Olympus showcases three new digital recorders at NAMM 2013

Olympus booth at NAMM 2013
Olympus booth at NAMM 2013

We confess: We’re fans of Olympus’s handy little LS series recorders. We shopped around back when we in the market and found the features, function and crisp sound quality of our LS-10 PCM recorder more than satisfy, especially given its wallet-friendly cost. So when we spotted the Olympus booth at NAMM 2013, we beelined right over to see what was new.

The Olympus LS series is designed for consumers who require high-end sound reproduction at reasonable prices. Musicians, journalists, naturalists who need to record the delicate sounds of a babbling brook–Olympus is looking at you. These recorders are renowned for how well they capture sound. We use ours primarily for recording our own music performance and practice sessions and couldn’t be more impressed. The sound is consistently super clean, sharp and easily demo worthy. Their latest lineup lets you take your pick based on your needs and your budget. So what’s new?

LS-12 PCM recorder
The least expensive in the line at $149.99 retail, the LS-12 is designed for ease of use at a sensible price point. Record 50 continuous hours on one set of batteries. Select smart, manual or quick recording levels by simply turning a dial on the face of the device–there’s no need to scroll through the menu to find these settings. Overdub, a metronome and a chromatic tuner functions are also built in. The LS-12 has 2GB of built-in memory and accommodates SDHC cards up to 32GB.

LS-14 PCM recorder
Next up at $199.99 retail is the LS-14, which offers the same features as its little brother LS-12, plus 24 bit/96kHz recording quality Olympus promises exceeds that of CDs. Recordings on the LS-12 and LS-14 can be played back at speeds from 50% slower than normal to 300% faster–handy when you need to skip ahead or study each sound or note in greater detail. The LS-14 has 4GB of built-in memory and accommodates SDHC cards up to 32GB. It also comes with its own case and stand clip.

LS-100 Multi-Track Linear recorder
The LS-100 is the newest and most robust of the LS series recorders. It isn’t cheap at $399.99 retail and it’s considerably heftier and bigger than its little brothers. It is also different league of recorder designed for musicians who want to do a lot on a single device. The LS-100 allows multi-tracking, which means musicians can record, mix and edit recordings right on its color LCD screen. Olympus states the LS-100 also boasts its best and most advanced microphones, which they tout produce less noise and can capture even extremely loud performances with minimal loss of clarity. A built-in sound balancing function called Lissajous detects and minimizes phase difference between the two mics.

Naturally, we really like the LS-100 because everyone knows studio-quality anything is sexy. But size matters. The LS-100 may be seductive but it is also a husky, highly specialized device that will cost the average musician a few pennies more than its lesser but still extremely capable LS varieties. If you’re in the market, it’s worth taking a very close look at all three models and seriously considering which will best fit your needs.

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