Roland R-88 still a player: anyone wishes to share tips on use? at
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Old November 20th, 2015, 10:23 AM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Santiago, Chile
Posts: 932
Roland R-88 still a player: anyone wishes to share tips on use?

Hi all. I have not been participating in this forum for quite some time but coming back I see it continues to have amazing value and wonderful people on board. I came back looking for Roland R-88 users and found very little info, which is a surprise.

I just bought one of these recorders, thinking it has been around for a while and the few users who talk about seem satisfied, it seems like a safer bet than the Zoom F8, and I *am* immensely satisfied.

Main use will be recording small to medium sized orchestras and chamber music (Decca tree + spot mics) and some sound for video on a secondary basis. My hypothesis was that a recorder designed for the rigors of dialog recording would have better preamps than the usual multichannel audio interface, and it seems I am correct, the preamps are *very* good and compare favorably to some of the most expensive mid-level kits (Apogee). I have a MOTU Traveler mk3 and the R-88 has definitely better preamps: more natural sounding and less noise.

I have only ran some very preliminary tests but can say the following.


--> preamps of extremely good quality,
--> the general build seems very solid except for the knobs,
--> LCD is not of the highest visibilty but it works and *is* visible under direct sunlight,
--> big red lights and audible alarm are perfect for spotting peaks and trigger level can be customized,
--> just me, but I really like having all the inputs on one side (notice Zoom F8),
--> you can directly connect the Korg Nanokontrol2 for quick and dirty mixing,
--> works as a USB interface, very low system load @96KHz which is really nice.

Not so great:

--> Battery life. At this size, a caddy for C or D could have been better than using AA which die too soon.
--> Battery charging: cannot charge internal AA batteries, and only comes with one caddy.
--> When using as a USB interface you need to manually pan channels 1 and 2 to hear the stereo return.
--> MIDI commands are not user-controllable, so no transport control from Korg Nanokontrol2.
--> No Word Clock (but I believe I will be able to sample-accurate sync using the AES digital I/O)
--> No multitrack recording+playback so will always need a computer for that kind of production.
--> Even though there are several output pairs there is only one fully controllable mix.
--> Cannot connect the Korg Nanokontrol2 and computer at the same time.
--> Maximum card size 32GB and only has one slot.
--> Headphone connector moves around a bit, scary.

All in all, it is amazing that Roland has not been able to better publicize this product, available for years. Hopefully an updated version would have:

--> Wifi / Bluetooth for control and perhaps wireless time code and/or GPS,
--> possibility of extracting time code from HD-SDI or HDMI,
--> areal NiMH battery pack and internal charging,
--> More real mixes.

Anybody else using this device and would like to chime in? If anybody has questions about it I'll be happy to considering them while running deeper real-world tests, coming soon.
Ignacio Rodríguez in the third world. @micronauta on Twitter. Main hardware: brain, eyes, hands.
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