Olympus LS-12

2GB digital audio recorder with expandable memory

Item #: 279LS12

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The Olympus LS-12 is a musician-friendly digital audio recorder. Whether you're working out some songs in your room, or need to make an on-the-fly recording of a live gig, the LS-12 is a great device to have on hand. Its low-noise stereo microphones capture sound accurately, and when you select PCM mode you can make better-than-CD quality 24-bit/96kHz recordings. The simple dial controls let you quickly and easily set up recording features, so you can capture the moment before it slips away.

olympus LS-12 digital recorder

Great-sounding music recordings made easy

The versatile LS-12 lets you choose either MP3 mode for maximum recording time, or PCM mode for maximum sound quality - you'll be able to capture every musical detail. The recorder's high-quality speaker ensures you'll be able accurately assess what you've captured in playback. You can even overdub with the LS-12, so you can build your song layer by layer. Olympus includes a pre-record function that caches 5 seconds of audio to ensure you won't miss the start of the music. In smart mode, the LS-12 automatically adjusts its recording level based on the loudest sound.

Musicians will love the built-in metronome that appears on the easy-to-read LCD display. And another handy feature is the tuner mode, which lets you use the LS-12 as a chromatic tuner for musical instruments.

Memory and battery life

The LS-12 has 2GB of built-in memory. But if that's not enough, you can supplement it with an optional SD/SDHC memory card and add up to 23GB more. And don't worry about those long jam sessionS. The LS-12 gets up to 50 hours of operation on 2 "AA" batteries.

Product Highlights:

  • battery-powered digital audio recorder with expandable memory
  • built-in stereo microphones
  • 2GB embedded memory
  • records in MP3 or 24-bit/96kHz PCM (WAV)
  • Voice-Up amplifies low volume sounds for clarity
  • built-in recording functions:
    • Pre-Record mode buffers sound for 5 seconds before Record key is pressed, ensuring start isn't lost
    • Smart Mode adjusts recording level to loudest sound
    • overdub recording
    • built-in metronome
  • built-in chromatic tuner for musical instruments
  • expandable microSD card slot (memory card not included)
  • LCD display
  • built-in speaker
  • high-speed USB interface
  • minijack headphone output
  • stereo minijack input for an optional external microphone
  • up to 50 hours of operation with 2 included "AA" batteries
  • 2-7/16"W x 5-1/2"H x 3/8"D
  • weight: 6 oz.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
Computer Requirements:
  • Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Windows Vista®
  • Mac OS X v.10.4.11-v.10.8

Hands-on research

What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Linear PCM recorder
  • 2 "AA" alkaline batteries
  • 7.5" USB cable (Type A USB on one end and Mini-B 2.0 USB on other end)
  • Basic Manual
  • Warranty/Online registration card

Product Research

General Features
Recording Features
Edit and Playback Functions

General Features

Overview: The Olympus LS-12 is a compact, easy-to-use, hand-held portable digital voice and music recorder. You can make high quality recordings using the LPCM format, or a large number of recordings in MP3. The recorder has a built-in 2 GB flash memory and a slot for an SD/SDHC card for hours of recording time. It has a built-in, stereo microphone, a large 28mm diameter mono speaker, and jacks for an external microphone and headphones. The LS-12 operates on two "AA" Alkaline batteries. It can also work with rechargeable NiMH batteries.

LCD Display: The LS-12 features a 1-3/4" (diagonal), backlit, monochrome LCD display which indicates recording and playback information. The recorder will display the elapsed or remaining recording time in hours, minutes, and seconds. When not recording, the current time can be displayed. You can set the display contrast to one of 12 levels, and the backlight duration to 5 sec, 10 sec, 30 sec, or 1 minute.

Date and Time: The recorder features a built-in clock. If you have set the time and date, information as to when a sound file was recorded is stored automatically with that file.

Built-in Microphones: The unit features two built-in, high-quality microphones on the top of the recorder. Each microphone can produce high quality recordings of sounds up to 130dB SPL without clipping. You can set the recording level to High, Middle, or Low. The microphone limiter can optimize the recording for music or voice. In addition to the built-in microphones, the recorder also has a 3.5mm external microphone input.

Line Input: You can make recordings directly from another device without using the microphone. The 3.5mm Line In jack has a higher impedance than the Microphone Input jack for a cleaner recording without system hum.

Built-In 2 GB Flash Memory: The LS-12 Digital Voice Recorder features a built-in 2 GB flash memory which can hold hours of audio or voice memos. The memory is divided into three folders for organizing recordings, and separate folders for MP3 or WMA music transferred from Windows Media Player or iTunes. A portion of the built-in memory is used for management files, therefore the total recording capacity is approximately 1.4 GB.

Memory Card Slot: In addition to the 2 GB built-in memory, the LS-12 has a memory card expansion slot for more recording capacity. The slot will accept SD and SDHC memory cards from 2 GB to 32 GB. Files can be transferred from the card to the internal memory or vice-versa.

USB: The LS-12 has a Mini-B 2.0 USB port on the side for connecting the recorder to your computer for transferring files. A short USB cable is provided with the unit. The LS-12 is compatible with the following Operating Systems: Windows XP (SP2, SP3), Windows Vista (SP1), Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OS X 10.4.11 - 10.8.

