Edirol can take credit for starting the wave of personal recorders when they released the R-1 back in the day, however, they were soon eclipsed by models like the M-Audio MicroTrack, a flawed but ulitmately successful device that also has been superceded, next was the R-09 - a mobile phone sized device that set new standards in portability. It offered good performance in a great form-factor, and started to appear regularly in the hands of TV interviewers in News reports.
Last year Edirol released an updated version, based on the same form-factor, but addressing a few small issues and offering an upgraded performance.
I had my hands on a pre-release version, and did a short video piece at the time comparing the two.
Since, there's been a slew of newer models appearing from other manufacturers, each offering their own take on the now highly-popular pocket recorder format, so there's a bit more competition â€“ we'll see how it stacks up, using our regular 10 criteria, and focussing on use from the perspective of musicians, journalists, and videographers.
Very straightforward to use - easy access to Record, Levels and Volume
On-board microphone sounds very good
Resistant to handling noise â€“ good hand-held performance
Tasty OLED display works well in most lighting conditions
24bit / 96kHz recordings
Built-in Monitor Speaker â€“ yay!
Records to SD card, with SDHC compatibility
Records to WAV or MP3 (lots of b/w options)
Can split recordings on the fly
On-board mic not so good at Low Gain setting
Dumb-ass place for a headphone jack!
No Case or Windshield included (available as optional extras)
3rd party ones are available at better value.
No onboard memory
No stand mount; Case (for tripod/stand mounting) hideously over-priced
I should say at this point, that although I do appreciate the needs of those 'recordists' using portable units to record the highest quality recordings, they usually will have the means to monitor and adjust levels, etc. for maximum fidelity â€“ musicians will more likely use them in a more 'set & forget' style, so ergonomics, on-board mics and limiters come more into play.
It's clear that the R-09 and R-09HR are well-suited for this latter usage â€“ the clear OLED display, and essential transport controls and Big Red Record Button are right on the front of the unit, ready for take-off.
The new unit feels secure in the hand (the original did feel a bit like a bar of soap when things got hot & sweaty ;-) and the resistance to handling noise is excellent.... unlike some we've tested.
It's not all roses, though â€“ the input and playback level controls are small black buttons on the side of a matt black unit - sure looks stylish, but in low light at live gigs I found them very hard to see and use.
And whoever thought a good place for the headphone jack was right on the top of the unit next to the mics, deserves to be beaten round the head with a wet fish. If you have to have anything there (and why, really?) then surely the External Mic socket would make more sense â€“ it would disable the on-board mics anyway when plugged in, rather than introduce the extra handling noise, both from plugging/unplugging and the inevitable movement of headphone cable. It also totally unbalances the unit... Bah!
Yeah, I have a few grumbles for sure â€“ it's not perfect, and there are things I'd love to change, but overall I do really like the Edirol R-09HR â€“ as a no-frills, grab & go pocket recorder, it's hard to beat.