One of the new products Olympus introduced at CES 2012 was the LS-100 audio recorder. I had the chance to sit down with the LS-100 for a few minutes during a press briefing. Check out my hands-on report below.
The LS-100 is a multi-track recorder featuring dual quarter-inch/XLR inputs with 48/24v phantom power available. Both inputs feature independent recording levels, which can be set via a pair of manual knobs on the side of the LS-100.
It also features a pair of built-in 90-degree directional condenser mics acting as a stereo pair. The LS-100 captures uncompressed 96kHz 24-bit audio and features a low-cut filter available at 100Hz or 300Hz.
Olympus reps told me that the LS-100 is targeted toward musicians; however, it’s hard not to compare the LS-100 directly to the Zoom H4n. Below are a few features that I noted based on my significant use of the H4n and short time with the LS-100.
The LS-100 appears to have a tougher casing, with aluminum construction and larger rubber “feet” on the bottom of the unit. The Zoom H4n uses AA batteries, while the Olympus LS-100 is powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery. The LS-100 has 4GB of built-in memory and will accept all SD cards up to the SDXC format.
The LS-100 can only record 2 channels at a time – it cannot capture both XLR audio signals and the built-in condenser mic signals at the same time. The Zoom can record audio through both XLRs and the built-in condensers at the same time. This is useful from a video production standpoint when you want to record to 2 shotgun mics for dialog and then capture environmental/ambient via the on-board condenser mics. I would suspect (but received no confirmation from Olympus) that this feature could be added to the LS-100 via a firmware update if the demand were high enough.
The Zoom H4n graphic interface looks archaic and is a bit clunky to navigate. The Olympus LS-100 offers a GUI that looks more modern and intuitive to operate.
Olympus claims a high quality amp in the LS-100; however, there were no mics or headphones on hand for me to evaluate what it sounded like. I’m really interested to hear what this sounds like compared to the Zoom H4n because when it all comes down to it, sound quality is what really matters in spite of all the other bells and whistles.
[UPDATE: There is a more detailed comparison with the Olympus LS-100, Zoom H4n and Tascam DR-100 MkII here.]
More images of the new LS-100 in the gallery below.