Headphone Jack: The LS-12 has a 3.5mm jack for plugging in a pair of headphones. You can listen to files played back or monitor the recording as it is made.

Power Requirements: The recorder is powered by two "AA"-sized alkaline batteries (included). Fresh batteries will provide approximately 50 hours of recording time. You can also use NiMH batteries, if desired. The Power Saver mode turns off the monitor and switches the unit to standby if it is not used within a preset period of time (5 min, 10 min, 30 min, or 1 hour).

Remote Compatible: You can control the LS-12 with an optional RS-30W remote control. The remote is wireless, with a module that plugs into the recorder's 2.5mm sub-mini remote jack.

Tripod Socket: The LS-12 is equipped with a standard 1/4" tripod socket on the back so you can mount the recorder onto a tripod, if desired.

Recording Features

Recording Format: The LS-12 records audio files in LPCM and MP3 formats in nine recording quality modes. Files are limited to approximately 2 GB for LPCM and approximately 4 GB for MP3. If a Linear PCM recording goes longer that 2 GB, the 2 GB file is closed and the recorder automatically creates a new file to continue recording.

Quality Mode Maximum Recording Time
Per File Built In Memory
2 GB
32 GB
1 hour 40 min 14 hrs 30 min
1 hour 45 min 15 hrs 45 min
3 hours 2 hrs 10 min 43 hrs 35 min
3 hrs 20 min 5 hrs 55 min 47 hrs 25 min
6 hrs 40 min 20 hrs 20 min 94 hrs 55 min
320 kbps
29 hrs 40 min 10 hours 209 hours
256 kbps
37 hrs 10 min 13 hours 261 hours
128 kbps
74 hrs 30 min 26 hours 523 hours
64 kbps (mono)
149 hours 52 hours 1046 hours

Recording Modes: The front panel-mounted Mode Dial lets you set the recorder to one of three recording modes or to the built-in instrument tuner and metronome:

  • Smart Mode: The Smart Recording Mode lets you set the recording level automatically during a "Smart Time" period of 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, or "endless" During the Smart Time, the recorder sets the maximum recording level based on the volume input.
  • Manual Mode: In the Manual Recording Mode, the recording level is set manually prior to recording. The display will show "OVER" if the level is set too high for the audio source. While recording with the microphone, the level can be adjusted between 01 and 70. If using the Line In jack, the level can be set between 01 and 30.
  • Quick Mode: The Quick Recording Mode lets you record immediately by pressing the Record button.
  • Chromatic Tuner: The recorder features a built-in chromatic tuner for tuning an instrument, and a metronome with an adjustable tempo. There are two tuner displays: a meter and a graph.

Pre-Recording: Pre-recording enables you to start recording up to 2 seconds before you press the Record button. This enables you to avoid missing the exact moment a recordable event begins.

Low Cut Filter: The LS-12 has a Low Cut Filter to minimize low frequency sounds and selectable cut-off frequencies of 100Hz and 300Hz. This helps make voice recording clearer, especially in windy conditions.

Overdubbing: The Overdubbing function enables you to dub sound over a pre-recorded file while listening to it. The selected file to be overdubbed and the Recording Mode must both be set to LPCM 44.1kHz/16-bit.

Edit and Playback Functions

Playback Speed: You can adjust the playback speed as you desire; slowing it down to review spots you couldn't understand, or speeding it up to listen to meeting content at a faster speed. Digital processing keeps the pitch at normal levels while you increase or decrease the playback speed. During playback, you can adjust the playback speed between -0.5x and +3.0x in 0.1x increments.

Skip Space: The Skip Space function lets you skip forward or backward during playback. This is handy for quickly skipping to another playback position or repeatedly playing back short phrases. You can choose Forward Skip (file, 10 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 5 min, or 10 min) or Reverse Skip (file, 1 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 5 min, or 10 min).

Index Marks: Setting an index mark lets you quickly find a location you want to listen to while fast forwarding or fast rewinding. For files not recorded on an Olympus digital voice recorder, Temp Files can be inserted into recordings. Up to 99 index or file marks can be placed on a single file.

Segment Repeat: The Segment Repeat function, also known as A-B Repeat, enables you to repeat playback of part of a particular file. You can place marks at the beginning and the ending of a recorded passage for repeated playback. This constant repetition feature can be used for language learning.

Editing: Recorded tracks can be edited in the recorder using the File Divide and Partial Erase operations.

Erase: You can erase your recorded messages one by one, or all messages in a folder at one time.

Protect Files: To prevent a file from being accidentally erased or edited, you can protect an important file. When a file is protected, it is regarded as a read-only file. Protection can be released, if desired.

Hold Function: The LS-12 has a Hold function that will lock the buttons to prevent accidental operations. The Hold function is activated by sliding the power switch to the left.

Our Product Research Team

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Olympus LS-12 Reviews

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Olympus LS-12

Written By NinoD, Los Angeles, CA on Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

Excellent sound quality, easy to operate.

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More built-in memory and expanded mic array

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4GB built-in memory

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