Edirol R-09 Audio Recorder: Hands On By Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.


Glenn Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee, Instapundit blogger, and author of Army of Davids. He's also a musician, and audio geek, and waaaaay smarter than everyone at the Gizmodo staff put together. So we had him take a looksie at the Edirol R-09 audio recorder, which we wrote about in January. Read his brilliant, egg-headed take, right after the jump.

The Edirol R-09 looks like the holy grail for people doing live recording. I tested it out and it's pretty close, with the exception of some flimsy construction in places.

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For $399 list, the R-09 is a digital device that records audio to a Secure Digital memory chip. It can record, compressed, in various flavors of MP3, from 64 kbps to 320 kbps. It also records in uncompressed WAV files at 16 and 24 bit resolution, at either 44.1 or 48 khz sampling frequencies. With a 1GB SD card, you can record 88 minutes in CD-quality 16/44.1 WAV or 392 minutes in 320kbps mp3. It has two built-in stereo condenser microphones, with provisions for external microphones, too. There's no internal speaker, so you need headphones to monitor or play back sound. It's compact, and fits easily into a shirt pocket. It doesn't come with a case.

Microphone sensitivity is adjustable — though the gain reduction on "low" is dramatic, and likely to be useful mostly if you're bootlegging live concerts or something — and recording levels can be adjusted manually or automatically. There's also a switchable low-cut filter to remove rumbles or wind noise. There are no balanced inputs or outputs, but the R-09 is really too small to have room for them. It will supply phantom power to an external microphone. Conveniently, it uses AA batteries, which are easy to find anywhere, instead of proprietary rechargeables.

The controls are easy to use, and pretty self-explanatory; nobody who's familiar with digital recording devices will have much trouble navigating them even without the manual.

I tested it out doing some live podcast interviews — you can hear them here — under challenging conditions. One was recorded at a local brewpub, with lots of background noise; the other was recorded in an office with noisy air conditioning equipment. Both turned out pretty well. Recording under pristine conditions is quite good.

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You can compare the sound quality in those with the recording quality in this podcast, recorded entirely with the Olympus DM-20 that I reviewed here a while back. The Edirol definitely produces better sound — my wife, no audio engineer, noticed that immediately — but the Olympus, at half the price, is definitely good enough.
Interestingly, the build quality on the Olympus seems better, which leads me to my main complaint with the Edirol: Like a lot of gear, its manufacturer has paid more attention to the electronic aspects than to construction. In particular, the battery cover, which has to be opened to remove the SD card, too, is flimsy, and requires an awkward two-step procedure to fully open it. Do it wrong, and you're likely to wreck the cover, ruining the device. (And getting it fixed probably costs a substantial fraction of the price). That's not enough to make me warn people off the Edirol, but it's the only major drawback I found, and it's one that was completely avoidable. This seems to be a problem with a lot of small electronic devices — I'm not sure why.

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Still, if you're willing to spend in the neighborhood of four hundred bucks, you can make NPR-quality recordings for podcasts or radio shows, or quality concert bootlegs. Not bad for a gadget that fits in a shirt pocket.

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DISCUSSION

Forgive me, but "glen reynolds" is a douchebag.

His "instapundit" tows the bush party line.

For instance, he's helping to spread the republican idea that Lieberman's loss to Lamont shows the "dems are going extreme."

AHAHAAHAHAHA!!!.

My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.

ann coulter

should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.

ann coulter

"The swing voters — I like to refer to them as the idiot voters because they don't have set philosophical principles. You're either a liberal or you're a conservative if you have an IQ above a toaster."

ann coulter

You know, that's not all. O'reilly saying go ahead and bomb a city in California. republicans talking about killing doctor's who perform abortions, and killing homos.

This neo-con group built on an authoritarian philosophy, built on Leo Strauss' crazy ideas, supported by dominionist nutjob christians like james dobson, and his crusade to have all Americans follow his beliefs, no, "glen" Democrats voted Lieberman out, because he needed to be replaced with someone who actually did something.

The only party around here that is allowing extremists to take control, are the neo-cons in the republican party...James Burnham is rolling in his grave...even Buckley has spoken out about the hijacking of his party by nutjob. Supporting the little guy with a minimum wage increase, supporting the rights of all Americans, those are not fringe ideas. Sorry to hijack this thread, but the f*ck cares what this joker has to say, when he perpetuates the division (downfall) of America, by calling 50% of its citizens "terrorists, traitors, and abettors." SHOVE IT!!!