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Hands-on with the Olympus LS-10: 24-bit voice and music

The Olympus LS-10 captures voice and music in 24-bit 96kHz quality -- that's higher than even CDs are capable of. At £260 it'll cost you, but we love it to bits

You know CDs are capable of pristine sound quality, but we've been playing with a digital voice recorder that records audio even higher than CD-quality. Capturing sound in 24-bit 96kHz WAV format with its sensitive stereo microphones, the new Olympus LS-10 allows for serious high-fidelity recordings and we're extremely impressed with it.

In fact, we took it to Pendulum's album launch party last night (no, it won't be on BitTorrent) for 'testing' and the results were terrific. The recorder coped with being right at the front of the stage as the amps heaved under pressure from the intense volume, yet as we heard during playback, it didn't distort the recording and the sense of openness is superb.

You'll want to smack the bass up in EQ when listening on a hi-fi or when you're splitting tracks on your computer, but the bass that's captured is clean and tight.

Inside the rugged metal recorder is 2GB of flash memory, which gives you two hours of recording in 24-bit 96kHz WAV mode. But you can lower the bit rate to increase recording time, or simply record straight into MP3 or WMA if you don't need uncompressed clarity.

Have a listen to an uncompressed, 24-bit 96kHz spoken excerpt of this article, as recorded on the LS-10, here.

If you need even more recording hours, you're able to plug in up to 8GB of memory with SDHC memory cards, and all this memory can be accessed with simple dragging and dropping on a computer via USB. AA batteries will give you about 12 hours of juice, but we've not been able to confirm this, though we're very grateful to Olympus for not using a pain-in-the-arse internal battery that requires a degree in Engineering to get at.

At about £260, this is not a typical run-of-the-mill recorder. It's for those who are extremely serious about the quality of their recordings, though it'd make an extravagant gift for a loved business person or student. It'd be a terrific podcasting tool, too, and legality aside, it makes capturing bootleg recordings of your favourite bands and shows a breeze.

It's on sale now and we won't be giving it back to Olympus in a hurry. -Nate Lanxon