Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: The New LS-100 PCM Recorder From Olympus Part 1 Of 2

Review: Olympus LS-100 PCM Digital Recorder Part 1 Of 2

The new LS-100 PCM recorder, from Olympus arrived the other day. Further first impressions are that it seems to be a very capable piece of kit. Skimming through the specs of this digital recorder, some of the features that caught my attention were:
  • 96kHz/24 Bit capability
  • Frequency response Between 20Hz ~ 20kHz
  • 2 Low Cut Filters available: 100 or 300Hz
  • Rechargeable Li Ion battery ~ 12.5 Hour battery life
  • 2 XLR connections with 48v/24v Phantom power
It is provided with a very thorough user manual. Since I've owned and used quite a few Olympus digital recorders over the years: I was able to make some quick recordings, without reading the manual.
I don't recommend this -but- It does serve to illustrate just how easy it is to use this machine.
Once you carefully read the User Manual (preferably, with the recorder in-hand) you'll be operating it like a Pro in no-time.

I had a serendipitous recording opportunity come up:
It was around 2:00 AM, when I heard some birds chattering in the Red Cedar trees in my (next-door) neighbor's yard. Very unusual! Not only was it 2 AM, but temperatures were in the mid 30's Fahrenheit. I grabbed the LS-100 and made some recordings, without even lowering the window screen. I carefully held the LS-100 close to the window screen, in the direction of the Cedar trees.

The most interesting thing that happened, as a result of these backyard birds singing, was that the LS-100 had an opportunity to prove just how well it performs. And, what a useful addition it would be, for the wildlife sound recording enthusiast.

While I was monitoring, and recording short samples of the birds singing - There were some periods of time, when (to my ears) nothing was heard. I also made a couple of sample recordings during these silent periods as well. And, when playing those particular recordings back (using only the LS-100's built-in speakers) I heard the bird songs! I was both happy, and impressed! In short: This recorder was able to pick up and record, sounds that were outside the range of average human hearing. These are the kind of recorders I like!

Just a few details that I recall, from the time the recordings were made:

The birds were located approximately 30 feet away.
The LS-100 was being used in it's standard, Recorder function.
Mic Gain was set to 'Mid', Recording Level: Manual (both knobs set to 10)
Neither of the audio filters were in use.
Sample Rate was 96kHz/24 Bit*
*I believe this last setting, was the reason why the in-audible bird sounds were recorded (high sample rate!). Along with the great overall sensitivity, the high sample rate was able to detect, and digitally reproduce the sounds.  
Similar to the way that a full spectrum recorder, is able to make ultrasonic bat calls audible. 

I've tried creating some (aesthetically pleasing) sonograms of the bird calls - Using quite a few applications that I had available; but I've had no luck so far. Of course, most of my software is set-up for bat calls, and other ultrasounds, etc. 
Whether I'll be able to produce some good sonograms from these recorded .wav files remains to be seen. If I'm able to: They will be included in Part 2 of this review.

I'll be visiting some suburban areas this week. And, I hope to make some ultrasound recordings of singing insects. In which case, I'll have no trouble producing some nice sonograms.

The New LS-100 Recorder From Olympus Part 2 Of 2

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