Capture the jam session to practice again later and then catch the minutes from your meeting. Yes, the Roland R-07 can do that!
For the past fifty years, technology lovers have amassed in Las Vegas, Nevada for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). When Nick and I attended our first CES in 2016, we had scoured the internet for advice and naively thought we were prepared. I tried to feverishly write down conversational data, tested my phone battery with countless videos/pictures, walked and carried gear further than I expected and learned quickly about staying at a single venue on a given day and not criss-crossing the Las Vegas Strip. Despite having an amazing show, we learned a lot. We added audio recorders, improved cameras, prescheduled venues/events, added portable chairs and coordinated our efforts to maximize showfloor time. When we attend CES in 01/2020, I plan on taking the Roland R-07 to enhance my ability to capture quality audio.
The Roland R-07 High Resolution Audio Recorder arrived in a 4 5/8 inches wide by 6 3/8 inches tall by 2 5/8 inches retail package. The cover provided an attractive 2 3/8 inches wide by 4 inches tall image of the recorder along the center, Bluetooth toward your upper right, and the Roland name, R-07 model and “High Resolution Audio recorder” along the bottom. The black-colored top, bottom, left, and right panels displayed the Roland name, model and “High Resolution Audio Recorder” in white font. The white front/back panels contrasted brilliantly with the black top/side/bottom panels. I felt the checkerboard-esque color scheme to be quite appealing and helped to break up an otherwise white background. The reverse panel appeared to be a little too busy, providing five bulleted features of the recorder in three languages (English, French, Chinese). The bullets detailed the scene function, one-touch setup, Bluetooth monitoring, remote control function, modern design, 24-bit/96kHz audio, 15-hour record time, and the package contents (R-07, microSD card, two AA batteries, owners manual).
Within the box, I found two 4 7/16 inches wide by 6 1/4 inches tall smaller white boxes that were joined by a 2 9/16 inches wide cardboard strip. Although the boxes had similar lengths and widths, they had different thicknesses. The recorder box contained the 2 3/8 inches wide by 4 inches tall by 1-inch thick recorder and two Energizer AA batteries. Resembling a standard deck of cards, the 3.77-ounce device easily rested within the palm of my hand. I removed the batteries from the box, the semi-translucent plastic from around the recorder and then installed the batteries. The other box contained a Roland Backstage Warranty/Product Registration card, an eight language “Important Notes” card detailing incompatibility with Panasonic microSD cards, an eight language safety pamphlet, and an eight language instruction manual. The safety manual folded outward like a large map. It contained numerous safety warnings and the addresses/phone numbers for their 84 country repair service locations.
The instruction manual started with a list of contents (R-07 Recorder, microSD, batteries, owner manual, safety leaflet) and then provided a series of useful diagramed images of the device. The R-07 Audio recorder had two built-in microphones along the top, a centered indicator along the top and bottom to show recording status, a 1 1/2 inches wide by 3/4 inches tall LCD display, five 1/3 inch diameter circular buttons and lower sound input +/- toggle, volume output +/- toggle, Play/Pause/Fast forward/Rewind directional pad and centralized record button. The rehearsal button will set the appropriate recording level, the A/B button will allow you to replay marked locations within a file, the mark button will allow you to add a marker within a WAV file, the menu button allowed for changes to settings, and the scene button changed between premade recording settings. The right side of the device had a headphone output port, while the left side of the device had a grey power toggle and a USB output port. Lastly, the top panel has a mic/aux input port between the microphones.
Flipping the R-07 onto the front panel, you will find an upper microSD card slot with pre-installed 8GB microSD card, a small built-in speaker, a lower AA battery compartment, a universal 1/4 inch screw tripod mounting socket and a lower strap hole (no strap included). To activate the device, slide the power button downward. Once the device was turned on, the LCD screen illuminated and “on” was seen across the middle. The LCD screen quickly dimmed to conserve power. Press the menu button to access the main features of the device. You can use the directional up/down buttons to cycle through the menu options: Finder, Input, Recorder, Player, Bluetooth, Display, Language, Power Manage, File Edit, Date and Time, SD card, Metronome, Tuner, Graphic Tuner, Factory Reset. Information. To start, I navigated to Date and Time, pressed the central select button and then selected the year, month, day, hour and minute. To return to the previous list, I simply had to press the menu button again. I navigated to “Power Manage” and changed the Auto Off to 3 minutes (off, 3, 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, 60). This panel also allowed me to change between alkaline and Ni-MH battery types. According to the manual, you can expect ~15 hours of recording/playback.
