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Nagra 4 S and Nagra 4.2
Old 31st July 2010
  #1
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Thread Starter
Question Nagra 4 S and Nagra 4.2

I have a Nagra 4 S, and am looking at getting a Nagra 4.2 for full format mono tracking,
The nagra was packed away for years, decided to do a acoustic recording straight to computer, and then to nagra and then capture the nagra recording,

anyways, long story short, the nagra to my ears is far superior, quite incredible, the color it does is perfec,

anyway, my question is.... is the lineout direct monitoring before it hits tape, or are the line outs fed by tape,
this would enable me to just use the nagra in my recording path, without having to rewind and then capture etc etc...

if it is possible to do it all in one go, do you know if this is the same with the nagra 4.2?
Old 31st July 2010
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laddie.music2 View Post
I have a Nagra 4 S, and am looking at getting a Nagra 4.2 for full format mono tracking,
The nagra was packed away for years, decided to do a acoustic recording straight to computer, and then to nagra and then capture the nagra recording,

anyways, long story short, the nagra to my ears is far superior, quite incredible, the color it does is perfec,

anyway, my question is.... is the lineout direct monitoring before it hits tape, or are the line outs fed by tape,
this would enable me to just use the nagra in my recording path, without having to rewind and then capture etc etc...

if it is possible to do it all in one go, do you know if this is the same with the nagra 4.2?
Like most tape machines, you can select to monitor the incoming signal before it hits the tape or you can monitor from the tape. On the IVS it's the top right-hand switch that goes between "Tape" and "Direct".
Old 31st July 2010
  #3
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Keep in mind that if you monitor from the tape, there is a delay due to the the recording head and playback head being a centimeter or so apart. If you are planning to use the Nagra as some sort of preamp/tape effect on the way in to a digital set-up, the signal from the Nagra will not be in sync with the digital playback. You will have to align the tracks in the DAW.
Old 31st July 2010
  #4
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A Nagra 4.2 has monitor outputs that are pre-record (real time), post-record (off the playback head) and switchable (either) on different output connectors.

A Nagra IV-S (not 4s) has much more limited monitoring.

They are both wonderful sounding machines when in good repair, but finding someone who really knows how to maintain them, has experience with them and parts available is a bit of a challenge nowadays.

Philip Perkins
Old 1st August 2010
  #5
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Thread Starter
Yeah i'm amazed at how nice the nagra sounds....
compared to straight in to the computer,

just for color purposes,

anyways, that's really great news, i can just use it as a color machine...
Old 1st August 2010
  #6
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
A Nagra 4.2 has monitor outputs that are pre-record (real time), post-record (off the playback head) and switchable (either) on different output connectors.

A Nagra IV-S (not 4s) has much more limited monitoring.

They are both wonderful sounding machines when in good repair, but finding someone who really knows how to maintain them, has experience with them and parts available is a bit of a challenge nowadays.

Philip Perkins

one thing i wanted to ask about that, we bought ours about 1999, from location sound corp (for about 5 grand, hahaha),
anyway, we haven't had it serviced once, we used it on shoots constantly for about 6 years, then stored it away,

now i pull it out, load it with batteries... and it sounds fantastic... technically over the 12 years of owning it, should have had it serviced many times, but I guess my point is, it's great because even if you don't, they still sound great,

what are the main reasons for servicing?, other than longevity...
Old 1st August 2010
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laddie.music2 View Post
one thing i wanted to ask about that, we bought ours about 1999, from location sound corp (for about 5 grand, hahaha),
anyway, we haven't had it serviced once, we used it on shoots constantly for about 6 years, then stored it away,

now i pull it out, load it with batteries... and it sounds fantastic... technically over the 12 years of owning it, should have had it serviced many times, but I guess my point is, it's great because even if you don't, they still sound great,

what are the main reasons for servicing?, other than longevity...
It's a very mechanical device, so to get the most out of it requires some fairly subtle adjustments by someone who understands them (ie Dan Dugan). Parts do wear if you are using it a lot (I used to put literally hundreds of reels of tape through mine each year), which can affect longevity if they aren't serviced. Electronically they were pretty stable, but the record bias does need touching up once in awhile if you are using the machine a lot or moving it around often (like using it for verite doc recording, flying on planes etc). It is important for max fidelity to have someone who knows what they are doing set the machine up for whatever tape stock you are using (as w/ any analog recorder).

