Test Drive: Fostex FR-2 Field Memory Recorder

FR-2 3q

by Steve Cunningham

My old DAT recorder, the Sony gray-market-special from Japan that I bought in 1988, finally died. Actually it’s not dead, but it’s been eating tapes, and it will cost far more to fix than it’s worth. So when I heard that Fostex was finally shipping their new FR-2 portable field recorder, I called my buddy Rick and begged him to send one over. It’s time to leave the DATs behind, doncha think?

The Fostex FR-2 is a portable stereo recorder that records stereo digital audio directly to either Type II Compact Flash memory cards or PCMCIA 1.8" hard disks. When you’re done recording, you just stick the card or HD into your laptop or desktop PC and edit the .BWF file. Unlike other memory recorders, the FR-2 records only uncompressed digital audio at either 16 or 24 bits, at sample rates from 22.050kHz up to 192kHz.

This unit is clearly designed with field recording in mind. It’s small and light (about 3 lbs. without batteries), and completely solid state — there’s no tape, no heads, and no moving parts. In short, there’s nothing mechanical to fail. It runs for a couple of hours on eight AA batteries, or you can connect it to an optional AC power supply.

The FR-2 functions in the studio as well, with built-in AES/EBU digital in and out, and both connectors for a PC keyboard and for connecting it directly to a computer. In other words, it has pretty much everything you need to replace that creaky old studio DAT recorder, plus the ability to take it for a long walk.