You are here

OM System LS-P5

Stereo Digital Recorder By Matt Houghton
Published April 2023

OM System LS-P5

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.

The Tresmic II three‑mic array differs from previous versions, in that the centre capsule is now a directional one, rather than an omni.The Tresmic II three‑mic array differs from previous versions, in that the centre capsule is now a directional one, rather than an omni.

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 mode handy; this applies a boost in mid to high frequencies, designed to give dialogue a little more presence — useful for recording lectures or interviews, but potentially also for podcasting, streaming and so on. The LS‑P4’s Auto and Manual recording modes are joined by a new Smart mode, which is an automatic preamp gain system similar to that found on Roland’s Studio Capture and Audient’s EVO audio interfaces. You just press and hold the Record button, point the recorder at whatever you’ll be recording, and the device will set appropriate gain to ensure a clean recording without clipping. Let go and press Record again and recording will commence. It’s great for inexperienced users and for those in a hurry. And speaking of being in a hurry, there’s a new two‑second pre‑record feature too.

A long press of the red Record button enters Smart mode, in which the LS‑P5 will automatically set the preamp gain for you.A long press of the red Record button enters Smart mode, in which the LS‑P5 will automatically set the preamp gain for you.Bluetooth connectivity isn’t new per se, but it’s improved: the LS‑P5 has Version 5.0 support, which in lay terms means it now allows both headphone and app connection at the same time, which previously was not possible. So, when recording to 16‑bit files, you can now monitor remotely over Bluetooth headphones, while using the considerably beefed‑up smartphone control app.

In Use

In the box with the review unit were two rechargeable Ni‑MAAA batteries, a multilingual Basic Manual and a micro USB to USB‑A 2.0 adaptor. The LS‑P4 used only one battery, and the idea here is to allow longer running time when using Bluetooth (and longer still when not). The batteries are rechargeable and came fully charged — the device itself acts as a USB‑powered battery charger, which is a nice touch — and I like that spare batteries are cheap and readily available. OM System kindly sent their WJ2 wind jammer and a foam carry/storage pouch to help with testing, though these are not included in the price. There’s support for up to 2TB micro‑SD XC Type 1 cards, and while no card is supplied, there is 16GB of storage built in so you have everything you need to get up and running.

As with previous‑generation devices, this recorder can genuinely be ‘handheld’ since it’s incredibly lightweight and tiny; it definitely passed the portability test. Although thicker than my Samsung Galaxy S9, the LS‑P5’s footprint is roughly 40% of that of the phone, and I was just about able to enclose the whole thing in one hand; it will fit easily into most pockets. Likewise it ticks all the boxes when it comes to ease of use. Just pop in the supplied batteries, slide the on switch and, after confirming the date/time, you are ready to record. The home screen provides useful at‑a‑glance information, such as how much storage remains available, in terms of data capacity and recording time. After I’d performed a five‑second test of the Smart mode’s auto‑gain, the levels were set and I was happily capturing a recording of me singing and playing the acoustic guitar.

After hitting Stop and then Play, I was able to confirm using the in‑built speaker that I’d successfully recorded something, and plugging in my Beyerdynamic DT250 headphones revealed the capture to be of a clean and pleasing quality (very much like on previous LS‑series recorders) and that there was plenty of level available from the headphone output. A quick dive into the mercifully shallow menu structure told me I’d recorded this performance as a 16‑bit/44.1kHz stereo WAV file, that being the default (presumably to make all Bluetooth functionality available without having to tweak). That was adequate for what I’d been capturing, since the Smart mode had done a cracking job of setting the levels to keep the noise floor sensibly low and avoiding clipping, though you can set it at up to 24‑bit/96kHz should you wish.

Operation of the hardware is about as simple as you could imagine. Even more so, in fact, than on previous‑generation recorders because the Smart mode makes setting levels effortless. You just have to make sure, of course, that you make an effort to include in your ‘soundcheck’ the loudest sounds you’ll be capturing.

