Fieldnotes: Edirol R-09 digital recorder

| | Comments (18)

After much vacillating, I decided to get the Edirol R-09 digital recorder to record audio in the field. The other choice was the MicroTrack 24/96. The R-09 and the MicroTrack are almost identical in size, weight, and price. See my previous blog entries on this topic (here or here or here). The main factors were:


  • Replaceable AA batteries rather than proprietary
  • Built-in mic (one less thing to lose)
  • Time/date stamping

There are some notes and a more extensive chart comparing the two after the jump.


Note that the R-09 is in very short supply. I called several stores before finding one that stocked it in the Osaka area. They don't expect it to ship in numbers until August.

I haven't had a chance to use the R-09 in an interview yet, but here are my notes so far:


  • Battery/SD compartment cover is a very poor design
  • They should have made the date/time clock run off the main batteries rather than an internal battery which loses charge if you don't use the recorder for a few days
  • There's a lot of white noise when live monitoring, but when playing back the files the white noise isn't as objectionable

I'll mainly be using the R-09 to record meetings and interviews. Also, I'm also exploring using it to record extra tracks of audio when videotaping. Although dual-system is a bit of a pain when editing, it'll yield better sound. I envision using the R-09 with a lav mike on an interview subject, plugged into a PA system, or otherwise supplementing the wired and wireless sound on my cameras.

Camera Name
Edirol R-09 by Roland MicroTrack 24/96
Date of Release
2006.05~
2005~
Standard Microphone

Built-in stereo condensor microphone

Plug-in stereo condensor microphone
Other inputs

External mic (plug-in power 2V capable)

External line-in

External balanced TRS mic
(phantom power 30V
and plug-in power 5V capable)

External line-in (balanced TRS)
S/PDIF

Outputs

Headphone (3.5mm)
Optical (3.5mm)

Headphone (3.5mm)
Dual RCA line-outs
Recording Tracks
2 (stereo)
A/D Digitizer

24-bit / 48 mhz

24-bit / 96 mhz
Recording Modes

16 or 24 bit WAV @
44.1/48mhz sampling

64/96/128/160/192/256/320 MP3 @
44.1/48mhz sampling

16 or 24 bit WAV
@ 44.1/48/88.2/96 mhz sampling

96-320 MP3 @
32/44.1/48mhz sampling

Recording media
SD memory card (2 gig max) or SDHC memory card (4 gig max) w/ v1.1 firmware

Compact flash card (MicroDrive compatible)
- 4G card limit
- 2G recording file limit

Time/date stamping

Yes *

* Internal clock on R-09 resets if
not used in several days

None

Battery type and life

2 x AA (alkaline or NiMH)
~ 4 hrs recording for alkalines

Proprietary Lion battery
(not user-replaceable)
4~5 hrs recording
(3 w/ phantom power)
Case Construction

Plastic

Plastic

Dimensions and weight w/out lens

62.6 (W) x 102 (D) x 29.1 (H) mm.

145 g w/ memory card + batteries

61 (W) x 109.5 (D) x 28.5 (H) mm.

147 g w/ memory card + batteries

Street price

¥37800 (Japan)
$400 (USA)

¥38500 (Japan)
$400 (USA)

Note: Copyright © 2006 by Karen Nakamura. Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place.

18 Comments

can you tell me where you found the Edirol R-09 in Japan. I am living in Tokyo and I am hoping to purchase one also

I bought mine at Bic Camera in Osaka (Namba). I've noticed that various Yodobashi stores have it as well. Just give several store branches a ring, asking for the Edirol R-09 (audio department).

What Kakaku.com is saying is that you can get it for cheaper if you buy it at an audio store -- but apparently only regular customers are getting the good rates -- off the street folks are paying full retail.

The accessories seem quite expensive -- ¥5600 for the case/stand set! I'm hoping that the accessories will be cheaper in the United States.

So far, I'm very happy. Battery life is about 4-5 hours on a pair of alkalines. The built-in mics are quite good and not nearly as noisy as they sound when monitoring.

I just got a 1 gigabyte SD card which allows for over 7 hours of recording at 320kbps 44.1khz stereo MP3 -- if only the batteries lasted that long!

If the Microtrack had a built-in mic and date/time stamping, then I might have jumped over to that one, but the Edirol seems plenty nice as is.

Re: last message. At www.soundprofessionals.com, they're offering a battery pack which extends the potential recording time 16 hours beyond what it is with the two batteries.

Haven't got mine yet; it's in the mail. I'm taking it to Uganda for 10 months, so I hope it works great.

I need to buy an SD card. Are all SD cards created equal? Some seem to be much cheaper than others. Do they all work?

Wow, the battery pack looks interesting but very expensive. The Edirol has a DC-in jack that I'm sure can be jerry-rigged. I have a DC powerpack for my Sharp Zaurus / iPod that I've been thinking of adapting. It should be pretty simple.

SD cards -- I bought a fairly generic 50X 2 gigabyte card for the Edirol and it works fine. I don't thimk you should have a problem. Faster cards are 150x or more, but it might just be overkill.

Make sure to test your equipment extensive before you leave! I'm finding that some of my mikes are better than others on the Edirol -- I'm not sure if it's giving enough plug-in-power, but I'll have to experiment more when I get back to New Haven.