Philip Perkins
Old 1st August 2010
  #8
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Thread Starter
Thanks Phil,

what tape stock do you reccomend for the 4.2 for musical recordings primarily,

this is the only servicing place i've found so far, anyone else you reccomend more?

Trew Audio: Nagra Service


??
Old 1st August 2010
  #9
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tourtelot's Avatar
Dan Dugan was always my first call. Haven't had an analog Nagra in years; sad because they were, perhaps, the finest location recorders that were ever made.

Here's a link to his web site:

Nagra Audio Recorders

BTW, Nagra is a large company that produces cable TV equipment (I think) and some really butt-kicking audiophile home Hi-fi gear (tres exspensive). Check that s**t out!

D.
Old 1st August 2010
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laddie.music2 View Post
Thanks Phil,

what tape stock do you reccomend for the 4.2 for musical recordings primarily,

this is the only servicing place i've found so far, anyone else you reccomend more?

Trew Audio: Nagra Service


??
Trew, Coffey and LSC still support Nagras, but how good they are at it I have no idea since I've always used Dan Dugan (and Bill Ruck). I am not sure if Dan still services Nagras or not--if he isn't he could suggest someone he thought was good (Dan Dugan Sound Design). I don't have a rec. for a currently avail. tape stock for your Nagra--mine is a museum piece now--perhaps another question for Dan D.

Philip Perkins
Old 1st August 2010
  #11
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Plush's Avatar
Nagra USA will also be a great resource for service to your machine. They are in Nashville area.

Dan Dugan is certainly a good recommendation on the coast.

As far as tape is concerned, both RMGI 911 and RMGI 468 are good tapes.

RMGI Americas - Distributors of Analog Recording Tape

Nagra USA telephone # is (615) 451-4168. There, you want to speak with Steve George.

They can advise you about your machine. They also stock or can obtain all parts for your machine.

Nagra IV-S is a music machine and Nagra 4.2 is a film machine.
Old 1st August 2010
  #12
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tourtelot's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Nagra IV-S is a music machine and Nagra 4.2 is a film machine.
Hmm. Not true. I used a IV-S after I out grew one channel (remember those days oldsters?). The second channel was a wonderful addition; an RF mic mix, second boom, OMG, double the channels!!

The IV-S had/has FM sync on a thin strip between the two audio tracks which was used to lock sound to picture. Sometime later, a guy named Harvey Weinstein (I am not certain about his last name, so take that with a grain of salt) came up with a mod-board to put audio time code on that stripe instead of FM pilot. It was in competition with Nagra's own IV-STC, and ushered in the use of time code to sync picture and sound. The Denecke TS1 slate came about at the same time.

And we have never looked back. . . oh, until some wise guy decided that it would be cool to shoot on some silly digital SLR. Now we have gone all the way back to clap-sticks<g>.

D.
Old 1st August 2010
  #13
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Thread Starter
wow, a wealth of knowledge on the devices, thanks very much for the numbers and names for repairs etc...

yes I agree, I think these are the best sounding location recorders ever made.
I have the usual suspects, sound devices and fr2's, but nothing compares to the nagra,

these days i'm just using it for music color, and boy does it do that well, the difference between direct to puter and nagra / puter... is ridiculous, nagra is my miracle machine,
I prefer crappy preamps to nagra, then I do my fearn vt2 straight to puter...

now vt2 / nagra / computer, it's not a subtle difference, it's the difference between bright clackity highs on the straight to computer recordings, and creamy round and harmonic rich with the nagra then to computer recordings.

anyway, thanks heaps for all the help, long live Nagra
Old 2nd August 2010
  #14
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Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot View Post
Hmm. Not true. I used a IV-S after I out grew one channel (remember those days oldsters?). The second channel was a wonderful addition; an RF mic mix, second boom, OMG, double the channels!!

The IV-S had/has FM sync on a thin strip between the two audio tracks which was used to lock sound to picture. Sometime later, a guy named Harvey Weinstein (I am not certain about his last name, so take that with a grain of salt) came up with a mod-board to put audio time code on that stripe instead of FM pilot. It was in competition with Nagra's own IV-STC, and ushered in the use of time code to sync picture and sound. The Denecke TS1 slate came about at the same time.

