and comes with 2GB or built in memory, which means that many users will never need to buy an expansion card at all.

It's not perfect by any means. It lacks the sturdy XLR inputs you'll find on higher end units like the Marantz PM660 or Fostex FR2-LE. And while the preamps are fairly clean when using the built in mics or an external microphone, to my ear they're not as clean as those on the Sony PCM-D50. The limiter feature also isn't as effective as that on the Sony recorder. But the LS-10 costs just about $300 (affiliate link), while the cheapest prices I've seen for the D50 are in the $450 to $480 range.


Anonymous said...

The majority of the new handheld recorders use minijack inputs, is it a real problem or not?
I have a shotgun microphone that needs XLR inputs (but it does not need phantom power), and I want to buy one of the new handheld recorders (sony pcm-d50 or this new olympus). These recorders do not include xlr inputs, so I should use one xlr to m inijack adapter (one cheap adapter around 10-20$).
Do you know if these kind of adapters alter the sound quality or the gain?

Thank you!

Brad Linder said...

I typically use an XLR to mini adapter for my handheld recorders and microphones. There shouldn't be any noticeable difference in sound quality. But as you've noted, these cables will not carry phantom power. And in general mini jacks aren't as sturdy as XLR jacks, which means your mic is more likely to be accidentally ripped from the recorder and the input jack is more likely to be damaged from regular wear and tear.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brad! Very informative blog and answers.

Ms. Sigman said...

I'm hoping to purchase recorders for high school students to use to create podcasts. I don't want to pay much more than the Zoom H2--and I'm not sure I need something with so many bells and whistles and menus and settings. Can you recommend some products that are easy to use (and download)and relatively inexpensive to replace?

dxace1 said...

The long-running belly-aching about mini jacks used in recorders is just that.....and a hold over from the minidisc days.

Sure, an XLR connector is the preferable method for professionals. But this is a time of miniaturization, and it's just not reasonable to expect XLR in these new recorders.

I have always felt that if you are careful enough with mini jacks, you won't have a problem.

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