A couple of months ago the new DM series digital voice recorder from Olympus landed in Australia, the Olympus DM-5. This is the is the first big colour screen recorder from Olympus so I was keen to see how it looks and performs.
The DM-5 is your average size digital voice recorder, it is about the size of a Mars bar just half as thin. The casing is mainly aluminium with the battery cover and front screen as the only exception, they are both plastic. The sides and bottom of the unit are made of a single silver aluminium band, most of the back plate is matt black aluminium and on top is the professional looking silver aluminium mesh that covers the high sensitivity mics.
With the lithium-ion battery in and charged I slid the typical DM series slider switch to boot up the DM-5 and was very pleasently surprised to see the Apple style spinning pin wheel appear as the unit started. Boot time I felt was a little slow at around 8 seconds, that could be an issue if you need to fire up the DM-5 quickly to grab a sound bite.
My first real play with the DM-5 was on the rush hour train into Sydney. Here I went through all the menus, nicely spoken to me by the polite Northern English accented female voice of the voice prompter which is on by default and of course can be turned off if you do not require it.
The train was the perfect place to try out the zoom mic. The zoom mic feature allows you to concentrate on a single audio source in the distance, typically a speaker that you may be struggling to hear clearly. Sitting facing towards me, 5 rows away (approx. 6-7 meters) was a family happily chatting about their day out. As the train hurtled towards Sydney I set the zoom mic to narrow and the low cut filter on; I hit record and pointed the DM-5 at the family. The recorder picked up what was being said even though I physically could not hear them. Listen closely, halfway through the recording the train flies into a tunnel, so there is major background noise.
Yes, this is not your usual zoom mic scenario but an extreme use of the zoom mic and noise cancel feature. Imagine now being sat in a conference or lecture and you are struggling to hear the speaker. With the DM-5 you could record the session and be able to listen back and hear what was being said clearer than you could physically while you were there.
I won’t go on to talk about the record quality on this recorder, as with all Olympus digital notetakers the audio pickup and quality is the best you will get from any digital voice recorder manufacturer which is why Olympus are at the top of their game. What we are starting to see now though with digital voice recorders is multi-function use. Because flash memory is now so cheap more and more is being crammed into the units. The DM-5 with 8Gb is a ridiculous amount for recording voice alone so other uses need to be found for this memory and with the DM-5 they have certainly been found. They include:
- Ability to view images imported from your camera
- Ability to tag audio files and files from your computer on the device for quick easy search
- Import text files and the DM-5 can read them out loud to you
- Music player, the DM-5 can playback .MP3 and .WMA files imported from your computer
- Use your DM-5 to listen to podcasts
- Use your DM-5 to listen to audio books from Audible.com
- DM-5 supports DAISY text
So now the humble digital voice recorder will now double as your mp3 music player, your file storage device, your podcast or audio book listing device and a handy pocket size picture viewer. Personally I am not sure how many people would use a digital voice recorder for listening to music or audio books or viewing images as just about everyone has an iPhone or Android phone which already do this. I do see a use for the additional file storage and this can replace any USB sticks you might be carrying around.
Click the AudioBoo below to hear the DM-5 voice prompts and also a short snippet of read back of a text file.
Olympus have been doing some excellent work over the last few years with organisations working with vision impaired people. For some time Olympus recorders have had easily identifiable buttons for the vision impaired and now the DM-5 takes things one step further with voice prompts, text file reading and DAISY support.
For the majority of DM-5 users who will be recording interviews, meetings, focus groups, conferences or lectures the DM-5, like all Olympus digital note takers will give you high audio pickup every time.
The Olympus DM-5 is available in Australia (the DM-3 is not available in Australia) and is RRP $599.00 incl. GST