And we have never looked back. . . oh, until some wise guy decided that it would be cool to shoot on some silly digital SLR. Now we have gone all the way back to clap-sticks<g>.

D.
Yes, indeed.

Please realize, however, that the Nagra IV-S was introduced in 1971 at the behest of Kudelski's friend Marcel Cellier, the eminent ethnomusicologist.
(Mr. Cellier was the father of Claude Cellier, later himself a Kudelski employee, and now the mind behind Pyramix.)

The machine was originally offered with DIN heads (wide track with a 0.75mm gap) for music recording. YOu can visualize that with this wide head, there was no possibility and no room to include any center channel sync capability. Hence my description of the machine as a music machine.

The later FM sync and time code IV-S machines used the 2mm heads which offered 3dB less S/N than the music machine.

The Nagra IV-S used with Nagramaster EQ is still one of the best *sounding* tape recorders.
Old 22nd August 2010
  #15
Gear maniac
 

most reliable nagra

who can tell me what the most reliable mono or stereo little nagra recorder would be. does the IV-S fit into that category. i am considering getting one for solo recording. open to other suggestions too.
Old 22nd August 2010
  #16
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John Willett's Avatar
 

Nagra 4 S and Nagra 4.2

Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse
who can tell me what the most reliable mono or stereo little nagra recorder would be. does the IV-S fit into that category. i am considering getting one for solo recording. open to other suggestions too.
I would say that all Nagras are equally reliable.


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Old 23rd August 2010
  #17
Gear maniac
 

reel adaptors

are all the nagra models capable of using the large tape reels via reel adaptors?

what do you think of using these adaptors, is there any reason not to use them?
Old 23rd August 2010
  #18
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Matti's Avatar
Old 23rd August 2010
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post
are all the nagra models capable of using the large tape reels via reel adaptors?

what do you think of using these adaptors, is there any reason not to use them?
The QGB large reel adaptor can be used with (standard) Nagra E, 4.2, IV-S and IV-SJ models. This rather rare accessory, if well maintained, will perform flawlessly. I have used it w/Nagra IV-S w/out any problems, works like a charm! (BTW, if anyone has the original QGBN NAB spare/unused hubs for these or for the T-Audio models, please let me know, mine are missing ).

Also, the adaptor itself adds 3kb/6lb weight to the whole kit and is rather bulky. Add to that the 10.5" tapes etc. ...
Old 23rd August 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Yes, indeed.

Please realize, however, that the Nagra IV-S was introduced in 1971 at the behest of Kudelski's friend Marcel Cellier, the eminent ethnomusicologist.
(Mr. Cellier was the father of Claude Cellier, later himself a Kudelski employee, and now the mind behind Pyramix.)

The machine was originally offered with DIN heads (wide track with a 0.75mm gap) for music recording. YOu can visualize that with this wide head, there was no possibility and no room to include any center channel sync capability. Hence my description of the machine as a music machine.

The later FM sync and time code IV-S machines used the 2mm heads which offered 3dB less S/N than the music machine.

The Nagra IV-S used with Nagramaster EQ is still one of the best *sounding* tape recorders.
That's all very interesting but misleading, since the last "movie-sync-sound" portable 1/4" recorder Nagra made (makes?) was the IVS-TC, based on the stereo recorder. Like Mr. Tourtelot, I used a IV-SL for many more years than I used my 4.2 or III machines, since the 2nd track was such a huge advantage for motion picture sound work. Of the stereo Nagras I know or knew of working in the USA anyhow, I would say that 90+ % of them were NeoPilot sync versions, if not various CTTC versions (incl. those modded by Harvey Warnke). The IV-S had quite a lot less to offer a recordist in terms of built -in features, which is one of the reasons for the rise in use of mixers with the IV-S in the 1980s (monitoring, no 3rd input etc). Nagramaster was wonderful but when video post houses took over the syncing of dailies we didn't get to use it anymore (unless the house had a Nagra T-Audio for syncing).

phil p
Old 23rd August 2010
  #21
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Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post
are all the nagra models capable of using the large tape reels via reel adaptors?

what do you think of using these adaptors, is there any reason not to use them?
The QGB (quatre grande bobine) is a wonderful large reel adaptor. It is using its own motors unlike some other adaptors which use the motors of the tape recorder. Wow and flutter is very marginally worse with the large reel adaptor.
This can be measured but is not really heard because it is a very small increase.