I loved the well-placed buttons of the Roland R-07 device. To start a recording, simply press the central rec/play indicator. Press the record button to pause or press the stop button to end the recording. In between recording sessions, you can use the left input toggle to adjust the input up or down or press the rehearsal button to have the device adjust the input for you. When in handheld mode, you can slide the power button to the hold position to deactivate the buttons. Although it may not seem like much, the hold button may be one of the most important buttons on the device. When trying to record quality audio, this button will prevent unintended interruptions. If desired, you can pair a Bluetooth headset with the Roland R-07 or you can use the included built-in speaker. You can plug a microphone into the Aux-IN port along the top and you can plug a 3.5mm pair of headphones into the side of the device. Within the menu, you can activate a metronome and change the BPM/number of beats. Additionally, you can find a tuner feature within the menu.
One of my favorite features of the device was the R-07 Remote Function. I downloaded the free online R-07 App from the iOS app store and reviewed the four-panel tutorial. To pair the device, I navigated to Bluetooth on the R-07 and selected remote control and then selected “on.” The instruction manual did a great job of detailing these steps. I opened the app and paired the Roland R-07 MIDI from within the App. From my iPhone XS Max, I was able to press record, to enter standby mode and then again to start a recording. I was able to use the input and volume sliders to adjust the settings and I was able to mark sections of the recording. Pressing the Rehearsal mode button, the R-07 entered into a sixty-second background sound check. I was able to adjust the setting from the R-07 directly or from within the App. If you choose “Menu” along the bottom of the screen, you can review the version, repeat the tutorial, review the Owner’s Manual, or the R-07 Practical Guide (web). The App was easy to utilize and well laid out. I loved the R-07 Practical Guide, which provided information about benefits, settings and tips for vocals, instruments, band and orchestra, videographers, field recordists, conferences and journalism and product information.
A full how-to tutorial is beyond the scope of this review but I found it difficult to pry myself away from the ultra-portable Roland R-07 recorder. A Blackmagicdesign speed test of the device showed slow transfer speeds of 1.4MB/s write and 1.7MB/s read capabilities. One of my biggest regrets from my first CES was not having a device like the Roland R-07. Furthermore, I wish that I had a device like this during my high school and college music ensemble days. I would have loved to record our rehearsals so that I could replay them as I practiced my Euphonium. The added remote function took a 9/10 device and added bonus points to the final score. The size was perfect, the buttons were well placed, the battery life was more than adequate and the ability to replay the songs was easy. The hold button allowed for enhanced recording capabilities and the rear universal camera mount screw allowed me to add a tripod. The rehearsal button sampled the background and essentially dummy proofed the input setting for improved recording. The built-in speaker was quite weak and essentially required the use of headphones. Besides the speaker, my only other critique was with the slow transfer rates. To move the files, I was able to plug the Roland into my MacBook Pro with a USB-A to USB-micro cable (did not come with the device) or remove the microSD card and access the data with a card reader.
If I were going to build a Roland R-07 version 2.0, I would improve the quality of the built-in speakers, include a soft carry case for the device, and enhance the transfer speeds to modern USB 3.0 levels versus WiFi options. I am not a professional audiophile and thus do not require more than what the R-07 offers me. I was displeased with the transfer rates but the microSD card was easily removable. I would have loved to be able to play the files through the app on my iPhone XS Max. However, the ability to control the device with the phone was amazingly smooth/convenient. Similar to many EDC (everyday carry) items, a smaller size can often mean that you have the device with you. Other devices may be better, but you may have to sacrifice portability. Despite the limitations, playback through headphones sounded great and I was able to capture/move sound files. I think that the 5.39-ounce battery+recorder will definitely be in my VEGAS-OR-BUST-CES-2020 bag.