Product Pick: Roland R05 Handheld Digital Recorder.

by Ames JC

If you’re a musician like me, you have a tendency to come up with something wonderful at a rehearsal and then promptly forget that stroke of genius as soon as you sit down to try and turn it into a song.  We’ve been using my Lumix camera to record audio at rehearsals and although it produces a fairly good sound, it’s obviously not built for that.  Hoping the battery will last long enough and then ripping the audio from the video is all a bit time consuming and cumbersome.  I also have a Saffire 6 USB Interface but carrying my laptop, Saffire 6, guitar, pedal…. You get the picture!  I was on the lookout for an answer to my rehearsal nightmares.

For a few months I pottered around trying to decide which recorder to buy after using a Zoom H2N on a film audio course.  The Zoom H2N is good but I didn’t like the casing or the buttons on the device.  As Roland designs things with the musician in mind, I was constantly drawn to their recorders.  I even recommended that a DSLR video producer consider using one before I’d even purchased it!  He did and the results were seriously impressive.  He had recorded a live band using the R05 attached to his camera and the clarity was amazing.  There’s also an option to use a line-in so you’re not limited to only using the onboard mics.

So, I decided to plump up for the R05 after deciding there wasn’t enough difference to warrant me spending a lot more dough on the R09HR.  The R05 has a nice set of stereo condenser mics on the top and records in super clear 24-bit / 96kHz.  You can change this to 16-bit and can also alter the file format.  The standard is WAV or you can set it to WAV+MP3 or just MP3.  It’s all too easy to make adjustments because of the very simple menu system.

 

“Rehearsal” mode sets the recording level for you.  Just press it, play as loud as you’re going to play, click on stop when you’re done and voila, it’s set to record at the right level.  My first use of “Rehearsal” mode produced a very clear audio file which was very well balanced; picking up acoustic bass, guitar and vocals with equal clarity.  You can also use the split function to edit your audio file, join it with another file, or, if you’re recording a long rehearsal, you can use it to separate tracks.  There is a function to program the R05 to do this automatically but I haven’t tried that yet!

The R05 is a dinky little thing but robustly built.  The box includes a 2GB SD card, USB cable, two AA batteries and a windshield for those outdoor recordings.  The ease of use of this recorder is a big plus, it’s very intuitive and the manual provides enough answers should you be confused about settings for certain scenarios.  Functions I haven’t used yet include “looping” and “tempo”.  You can slow parts right down if you’re trying to work out a fast solo while not changing the pitch so handy for getting tricky parts of your song sussed.  Looping is handy for playing back part of the audio that you want to practice over with either your vocals or another instrument.  Should you wish to add a bit of atmosphere to your file you can use the built-in reverb.

All in all, the R05 is now an invaluable piece of hardware for my band and my songwriting.  There’s nothing better than an audio notepad when you come up with things on the spur of the moment (certainly improves band relations when you don’t forget that tune everybody liked!).  I’ve only really scratched the surface of what it can do and it’s criminal that this doesn’t cost a heck of a lot more based on the audio quality alone so if you want to stop losing those gems you came up with on the fly, and also get yourself some top notch recordings without setting up wires all over the shop, get yourself a bargain and watch your ideas grow!

Click HERE to get your paws on one of these.

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