Olympus LS-14 (Linear PCM Recorder) was specifically designed with the musician in mind. It does 24bit / 96khz high quality recording with its built-in “Stereo Directional microphones and Center Omni Directional microphone.”
The device is approximately 5.5 inches long from the tip of the mic to the bottom edge. It measures approximately 2 inches wide and just under 1 inch in-depth. It weighs in at just under 6 ounces. This makes it light weight and easy to port around. Although it’s a great mobile audio companion it’s not as sleek in form format as a smart phone but the added sound quality and cool musical features make it worth the extra bit of girth as compared to a smart phone.
The unit seems well put together but it is made of plastic materials. For mobile applications I would use extra precaution as the casing is not metal and may not react so kindly to being kicked and bounced around. on it’s back there are 4 little itty bitty rubber stops that gives it a bit of relief from any slippage or sliding when sitting on slippery surfaces. The rubber stops are not intrusive or noticeable when handheld but they serve the purpose when needed. The buttons on the face of the device are large enough to make it easy to find and use its features, yet small enough that use in the dark or dimly lit areas is not problematic and still pretty easy to navigate. The Mode Dial makes for easy feature selection.If I had to choose I think I’d like the orange-ish backlit screen of the Zoom recorders to the Olympus LS-14‘s blue backlit screen. But it will do just fine in most instances.
The Olympus LS-14 comes with 4GB of on-board flash memory which should keep you set to record for a good amount of time. Just how much record time does the internal memory give you to play with? Well you can rock out with about 5 hours of record time at CD Quality (PCM WAV 44kHz/16 bit). Obviously the record time dwindles down significantly as the sample rate and bit depth settings change. Indeed, higher quality wav file recordings begot shorter record times. Contrast that with the recording times 22+ hours for MP3 file formats at the highest available quality mp3 file format of 320kbps. But rest assured that if you need more record time / memory capacity you can simply insert an SD / SDHC card. it accepts up to 32GB.
Available recording formats for PCM wav are
- 44khz mono
Available recording formats for mp3 are
- 64kbps mono
Olympus put a little something extra into the Olympus LS-14 for musicians. It has a tuner built-in. I found it useful in studio for the typical tuner applications and given its high quality mic set up I didn’t have to connect any wires or cables to use the tuner. It also has built metronome and overdubbing if you so desire to count in, play in time and layer a couple of tracks. But be easy,m as far as I can tell the overdubbing feature is limited and may not provide what you think when one says “overdub.” To that I say “DAW”… moving on… The “smart mode” automatically adjusts for best recording level based on the loudest boom bap thrown at it.
Care to dig deeper? There is a low-cut filter that can be switched between off, 100hz and 300hz. Also included is a limiter that can be set to music or voice. Mic gain can be set to Hi, mid or Low. There is a mic select option which allows you to select whether or not the central mic is on or not. There is a line in for recording direct into the unit from various sources and a mic jack which can be turned on or off within settings. The Olympus LS-14 also allows indexing (up to 99 index points) for those long recording where you want to set points of interest for easy locating later. Lastly, there are a strap slot, clip stand and tripod hole.
The Stereo Directional microphones and Center Omni Directional microphone combine to give a better stereo field and higher quality of recording with better lows than the average recorder.
Battery life? How’s “46 hours of battery life”? All I know is I never changed the batteries during my testing and I went in with a couple long days. I would say this can vary greatly depending on usage and various settings.
The remote connection had me puzzled. I guess it never occurred to me that you would need to or want to use any sort of remote control with a portable unit but I realize the usefulness of such a feature. So if you are one that may need such a feature there is indeed an optional remote for this express purpose. According to the manual it is described as “REMOTE jack Connect the receiver of the exclusive remote control set RS30W (optional). This enables operation of the start and stop recording functions through the remote control.”
The unit is compatible with PC and Mac. it connects via the mini USB connector. Makes it easy to retrieve recordings for further editing and processing etc.
If I had to list features I don’t like is the fact that it has not carrying case. The screen is sufficient but over time in dark rooms it may not be the easiest on the eyes but then again maybe that’s all subjective. Lastly, the rather annoying voice assistant (single white female syndrome to Siri) that attempts to assist you in your recording journey. Remind me to turn her off before attending the (ultra quiet) Roger Linn discussion. Dohh!
Overall, I’d say the Olympus LS-14 is good unit for anyone in need of a portable high quality audio recorder with flexibility. Being able to upgrade the memory with up to a 32gb SD card is cool but it would be cooler to allow 64GB compatibility. The LS-14 comes standard with 4gb of built in flash memory whereas his little sister the LS 12 comes with 2gb. Available accessories include mini tripod, wind jammer (furry cat-like thingys – very technical, i know), remote control and clip. It comes with a soft little travel friendly zipper case. The inclusion of a tuner, metronome and over dubbing are great value added features. For $199, the Olympus LS-14 is a good buy should it’s feature set suit your needs. In my opinion the recorded audio sounds great and that goes a long way on its own. Deciding if the other features are worth the $199 when other units range from $99 to $250 is entirely subjective.