Roland R-05 [Review]

Roland R-05 audio recorderThe Roland R-05 is a versatile beast… an audio recorder and player with the capacity to loop audio, alter the playback speed without changing the pitch, auto-start and split songs. There’s loads to this device and I’m grateful to Roland UK for loaning me one to test. I want to concentrate on how the R-05 could be used by podcasters, so it’s the recording ability I’ll be looking at today.

The R-05 is a nicely sized handheld recorder with a stereo microphone, SD card slot for expandable storage, and simple controls that should have you up and running with little or no reference to the manual (always a good thing). I was surprised at how light it was but the batteries add enough weight to make it feel sturdy in your hand.

I realise podcasts, and other recordings, take place in all sorts of places. I tried the R-05 in several different scenarios, to get an idea of how it performed in each:

  • A quiet room at home: I set the R-05 down and spoke directly at it. The sound quality was excellent, even allowing for the fact that I hate the sound of my own voice when played back! It picked me up perfectly from a distance of one and a half to two metres, and even managed to cope with the occasions when I decided to wander round as I talked. The R-05 certainly works well as home studio recorder.
  • In the car: The car is a challenging place to record. There’s engine and tyre noise, traffic, all sorts of clicks and squeaks and, in my situation, two small children in the back seat. So to try out how the Roland R-05 would do in a car interview, I recorded my wife and me having a conversation. I have to say, the effect here is actually really good. I got the engine noise in the background, all those little sounds, and the occasional interruption from the children. All that served to give some good ambience to the recording but, crucially, the main conversation sat nicely in the mix and was very easy to pick up.
  • Outdoor ambient: I just wanted to see whether I could collect some ambient sound that could be used as a background. So I headed out to the main road and recorded a few minutes of cars and people passing. Other than a few odd looks and having to up the recording level a bit, the experience was pain free and resulted in a good recording.
  • Recording in a crowd: Interviews and cosy chats sometimes happen in crowded places, so I wanted to see how the Roland R-05 would handle recording in crowded conditions. A trip to a coffee shop and a quick chat with a friend yielded another recording with plenty of ambience. The background noise can be a bit intrusive, but it’s pretty much a case of realising if the background is annoying in real life it’ll be annoying on the recording too. Sitting the recorder in the middle of a conversation also yields a wide stereo effect which you will have to watch if you’re planning a podcast: I’ve known people complain before because they listened to a podcast by sharing earphones with a friend… and each person only got one side of the conversation.

How do I get the audio onto my computer?

The R-05’s headphone playback sounds great, but you’ll want to get the audio onto a computer at some point. Just plug it in with the provided USB cable and it mounts as a flash drive containing WAV files. You can then just copy the files over to edit with your favourite software. Nice and simple.

Conclusion

I’ve been really impressed with the Roland R-05. It’s simple to use, performs well in a variety of situations, and sounds good throughout. I can see this being a top-notch device for podcasters, and I haven’t even started on using it as an audio player, or music rehearsal tool. If you’re in the market for a portable recorder, the R-05 is well worth a look.

The Roland R-05 is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

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