While the size of portable recorders continues to shrink, they continue to increase in power. The 24-Bit Olympus LS-7 is no exception, as this pocket-sized mini recorder provides linear PCM recording at up to 96 kHz and can easily fit in a shirt pocket.

Features

The compact Olympus LS-7 Linear PCM recorder measures 4 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 5/8 inches and includes a pair of AAA rechargeable batteries, windscreen and protective black case. The case is well padded and will do a fine job protecting the LS-7 in most situations (with the exception that it doesn’t cover the end of the recorder). Although it only weighs three ounces, the LS-7 is well built; I would expect it to provide years of quality service.

The top of the recorder includes two stereo condenser mics and a center omnidirectional mic, both controlled via onboard software; it allows stereo width adjustment and the ability to insert a low-cut filter at either 100 or 300 Hz. The back of the unit is equipped with a playback speaker and a standard quarter-inch tripod socket. Olympus makes a tripod that is compatible with the LS-7, though I used the Sony tripod purchased with my PCM-D50 and it worked perfectly.

The left side of the LS-7 includes a power/hold switch and 3.5mm jacks for headphones and a wireless remote control (not included). The right side includes a 3.5mm microphone input jack, carry strap anchor and a micro SD/SDHC media card slot which provides the ability to have up to 32GB of additional memory over the internal 4GB. The mini-USB port on the bottom of the recorder provides easy access for transfer to and from a computer as well as a way to charge the unit’s batteries. The front of the recorder includes a complement of buttons and lights as well as a fairly large display screen (at least large for being such a small unit) giving the user the ability to access all of the LS-7’s functions.

The LS-7 provides onboard File Divide, Move and Copy functions, and it supports Linear PCM, MP3 and WMA sound formats with internal memory capacities of over 11 hours (Linear PCM), over 131 hours (MP3), and over 1,007 hours (WMA) with the highest quality option being uncompressed 24-bit/96 kHz Linear PCM. While the feature is in no way unique to Olympus recorders, the LS-7 offers the ability to “prerecord” meaning that two seconds of audio is captured in the LS-7’s buffer before the Record button is pressed. Gone are the days of missing the first second of a performance because you were late to the draw pushing record. Battery charging is via USB or an optional AC adapter.

In Use

Over the past two months I’ve used the LS-7 to capture audio in a wide variety of situations, from a pops concert featuring the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson Symphony Center to a rock band playing in a small club, and it has always provided impressive results. The size of the LS-7 is one of the device’s most impressive features; it can easily be carried anywhere.

While recording with the LS-7’s onboard mics yields a slightly higher noise floor than with other recorders costing two to four times more, the quality is still quite good as it provides smooth, full-range audio with excellent imaging. Once audio has been captured, transferring files to and from a computer is a piece of cake on both Mac and PC. Recordists who are familiar with the typical portable recorder menu system and functionality will find the LS-7 intuitive and easy to use, while first-time users will likely need to spend a few minutes referencing the well-written manual to get up and running.

Summary

The small, versatile, easy-to-use Olympus LS-7 is an excellent choice when it comes to filling the need of quality recording on the go. There are other options that have better quality but none that I’m aware of in this price range, thus making the LS-7 the perfect combination of affordability and quality. The recorder’s rugged build ensures that it will provide years of quality service, and its powerful features and recording format flexibility make it ideal for many in-the-field two-track recording situations.

Price: $199.99

Contact: Olympus Imaging America | olympusamerica.com

Russ Long is a Nashville-based producer, engineer and mixer as well as PAR’s Senior Contributor.