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    Olympus LS-10 vs Sony PCM-D50 (vs something else)?


    Hi,

    I'm looking to buy a portable handheld recorder of fairly high quality. The Zoom H4 seems to be quite popular, but I'd like to get something with better internal mics (and ideally a bit smaller). Important factors are:

    - Size. My plan is to carry it on me most of the time in case I suddenly encounter an inspiring field-recording situation.
    - Quality of internal mics and low noise floor. Some of the targets to be recorded will inevitably be of fairly quiet and delicate nature, so it's important that the device can capture them adequately.
    - Fairly low handling noise. Most of my recordings will be done holding the unit in my hand and quite likely moving around simultaneously. This cannot be an obstacle.

    Going up with price from the H4, two units in particular have caught my eye: Olympus LS-10 and Sony PCM-D50. The LS-10 has two advantages: small size and cheaper price (£193 was the cheapest I could find). The PCM-D50 is larger and more expensive, but on the other hand higher quality in apparently all regards. The cheapest price I could find for the PCM-D50 was £399 (+ £21 for the Rode Dead Kitten windshield = £420 in total), so it wouldn't break the bank either.

    Now, (since price isn't a major obstacle) the only problem with the PCM-D50 is that it's a little bit too large to be carried with me on all times. I do have my shoulder bag with me most of the time, but if it's full of other stuff the PCM-D50 most likely won't fit in. So I'm worried that I wouldn't end up keeping it with me, and it would just sit in a box collecting dust. On the other hand, good quality of recordings is very important to me. With my minidisc + SONY ECM-MS907 -mic combo I've often bumped into situations where the hiss is just too high for usable recordings. So with Olympus LS-10, I'm worried that even though I'd be carrying it with me all the time, it wouldn't cut it for the more demanding recording situations.

    So here I'm asking for your help. How is the recording quality / s2n ratio in the LS-10 and Sony PCM-D50, and most importantly, how do they compare with each other in this respect? How big are they in the end (ie. can the Sony be lugged around all the time without a problem)? Unfortunately the PCM-D50 seems to be impossible to find in Finland, so I cannot make a comparison my self...

    Any other comments/suggestions are gratefully welcomed as well!

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    for audio quality go for Sony PCM-D50.
    for size go for Olympus LS-10.
    Is it your aim to do audio DVDs? if it is not, both devices can do very nice recordings.
    Go to an audio shop and play with both. That will give you a better idea of what YOU want.

    I understand your anxiety... everybody want the best/smallest/cheapest recorder.

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    I liked the H4 as I could plug an XLR cable directly into it... Not mandatory but was handy.

    no.
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    You might find this site useful

    http://forums.oreilly.com/content/Audio-Community/20/Portable-Digital-Recorders/

    "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
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    Thanks for the responses!

    crguti
    Is it your aim to do audio DVDs? if it is not, both devices can do very nice recordings.

    Yeah I should've probably elaborated a bit more on this. I'll be using the device to gather source material for electroacoustic composition work (and for sound installations and such). Because the aesthetic impact of the sound event is sought after, sonic detail is important. The sounds I'll be recording will range a lot, but there will be plenty of quiet and delicate sounds as well. For example: calm sea waves washing over a shore, a distant flock of birds, a helicopter flyby, a marble ball rolling on a table, a clock ticking, a swarm of insects etc...

    Because of the amount of quiet sounds, low noise floor is very important. So I guess my main question is - can the LS-10 handle this kind of material? If it can, I'll get it due to its size, if not I have to pick a device with a better s2n ratio (most likely the PCM-D50).

    There are plenty of audio clips available demonstrating both, but unfortunately most of them are relatively loud sound sources. Has anyone used the LS-10 with more delicate material? The background hiss audible on this acoustic guitar recording from O'reilly's review has got me worried...

    Go to an audio shop and play with both. That will give you a better idea of what YOU want.

    Unfortunately, neither unit is widely available here in Helsinki, and the Sony one seems to even downright impossible to find...

    If I'd go down in price (and size) from the Sony PCM-D50, what unit would have the second best internal mics and s2n ratio? Is it the Olympus?

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    some points to consider:
    Sony PCM-D50 comes with internal 2 Gb and expandible using propietary memory stick (very expensive). Plus, it cannot record to MP3 directly. Internal microphones are very sensitive (sometimes is good, sometimes is a pain in the ass).
    Olympus LS10 is smaller, cheaper and use SD/SDHC removable media card (very cheap). Internal microphones comes with foam-covers (no extra money).

