Review: Edirol R-09 Pocket Digital Recorder
Pages: 1, 2, 3

The Bottom Line

As recently as a year and a half ago, finding an inexpensive digital field recorder was nigh on impossible. Since then, the Edirol R1, M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 (which I reviewed here), Sony Hi-MD MiniDisc recorders, and the Marantz PMD660 have brought high-end features to the masses. How does the R-09 stack up? Very well, thank you.

Some may quibble that it doesn't support higher sample rates. To be honest, I don't think you're really giving up anything here. We're talking itsy-bitsy mic preamps and audio converters. What's the chance of achieving hi-def audio through the 1/8-inch input jacks?

R-09 recordings don't reveal as much detail as I'd expect from pro gear, that's true. But, again, look at the price. I'd be happy to use this recorder to learn new tunes or create a podcast. It's like photography: sometimes I haul out the big camera and tripod. Most of the time I'm happy to reach for my pocket camera and take the snapshot.

The Edirol R-09 is a handy field recorder with some surprisingly sophisticated file-maintenance features. It is profoundly easy to use (once you suss out the buttons), it records to inexpensive media, and the onboard mics do a decent job. Battery life is outstanding. It looks cool, too.

It's not for everyone. Professionals will want higher sample rates, enhanced metering, and more robust mics. But they'll have to pay a lot more.

I'll bet Edirol sells 'em by the truckload.

Thanks to Chris Yeaton for the beautiful slack key; to Puna for the photo of the band; to Swampy, Bob, and the rest for the old-time clip; and to Cano Cardoso and the Lark Camp gaita band.

Edirol R-09 Digital Recorder Specifications

MSRP $450
Recorder stereo; switchable to mono with external microphone
AD/DA conversion 24 bit, 44.1/48kHz
Recording Formats MP3: 44.1/48kHz; 64/96/128/160/192/224/320kbps
  WAV: 44.1/48kHz; 16/24 bit
Playback Formats MP3: 32/44.1/48kHz; 64/96/128/160/192/224/256/320kbps or VBR (variable bit rate)
  WAV: 32/44.1/48kHz; 16/24 bit
Memory Card SD Card (supports 64MB-2GB; 4GB support forthcoming)
Audio Inputs

Internal stereo microphone, 1/8" stereo mic input (plug-in power), 1/8" stereo line input

Audio Outputs 1/8" stereo combination analog/optical (mini TOSLINK)
Nominal Input Level Variable
Mic Input –36dBu (default input level)
Line Input 0dBu (default input level)
Input Impedance Mic: 20kohms; Line: 17kohms
Frequency Response 20Hz–22kHz
USB Interface Mini-B type connector (supports USB 2.0/1.1 mass storage device class)
Effects Playback reverb: 3 types (Hall1, Hall2, Room, Plate)
Display 120x64-dot Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) graphic display
Power Supply AC adapter or (2) AA batteries
Battery Life Playback: approximately 5.5 hours; Recording: approximately 4 hours (with alkaline batteries)
Included Accessories Owner's manual, AC adapter, 64MB SD memory card, USB cable
Size 2-1/2" W x 4-1/16" D x 1-3/16" H
Weight 6 oz.

Which One Should I Buy?

My review of the M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96 was my first experience with writing for an online magazine. I was totally unprepared for the number of emails I received: everything from kudos and flames to people asking for tech support or soliciting buying advice.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I've enjoyed meeting new people online and learning about your worlds. But I do have a life. That's why we have the dandy little forum at the end of each article, so you can ask questions and anyone can reply. Heck, I've learned a lot from the answers posted below my reviews.

I'm well aware that many of you have been waiting for the Edirol R-09 to appear so you can compare it to the MicroTrack. Both recorders are compact, both easy to use, both record to flash memory—heck, they even cost the same amount. Choosing between them won't be easy.

So here's my answer to the burning question "Which one should I buy?"

I can't tell you. Sorry. You will have to make up your own mind. Read the reviews, peruse the specs, listen to the examples. Check out online forums—and by all means post to this one. Ultimately, the decision is yours alone.

My guess is we'll see the kind of passionate debate now enjoyed (?) by Windows and Mac devotees.

So, go ahead and email me to complain about the review, boost my ego about my guitar playing, or ask where in the world Galicia is. However, if you write me for buying advice, I'll forward your email to an ex-government worker in Nigeria who will be able to help. For a price.

Which One's for You?

See how this recorder stacks up in our
portable recorder comparison chart.