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Nagra LB vs Sound Devices 702
Old 15th August 2011
  #121
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mosrite's Avatar
 

Quote:
Plush , you are misinterpreting my post
You can hardly blame him, your post was full of rather strange statements and contradictions
Old 15th August 2011
  #122
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Please explain.
Roger
Old 18th March 2013
  #123
Here for the gear
 

Nagra LB in practical comparison with the SD 722

My new Nagra LB has now made a number of A/D live recordings at 24/96 and 16/44.1, so I thought I’d share an off-the-cuff reaction to using it and to listening to the results. I am happy to share these comments with professionals with acute ears, with the proviso that I am writing for those attuned to recording nuanced acoustic music in good acoustics. I apologize if some readers find my comments irrelevant to their own use of a high-end recorder.

The LB’s deep, highly functional file structure makes almost any normal setting available, as well as some that are surprising and useful. The LB achieves this through a labeling hierarchy that will appeal rather to cybersystem adepts than to the typical rough-and-tumble recording engineer requiring quick, sure control over basic parameters of his recorder’s operation. The recorder is needlessly complex to use. Minimal relabeling and perhaps modest restructuring would easily address this, however. Once one sets up the four settings templates — exactly the number I need, for some reason — these are stored in permanent memory. I am sorry that, once one has set a template, its readout in the menu does not reflect its settings. This would be very easy to fix, and it would add sureness, and thus ease, to using the templates. Unfortunately, depowering the unit wipes virtually every other bit of data, including clock and calendar. This is profoundly maddening for those of us who 24-hour-time-stamp all our work. (The clock in my SD 722 is not accurate, but it retains its settings.) Sizable audio files with cues (if you enter the markers) are useful for recordings geared to postproduction, but it would be extremely handy to have the alternatative choice of tracking, which would generate seamless individual files analagous to CD tracks. Yes, you can stop recording, then instantly switch back into the record mode, taking advantage of the LB’s (rather stingy) 3-second pre-record buffer, but that is not a confidence-inducing way to work with long, uninterrupted music. You’d then have to edit the ends and starts of adjacent files to re-establish exact continuity. If you attempt this, there’s no guarantee that you will safely record the audio in between the ends of two files!

So much for a negative start to these thoughts on using the Nagra LB. I have a great deal to say in its favor, starting with the excellent analogue level setting, which a) produces a read-out of the level being dialed in 0.1dB steps, and b) permits either ganged level adjustment (the left channel knob is the master) or independent control of gain (both knobs). Being able to set the red “approaching OVER” peak LEDs among a range of headroom values is wonderful. I strongly wish that the peak hold period were similarly adjustable, as this is often a critically important point of reference. I adore the manual record-test-off-stop-play knob, organized counterclockwise in that order, but I feel that the “test” function would better be labeled “monitor”, with its implicit readiness to record. I appreciate the old-style, markedly more durable 1/4” headphone jack, always the better of the two approaches.

Back to critical remarks, if I may. The three main storage options (the puzzlingly small internal flash memory, a CF card, and some form of USB 2 memory: flash drive, external hard drive, etc.) are welcome and they work flawlessly, but it would be preferable to be able to confirm their availability and status (enabled or not) by having icons for all three (lighted, barred, dark), instead of the LB’s single icon. You soon learn to read the compact, clear front display panel, the active one during use, and eventually to read Nagra’s smoke signals correctly, but pressured work situations rarely afford you time to head-scratch and translate terse icons.

Powering: The multi-current wall wart that comes with the LB works well. However, it is alarmingly easy to accidently tug the unsecured plug out of its smooth socket. In so robust and costly a tool as the LB, this is a puzzling shortcoming. (The well-anchored power leads to SD 700 series components are quick and secure.) As the Nagra recorder’s manual suggests, you can find chargeable or single-use AA batteries anywhere in the world, but I would much, much rather have one or, better, two rechargeable large video camera batteries comparable to those the Sound Design 700 series recorders use. It would be fabulous to be able to swap out one of two installed batteries, and thus keep the recorder functioning uninterruptedly in extended recording situations. Also, an enduring onboard battery to preserve time, date, and all customary and previous settings would be most welcome.