    I think the average listener will not appreciate differences in audio quality. But I have to say that Sony gives a 'bit' more pristine audio quality. Nonetheless, both recoders can give very good results. You will not regret the purchase of Olympus LS10.

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    Look, I love my Zoom H2 (I used to own an H4 as well), but as far as handling noise go, its terrible. If I don't move around much one can get away with an 'in pocket' recording without too much hassle. I almost always have it on a surface, or suspended in a stand situation. The handling noise on the zooms is pretty bad. I'm going to buy one of the new rubber holders that I see on the samson site and see if that helps it.

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    A friend of mine has a Sony PCM-D50 and claims that the handling noise is as bad as the Zoom H2 (which he borrowed before purchasing the Sony) and that wind noise is significantly worse in the more expensive machine. However the on-board mics or / and the pre-amp are better in the Sony.

    Hope this helps.

    "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
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    I always bring my Olympus LS-10 with me wherever I go. I put it in a pocket of my bag, and usually I forget to carry it because of its size and the light weight.

    As for the sound quality, please download some of my sounds from this site and listen to them yourself.

    It has almost no audible noise floor. Very quiet, I think.
    The sound quality is good enough for a handy recorder like that. I even use it for recording musical instruments.
    It looks like a chocolate bar, but the body is made of metal and I feel it robust.
    The battery life is incredibly long. By far the longest of all my sweet recorders.
    Easily connected to my imac, and I can handle sound files with the mouse. Of course it's nice with PC, too.

    In the windy situation, however, LS-10 is not so good as professional microphone settings. Foam covers bundled in the box don't work in the wind blowing. And Sony D50 may be better in sound quality than LS-10.

    I myself never regret to have got an LS-10. Never. It's one of the most satisfactory products for me ever made.

    Sound counts.
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    Very useful comments, thanks everyone!

    crguti
    I think the average listener will not appreciate differences in audio quality.

    I mostly agree, that's why I'm not hugely concerned with minor details about the warmth or brilliance etc of the sound. I'm more concerned with noise floor, handling noise and directionality of the microphones. And the general shape of the frequency response (for example a lack of bass is noticeable to anyone). Noise floor becomes a huge issue when you're trying to capture a bird 20 meters away - even the average listener will surely notice when the sound is drenched in hiss.

    Benboncan
    A friend of mine has a Sony PCM-D50 and claims that the handling noise is as bad as the Zoom H2 (which he borrowed before purchasing the Sony) and that wind noise is significantly worse in the more expensive machine.

    I assume he is referring to the wind noise with the Sony without the (or a) wind shield? Apparently the AD-PCM1 or Rode's Dead Kitten are very effective in protecting it from wind... Bummer about the handling noise, that's a PITA when trying to do field recordings...

    Heigh-hoo
    I always bring my Olympus LS-10 with me wherever I go. I put it in a pocket of my bag, and usually I forget to carry it because of its size and the light weight.

    Thanks a lot for sharing that, very valuable! By browsing through your recordings, I noticed you've also used for example Marantz PMD-670, Korg MR-1 and Edirol R-09. How do you think the LS-10's internal microphones compare with the mics of these units? Also I notice you've used the Sony ECM MS907 mic - I've used this with a MD recorder too (I found the noise floor to be fairly high but it might have been because of the MD recorder) - how does this compare with the LS-10 inbuilt mics in your opinion? Also, how do you find the LS-10's handling noise compared to the other units you've used?

    What I'm slightly worried about with the Olympus LS-10 is how directional it's internal mics are? Most of the recordings I've found from this site made with it are capturing the general ambience of a situation. I, on the other hand, often want to "zoom in" to a particular sound. For example I might want to record the sound of an arriving metro and minimize the sound of people on the platform - or I might want to capture the sound of a bird without the motorway that's behind me etc. Of course no handheld recorder is a shotgun microphone, but I borrowed a Zoom H4 from school and it seemed to be fairly good at zooming in on targets. However, the ORTF-esque microphone positioning on the LS-10 has made me worried about its ability to do this. Can the Olympus be used to zoom in on a particular sound? Can the Zoom Mic directional effects (for example the "Narrow" preset) be used to make this easier?

    Also, does anyone have experience with using the LS-10 with other wind shield than the inbuilt foam ones? There seems to be a Wind Jammer specifically tailored for the LS-10 but it's slightly expensive - I wonder if some other fluffy wind shield fits the LS-10?

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    visa tapani
    Benboncan
    A friend of mine has a Sony PCM-D50 and claims that the handling noise is as bad as the Zoom H2 (which he borrowed before purchasing the Sony) and that wind noise is significantly worse in the more expensive machine.