At 15 ips you have 16 minutes of record time on a 7" reel and 32 minutes on a 10.5" reel. Double this for 7.5 ips. If you do find a used QGB adaptor it may need calibration which can be done at the Nagra factory. All Nagra IV-S machines are still supported by the Nagra factory with parts and service.

The only analog Nagras worth using for music recording are the non sync, non time code Nagra IV-S and the Nagra T-Audio.
Old 23rd August 2010
  #22
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Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper View Post
That's all very interesting but misleading, since the last "movie-sync-sound" portable 1/4" recorder Nagra made (makes?) was the IVS-TC, based on the stereo recorder. Like Mr. Tourtelot, I used a IV-SL for many more years than I used my 4.2 or III machines, since the 2nd track was such a huge advantage for motion picture sound work. Of the stereo Nagras I know or knew of working in the USA anyhow, I would say that 90+ % of them were NeoPilot sync versions, if not various CTTC versions (incl. those modded by Harvey Warnke). The IV-S had quite a lot less to offer a recordist in terms of built -in features, which is one of the reasons for the rise in use of mixers with the IV-S in the 1980s (monitoring, no 3rd input etc). Nagramaster was wonderful but when video post houses took over the syncing of dailies we didn't get to use it anymore (unless the house had a Nagra T-Audio for syncing).

phil p
I hope that I WAS NOT misleading because what I was explaining is why the Nagra stereo machines were introduced in the first place. It was because an important customer wanted a portable Nagra for music recording. Introduction of the Nagra IV-S in the early 1970's had nothing to do with film since that was still recorded in mono.

Later, with other stereo machines you make a good point. Sync and time code machines far outnumbered music machines. However, a loyal cadre of music recordists banned together and made many big records on Nagra IV-S machines. We even published our own newsletter, the "G-DAN." It was the
Gazette and Digest for the Absolute Nagrist. Nagra IV-S music machines were manufactured up until production of all IV series ceased. Music machines had different record and playback heads than the time code or sync machines and also different record electronics and different microphone amplifier electronics.

I gather that your perspective is from the film side. My particular expertise is in the music recording side. As a former Kudelski employee I sold many machines and my particular expertise
was in the Nagra T-Audio. We sold a ton of these to every top film house.
Old 23rd August 2010
  #23
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
.... We even published our own newsletter, the "R-DAN." It was the
Review and Digest for the Absolute Nagrist. ......
Slight correction - it was the Gazette and Digest for the Absolute Nagrist. We should see if Mr. Swanson would make them available as PDFs for posterity.
Old 23rd August 2010
  #24
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Plush's Avatar
You are certainly right, GLouie!

I have changed my post to reflect the right name. At the time it was a pretty funny name since the head of Nagra in the United States was Danny Grimes, also a DAN.

I bet that Al does still have copies of the G-DAN newsletters.
Old 23rd August 2010
  #25
Gear Addict
 

I have all the issues, but as I see Al all the time, I'll just ask if he can make PDFs from his layout program. That might be hard though, as it was 15 years ago, and software migration could be a problem.

Right now, Al is busy marrying off his offspring.
Old 24th August 2010
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Please realize, however, that the Nagra IV-S was introduced in 1971 at the behest of Kudelski's friend Marcel Cellier, the eminent ethnomusicologist.
I still have two of Mr. Celliers LPs from the 70s, which I always regarded as a model for location sound recording (indeed any sound recording). One of the covers documents the mic setup (A-B Neumann or Schoeps omnis??) and I only assumed they were feeding a Nagra IV-S. Nice to have this confirmed and to close the circle. (It would appear that these recordings have not been transferred to CD, which would overcome the inevitable wear on my vinyl).

I also have a local LP from the same era which was recorded by a late colleague on a IV-S (not sure if it was a DIN or TC head setup) and cut directly from the Nagra masters. Still a reference point for me, showing what could be achieved by the local record industry if they put their mind to it.

