OM Digital Solutions “LS-P5” Review. PCM Recorder as an “On-Camera Microphone with Backup Recording” [OnGoing Re:View]

OM Digital Solutions “LS-P5” review. PCM recorder as an “on-camera microphone capable of backup recording”

2022.10.04 txt: Katsuhiko Akiyoshi Composition: Editorial Department
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Table of contents
  • To avoid audio recording failures
  • Size and weight that can be placed on the camera without being a burden
  • About operability
  • Essential accessories for video shooting
  • About the recording function
  • recording sample
  • Request for improvement
  • Best PCM recorder for light shooting

To avoid audio recording failures

When I talk to various video producers, they all say, “Even if you can’t shoot video, you can do it if you can record the sound.” The audio of missed shots remains the same, but only the images are replaced with different shots or B-rolls.

I’m an anxious person, so when I’m recording with an external mic, I’m always worried, “What if the recording doesn’t work or if there’s sudden noise?” If it’s possible to re-record it, it’s fine, but if it’s a place where mistakes aren’t allowed, a mistake in the recording is fatal.

Therefore, I was looking for a compact PCM recorder that would allow me to use an external microphone to input sound into the camera and record to another medium as a backup.

At that time, OM Digital Solutions released the LS-P5 at just the right time. Four years after its predecessor, the LS-P4, this is the company’s top-of-the-line linear PCM recorder released after the change from Olympus to OM SYSTEM.

Since I was able to borrow the LS-P5 this time, I would like to review it from the viewpoint of a video creator.

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Size and weight that can be placed on the camera without being a burden

I want to reduce my luggage as much as possible, and I want to keep the equipment compact, so the size and weight of the equipment are important criteria for me. I have a PCM recorder with XLR input, but it’s a bit too big and heavy to put on top of the camera.

When using it on a tripod, it doesn’t bother me, but when shooting hand-held, it puts a lot of strain on my arms and wrists. In that respect, the LS-P5 is very compact and lightweight, weighing 78g including two AAA batteries, which is a little lighter than the battery for the Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 I’m using.

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About operability

Each button is small due to the small body size, but the REC/STOP button has a moderate click feeling, and the REC button is slightly swollen, so you can operate it without looking at your hand without worrying about making a mistake. The three function buttons at the bottom of the screen also have different small protrusions, so you can tell which button your finger is touching.

The menu structure is lined up from the top with “file setting”, “recording setting”, and “playback setting”. As a video creator, it would be nice to have “Recording settings” at the top when the situation is constantly changing. , only the items that are likely to change often are displayed.

Depending on the menu, there are buttons that change their behavior, so it seems confusing when you have to change settings on the fly, but it’s not so complicated that you get used to it quickly.

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*Click image to enlargeA smartphone app is available that lets you start/stop recording, monitor the recording level in real time, and check the elapsed recording time. Various settings such as recording level and directivity are also possible, and it is much easier to operate than pressing buttons while looking at the small screen of the main unit.

You can also change the file name, so if you change the file name immediately after recording, it will be easier to find the desired sound when editing. Once paired, it’s convenient because it links as soon as you launch the app.

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*Click image to enlarge

You can monitor the audio with Bluetooth wireless earphones, so you don’t have to worry about the earphone cable touching the recorder and causing noise. However, it is a pity that the recording mode cannot be used with WAV, FLAC 24bit, and is limited to 16bit or MP3. I would like you to make it possible to perform wireless monitoring even in 24bit.

I also appreciate that the battery life is very good. According to the catalog, in the case of 48.0kHz/24bit, it can be used for about 47 hours with AAA alkaline batteries and about 31 hours with Ni-MH rechargeable batteries. In addition, a nickel-metal hydride rechargeable battery is included and can be charged on the main unit, so there is no need to take it out each time.

Essential accessories for video shooting

When I recorded outdoors using the windshield “WJ2”, which is available as a genuine option, the “bobobo” sound was reduced to some extent. Even a little bit of wind will make wind noise, so it’s essential for outdoor or air-conditioned sites. Unfortunately, the windbreak effect is not so high, and although there is no problem with indoor air conditioning, it could not be completely protected outdoors on a windy day.

If the LS-P5 is attached to the camera as it is, touch noise is picked up when the grip is re-grasped, but when the shock mount “SM2” is attached, it is not perfect, but it can be reduced considerably. Unfortunately, the center of gravity is slightly higher. I would like a product with a little more height.

