This diminutive device might look familiar, but it’s not just the brand name that has changed!
OM System is the new moniker for Olympus, who became famous for their cameras back in the 1930s and have also long made audio recorders — they began with micro‑cassette devices, and released a digital voice recorder as early as 2001. Under the old brand name, several compact LS‑series PCM recorders previously impressed us with their winning combination of portability, ease of operation and sound quality. Different models have added and improved features here and there, but essentially they’re variations on the same theme.
The new LS‑P5 is an updated version of the Olympus LS‑P4, which Paul White reviewed in SOS May 2018. On first glance not a huge amount appears to have changed: it still uses what the company describe as a Tresmic mic array, comprising a near‑coincident left‑right pair and a central mic. There’s a similar size screen and control layout on the top panel, a USB port at the bottom, and a tiny auditioning speaker on the rear. Indeed, most of the LS‑P4’s features, including Bluetooth connectivity for playback and use with a free remote‑control app for iOS and Android devices, remain.
And, as with the LS‑P4, this device can capture mono or stereo audio, and record to linear PCM or lossless compressed FLAC files at 16‑ or 24‑bit word lengths and sample rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 kHz. It can also record (up to 320kbps) MP3 files. The onboard editing and playback tools also remain intact: useful if basic facilities like playback speed, EQ, file splitting and trimming, normalisation, and the ability to apply fades.
On closer inspection, though, you’ll notice plenty of changes. A cursory look around the device reveals that the mini‑jack input and headphone output now appear on the opposite side to the LS‑P4 (to make camera connections easier), alongside the on/hold slide switch, and the input can now accept stereo line‑level as well as mic‑level signals, the setting being switchable using the on‑screen menu. (The LS‑P4’s input could only handle mics). The micro‑SDXC card slot is better positioned, being on the opposite side panel rather than the rear, and there’s now a camera tripod mounting thread there too (the previous model required an adaptor).
The new array employs a directional centre mic in place of the omni used in the original Tresmic array of the LS‑P4 and earlier models.
A more significant change is to the onboard mics. Now named Tresmic II, the new array employs a directional centre mic in place of the omni used in the original Tresmic array of the LS‑P4 and earlier models. The capsules sit in a redesigned housing and, according to the specs, they can stand a slightly higher maximum sound pressure level too (125dB SPL compared with the LS‑P4’s 120dB). A benefit of the central omni capsule in the previous arrangement was that it allowed greater bass extension than directional mics alone, but the use of a directional centre mic offers different benefits. The Zoom tool in the menu allows the user to set the ‘width’ of the array, as before, by adjusting the balance between the centre mic and the stereo pair. But there are now 21 settings, ranging from ‘full stereo’ (position zero) to ‘mono cardioid’ (position 20). The previous model had only 10 settings, and since it had an omni mic in the centre it obviously couldn’t be set with quite such a narrow pickup pattern even at its maximum setting. In practical terms, this means you’re able to reject more ambience or ‘room sound’ than before.
Most SOS readers will probably be more interested in this device’s capabilities as a music recorder or for capturing samples, but they might still find the new Bright Sound...
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