(click thumbnail)Digital audio recorders are all the rage; new professional models are appearing with regularity.
The latest portable linear PCM recording option from Roland is the Edirol R-09HR. While its body design is a bit plain, it’s functional. The rubber-coated body is easy to grip, and it weighs about 7 ounces so you get less fatigue during handheld interviews than some of the heavier units out there, such as the Sony PCM-D50. The unit runs on two AA batteries or DC power.
Recessed controls and ports, including mini mic and line inputs, are found on the back and sides of the recorder. There is no XLR connection, but there is a small preview monitor (a valuable feature often overlooked by more expensive units) as well as a mini headphone jack.
The R-09HR sports a stereo, omnidirectional condenser microphone on top that is protected by thin metal rings.
For simple menu navigation, the front panel features a directional pad that doubles as record and playback buttons. A small OLED screen offers a bright white-on-black display of your level meters, record time and battery status.
There’s no built-in memory. The R-09HR stores digital recordings on SD or SDHC cards, which can be accessed from the bottom of the unit (along with its USB port) by opening the protective cover. You can record about three hours of CD-quality sound on a 2 GB SD card.
Product CapsuleRoland Edirol R-09HR Portable Linear PCM Recorder
- Rubber-coated body for easy grip
- Preview monitor
- Built-in omnidirectional condenser mic
- Adjusting the audio level during recording will distort the audio
Roland Systems U.S. | (323) 890-3718 | www.rolandsystemsgroup.comPlenty of WAV file record modes here, with sampling rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96 kHz, each of which offers 16 or 24 bit depth. Frequency response is 20 Hz to 40 kHz.
You also can record MP3 files (sampling rate 44.1 or 48 kHz, various bit rates), but it’s not the right choice for quality audio; too much compression.
The R-09HR has one significant flaw. Adjusting the audio level during recording will distort the audio. You can adjust the level from 0–80, but it doesn’t flow like a pot or slider on an audio board; it changes step by step. I found that a setting of “40” gave me plenty of loudness without peaking.
I compared the R-09HR to the Sony PCM-D50 (list price $600) to see if the less expensive Roland could compete.
I set both recorders to record 16-bit, 44.1 kHz WAV files, set them an equal distance away and then recorded the same voiceover and interview simultaneously on both units. Both units delivered good audio, but the Sony’s built-in mics have a richer, more broadcast-friendly tone.
When I plugged in my old Audio-Technica Pro 3H mic and read the same script into both recorders, there was no discernible difference in quality.
While the sturdier, more expensive Sony PCM-D50 has the convenience of built-in flash memory and better sound from its built-in mics (plus the fact that you can ride the audio level without distortion), there’s a lot to like about the Edirol R-09HR.
It’s a solid piece of gear with a brighter screen and better menu interface than the Sony model. It’s also smaller and lighter, has a built-in speaker and offers similar recording specs at a much lower price tag.