Sonic LAB: Portable Recorders - Edirol R-09HR

Edirol's finest handheld?      13/05/09

No flash plug

   QuickTime (MP4)  | iOS MP4    Windows Media 
11:17 mins
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were soon eclipsed by models like the M-Audio MicroTrack, a flawed but ulitmately successful device that also has been superceded, next was the R-09 - a mobile phone sized device that set new standards in portability.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 – 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 – good hand-held performance
  • Tasty OLED display works well in most lighting conditions
  • 24bit / 96kHz recordings
  • Built-in Monitor Speaker – 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.
  • Limited connectivity
  • 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – it's not perfect, and there are things I'd love to change, but overall I do really like the Edirol R-09HR – as a no-frills, grab & go pocket recorder, it's hard to beat. Andy McCreeth Pricing $399.99/£299.99
Check the Price - at these online stores.
£279.99 Edirol R-09HR
$399.00 Edirol R-09HR 24BIT/96KHZ WAV/MP3 RECORDER
$59.00 Edirol Leather Case with Stand for R-09HR Recorder

$399.00 Edirol R-09HR 24BIT/96KHZ WAV/MP3 RECORDER Standard


More From: EDIROL
Even more news...

9 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Howard Harawitz    Said...

Actually, a few years ago Roland released one of the first portable solid state recorders, the R-1. I bought one and used it for a while. It was crudely designed but it worked reasonably well and sounded decent. I still use it occasionally, but I am looking at one of the Zooms as a replacement.

13-May-09 09:35 AM


You guys already had this review up on the News page a few days ago.

PS The the anti-spambot image thing is acting up. When I first get to the comment page, it's a black rectangle. I have to type random letters in and click the go button to get a viewable image.

13-May-09 12:17 PM

Andy at Sonic    Said...

yeah, we know - there was a small issue with some audio 'ticking' noises on the Flash render, so we re-did it.

Interesting to know about the spambot - I don't see that; what browser/platform are you running? Thanks for pointing it out.


13-May-09 01:34 PM

Nick B    Said...

Howard, yes, we missed that one, Edirol put us right, hence the tweaked intro text to reflect that.


14-May-09 06:31 AM

Scott    Said...

Re Low vs High gain recording.

Did you match the levels (or normalize?) in post when comparing the two settings?

The low gain vocal sounded quieter to me.

15-May-09 04:15 AM

Andy at Sonic    Said...

Hi Scott - no, I didn't want to normalize in post as it might have affected the sound quality. I boosted the input levels to max, and moved closer to the mics, but the gain structure is quite different and the level was a little quieter. It was meant as a rough & ready realtime demo of how switching Gain settings may affect sound quality.

15-May-09 04:32 AM

Scott    Said...

Hi Andy,

thanks for the response, then your experience of a flatter sound is a consequence of the level, louder recordings always sound better than quiet ones of the same source. We are less sensitive to low and high frequencies, as I am sure you are aware.

As the level drops we lose the low and high sound first…this is what I think you are probably responding to, not a non-linearity of the R09HR frequency response (which your comments imply).

About boosting levels, I appreciate your concern, however you should be able to raise the gain of the Low Sensitivity recording to match the high sensitivity level (not necessarily normalizing, that’s a quick equalizer tho). I am fairly sure once you match playback levels that they will sound the same.

Regards Scott

15-May-09 11:32 PM

Scott    Said...

I'm back...Andy, please check these two recordings. I grabbed the audio from your video and

1. Here is the original unmatched High-vs-Low sensitivity recordings:

The second does sound flat.

2. Here is the second section with levels matched with the first:

Problem solved methinks.

PS: I fixed your popping 'P' on 'input' too you may notice :)

This is an interesting issue that I have seen catch many new users of DAWs who think one DAW sounds better than another. 99% of the time there are level differences between the two packages that cause the issue. Level is a red-herring.


15-May-09 11:50 PM

Lazar    Said...

When can we expect the rest of the videos ?

27-Jul-09 12:33 AM

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