Magnatone Giveawya

September 2014
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Roundup: 5 Hand-Held Multitrack Recorders Reviewed

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Roundup: 5 Hand-Held Multitrack Recorders Reviewed

Olympus LS-100

• 24-bit/96 kHz recording; handles SPL levels up to 140 dB.
• Built-in tuner, metronome, and Lissajous phase-correction mode.
• 8-track recorder with bounce capabilities of up to 999 tracks.

Ratings

Pros:
Solid, pro mics and rugged build.

Cons:
Metronome not available in record mode.

Audio Quality:

Function/Design:

Materials:

Value:

Street:
$399

Olympus
olympusamerica.com

The LS-100 ($399, street) is an elegant 96 kHz/24-bit PCM-based machine that simply screams “professional field recorder.” But it also offers the flexibility of a multitrack machine, with up to eight independent tracks (or four stereo pairs), with bounce-down capabilities to up to 999 tracks. It features two XLR/phone combo jacks, and its top-quality stereo condenser microphones boast a frequency range of 20 Hz-20 kHz, while handling up to a whopping 140 dB. They can also be used as a USB microphone with your computer DAW.

The LS-100 is certainly a pro-grade recorder, but its multitrack mode is decidedly no-frills: no effects, no rhythm tracks, and no amp models (there is a built-in compressor/limiter for the main recorder function). The LS-100 clearly believes that it’s more important to capture quality recordings of real sounds, and add studio polish later, rather than doing a half-ass job of simulating studio effects and amps in order to make second-tier “sketch pad” demos.

That’s admirable, but Olympus’ inexperience in making multitrack machines is evident in the LS-100, despite its being touted as a “musician’s toolbox” for its metronome and tuner functions. For starters, why can’t we record using the built-in mics and two external XLR mics simultaneously, given that the connections are available to do it? What’s more, even after 30 minutes of consulting the very poorly written and hard-to-read user’s manual, I could not find a way to use the built-in metronome during stereo or multitrack recording. Really? This is a fairly unforgivable oversight, but just as frustrating was the fact that overdubbing onto separate tracks requires four button presses: one to select the track, another to enter standby, yet another to press play, and a fourth to press Record again. Why can’t I just arm the track and go, while still hearing my previous tracks? And sure, there are panning and level controls, if no EQ or reverb, but again, they require using the edge of your thumbnail to scroll through more mini-menus and press several more small directional tabs. Look, there’s nothing wrong with the superb sound quality of the LS-100. It’s just the workflow that’s artistically challenged.

Olympus responds: "Olympus is aware of the LS-100 metronome issue when used in multi-track recording mode and is working to resolve it. For Olympus audio updates, solutions and questions, please visit www.olympusamericaaudioblog.com."

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