Review: Roland R-07

A high-resolution stereo recorder that fits in your pocket
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Roland’s recent addition to the world of portable stereo recorders is the R-07. Although it was designed for more casual, musician-friendly uses than the company’s higher-end recorders, the R-07 includes a number of pro-level features, such as high-resolution recording up to 24-bit, 96kHz. Yet, it is easy to operate and, after two months of using it in my work, I’m completely hooked.

The R-07 offers a wish list of modern features and great design, and it still fits easily into a pocket.

The R-07 offers a wish list of modern features and great design, and it still fits easily into a pocket.

The R-07 has a pair of built-in omnidirectional mics set in an AB pattern—perfect for capturing rehearsals, lessons, performances, and environmental sounds. If a more directional stereo pattern is needed, an external-mic input with plug-in power is onboard. (The input doubles as a stereo aux feed for line-level gear.) The R-07 is available in black, white, and red, and can be powered by USB or AA batteries (the latter offering 15 hours or recording/playback).

In addition to a standard headphone output and built-in mono speaker, the R-07 can connect to wireless headphones or speakers over Bluetooth, and it uses Qualcomm aptX for enhanced streaming. The addition of iOS and Android OS support allows you to use your portable phone, tablet, or Apple Watch as a remote. Once connected to a mobile device, the R-07’s transport controls are instantly accessible, minimizing handling noise and allowing you to keep the recorder at the ready from a distance. I found myself using this feature as much as the front-panel controls.

The R-07 records WAV and MP3 files to a MicroSD card and is compatible with SDHC cards. The included 8GB card provides roughly 220 minutes of stereo audio recording at 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution.

Though the R-07 is a stereo recorder, you can set it to create a WAV and MP3 file simultaneously (Wave+MP3 mode), or use 2xWAV mode to record a second WAV file padded down by 20 dB. If there’s any clipping in the louder file, you can edit between them or, using Hybrid Limiting mode, have the R-07 switch between them automatically.

The R-07 offers preset parameter configurations called Scenes, designed for common recording needs (e.g., Loud Practice, Vocal, Field, etc.). Each Scene stores the record mode and resolution, input level, low-cut choice and limiter settings. Ten scenes are provided, but you can customize and save them as needed. Another feature, the Rehearsal function, lets you automatically (or manually) set the input level of the R-07 based on incoming volume level during a specified length of time.

The R-07 includes basic editing and marker-setting features, and you can add reverb during playback (for recordings done at sample rates below 88.2 kHz). Other musician-oriented features include a built-in metronome, tuner, and playback-speed control.

The R-07 hasn’t left my side since I received it, and I’ve captured some incredible high-res audio that I would have missed if I’d stuck with my iPad and interface (which takes a lot more gear and setup time). On a camping trip, the iOS remote let me set the recorder up on a picnic table, so I could put it into Record mode whenever local critters became active.

The R-07’s robust construction allowed me to tuck it in my pack and go hiking. I did pick up a slim fabric case for added protection (Roland offers an optional case), but I would still feel confident throwing it in a backpack thanks to its smart, sturdy design.

For a portable recorder at this price, the R-07 provides a compelling blend of convenience and functionality.

STRENGTHS
Supports up to 24/96 resolution. Scene preset recording configurations. Bluetooth support. iOS and Android remote control. Powers from USB or battery.

LIMITATIONS
No x/y mic.

$229
roland.com

Francis Preve has been designing synthesizer presets professionally since 2000. Check out his Scapes project at francispreve.com.