Karen (in Yinchuang, China)

Judging from the prices at SoundProfessionals.com it looks like accessories such as the case/tripod-stand (OP-R09C) are cheaper in Japan. ¥5600 at BicCamera vs. $69 in the USA.

The binaural mic that SoundProfessionals sell seems very interesting. I've been meaning to make a soundscape of Japan that gives a sense of what it would be like to be blind in such an audio-rich environment.

Hi Karen - just found your site - excellent. Im a New Zealand born Film maker who is based between London, tokyo/fukiage and auckland. I will be at Fuji rock festival, and are trying to find a japanese outlet for the edirol r-4 recorder - as its specs are insanely cool..

if you have any ideas on a place to buy this from in japan..do let me know..
marc swadel

Some more miscellaneous notes:

Downloading SD cards using the built-in USB seems slow: about 10 minutes to download a 1 gigabyte SD card. This is using my PowerBook G4 with a USB 2.0 interface. It's faster to have a standalone USB 2.0 card reader.
The USB interface is a standard mini type that's now being used on most digital cameras, so you most probably have the same cable lying around somewhere.
I wished it supported more than 2 GB cards as the 4GB cards are now dropping in price. Nonetheless, you'll most likely run out of batteries before you run out of a 2GB card.
One annoying thing is that you can't start up and record immediately. You first have to hit the power button, then wait for the startup animation, then hit the record button twice. I wish there was a shortcut for just powering-up-and-recording all at once, even if there was a short delay. This makes a big difference when I'm talking to someone and realize that I want to record what they're saying-- I have to break eye contact to fiddle with the darn thing.
After reading the manual, I thought the clock resetting if you didn't use the unit for a while (see main entry above) would be a problem. As it turns out, I didn't use my R-09 for 3 weeks while I was in China and the built-in clock didn't reset (I had AAs in it) so maybe Edirol fixed this bug in a firmware update.
In the very annoying category: you can't download from the SD card / use the Edirol R-09 as a USB card reader if the R-09 is out of batteries. This is a pain. Most other audio recorders I know suck operating power from the USB connection when in card-reading mode. This means if you are out of batteries and need to download, you need to use a USB card reader. This stinks big time.
The time/date stamp feature is handy -- but the creation time isn't the creation time, it's actually the end-time. If you want the real creation time (when you STARTED recording), you need to subtract the play length from the stated creation time. This is a pain when trying to synchronize sound that you recorded with the Edirol with video that you taped in HDV.


O'Reilly has a very good review/overview of the R-09: http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/digitalmedia/2006/08/31/edirol-r-09-digital-recorder-review.html

One of the interesting things is that the reviewer says that a firmware update will allow the R-09 to use 4 gigabyte cards. This would be VERY appealing to me, since 2 gigabyte cards only store 110 minutes at maximum quality. A four gigabyte card would store 220 minutes..

Nasukaren... thanks for your informitave review.

I am about to embark on a 2 year round-the-world trip where I will be photographing and recording ambient sounds of various locations around the globe.

I was considering the R-9 for a portable recorder, but I was concerned about wind noise. It doesn't look like you can put a proper wind screens over the built in stereo mics. Have you had any problems with or suggestions about outdoor recording?

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated!

The R-09's mikes are good, but are really designed for indoor recording. There definitely is a wind noise problem. The solution is to get a small shotgun mike (such as an Azden or Sennheiser) that you can stick a proper wind sock on.

There's another great field recorder that's been released called the Zoom that looks VERY interesting, I'll post an entry to the blog about it.

Thank you for the quick reply!

I heard about the Xoom H4. It's less expensive and has more features.... BUT, a freind who works a local music store say it looks kinda cheap, so I'd be concerned about reliability and durability.

Do you have any recommendations for a decent mic and windsock? I'm looking for the least inexpensive stereo condensor that would work with the R-09.

I just posted a new entry about the Zoom H4. If it had date/time stamping, I'd be all over it. I might try to get a sample unit to see what it's like. Samson has good price/performance, but their products are rather inexpensive.

p.s. I'm not sure what type of mic you're looking for -- hypercartioid, short shotgun, or long shotgun. Also, most external mics are mono, are you fine with that?

You might want to experiment w/ making your own windscreen for the R-09.

Edirol / Roland has released an update for the R-09 that allows it to use 2GB+ plus SDHC cards. They're now certified for 4gb cards, but check the release notes to make sure it works. The updater works on PCs as well as Macs, which is nice.

Oh, I forgot, here's the URL for the Roland updater: http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.aspx?ObjectId=757

Dear Nasukaren,

When your soundscape of Japan is finished, I would very much like to hear it. Can you tell me how I could get it?

Thank you,

Lisa Davidson

The sampling frequency should be in kHz (kilohertz), not millihertz or even megahertz or what could mhz mean.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hertz
I of course know what the frequency is, but somebody could be confused.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on June 4, 2006 11:31 PM.

Info: S&R Foundation Award for Young Artists in Japanese Photography and Film was the previous entry in this blog.

Info: Back cover blurbs for my new book is the next entry in this blog.

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