Finally, sound: There is no comparison, none at all, between the fine-grained (no: completely grainless!), sweet, smooth, elegant sound of the Nagra LB’s onboard mic preamps and multi-rate A/DCs, and the much less refined performance of the comparable circuitry in my SD 722. The 722 cannot record ephemeral detail satisfactorily through its analogue path, which essentially rules it out for stand-alone use. I use my 722 solely to record input from a good external A/DC (Mytek 192) and a top mic preamp (Millennia, Benchmark). Because I bought the Nagra LB for its demonstrably world-class audio quality, for which I’ve long heard outstanding praise, it is now my prime recorder. I still use the 722, which provides me with both tracked files and a welcome additional back-up to the Nagra’s CF storage. With WAV files downloaded from the 722, I can immediately burn tracked CDs for clients, an indispensible service for them. (Where signal quality is less crucial, which of course is never, I can record at 24/192 on the Nagra and, using the mid-grade A/DC in the Sound Devices 722, at 16/44.1 on this back-up recorder. Naturally, a more elegant solution would be to acquire the fine Mytek downconverter for this pupose, but that makes for yet another heavy little box to lug along on gigs seven time zones away.)

More on sound. The Nagra is so good that, just as it’s supposed to do, it betrays every small weakness in my miking, reveals each and every slight intonation lapse of the performers, and let’s me hear any tiny, non-musical noises that decide to join the ambience. The audio is ready for release as is, and it is incomparably elegant. To get sound this transparent, you typically have to shell out well above five kilobucks for a top mic pre and a world-class A/DC. The performance of any external component will be challenged to surpass that of the little LB, I suspect. Once I’ve made enough recordings with my go-to mic pre (Millennia HV-3C) and the Nagra’s onboard A/DC, I’ll be able to compare the performance of the Millennia and the Nagra analogue circuitry. I imagine that they’re on the same level, just slightly different in feel.

A final comment. The Nagra website is so sparse and reticent that it is useless for online troubleshooting. For that, you have to turn to the many verbose audio fora out there. A bit of diligence will usually extract the info you’re after from the online Q&As, blogs, and help waystations.... if you have that much uncommitted time to devote to the search. I wish that Nagra were our main and best source for this information.
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Old 18th March 2013
  #124
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boojum's Avatar
It must be a wonderful machine indeed. The Nagra VI and the SD 788T came out even in a test on this board for sound quality. However, it was double blind which tends to skew results a bit.
Old 19th March 2013
  #125
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matucha's Avatar
Having LB for some time now, I have to say I love this little brick .

It would be much nicer to have some kind of hi-capacity battery instead of the AA pack. Not really because I don't like AAs, but because they are ni-cd and you have to treat them that way (ie. discharging before charging etc). It's hard to keep that discipline and eventually your AAs go bad...

The sound has smooth character with very nice midrange (I don't know why, but nice midrange comes to my mind when thinking about nagra... nevermind). It also makes sense to record at higher sample rates as it is really better. It gets even smoother that way.

The headphone amp is not powerfull enough for my AKG K270. There is digital boost +9dB which helps with some quiet stuff, but it's useless for anything that clips it. It's just pure crackle... unsurprisingly. Maybe I need to buy HD25s just for this.
You can turn on MS on the monitoring, but there is no option to record MS as LR. At least no to my knowledge.

The limiter is also not to my liking, it's great it's analog and in front of the converters, but the artifacts it makes are not really transparent. Esp. on low frequency stuff (thunder for ex) it is very obvious and only a bit better than straight clip... or maybe not because it behaves less predictably and over longer period of time which is less repairable in the end. But hey, it's 24bit and it's extremely clean at low gain so having 9dBs of headroom or more for surprises is no problem at all.

I've use LB as preamp/AD to add to my normal rig, to record room mikes for drums. And there was no drop in quality compared to my usual Lavry/Lucid 88192 combo with daking/manley/tab/siemens pres. Of course it has it's own cleanish color and you can't compare it to tube and heavy transformer stuff. But it's not different level. Just set it to the test mode, connect it with AES/EBU to your card and it works as any other studio piece... except then you can plug it off and go record some birds or planes .


To my surprise there is one strange issue... 2 peaks, ringing at ~16.5khz and ~32khz. These are faint and I can't hear them, but they are there. So I thought maybe my LB is a bit faulty, but then I found some other recordings done with LB and there it was too. Who knows what that means.