I am quite content with what can be acheived today with my Nagra V.
Old 24th August 2010
  #27
Gear maniac
 

7.5

<<At 15 ips you have 16 minutes of record time on a 7" reel and 32 minutes on a 10.5" reel. Double this for 7.5 ips. If you do find a used QGB adaptor it may need calibration which can be done at the Nagra factory. All Nagra IV-S machines are still supported by the Nagra factory with parts and service.

The only analog Nagras worth using for music recording are the non sync, non time code Nagra IV-S and the Nagra T-Audio.>>

thanks for all the great info. i have done 15 ips and 7.5 on ampex 440 machines. 7.5 never really cut the mustard for me. do the nagras sound good for music at 7.5?

you are not recommending the 4.2 for music?

also, how much gain do the mic pre's on the IV series put out?
Old 24th August 2010
  #28
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Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post
<<At 15 ips you have 16 minutes of record time on a 7" reel and 32 minutes on a 10.5" reel. Double this for 7.5 ips. If you do find a used QGB adaptor it may need calibration which can be done at the Nagra factory. All Nagra IV-S machines are still supported by the Nagra factory with parts and service.

The only analog Nagras worth using for music recording are the non sync, non time code Nagra IV-S and the Nagra T-Audio.>>

thanks for all the great info. i have done 15 ips and 7.5 on ampex 440 machines. 7.5 never really cut the mustard for me. do the nagras sound good for music at 7.5?

you are not recommending the 4.2 for music?

also, how much gain do the mic pre's on the IV series put out?
I am most certainly not recommending the Nagra 4.2 for music recording. It is nothing like the Nagra IV-S with DIN heads which should be used for music recording along with Nagramaster EQ. Run RMGI 911 tape on the Nagra.

While I recommend 15ips for music recording, the Nagra IV-S machines sound fantastic at 7.5 ips. As an example, most of the NAIM RECORDS jazz releases were recorded by Ken Christianson at 7.5ips. These comprise many dozens of award winning releases. Check them out for yourself.

As far as the gain on the mic amps, I will give the old fashioned response that, "the gain is sufficient."
Old 24th August 2010
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post
<<At 15 ips you have 16 minutes of record time on a 7" reel and 32 minutes on a 10.5" reel. Double this for 7.5 ips. If you do find a used QGB adaptor it may need calibration which can be done at the Nagra factory. All Nagra IV-S machines are still supported by the Nagra factory with parts and service.

The only analog Nagras worth using for music recording are the non sync, non time code Nagra IV-S and the Nagra T-Audio.>>

thanks for all the great info. i have done 15 ips and 7.5 on ampex 440 machines. 7.5 never really cut the mustard for me. do the nagras sound good for music at 7.5?

you are not recommending the 4.2 for music?

also, how much gain do the mic pre's on the IV series put out?
The only Nagras worth using for music recording are the non-sync stereo? That's got to be the silly quote of the day. I guess I'll have to forward whoever dropped this gem a list of published recordings my colleagues and I have made w/ our sync stereo Nagras! The sync machine may have slightly less great freq response on paper, but it's still a Nagra. Mine, when tuned up by Dan Dugan and Bill Ruck sounded fabulous--any diffs between what it could do and a non sync Nagra would be lost in the BG noise etc. of most location music recordings. The 10 1/2" reel adapter is/was a GREAT thing--beautifully engineered--way more usable than the wacky version Stellavox made for their machines. There is no reason whatsoever why a properly set up Nagra 4.2 shouldn't make INCREDIBLE sounding mono music recordings--all that wide-track beef and the Nagra guts and transport working together.... The few T-Audios we had around here sounded great but were pretty cantankerous--many post houses ended up moving them to their telecine bays (where they were somewhat more nimble at chase locking than other machines) and used Otari MTR12s for mixdown in the audio post suites. They were a pain as a location machine, but enjoyed a brief vogue before digital came in. (I never understood why a 16 bit DAT was considered a better location recorder than any stereo Nagra, but that is what was demanded of us....) A toast to those recordists who resisted DAT and went from Nagra to 24 bit digital file recorders directly! (Ag Andrianos and Jeff Wexler--this means you!)

phil p
Old 24th August 2010
  #30
Gear maniac
 

mono

yes, i am curious as to why the timecode machines aren't suitable for music.

i'm just coming at it from the experience that i haven't been happy with many (all) digital recordings i've done, so if it is even remotely good i will be happy.

also curious about the mono recorder models. E and 4.2?
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