Handling noise is, as on older models, kept pleasingly low, as long as you take reasonable care. In normal use there wasn’t any, so I tried deliberately being careless: adjusting my grip and letting the recorder slide in my hand, tapping the body etc. While these noises were picked up, they were helpfully attenuated, and the wanted audio could be clearly heard. Naturally, the windsock, which is a good snug fit, was useful when recording outdoors too.

Setting up for Bluetooth remote control turned out to be a shade more fiddly than I’d hoped. The first thing to note is that you don’t simply search for the device from your phone’s Bluetooth menu, as with most Bluetooth devices. Instead, you surf the LS‑P5’s menu to find and select Device Menu / Bluetooth / Smartphone App / Pairing, after which the device displays its name and a code. Then fire up the app on your phone, and search for the recorder. It took about 10 seconds to find it, and upon me entering the code, the app paired with the device, which took another 10 or so seconds. Then the app tells you “The recorder is busy...” That, it turns out, is a prompt for you to exit the Bluetooth setup menu on the device; only once you’ve done that can you start using the app.

Putting all that aside, the app seems to me to be very well thought out — it is incredibly convenient once you’re up and running. I started by auditioning the handful of recordings I’d already made. They played back through the recorder (not the phone, but Bluetooth headphone playback is supported) while the phone’s screen displayed good, clear metering, including a handy peak‑level history for the left and right channels and remaining battery life and storage/recording time. The app also provides transport controls, including a dedicated button to engage the Smart mode — sensible, as it’s less easy to press/hold a touchscreen record button than the physical one on the device. You also have playback volume controls, and lots of options in a separate Settings page, covering pretty much all the configurable options on the hardware. At the top of the main page you can edit the filename and navigate to other files. You can also insert markers during recording or playback, though note that these are proprietary; you can’t export them to your DAW or a CSV file, which I’d suggest might be a candidate feature for a future firmware revision. All in all, it’s a lot easier than using the hardware’s buttons, menu and smaller screen. But the best thing about it, in my view, is that having a remote control to hand makes self‑recording sessions a breeze.

You have a choice of two modes when connecting the LS‑P5 to your computer via USB: simply as a mass storage device for file transfers, or as a Composite device, so it can be used as a bidirectional audio interface. I tested the recorder as an audio interface with Reaper running on my M1 MacBook Pro running Mac OS 12.4 and it functioned perfectly well in this role, with only a couple of tiny caveats. First, whenever you connect using USB, you can’t access any of the recorder’s settings, either using the hardware or the app. You won’t need to access most of them, but sadly this means you lose the ability to configure the mic array’s width. That’s a missed opportunity: that could be really useful if you wanted to record and overdub different instruments to a DAW. (Another candidate for a firmware update?) Second, connecting over USB breaks your Bluetooth connection to the control app. That can be a tad frustrating if you need to switch between the two configurations fairly frequently — though to be fair that’s perhaps a scenario which is more frequently encountered when testing/reviewing a recorder like this than using it out in the real world!


Most prospective customers will be interested in the LS‑P5’s capability as a stand‑alone portable recorder, and in that role it works very well indeed. Clever as the original Tresmic array was, the new version with the directional centre mic is a big improvement: for the main applications for which this recorder is intended, what’s captured and rejected in spatial terms will be more important than being able to reach a shade lower down the frequency spectrum. There are just enough editing facilities and other options on board to please those who demand a bit more than just recording and playback, and some useful tools for those recording voice (eg. skip silence).

The remote control app is a big improvement, to the extent that I’d use it by preference over the built‑in menus, even when right next to the recorder. It’s great that it doubles up as a USB mic/interface, though there’s potential for improvement in that area in firmware updates, not least in allowing the Tresmic II array to be tweaked while connected to your computer.

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for a capable compact recorder with onboard mics (and don’t need XLR inputs), this has to be worth contemplating.


  • Can genuinely be handheld.
  • Clean, detailed sound.
  • New Tresmic II array’s stereo width much more configurable.
  • Improved control app.
  • New Bluetooth functions added.


  • Nothing of note.


A clever and capable stereo recorder, the LS‑P5 boasts a revised Tresmic array, a better remote control app, and other improvements to boot.