Overall I'm very happy with it and it is really pleasure to have one in studio as sometimes I like to take nagra and go record something instead of doing it with my studio rig. It is very fast to set up and you just record without thinking about creating new project in your daw and setting up things just to record some interesting noise. And of course the freedom to take studio quality solution to almost anywhere with no fuzz encourages creativity like nothing else. Perhaps using handheld recorder is even better, but then you sacrifice the quality. Not so with LB and pair of some lovely mics.
Old 19th March 2013
  #126
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matucha View Post
To my surprise there is one strange issue... 2 peaks, ringing at ~16.5khz and ~32khz. These are faint and I can't hear them, but they are there. So I thought maybe my LB is a bit faulty, but then I found some other recordings done with LB and there it was too. Who knows what that means.
If this happens only when phantom power is ON it could be oscillation artifacts from the voltage step-up circuit.
Old 19th March 2013
  #127
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matucha's Avatar
Hmm... will try it without phantom to see if it dissapears.
Old 19th March 2013
  #128
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didier.brest's Avatar
There is such a small peak at 16 kHz on my recordings made by means of Fireface 400 or Fireface UFX.
Old 19th March 2013
  #129
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MichaelPatrick's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by didier.brest View Post
There is such a small peak at 16 kHz on my recordings made by means of Fireface 400 or Fireface UFX.
Do you also see it at 2x, around 32 kHz?
Old 19th March 2013
  #130
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didier.brest's Avatar
No but there in one at 8 kHz too.It's too low for being of concern. I just recorded a sample of silence (nothing plugged on inputs 1&2) by means of the Babyface, which exhibits also the same spurious tones, at 30 dB input gain and 88.2 kHz sampling frequency. The level of the highest peak, at 8 kHz on the right channel, is about - 135 dBFS.
Attached Thumbnails
Nagra LB vs Sound Devices 702-capture-1.jpg   Nagra LB vs Sound Devices 702-capture-2.jpg   Nagra LB vs Sound Devices 702-capture-3.jpg   Nagra LB vs Sound Devices 702-capture-4.jpg  
Old 20th March 2013
  #131
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Don S's Avatar
 

Even though I have a suspicion it's a little sweeter sounding that the SD702, something about the sled of AA batteries keeps me away. I like the Sony NP batteries, very reliable and convenient to swap out.
Old 20th March 2013
  #132
Gear Head
 

Anyone have experience with the LB and the DAV BG1 side by side?

My fear at this point is taking a step backward in the preamp department as the BG1 I'm using sounds excellent.

Also there was an old plush posting were he put the BG1 ahead of the nagra V preamp section.
Old 12th April 2013
  #133
Nagra VII... addresses the timecode issue, looks nice.

NAB 2013 - NAGRA VII - YouTube

...all right, I give up, can't seem to figure out how to get an embedded player to work.
Old 13th April 2013
  #134
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Doesn't look nice at all to my eye - screws and connectors jutting out the sides - maybe it's a prototype and the physical design will be worked on in due course.
Old 13th April 2013
  #135
Nagra design has always used a lot of aluminum panels with button cap or socket cap hex screws. It is sort of a company-wide theme to the way that they do things. I can assure you that the aesthetic design and industrial design of their gear is superb. While the LB had always given me pause, this machine will be in my inventory and I have already inquired as to shipping dates and prices - just want someone to take my money.
Old 13th April 2013
  #136
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozpeter View Post
Doesn't look nice at all to my eye - screws and connectors jutting out the sides - maybe it's a prototype and the physical design will be worked on in due course.
Yeah, is looks like it's a prototype with the plexiglass panels etc. Industrial design of production Nagras is second to none.
Old 13th April 2013
  #137
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt View Post
Yeah, is looks like it's a prototype with the plexiglass panels etc. Industrial design of production Nagras is second to none.
Why would they name a 2-channel machine with a name that sounds like a successor to the Nagra VI?
Old 13th April 2013
  #138
Lives for gear
Does it process MS like the VI ?
Wither TC,its a radio producer/reporter device ?
Touch screens,what are they like in the rain ?
Sony make wonderful ,affordable camcorder L ion batteries,why not use them,available all over the world.
There must be a market for this device other wise Nagra would not be trying again,perhaps touch screen is the way.
The Deva was a leader,not much used for music though.
Old 13th April 2013
  #139
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozpeter View Post
Doesn't look nice at all to my eye - screws and connectors jutting out the sides - maybe it's a prototype and the physical design will be worked on in due course.
I doubt it, he said it would be available in a couple of months. Most of that would be fixed by now.

It looks like the basic case of the LB, but with a totally new machine inside.
Old 13th April 2013
  #140
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Discussion re the VII in particular now open at https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...expecting.html
Old 10th November 2013
  #141
Gear Head
 

monitoring D/A Quality

I'm in the typical SD vs Nagra purchasing dilemma, ... replacing an SD 702 that was stolen...

