Short Version: The Roland R-05 is a pocket recorder for professionals and semi-pros looking to record voice and/or music live. It’s a far sight better than any smartphone recorder and the feature set, including effects, speed changers, and rudimentary editing including song splitting, is strong for a small, compact, $299 recorder.
So why do you need a portable recorder? Well, maybe you’re a music fan and want to tape your favorite band live. Or maybe you’re really cheap and want to compile a bunch of songs from the radio that you can listen to while you walk around the city at 4am peering into people’s bedrooms as they sleep. Or maybe you’re a musician who wants to practice a particularly hard piece on the violin. Whatever your pleasure, the R-05 will record high quality WAVs and MP3s on the fly.
The R-05 is a very basic piece of kit. It has a small LCD screen, a front control panel with dedicated volume and input level keys, and six special keys that control various features. On the back you have gain, limiter, and low cut switches for on the fly control and there is a peak light that shows you when you’re blowing out the sound. The recorder has a line-in and microphone port as well as a headphone port on the side. It is about four inches long.
The interface is very basic. You start recording by turning it on and pressing the center record button. You can split recordings based on size or using the split button and you can add reverb and change the speed of audio playback. It records directly to SD cards and can record WAVs and MP3s simultaneously.
The recording quality was excellent and because there are no moving parts the recordings are clear and crisp. The R-05 records in stereo and you are able to add a binaural pair of headphone/microphones to record realistic sound soundscapes. The playback features are bit difficult to figure out without reading the included manual, but if you are a musician on the go, this is an excellent way to grab and practice lines and segments.
It records at up to 24-bit/96kHz resolution and can hold about 30 hours of recording on one 2GB SD card, included.
At $299 you could probably buy a cheaper recorder. However, this Roland model is specifically designed for a more demanding musical consumer. While it makes a fine portable recorder for grabbing lectures and interviews, I’d recommend looking at some of the smaller devices before settling on this one. The multiple music features make it excellent for up and coming git-fiddle pickers who want to create audio sketches of their latest singer-songwriter masterpiece, but cigar chomping reporters or students trying to record notes may be better served by a small, less complex device.