There’s virtually no new gear out of NAMM this year, it seems, but Roland does have one tiny, silver 4-track recorder (well, actually 2 track recorder, 4 track playback, with more “virtual tracks”):

BOSS Micro-BR

For those of you who like old-school multitracking to sketch out ideas but want to go digital, this could be a decent option. It reminds me a whole lot of the old Zoom portable recorders. It records to SD cards (I’ve been seeing 1GB cards on sale for US$30), plays and records MP3 files (and presumably uncompressed WAV like Roland’s other portable player/recorders), and measures a svelte 5-3/8″ x 3-3/16″ x 7/8″. It’s not quite iPod nano small, but it will fit into your pocket. There’s an internal mic, and a line in/mic minijack, plus a phones/line out jack. Onboard multi-effects, which you might not need or want except for one important feature: you can slow down audio without changing pitch for compressed and uncompressed audio. That could make it a handy practice tool, if you want basic 4-track recording, too. Extras include drum patterns, a tuner, and a dedicated guitar in jack, making onboard guitar effects handy.

This looks like something a lot of people will have fun with in their gig bag, but I’m surprised that we still don’t have a simple, ultra-portable, affordable recorder with XLR inputs. There are plenty of more expensive options, but, come on, adding a Neutrik jack to a recorder with a basic mic pre can’t possibly be that expensive. I’d love to see a recorder that dispenses with the other extras and just does that, for simple, high-quality recording. No, it wouldn’t fit easily in my pocket, but anyone doing serious work can happily carry a laptop bag or at least a “man purse” (or woman purse!) with a good mic. And I don’t think it’s just the broadcast market and hard-core field recording markets who want good-quality recordings on the go, sans laptop and audio interface. The Trinity recorder prototype we’ve seen this week is along the right lines, but only for those willing to invest extra in a full-blown editor. Surely someone can build a bare-bones recorder for under US$400 with an XLR in. (See a close alternative, minus phantom power, in comments — the existing BOSS BR-600, which could be worth the extra size for some additional features. Thanks, Richard!)

  • richardl

    Check out the Boss BR-600 ($400). I've been using one of these. It doesn't have XLR inputs actually on the unit, but (in addition to the built-in mics) it has two 1/4" TRS balanced mic inputs, and it comes with a 1/4" to XLR adapter cable. (No phantom power though).

    I really like the BR-600 book-size form factor with its big controls and knobs and easily readable display.

    It records two tracks at a time to CF cards (up to 1GB) into an 8 track by 8 deep virtual track matrix. Recording is 16-bit 44kHz. But I don't think it's linear. It will output linear WAV files of the tracks. The results sound very good all the same.

    It has about a zillion Boss/Roland effects. Most of which you will probably never use. But some are fun and many like the guitar amps are great.

    The manual is a bit obtuse.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, boy, I'd definitely opt for a slightly larger size in exchange for balanced mic ins and 8 traks instead of 4. And, while phantom power would be nice, the balanced input should work just as well as an XLR (just easier to pull out).

  • cobalt

    I've been waiting for one of these for a while now, i.e., a pocket, battery-powered digital 4-track using the larger flash media formats. My thought about it was that the larger digital multitrack recorders with faders and all that provide such a difficult user's experience due to the small LCD screen and limited buttons, that they might as well just make it as small as possible. And here it is. I think it kind of replaces a simple voice recorder for anyone who uses one to get musical ideas down and eliminates a step by allowing you to start playing with your ideas whenever you want. And it could keep a guitarist occupied for a long time.

    The lack of faders alone makes it not a very serious project studio device, though. Even just one or two faders would have been potentially useful.

    A company named Crown does make a battery powered single channel XLR with phantom power. The spec page is here (PDF LINK):
    http://www.crownaudio.com/pdf/mics/103292.pdf

    When running on batteries, it provides 17V instead of 24V with AC power. But according to the spec sheet, the two 9V batteries will provide a typical mic with 350 hours of power. 350 hours. Not quite as elegant as an all-in-one (it would require twice as many cables, for one thing), but still compact enough.

  • Todd

    Check out the Zoom H4, sounds like it would work for you.

  • http://poisonivy.ulovemusic.com Kev Thompson

    I have ordered a micro it could be just the

    thing for warming up pre show, getting ideas down fast and also a bit of fun.

    I have the korg PXR4 while very good I often dont bother as I find it a bit 'fiddelly'

    the faders are so small and its a bit awkward getting the guitar patches set (could just be me)

    best wishes

    Kev

  • http://www.johnnyfaber.com Johnny

    I have a pxr4 which i love, and is great for getting ideas down fast (all i really use it for) but wish it could record the guitar input, and onboard mic simultaneously. I recently frought home a br-600 which is alot bigger than the pxr4 (not really fitting in a guitar case) and while it has a lot of features, and the ability to record the onboard mic, and guitar in at the same time it has the worst display of all time. I mean come on korg/boss how can you expect that crappy display to be workable with so many features… my cell phone has a way better display, and it is 1.5 inches square….

    the micro br looks like it could be cool, but it appears they still havent gotten the guitar in/onboard mic to work simultaneously. and the display looks as if it sucks as bad as the br-600

    SD card is a great improvement over the cf card, and smart media. but it looks like I will be sticking with the pxr4 until they get this stuff right….

