After many years of using a variety of minidisc recorders, including products from Sharp and Sony, I finally splurged last year and bought an Edirol R-09HR digital recorder. Since then I’ve used it to record solo (horn and piano), chamber music (Poulenc Sextet), and large ensemble rehearsals and performances (solo horn with band). So far it has been an outstanding little device – easy to use, but with lots of features. It is very small, almost the same dimensions as an Ipod classic, but a bit thicker. You can see it in the picture below.
One of my favorite features is the ease of importing recorded files to a computer, which used to be quite an involved process even with my most recent minidisc recorder. With the Edirol, you simply attach it via USB cable to your computer, and you can drag the file(s) over for editing in Audacity, Soundforge, etc. There are several different recording quality settings, with files being stored in either .MP3 or .WAV format. The higher the recording quality, the more memory required on the included SD memory card. The card which comes with it is only 512MB, and I recommend buying another card of at least 2GB – the Edirol is compatible with up to 8GB SD cards. With a 4GB card (my current one) on the highest quality setting (.WAV format at 24 bit/96KHZ), you can get approximately 110 minutes of recording time – more than enough for a recital, chamber music concert, etc. On the lowest setting (.MP3 at 128 KBS), you can get around 3,990(!) minutes of recording with the same 4GB card. I recommend a setting somewhere in the middle of these two extremes for normal use.
Recording levels are very easy to set since there are dedicated buttons for adjusting them. You push the record button once, which puts the device on standby, and you can check the levels on the back-lit display. There is an automatic limiter setting, but I haven’t had any problems with setting the levels myself – just be sure you set them low enough to accommodate slightly more than your highest dynamic level. Once the levels are set, push the record button again and you are rolling. An included remote control allows you to start and stop the recorder from several feet away. A small built-in speaker gives you a preview of any recorded material, but headphones generally work better for this purpose. The built-in stereo microphones are excellent, and there is also a 1/8″ microphone-in jack for external mics.
Those are the major features, and needless to say I’ve been very pleased with it. Battery life is excellent (2 AA batteries), but for long recording sessions there is an included AC adaptor. Really the only negative comment I have is that there is no built-in way to attach the recorder to a microphone stand, although Edirol does sell a carrying case which will attach to a mic stand.
If you are in the market for a handheld digital recorder, consider the Edirol R-09HR.