Typical solid Olympus construction; one which has a professional feel and the controls won’t make you wonder how long it will last.
The raised lower edge with a U-shaped indentation was a well thought out ergonomic design feature. It allows you to hold the recorder easily without having to worry about accidentally hitting any controls.
Studio grade internal microphones and pre-amps for external sources.
Flexible i/o; XLR, phono, and a mini true microphone/line level input which can be set to microphone or line.
Phantom power and plug-in power.
Separate L/R recording level controls that are exquisitely designed. They are ganged within one knob and require intentional effort to offset them.
Dedicated phantom power switches.
This allows both quick access as well as extended battery life if for example you wish to use a condenser microphone in one channel and a guitar or line level source in the other.
It also eliminates potential noise due to phantom power running on an input which is not using it.
Dedicated erase button to quickly erase a file as well as setting markers to erase a section. Both are quick and easy.
Voice guidance system.
This is a godsend to a blind person such as myself who has been documenting, notating, and memorizing invisible menus since the inception of digital recorders.
And I applaud Olympus for being the first (as far as I know) and only company to offer such to the blind community on their mainstream products. To me it’s a very sweet icing on a delicious little digital cake. Finally the fun factor has truly returned to mobile recording for me.
The internal microphones are extremely sensitive to the slightest of air movement. And given that there is no wind-screen included or an optional one available one must conjure up their own to record in anything but a still environment.
The entire body of the unit is also very sensitive to air movement.
The limiters break the one and only golden rule on limiters; that is, they are not linked when recording in stereo.
The result often renders them useless. And at best I can’t use them due to the unpredictable factor.
Simply speak into the center of the microphones while recording with either limiter on and snap your fingers next to one microphone. Your voice will be hurled over to the other channel and it will take 5 to 10 seconds for it to slowly slide back into the center position.
Now imagine a more practical recording session wherein a loud staccato sound emanates from one side. The entire stereo image will be hurled over to the other side.
This is a definite digital doggy downer. But I assume it can be corrected in a firmware update. And my experience with Olympus has been very good in this regard.
Multi-track mode is an absolute bare-bones multi-track recorder; record, adjust levels and pan, and bounce down. You’re done. That’s it. No processing available, e.g. EQ, reverb, delay, etc.
There is a delay in the headphone output. It’s tolerable but it may be a bit disconcerting and/or distracting to some when monitoring yourself speaking, singing, and/or playing an instrument.
Changing playback speed adds a very pronounced flutter to the sound.
If not for the cons cited above this would certainly be an across the boards 5 star recorder. And yet, for the price? Still nothing can touch it. To me it’s a rock solid studio quality portable stereo recorder that is truly capable of recording tracks that can be dropped into a mix wherein every other track has been recorded with much more expensive gear.
It’s not quite a grand slam, but it’s certainly a home run in portable recorders. Especially when considering the price. And I’m confident that Olympus will improve this recorder with firmware updates.