Fostex FR2-LE Field Recorder, Compact Flash
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With a location recording pedigree which includes the original portable timecode DAT machines (PD-2, PD-4), and more recently the innovative PD-6 DVD-RAM recorder, it was only natural that Fostex should develop the FR-2, the acclaimed professional CompactFlash-based field recorder.
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Enter the Fostex FR2-LE. Its preamps are solid, and the audio quality is far and away the best for its price range...truly impressive for such a low-cost device. Lots of thought went into this unit, all the way down to using either AA batteries or inexpensive rechargeable RC/toy vehicle battery packs, the latter lasting 4-8 hours. Nice! It's small enough that it can fit into a fanny pack or small satchel (I modified a surplus army first-aid shoulder bag so I could route the cables out to the side)...it's about the size of a large-format hardbound novel.
Sure, the case feels plasticky and wouldn't withstand a drop onto concrete. The control layout is diffuse, and the side (well, top, when used in the bag) gain LED's are hard to see in bright daylight. But such are the compromises for bringing the cost of this unit down. The only real "no-excuse-for-it" flaw is its noisy headphone amp...rest assured, though, that the audio being recorded is insanely low-noise and clean.
I use this unit primarily for collecting samples for sound design and musical projects, using mics that include shotgun, contact, large-diaphragm condensers, and dynamic. This is a serious, just-shy-of-pro tool that can handle everything but harsh environments and timecode-based video sync. I've been supremely happy with it from a value standpoint, and (of course) the clarity and presence of the final audio result.
I have much to learn and am pleased that I chose this machine to facilitate that process.