The Korg MR-1 portable audio recorder applies some serious science to maximizing the quality and compatibility of your recordings. The Korg MR-1 is very expensive, however, and its assets as a portable recorder will only appeal to a small fraction of audio professionals.
All of the Korg MR-1's audio inputs and outputs are crammed into the top edge of the device, along with switches for line/mic gain and microphone power. Adapting the Korg MR-1's 3.5mm microphone inputs for use with standard XLR-type microphones or mixing board output takes special cables that are not included.
The delicate clip-on stereo condenser microphone included with the Korg MR-1 does an adequate job, provided that it is never handled or moved, or used in windy situations. If you plan on using the MR-1 for field recording, expect to shell out some extra money for a higher quality microphone with a windscreen.
Our staff photographer had to work hard to keep her reflection out of these photos, since the Korg MR-1's faceplate could double as a makeup mirror. There are probably some advantages to having a portable audio recorder that can double as a disco ball, but the glare coming off the MR-1 on a bright day can be intense.
The five buttons on the front of the MR-1 take care of standard recording deck functions such as record, play/pause, stop, and track skip. On the right side of the Korg MR-1, you'll find (starting from the top): a power switch that doubles as a hold button; a menu button; a multifunction scroll wheel; and a volume control.
The Korg MR-1's monochrome screen does a good job presenting critical information such as recording levels and track duration. The display contrast can be adjusted to make the most of bad lighting situations.
The Korg MR-1's microphone includes a detachable metal L-bracket stand for hands-free recording. The bottom of the stand includes a hole that allows it to be mounted on a camera tripod. The small circular cutout beneath the microphone is used to keep the cable pulled back and out of the way.
Aside from the customary manual, warranty card, and software CD, here's what you get in the Korg MR-1's box. Clockwise from the top: Korg MR-1 with case; stereo condenser mic with detachable stand; three-pronged power cable; USB cable; and AC power adapter block.
Korg includes a protective case for the MR-1 with a clear plastic window on the face and cutouts for all the ports and controls that line the sides. With a price tag hovering around $800, you'll probably want to keep your investment as protected as possible.
The left edge of the Korg MR-1 includes a port for the included AC power adapter and a USB port for transferring recordings to your computer. With only 2.5 hours of battery life, you'll be seeing a lot of the MR-1's power adapter port. As of January of 2008, Korg is now shipping the MR-1 with an external battery pack that plugs into the power adapter port and doubles the battery life (at the expense of extra bulk).