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I am a professional violinist, looking for advice on a portable digital recorder to use in daily practice and recording of rehearsals. I want something small enough to always have it in my fiddle case, yet deliver sound quality good enought from the build in mics to use in demo recordings for my website. A tall order perhaps, but I do realize that I will never get studio quality in something that small - I just want something with the greatest fidelity possible in the format.

Right now I am torn between the Sony PCM-D50 (for the supposedly superior sound quality) and the Edirol R09 HR (for the much smaller size than the Sony). Any advice, also on other recorders I may have missed, from the experts of this sublime forum would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance.


BobRogers Sun, 03/08/2009 - 14:12

I've had very good luck with the Edirol R09. I got mine almost two years ago, and a lot of competing models have come out since then, so I can't offer valid comparisons. But I use the mine for exactly the type of thing you will be using your for and it works very well. I've posted other comments. (Maybe some samples?) You can do a search of the archives.

If you go with the Edirol be sure to get the tripod mount. Positioning is (of course) crucial. You can just mount it on a camera tripod.

BobRogers Mon, 03/09/2009 - 04:43

Have not used it for strings. Did a lot of my daughter's HS classical wind ensembles and it worked very well. Got a good seat, put it on the tripod about head level, recorde at 24bit/44.1kHz. Compares very well with the "professional" recordings of the same event. Better if the guys are hacks. My daughter has used it for Sax quartet practices with even better results. Seems to work better in intimate settings where you can get good placement options.

Of course, there is a difference in the quality of the mics and a reasonably good pair of outboard mics (to say nothing of preamps/converters, etc). But the recordings are clear and loud and have surprisingly little self noise. They cover the full frequency spectrum if a fairly even fashion. It's like comparing a snapshot from a good point and shoot camera to a photograph from a camera with high quality lenses. The difference is there, but that doesn't mean that you can't take very good pictures with the point and shoot.

thesteelydane Mon, 03/09/2009 - 10:43

Sounds good, thank you for your reply. I went down to the store today with my violin to see of they would let me do a shoot out between the Sony and the Edirol. Unfortunately the Sony wasn't in stock, but I did record a little with the Edirol (the newer HR version) and was quite impressed with the sound qulity from such a small device. I was tempted to buy it right there, but decided to wait for the Sony to be restocked so I can do a real comparison. Right now I'm leaning towards the Edirol because it's so small I could just keep in my fiddle case all the time.

Cucco Mon, 03/09/2009 - 12:53

Hello and welcome to RO!
Might I add the suggestion of the Korg MR-1. Thanks to the newer model coming out, the MR-1 was now reduced to $399. I use it often during lessons and my own practice sessions and it works well - it's not amazing sounding with the included mic, but it's not bad.


thesteelydane Mon, 03/16/2009 - 16:44

Thanks for your input. I will be sure to check out the MR-1. I'm intrigued by the idea of one bit recording, but my main priority is to get the bst build in mics I can get in something small enough to always have in my fiddle case. Still waiting for the Sony to arrive in my local store, so haven't bought anything yet.

Cucco Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:24

I'll check on the quality of the mic that comes with the MR-1 and get back to you. I won't say which one, but I may be "bootlegging" a major orchestra in the near future. However, I would never do this for profit or release - only because it's an amazing group that's doing a wonderful piece for horn and the horn player was wanting me to get the recording for him. I'll try to get a good seat and cautiously clip the mic to my lapel just prior to the downbeat. (Obviously, I won't be putting out samples, but I can give you a no BS assessment of the mic itself.)


Cucco Tue, 03/17/2009 - 12:48

Nope, the mics for the MR-1 are attached via 2 (bound together) 1/8th" balanced lines. You can neatly tuck the recorder in your jacket pocket, fish a little line and clip the unambiguous mic to the lapel and voila...stealthy recording.

I'm tempted to figure out a way to hook up a small sound devices preamp to a pair of DPA 4061 which I'd then mount to a pair of non-prescription glasses and have a poor-man's (well, not that poor) binaural boot-legging machine.

Of course, I'd only do this for my own enjoyment - never for sale! (I can't stress this enough!)

JoeH Tue, 03/17/2009 - 14:15

Don't forget to check out the M-Audio MicroTrack II. There is stereo clip-on mic included (which is just so-so for what you're looking to do, but very good for clip-on mics for VO work, and so on.)

What makes it worthwhile is the feature set for the cost; if you have XLR to 1/4" balanced adapters, you can even use the built in phantom power to run outboard professional mics. I recently used an AT 4050 with an adapter on the end of an XLR cable, turned on the phantom power, & got one of the most professional-sounding, "in the field" Voice recordings ever.

Everything is menu selectable, (stereo, mono, bit depth and sample rate) and you can choose between the stereo 1/8", 1/4" or SP/DIF inputs. Runs on internal battery or USB cable power supply. Has 1/8" headphone jack and RCA line outs, too. You can "link" the two channels for gain-matching, and there's a very useful (but not user-adjustable) limiter that can be switched on and off in the menu settings.

I use it as a 2-track back up to my multitrack rig on remotes (wish I had a few more of them, honestly). Running at 44, 88, or 96k and 16 or 24bits, it's fantastic. I copy the SD chip contents to hard disc & simply erase it before every new gig. (I bought the 4 gig chip for about $65 a year ago.)

Really, at this point, most of these palm-sized recorders do not (or SHOULD not) have a "Sound", mostly, it's what YOU like and are comfortable with using, and how you prefer to work: Built in mics vs aux, chip memory vs. HD, expandable memory, panel layout, ease of use, etc. etc.

thesteelydane Thu, 03/19/2009 - 07:01


Thank you to everyone for the input. I have looked at the Microtrack and loved it for the size and the 48 V phantom power, and that could come in handy in the future. On the other hand I have my laptop studio setup (Apogee Duet and a MacBook) for high qulity recording needs. In the end I ruled out he Microtrack because the battery is not user replacable, and I would need to carry an A/C adapter as well. Come to think of it, whatever I get has to use standard consumer batteries so I never run out of juice.


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