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About the recording function

The most interesting thing about the LS-P5 is the “zoom mic function” that mixes the sounds of the three built-in mics and changes the directivity in 21 steps. It is very convenient that this one unit can handle various scenes from wide sound to narrowed sound.

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It supports high-resolution recording at a maximum of 96kHz/24bit, and in addition to WAV and MP3, it can also record in FLAC, a lossless compression format, and can record with high sound quality while suppressing the data size. However, a 64GB card can record 48.0kHz/24bit WAV for 59 hours, so there may not be much merit in using the FLAC format for general movie shooting.

The recording media is a microSD card (SD/SDHC/SDXC), but since it has a built-in memory of 16GB, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to put the card back in after reading it on your PC, and going completely blue on the day.

The “SMART mode” that automatically sets the recording level is also a convenient function for those who record live. No complicated operations are required, just press and hold the REC button to start monitoring and set the recording level based on the sound during rehearsals. After that, if you just press the REC button, recording will start at the optimum level.

However, when using SMART mode, the zoom microphone setting cannot be changed and will be the widest setting.

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*Click image to enlarge

As a function for movie shooting, there is also a “straight tone” that serves as a reference point for editing and a “test tone” for adjusting the recording level. If you turn on the straight tone in the menu, you can always press the F1 button during recording. Although it is plain, it is a convenient function that can simplify the time and effort when editing.

However, neither function outputs sound from the built-in speaker, only from the headphone jack.

recording sample

I recorded the announcement on the platform of the station. The zoom microphone setting is the widest “0”.

The directions of the male and female speakers are clearly visible, and the sound source localization is solid. The sound of chimes and announcements by station staff can be heard well, and there seems to be no problem even in scenes where such miscellaneous sounds can be heard from all directions.

I recorded my voice by the side of the road where cars were coming and going. The zoom microphone setting is the narrowest “20”.

This setting records as dual monaural. The distance between the microphone and the mouth is about 1m. As a comparison, I tried recording with the widest “0” setting, but the directivity is about the same as a small shotgun microphone for cameras, not very sharp.

On this day, the typhoon passed and the wind was strong, so I attached the windshield and turned on the low cut, but unfortunately the wind noise could not be prevented. If you add a low-cut, the low range will drop out completely, and the voice quality will change considerably. Also, it seems that wind noise is more likely to enter with the zoom microphone setting of “20” than with “0”.

I asked an acquaintance to play the piano and recorded it. The zoom microphone setting is the widest “0”.

Considering the body size, I think it’s recorded well, but overall it sounds a little muffled. As a test, I tried recording with the zoom microphone set to the narrowest “20”, but of course I couldn’t feel the expanse, and the sound was even muffled.

Request for improvement

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a pity that you can’t use the Bluetooth audio monitor when recording 24bit. Considering post-editing, 24-bit recording is essential, so please improve it.

The 1/4 screw hole on the bottom is made of plastic, so I’m worried about wear. When using it for video shooting, I want it to be made of metal because it needs to be attached and detached repeatedly because it is used by fixing it to the camera or stand.

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I wanted the USB terminal to be Type-C. Nowadays, microUSB is not often used, and on the contrary, Type-C is used in many equipment such as cameras and mobile batteries. Even if you forget to put it in the Type-C, you can reuse the cable of other equipment.

I was puzzled by the specification that when the microSD card is removed from the main unit, the save destination is changed to the main memory, and even if it is reinserted, the save destination does not return to the microSD card. She went on to record the next one, but nothing was saved on the card, and she panicked that the recording had failed.

Although it was saved in the internal memory, the transfer speed was very slow, and it took more than 5 minutes to transfer 700MB of data by connecting it to a PC with a USB cable. If the save destination is set to a microSD card, I want the save destination to automatically change to the card when reinserted.

Best PCM recorder for light shooting

The LS-P5 is an all-rounder linear PCM recorder that is intended for use not only in video production, but also in the business scene. Compact and lightweight, this single unit can cover everything from stereo mics to shotgun mics, making it a very useful product for light recordings that do not require XLR input.

As a stand-alone recorder, of course, how about one of the candidates for choosing a microphone as an “on-camera microphone that can be used for backup recording”?

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Katsuhiko Akiyoshi | Profile
Born in Osaka in 1973. After working at a private design office for 10 years, he started Hatsuga Design independently. Focusing on his graphic design work, he is currently involved in video production.

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