The two best things going for the Edirol R-09 are its spectacular built-in stereo microphones, and its compact design. Put another way, having the R-09 shoved in a shirt pocket with its mics peeking out offers one of the most discreet and high-quality means to record concerts and lectures.
A door on the bottom of the Edirol R-09 slides back to reveal the SD memory slot and mini-USB connection. Pulling the door forward uncovers a compartment for two AA batteries. It's a little cumbersome at first to finesse the R-09's battery compartment open, but after a few trials swapping out the batteries, you'll get the hang of it.
The back of the R-09 features four small switches for features we're happy aren't buried in menus, including automatic gain control (AGC), mono/stereo microphone type, low-frequency recording filter, and low/high microphone sensitivity.
On the right side of the R-09, you'll find the headphone jack, headphone volume buttons, and a hold switch. Problem is, the all-black buttons are nearly impossible to see. In this shot you can also get a sense of the R-09's thickness. At exactly one inch thick, the R-09 may seem chunky compared to today's Flash memory MP3 players, but it is one of the thinnest pro-audio mobile recorders available.
The Edirol R-09 comes bundled with a power adapter, a USB cable, and a 64MB SD memory card (not shown). Expect to shell out a little more money for a higher capacity SD card. Edirol also sells accessories for the R-09, including an external microphone, a leather case with a detachable tripod stand, a mic stand adapter, and a microphone wind screen.
Using the loophole built into the top of the recorder, you can attach a lanyard and wear the R-09 around your neck. Wearing the Edirol R-09 makes it easy to capture concerts, lectures and interviews hands-free. We were happy to find that recordings made while wearing the R-09 around our neck didn't pick up much distortion from the mics rubbing against our shirt or being jostled by walking.
You can do a lot of damage with a handheld recorder. While covering portable recorders, we've received emails from journalists, amateur podcasters, and even court reporters, who depend on recorders like the R-09 to gather interviews and testimonials. In this photo you can get a sense of one of our disappointments with the Edirol R-09--the screen. The R-09's tiny, dim LCD is nearly impossible to see in direct sunlight.
The left side of the R-09 includes a power button, input gain control, and a hinged rubber door that conceals the power adapter input. Just like the right side, the black buttons on the left suffer from being difficult to see against their black surroundings.