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Old December 9th, 2011, 02:32 PM   #1
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R-26 and D-50 A/B test


An enquiry recently asked about the recording quality of the Roland R-26 compared to the Sony D-50. Guy from Videoguys kindly offered to send an R-26 to any D-50 owners to test and so I volunteered and here are my results. Caveat: this is not a proper review of the R-26, just a comparison.

For those who don't know, the R-26 has both X-Y and stereo Omni internal mics, a plug-in mic input (mini-jack) and XLR inputs. Maximum 6 channels can be recorded simultaneously, mixed to stereo or as separate tracks. The D-50 has X-Y internal mics and a plug-in input only

Method: Tested the internal mics, plug-in mic (VMP) and XLR inputs (top quality spaced DPA 4006 pair) in a large indoor, very high roofed noisy space and a dead studio environment. Recorded voice and wooden chimes in studio space. Where possible I tried to keep all things equal especially gain levels but inevitably these were not scientifically accurate tests but qualitative ones. All recordings 48K 24bit. Listening was done in an acoustically treated environment over Genelec speakers.


1) Noisy ambient recordings

R-26 X-Y pair - sounds good, clear and balanced image
D-50 X-Y pair - very similar, image slightly more solid

R-26 Omnis - sounds good but with subtle difference, more ambience as expected, lower frequencies a little stronger, warmer sound.
R-26 X-Y + Omnis - richer, fuller sound and well balanced image. Definitely the best mode for this kind of recording.

R-26 Plug-in mic: VMP - relatively thin sound
D-50 Plug-in mic: VMP - much richer and warmer sound, suggesting better pre-amp

R-26 XLR: DPA pair - these are very good mics for those not familiar (cú1000 each in the UK); excellent sound suggesting good preamps (D50 does not have XLRs)

2) Dead studio environment

R-26 X-Y - decent sound but noticeably noisy!
D-50 X-Y - much less noisy with more balanced / natural sound.

R-26 Omnis - much better, less noise, warmer sound. Still not as good as D-50 X-Y

R-26 Plug-in: VPM - OK but lacks detail
D-50 Plug-in: VMP - warmer, more detail

R-26 XLR: DPA pair - excellent sound, little noise suggesting quiet and good quality preamps though DPAs are very quiet in and high gain.

Finally tested internal mics of both machines with gains turned full up confirming the higher noise of the R-26 internal mic preamps but at high levels the D-50 comes much closer, though still lower than the noise level of the R-26.

So overall the D-50 has cleaner and warmer internal mics and noticeably better plug-in mic preamps. But the XLR inputs on the R-26 seem pretty good. The combination of the X-Y and Omnis in the R-26 are also pretty good for ambient location recordings but are a bit noisy in quiet environments.

Other things: the R-26 logs a helpful text file along with each recording with info on what inputs are used. Build quality is OK but plastic compared with the metal of the D-50 and thus picks up more handling noise. Battery life of R-26 looks like it will be a lot less than the D-50, though the latter is phenomenal.

Final conclusion: the R-26 is a very versatile and useful machine and great for ambient recordings other than in very quiet spaces. XLR inputs seem very good. Plug-in input less good. D-50 has better quality internal and plug-in inputs and much better build quality. But then, in the UK the R-26 is cú350 and the D-50, cú450.

I have recordings if anyone might want to hear them.

Geoffrey Cox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 11th, 2011, 03:53 AM   #2
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Re: R-26 and D-50 A/B test

Should have said Guy Cohran from dvestore not Videoguys!
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Old December 12th, 2011, 09:28 PM   #3
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Re: R-26 and D-50 A/B test


thank you for the effort.

i am a fan of the sony d50.

it does many things very well.

if it had xlr inputs it would be in many more audio bags.

a shame really to exclude it for lack of xlr inputs.


be well

smalltalk productions
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Old December 13th, 2011, 01:26 PM   #4
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Re: R-26 and D-50 A/B test

Thanks for the review. I'm curious how you connected the DPA mics with XLRs to the D50 with the 1/8" input.
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Old December 13th, 2011, 05:40 PM   #5
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Re: R-26 and D-50 A/B test

Thanks for the response Rob and I agree the D-50 is a great recorder but I was impressed with the R-26 despite the shortcomings I mention.

Tom - probably my confusing writing but I didn't test the DPAs in D-50 for the obvious reason it does not have XLR inputs - I just used the pair with the R-26 to test the XLRs on that machine. Had I wanted to use the D-50 I would have used my Juiced Link CX231 portable mixer which converts XLR inputs to mini-jack output and has excellent low noise gain. I didn't use this in the test as it seemed an unfair comparison.

I should say the D-50 combined with the CX231 is a great combination.
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