Re sound, I prefer the Nagra, but have no problem with SD for Cinema sound (see my post --- https://www.gearslutz.com/board/remot...hootout-7.html)

however, i do like price and/or the thought of getting more recording channels with SD

my question: ... one thing I was disappointed in with SD, was the poor quality headphone signal... I assume, SD decided to skimp in order to provide more resources for the more important A/D conversion etc. But, I have found this to be is a problem when trying to assess the aesthetics of a signal in the field

I assume the Nagra would be better in this respect... True or...?
Old 10th November 2013
  #142
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matucha's Avatar
Perhaps it depends on the headphones. With akg K270 (not the most efficient headphones for this kind of use by far) the output is rather low. To clarify that, with quiet atmospheres it's just fine (the volume gets above the natural level) but when judging highly dynamic "subject" you get in trouble. Why? Because last 9dB of the headphone gain is digital. So you get this larger than life sound yet it clips on the loud parts. It clips only in the monitoring, but that's enough to make you very uncomfortable.

I guess with HD25 or similar more efficient designs you get loud enough signal without using the 9dB digital boost and then all is just fine. I can't really complain about the quality of the signal as it is very detailed, though a bit bass light with my k270 (K270 are not bass heavy with any normal headphone amp).

Overall I really like the LB, I've never found it inverior to my outboard pres/ad and I've even recorded some vocals with nagra that came out very well. Absolutely no regrets buying it.
Old 10th November 2013
  #143
Gear Head
 

I think the AKG 270 headphones were 75 ohms impedance... I was using 50 ohm headphones and was not that happy...

What sort of headphones do people generally use with their SD/Nagra etc. location sound kits?
Old 10th November 2013
  #144
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matucha's Avatar
Yes it's 75ohms (k270). It would be fair to mention cs Avocet has problems driving them REALLY LOUD (starts to act weird). So does my trusty old apogee minidac (it just can't play really loud). "vintage" Mackie cr1604 delivers high volume, but you can't look at distortion figures at that point .

Don't get me wrong, I hate loud when it's unnecesary, though sometimes it's really needed to check certain things esp in the field.
Old 10th November 2013
  #145
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

As far as I am aware, the Nagra LB is about to be discontinued and replaced by the Nagra VII (7).

The 7 is a 2-channel machine of the quality of the Nagra VII and the same size as the LB.
Old 10th November 2013
  #146
Lives for gear
Nagra cans level is now loud with HD 25s
Ive just done a 40 pc brass band recording,the levels in a large hall were intense
I had minimum sensitivity on the pre amps and max on the Cans
I wonder how the Bandmaster can take that level, they were all 30 ish though.
Time will tell
Analogue Nagras always had low level cans out after some silly US court case.
We modded our machines to line out.
SD and Nagra cans level with closed backs are pretty similar now.
Old 10th November 2013
  #147
Gear Head
 

Interesting re the output monitoring volume level, ... but what about the fidelity of the analogue output monitoring signal.... SD vs Nagra? As this has no bearing on the final product, I don't expect it to be stellar, but again, was disappointed in the surprisingly low quality of the SD702, and wondering if Nagra is any better? I'm planning to demo both so, hopefully will get my own answer, but am interested in how the seasoned pros feel?
Old 10th November 2013
  #148
I own the Nagra VI, own other devices with Nagra preamps, have used 702, 744, 788, MixPre-D, MM-1 etc... and I certainly wouldn't classify the 702 as "low quality". While there are reasons that I choose the VI for production sound mixing over the 788T for film, fidelity is not the reason.
Old 10th November 2013
  #149
Gear Head
 

hmmmm... I'm new to field sound recorders, so I guess the monitoring quality is pretty typical across the different brands, and obviously satisfactory for getting the work done... Not a big deal, as the main sound criterion is the quality of the recording.
Old 10th November 2013
  #150
Well, I do think that the VI's monitoring section is the best of the best. The fact that there are no "monitoring presets" to deal with or modes, you simply enable, mute, or solo the particular channel(s) you are interested in and pan LCR as appropriate. You can set up a custom split mix on the fly in 2 seconds, something you can't do with other popular mixer / recorders. I don't remember A/B comparing the monitoring quality output between brand X and Y before, but I wouldn't be surprised if the VI's section is near mastering quality and others maybe not... can't say for sure without scientific A/B, but memory does seem to support this. My earlier qualitative comment on 702 was more from a recording standpoint.
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