April 24, 2024

The OM SYSTEM LS-P5 Is A Brilliant Pocket-Sized Recording Studio

A couple of years back, I reviewed the Olympus LS-4P voice recorder. I was so impressed by the tiny gadget I went straight out and bought one for myself. It turned out to be one of the most impressive audio recorders I’ve ever used, thanks to its unique TresMic directional triple microphone system and a compact size that means I can slip it into a jacket or shirt pocket

Fast forward a couple of years, Olympus has changed its brand to OM SYSTEM, presumably in homage to the company’s superb OM cameras that were first made in the 1970s. However, the company is more than just digital cameras these days; it also produces an extensive range of dictation systems, voice recorders and medical imaging devices.

OM SYSTEM has launched its latest premium field recorder. The OM System LS-5P looks similar to its predecessor – the Olympus LS-P4 – but this new digital voice recorder includes significant improvements and handy innovations that are ideal for video production.

The LS-P5 is powered by a couple of AAA batteries instead of the single AAA cell used on the LS-P4. The reason for this change is down to the introduction of Bluetooth functionality. The two AAA batteries provide a battery life of around 37 hours, even with Bluetooth, which brings remote control of the recorder and transmission to Bluetooth headphones for monitoring recordings and playing audio files. The recorder is supplied with two NiMH rechargeable batteries, which can be recharged in situ.

Because of the weight increase from the extra AAA battery, OM SYSTEM has altered the material used for the case of the LS-P5. The LS-P4 was made from metal. The switch to a high-quality plastic material and an impeccable construction means most people would probably have difficulty telling the difference from the LS-P4.

The 3Mic system used in the LS-P5 is similar to the previous version, but the capsules have been physically extended. The result is superbly clear stereo capture and the microphones can be adjusted to zoom in with a narrower pickup angle in mono mode. The third mic on the LS-P5 also focuses more on bass frequencies and creates full-frequency recordings with plenty of bottom end.

As well as having its three built-in microphones, the LS-P5 also features a 3.5mm input that can be set to mic or line level. The input is ideal for taking a direct feed from a mixing desk or a Lavalier mic. Alongside the mic input, there’s a 3.5mm line-out jack for feeding the sound to the mic input of a video camera. Alternatively, it can be used for zero-latency monitoring of the recording. You can even record on the LS-P5 and the camera simultaneously and use one or the other as a safety track.

The recording level of the LS-P5 can be set automatically or manually depending on the user’s preference. There are preset recording scenes that are suitable for a podcast interview, live music or something as mundane as a university lecture. The automatic gain level works brilliantly, plus there is a limiter available that can prevent clipping if the sounds being recorded are unexpectedly loud.

The recording function of the LS-P5 includes a pre-record setting that enables the recorder to capture two seconds of sound preceding the moment the Record button is pressed. The recorder keeps cycling the two seconds on standby, so it’s always ready to go. The feature is handy, especially when a piece of music or a speaker starts unexpectedly. With the two-second pre-record, you always know you have captured the whole performance.

The LS-P5 can record in various formats, from low-res MP3 to hi-res PCM and WAV files, topping out at 96kHz and 24-bit resolution, if that’s what you need. I tested the LS-P5 with the recording setting at 44.1kHz and 16-bit, which is CD quality. The audio was superb and I think going any higher would take up more memory space without benefiting most users. However, it’s good that the recording quality can go so high.

A part of this latest voice recorder that hasn’t changed much is the positioning of the transport controls, which are well laid out and easy to reach using a single thumb. The handling noise is exceptionally low and there’s a tripod bush on the underside for mounting it on a grip or tripod. OM SYSTEM has also put rubber isolating pads on the base for placing the recorder on a table.

The menu screen and operating system on the LS-P5 are much the same as the other recorders in the OM SYSTEM range. The display is a mono LCD and although it’s not the prettiest or the slickest of displays, it’s fine for navigating through the recorder’s settings, access to audio files and other essential functions.

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the LS-P5 is the decision to use a Micro USB port for charging and transferring audio files instead of the more usual USB-C. The previous LS-P4 had a slide-out USB-A port to charge its single AAA battery and transfer data. I would have preferred a regular USB-C port, but it’s not a massive issue.

The LS-P5 has a generous 16GB of built-in memory for storing recordings and a microSD card slot for holding even more files, so there should be plenty of space to keep all your files onboard. The 16GB memory will be adequate for most people and can hold many hours of high-quality recordings.

Verdict: The OM SYSTEM LS-P5 is the ideal voice recorder for podcasters recording interviews on location or radio journalists capturing audio and comment in a press conference. In addition, the LS-P5 is perfect for capturing university lectures, business meetings or any other event where you need a clear record of the proceedings. The audio quality picked up by the 3Mic system is outstanding, especially considering the compact size of the LS-P5, making a handy recording studio thanks to its overdub features. The LS-P5 is small enough to slip in a pocket, provides plenty of battery life and can be controlled remotely with a smartphone by using Bluetooth. Highly recommended.

Pricing & Availability: The OM System LS-P5 voice recorder is available in various bundles depending on what you want to use it for. The base model costs £198.99

More info: omsystem.com

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