  • Chris

    Anyone know if the Micro BR supports SDHC cards? (4GB)

    Thanks

  • Dave

    I picked up a BR two days ago. I've had enough time since then to download a few MP3's, use the MP3 phrase trainer/looping features and do some basic recording. It did not take very long to get accustomed to the user interface and display. For my needs, the small size/portability was a fair trade for a more robust user interface. Also, to my knowledge the BR supports SD cards up to 1GB.

  • http://www.davidicus.com davidicus

    supported 1GB cards:

    Panasonic

    RP-SDQ01GJ1A, RP-SDR01GJ1A

    Lexar

    SD1GB-231

    SanDisk

    SDSDH-1024-903

    HAGIWARA SYS-COM

    HPC-SD1GT

  • http://shreveport.blogspot.com trudeau

    Has anyone evaluated it as a field voice / ambience recorder?

    RT

  • Lostcauseless

    I picked it up for xmass and am still playing around with it – the features vs the # of buttons is fairly frustrating but manageable – but hey what doesn't have a learning curve in recording?

    I put a 2GB card in it and it works fine.

    There is about one use for this – mixing down ideas! This is not a portable studio but it has a ton of features for being pocket size (which it truly is!) I love it for what it is – it offers more than what it costs ($230? come on.)

    The manual suxxors and I'm still trying to figure out how to get HiFi recordings transfered to the PC but the sound quality is great and you get a good amount of "screwing around time" with a 2GB card, which is what this little puppy was built for – figuring out stuff while it's on yer mind and before you lose it while fckn around with 8 different levels on the board.

    What is the most important thing about music? Recording great sounding songs that are crappy or coming up with great songs that you can record with greater clarity later?

    LC

  • john goldstraw

    I have only just started to use the micro br and i do not seem to be able to balance out the tracks when recording. In other words i have laid down the rhythmn guitar on tr 1 but try as i may I cannot here the guitar when I try to record the bass effect onto tr 2. Please give me the idiots guide solution

    regards john

  • brokencog

    @lostcauseless

    Have you already exported the tracks to mp3 or wav? If you have, you can just plug it to your PC with a usb cable and it will automatically be detected as an external drive. Just open up the MP3 directory and copy. If you haven't converted the tracks yet, check out the section on mastering(end of section 3) or page 107.

    Thanks for the heads up on the 2GB cards. I was about to buy one until I saw in the part in the manual where it said up to 1GB is supported. Guess I can still get that extra gig now.

    @john goldstraw

    Can you ever hear the guitar on tr1 after it's recorded(just starting the song over and playing back, not while trying to record on tr2)? I thing the track levels are all equal by default, so unless you changed them that shouldn't be the problem.

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  • Barry Westbay

    @lostcauseless

    Which 2 gig card? I tried one, did what the manual said, and my Micro wouldn't write to it.

  • http://www.soundclick.com/thebunkbeds oldrottenhead

    just bought a micro for £149.00 gbp and i am convinced its the best buy i have ever made.

    my 1st foray into digital recording if you discount my pc.

    have been using a fostex cassette 4 track mixer/recorder that i bought abot 20 years ago for around £700.00 gbp.

    only negative comment is it chews up batteries but i just got an adaptor so that should be end of that prob.

    everyone should have one.

  • Tom

    I have had one of these for several months now, and am using a Patriot Memory 4GB (yes, *4*) without any problems.

    Sure wish somebody would write an interface to be able to edit and master tracks from a PC interface plugged into the USB port. This thing is just a little bit too small to use as an editing surface.

    Other than that, this device plus a decent stereo microphone are about the most perfect scratch pad/idea capture device I've ever seen.

  • robert

    does any body dissatisfied with thier boss 600 br would like to sell, im interested.

    as long as it works and good price.. robert

  • Mickey

    @Lostcauseless

    @Tom

    2GB? 4GB? ??

    But, have you more than 1GB inside?

    What if recognize only 1GB , and the rest is waste?

  • Bob Swanson

    I recently bought a used Micro BR, as well as a used Boss PSA adapter so that I don't wind up spending a fortune on batteries. Unfortunately, while the unit works on the batteries, the DC input for the adapter appears to be dead. That is, I checked the apapter with a voltmeter and it is indeed providing 9.6V, but the unit does nothing with the adapter is plugged into the DC input. I'm hesitant to open the unit up, but was wondering if anyone knows if there is a fuse inside the Micro BR that could be the root of my problem.