Musicians, meanwhile, will appreciate the clarity and clean tone with which the LS-10 captures instruments or vocals. Recordings of an acoustic guitar were more detailed, warm and precise than you have any right to expect from a device this small, and though a critical ear would say that the overall tone is a little over-bright, the sound is more than good enough to record demos, band rehearsals or gigs, and could doubtless be improved if you hooked up a high-quality external microphone.
Excessive volume doesn't seem to be a problem providing you fiddle a bit with the recording level, sensitivity and clipping settings, and the range of the built-in mics is quite effective. In other words, any bootleggers out there might just have found their new best friend.
To be perfectly honest, my less than perfect ears and good but less than perfect Sennheiser headphones struggled to tell much of a difference between 320Kbps MP3 recordings and 24/96 PCM, but anyone who takes this stuff seriously will want the highest quality, uncompressed master recording, and the PCM option gives you just that. The downside, of course, is file size. 24/96 PCM WAV files can occupy in the region of 30 to 33MB per minute. A 320Mbps MP3 file takes around 2.5MB per minute.
Olympus quotes a battery life of eight to 16 hours of recording or 13 to 35 hours of playback from a pair of AA batteries, depending on the type of battery, whether you use the microphone or built-in speakers and the choice of recording mode and sample rate. I can't claim to have tested this exhaustively, but the recording claims don't seem too extravagant.
Given the high quality of the sound, the solid design and the strong feature set – not to mention the bundled case, USB cable and copy of Cubase LE4 – the LS-10 offers excellent value for money. There is one competitive product I could think of (the Marantz PDM-620, which I haven't tested) but otherwise anything comparable would cost you a good £200 plus more.
As I said earlier, anyone buying this just to record meetings or conferences is adopting the good old sledgehammer/walnut approach, but if you record music, podcasts, video commentary or anything else where high quality audio capture in a small, ultra-portable package makes sense, then the LS-10 is a very decent buy indeed.
A strong digital sound recorder that packs in an impressive quality of audio capture given the compact form and accessible price. Musicians, reporters, would-be bootleggers and ambitious podcasters should definitely give it serious consideration.