Need to capture an idea or a high-quality instrument performance and bring it DAW-side? Andy Jones discovers a pocket wonder in our review of the LS Pocket from Olympus…
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As a producer, you should have a recorder ‘at the ready’. I’ve had many a ‘McCartney moment’ when I’ve woken up with an incredible tune in my head, only to have nothing ready to capture it.
Had I successfully done it, there’s every chance I’d now be sunning myself on a tropical island rather than typing this [of course there is, nurse will be along shortly – Sub Ed].
But there are also plenty of other moments when a decent mobile recorder can come to the rescue: recording a band’s jam session; interviewing for the swarm of blogs that happen across the web; bringing the sound of nature into your tunes; and, especially, to get decent audio for videos.
My own particular recent needs are simply to capture an acoustic piano performance and bring it into my DAW, without the faffing of mic placement and leads. Well, I think I’ve just discovered the answer to all of the above, and in miniature form…
Use a ’phone instead?
We’ve been huge fans of mobile recorders at MT and Olympus has always delivered the goods with a range of models, but the LS Pocket series brings the digital recorder up to date while making it more portable than any ’phone – the device many of us would turn to for a quick recording these days.
It also boasts Hi-Res Audio, so it can go right up to 96kHz/24-bit recording. While your ’phone might have decent recording specs, it won’t have decent mics – the LS Pocket scores again here.
There are two models in the series: the LS-P1, with a stereo set of mics and the LS-P2 (on test here), with a ‘TRESMIC’ three-mic system for better bass response and added Bluetooth.
Tiny, Not Tinny
You’ll be amazed at quite how small the LS Pocket Series is – hence the picture supplied below for reference. I love portable gadgets and this is about as portable as it gets. The units use rechargable batteries which can be charged via USB, something you might need to do on unpacking.
The device appears as a normal external drive when you do this and you can navigate around music folders to use it as an MP3 player or recorded-audio folder.
I have to say that my only criticism is the size of it means that some of the buttons are a little hard to see and press – especially the Menu and two Function buttons. But that aside, this thing is a joy to use. The menu system is incredibly easy to navigate, with File, Record Play, Display and Device menus allowing you to do everything like set recording quality, normalise files, set up a Bluetooth connection and so on.
Well we did say they were small…
As to the recording quality, I tested it for an interview (with snooker legend Steve Davis, for a new vinyl magazine we’re launching) at a lower rate, with no problems whatsover – the resulting playback was perfect. The unit is very easy to use and set levels, and the file system shows years of Olympus knowhow in its minimal workflow time.
Setting the recording quality to the maximum, I set about recording that acoustic piano. Positioning with mics – and all of the faffing that entails – would get a great sound, so I wasn’t expecting perfection. I simply stood it on top with the piano lid open and played a while. At one point, I set the level higher, which was easily done while recording.
Within minutes of stopping, I was listening to the file play back in Logic and it sounded so good, I started dreaming I was some kind of stage pianist. Caveats are you’ll have to get the unit in the right place, but my recordings were every bit as good as many samples I’ve used – deep, rich and vibrant – and my own piano is now a fixture in compositions going forward.
So, already, this little pocket device has given me one unexpected use. Add the MP3 player capability and Bluetooth playback for just £179, and it’s a huge winner in compact form.
Olympus LS Pocket – Key Features
● Hi-Res Audio Bluetooth recorder
● Stereo mic
● PCM/MP3 recording
● FR of two mics: 60Hz to 20kHz; 20Hz to 20kHz
● Zoom mic mode
● SPL up to 120dB
● Memory: 4GB LS-P1; 8GB LS-P2 offering 123 and 253 hours resp.
● Storage format: MicroSD
● Battery life: up to 39 hours recording (rechargable battery supplied)
● MP3 player option
● Connectors: headphone out; mic in; USB
● Size: tiny
● Weighs: little