Audio Assist: Roland R-44 Four-track recording in the field

HDVideoPro by Dan Brockett

Q I've been using my Canon EOS 7D with a microphone interface, but I need higher-quality recording to four tracks for an upcoming short film. I can't afford too many of the high-end pro four- or eight-track recorders, and I haven't had good luck recording with my laptop. I need something small and lightweight that can record at least four XLR input tracks with decent quality. I need something with decent-quality mic preamps phantom power that won't break the bank either. What do you recommend?
Brett V.
Via e-mail

A There's no lack of high-quality digital multi-track recorders on the market, but as you've discovered, the best units that can record four tracks at once seem to sell in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. While there are solutions available that can record four tracks for a lot less money, like the Zoom H4n, the H4n is limited to two XLR inputs only and lower sampling rates when recording all four channels at once. There are several other four- and eight-track solid-state digital recorders on the market, but many of them are fairly high-dollar items designed for working professionals. For full-time sound professionals, spending many thousands of dollars for a main digital recorder is the norm, but for the indie low-budget filmmaker or those who need four-track audio recording but who may not record sound for a living, $4,000+ is simply out of reach. Fortunately, there are lower-cost alternatives on the market.

Roland, a company that I have a lot of experience with from my past, makes the R-44, a portable four-track digital audio recorder. I still own an antique Roland GR-300 guitar synthesizer that I bought back in the 1980s, and I used Roland keyboards and recording gear quite a bit back in the days when I dabbled in the recording studio. In my experience, Roland products always have been reliable and innovative, so I thought the R-44 would be worth checking out to see how it compares to the high-end pro sound recorders I've used. read more...

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