    I assume he is referring to the wind noise with the Sony without the (or a) wind shield? Apparently the AD-PCM1 or Rode's Dead Kitten are very effective in protecting it from wind... Bummer about the handling noise, that's a PITA when trying to do field recordings...

    I confirm that the Rode's Dead Kitten is OK with the PCM-D50.

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    What I'm slightly worried about with the Olympus LS-10 is how directional it's internal mics are?

    Only at 44.1khz/16bit mode, you can choose built-in mics' directional sensitivity. If you set it to 'zoom,' they work as if they were a single shot-gun microphone. It sounds like mono. At 'wide' mode, they collect as much ambience as possible. This is seemingly made possible by programming, not real one, but it works. At higher rate, or mp3 mode, you can only get regular stereo images.

    By the way, new recordings done by LS-10 were added.

    Sound counts.
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    Many thanks for all of the comments! I just placed an order on the LS-10, expect to receive it later this week.

    The PCM-D50 seems to have many advantages, but the simple fact that the LS-10 is so very portable sealed the deal. I can really keep it with me almost all the time, which would be an unrealistic plan with the larger units. To me it makes sense to to own one compact device I can take anywhere and possibly later get some bulkier equipment for some better quality recordings.

    Also, at my school we have a Fostex FR2-LE, Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun and a Schoeps CCM8 figure-8 mic, so if I really need a higher quality recording than what the LS-10 offers I can do it with these...

    Now I'm interested in seeing how well the LS-10 stock windshields fare, or do I need to buy the WJ1 windjammer or possibly build one myself...

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    Hi,
    Please let us know how you like the olympus - I found this site because I am comparing the same mics. I want the olympus because it's more affordable but is the sound quality professional enough for a recording studio mix?
    Clare

    Clare
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    Hello clhedin. I've had the LS-10 for a couple of weeks now, but I've been very busy so I haven't really had time to test it very much. So far I'm pleased - the built quality is good, the size is very convenient, the device is intuitive to use and judging by quick tests the sound quality seems pretty good.

    As for your question, I'm not really sure what you mean by sound quality being "professional enough for a recording studio mix". When I'm doing a studio recording, I'm often using at least 8-16 channels and tens of thousands of euros worth of gear, so no stereo handheld recorder would really cut it for something like that. Also, since I haven't had the opportunity to try the Sony out, I can't really compare the two.

    Still, I'll try to post a more detailed user experience with the LS-10 after I've found time to use it a bit more.

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    I looked at the Olympus LS10 but decided not to get it because I found the sound to be a tad too bright (for my ears anyway) and lacking in bass. That's not to say the Olympus isn't a good recorder - aside from the issues I mentioned earlier, the sound is quite detailed and accurate. Although to my eyes, when I see foam caps covering the mics on the LS10, I'm (rather strangely) reminded of Mickey Mouse. weirdhock:

    The Sony PCM D50 would have been my first choice but for its cost, lack of MP3 recording capability and proprietary Memory $tick recording media (yes, I put the dollar sign in there deliberately).

    I ended up getting a Marantz PMD620 instead. It's very highly rated. I've also heard a number of sound samples made with it at various sites on the web and found that the sound quality is very, very good. Maybe not quite as good as the PCM D50, but still class-leading sound.

    I've had the PMD620 for about two days now and really like it. It's very small, lightweight, fits in my hand very comfortably and is very easy to use.
    Overall, it's better built than the Zoom H2 I have.

    I've posted a few sound recordings made with this recorder, so feel free to check them out. Later today I'm going to hit a couple of music shops in town to see if I can pick up an external mic suitable for field recording purposes.

    My dream field recording rig, though, is a Sound Devices 788T with some high-end Sennheiser shotgun mics. Oh well, maybe if I win a lottery...

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    Visa, I'm curious to hear how your experience has been with that recorder. I'm interested in similar subject material to what it sound like you're doing, and also debating LS-10 vs. PCM-D50.

    (I'm also interested in recording heavy machinery; if anyone reads this and wants to comment on that, I'd love to hear that).

    Best,

    Mike

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    ... vs something else?

    maybe olympus ls-11

    best regards

    badda

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    or the PCM-M10!

    available in october.

    http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-audio/resource.solutions.bbsccms-assets-cat-audio-solutions-pcmm10.shtml

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    That new Sony recorder looks good.

    I have an Olympus LS-10 and an Edirol R09-HR recorder. The Olympus is very nicely built and has good ergonomics and battery life, but the Edirol sounds a bit better: less hissy and better bass response.

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