The Roland R-05 takes quite the familiar form – lately, we’ve been inundated with these portable recorders, but that’s almost certainly due to the level of interest that the songwriting masses appear to be showing in them. I can predict good times indeed for any company fielding one of these by the time Christmas rolls around, but fortunately we’ve yet to see any cheap gimmicky products attempting to capitalise. What that does mean, though, is that anyone entering the market has serious competition.
This new offering certainly has a hell of a spec, for starters. So, you’ve got a high-sensitivity stereo microphone in the top of the unit as we’ve now come to expect, with which you can record – along with options of external mics and instruments through separate jacks – at 24-bit resolution. The circuitry is designed to ensure low noise, and once you’ve got your track down you can edit everything (trim, divide and combine tracks) and export to either MP3 or WAV.
Then, storage on the R-05 is available either on SD cards or via the USB port. If I’m making this sound incredibly simple, there’s a good reason for that: what’s the point in something portable if it’s hard to use, eh? So, on the front of the unit are some large, sensibly-arranged buttons for recording and playback, as well as immediate selections for reverb, menus and a quick ‘rehearsal’ button for immediate results without the faff.
Should you want a little faff, around the back of the unit are switches for gain, limiter and low cut, immediately allowing you to alter your microphone as you see fit. I found the stereo mic to have performed at an excellent quality in all respects, and this conclusion was reached recording my vocal, an acoustic guitar and a brief, impromptu jam. The noise was indeed low, and actually the songwriter who’s a dab hand at live performance will find this a joy to use without worrying about plugging anything in. There’s a handy peak LED too, for a quick alarm if you start off on the wrong foot. Recording instruments through the line-in was similarly painless, so those going electric can either mic up their amplifier (from a bit of a distance to avoid problems, mind) or go straight in.
It’s this ease of use that’s the point of this product. With its tough titanium shell and general rugged build quality, it’s like that faithful digital camera you take everywhere – it can get beaten up, it’ll be full of stuff you’ve decided to capture on the spur of the moment, and will be as much about laughing to yourself at the bad song ideas and odd jam moments as loading the good ones onto your computer and starting to think about further arrangement.
For me, that’s what gives these portable recorders so much value. They’re fun, no hassle, and can become a part of your musical life very quickly indeed. I’m never far from the one I bought a while back, and I don’t think you’ll be able to put down the Roland R-05.