Roland Users Group
Upon its release in 2006, the Edirol R-09 was an instant hit. Combining stereo WAV and MP3 digital recording in a handheld package with high-quality built-in microphones, it quickly became the favored portable audio capture tool for those that record on the go. Now, for 2008, Edirol has introduced an updated version, the R-09HR. Building on the original’s already solid feature set, the new R-09HR raises the bar even higher, adding important sound enhancements such as 24-bit/96kHz recording capability along with many functional and ergonomic improvements. Did Edirol manage to make the best even better? Let’s find out!
The new R-09HR is subtly streamlined over its predecessor, and it has a new textured finish on the case, giving the unit some positive grip when it’s in your hand or sitting on a slick surface. The front panel is now slightly recessed, providing some protection for the familiar record/playback and function controls, and the panel buttons are fingertip width for a more tactile feel when pressed. The new 1.5-inch wide OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display looks fantastic; its huge size makes it easy to see the recording meters at a distance, and it’s easy on the eyes while making settings and managing files.
The sides of the R-09HR provide ergonomically placed controls for setting the recording level and output volume, making them intuitive to adjust while the recorder’s in your hand. You’ll also find 1/8-inch input jacks for connecting an external microphone or stereo line level device, a connector to plug in the included AC adaptor, and a power switch. The headphones jack is now on the top, allowing you to easily listen to your R-09HR recordings while the unit is nestled safely in a shirt pocket.
On the rear panel, you’ll find handy switches for various recording functions, such as mic gain, low cut on/off, and limiter/AGC (automatic gain control) on/off. There’s also a switch to enable plug-in power for a compatible microphone connected to the MIC jack, as well as a HOLD switch that locks the front panel controls so they can’t be accidentally operated during critical recording or playback applications. The rear panel also features a new easy-access battery compartment (for housing two AA-type alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries) and a small built-in speaker for previewing your R-09HR recordings in the field without the need for headphones.
On the top of the R-09HR, you’ll find the two onboard electret condenser microphones, which capture sound accurately and naturally with a superb sense of depth. Internally, the microphone housing is isolated from the main components, ensuring high-performance and low noise. Finally, the bottom of the device features a new quick-access door that provides access to the SD card slot and USB connector. (The R-09HR supports SD and SDHC media—up to a whopping 32 GB—and the USB 2.0 connector allows for fast and easy data exchange with a personal computer.)
The Heart of the Matter
For all of the R-09HR’s cool new outer features, perhaps the most important enhancements are found on the inside. Like the original R-09, the R-09HR provides multiple different recording modes, including linear (uncompressed) 16- or 24-bit WAV recording and MP3 recording at rates up to 320 kbps. But while the R-09 was limited to a maximum 48 kHz sample rate for WAV recording, the R-09HR ups the ante to 96 kHz (88.2 kHz is also supported). The higher sample rate offers increased audio resolution for applications where sound quality is critical, such as recording orchestral performances, piano recitals, or other musical events with a wide dynamic range.
The recording quality is further enhanced by Edirol’s new I.A.R.C., or “Integrated Adaptive Recording Circuit” technology. I.A.R.C. is a dedicated onboard analog circuit that optimizes recording with the R-09HR’s analog-to-digital (A/D) converter. Independent power is provided for the analog and digital circuits, eliminating DC interference between components in the R-09HR. Since this enhancement is at the front end of the recording chain, MP3 recording is improved along with linear WAV recording.
The R-09HR also provides some great new features for recording and playback. First off, you now have the ability to split a recording while it’s in progress, allowing you to create multiple small files (instead of one huge file) without ever stopping the R-09HR. This feature is great for recording long performances, workshops, or lectures, and makes file management after-the-fact much easier. To split a file during recording, just press the front-panel SPLIT switch at the desired spot and a new audio file is started. It’s that simple!
Next, the new speed control lets you to adjust the playback speed of any audio file in the R-09HR without changing the pitch. You can now slow things down to a manageable speed while learning fast musical passages or transcribing spoken-word recordings. Conversely, you can pick up the pace and preview recordings quickly or listen to audio such as podcasts in a condensed time frame. The speed adjustment can be preset from 50 to 150 percent of the normal speed, and you easily turn it on and off with the front-panel SPEED button.
Like the original R-09, the R-09HR offers four different types of digital reverb to enhance sound playback. However, you can now adjust the amount of reverb that’s applied for better matching with the sound source. There’s also a handy wireless remote control included. Sometimes, you’ll find that the best spot for capturing a desired sound source will necessitate placing the recorder in an awkward place; with the remote, you can now control recording and playback functions from a distance. Also, the remote eliminates any handling noise that would be picked up by the onboard mics while you operate front-panel controls. As a visual aid while using the remote, there’s a status LED on the top of the R-09HR that lets you know from a distance when the unit is in record-standby (flashing) or record (a solid light).
The R-09HR comes bundled with pyro Audio Creator LE so you can manipulate your audio files once you’ve transferred them to your computer. Also included is a mini-stand that lets you set the R-09HR in a convenient upright position on a desktop or other flat surface.
High Resolution All Around
As you may have guessed by now, the “HR” in the R-09HR’s name stands for “high resolution.” Of course, this applies to the new recording enhancements, but I’d offer that this new model offers high-resolution improvements across the board. I’ve loved my original R-09 since I got it, and I’ve used it far more than I ever imagined I would. It’s amazing how handy it is to have a high-quality recording and playback device with you wherever you go. But in the short time I’ve had the R-09HR, it’s truly taken my handheld recorder experiences to a new level. Kudos to Edirol on the new R-09HR—the best truly has gotten better!