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Nagra VI being updated soon? Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 29th January 2018
  #1
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Nagra VI being updated soon?

The Nagra VI is a bit behind in many areas of hardware, functionality and offerings (spinning discs, USB 2, no HDMI, etc). It was offered in 2009 I believe. At what point will they be upgrading this device or replacing it? Hopefully with 8 Pres and a Stereo Mix among a host of other features too long to detail here?

Is there a pattern of when they retire devices with a replacement?
Old 29th January 2018
  #2
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From my experience they retire products (but still continue to support them) when the technology becomes uncompetitive.

In my case my Nagra V circa 2002 was eventually discontinued in favour of the Nagra Seven which offered superior performance and facilities (neglecting the absence of the moving pointer modulometer) in a smaller size, a lighter weight, no moving parts and a price less than half of the Nagra V.

The Nagra VI was a re-incarnation of the Nagra D (moving tape) digital recorder, and aimed at serious field recordists. While the like of the Cantar seem to justify their high price by acceptance among elite recordists, the Nagra market is far too small to support the startup engineering costs for a new model of the scale you suggest (call it the Nagra Eight?), especially considering the new ownership arrangements of the Company. (They have a far more reliable market in the security/surveillance sector, which is unlikely to need the facilities you request.) And of course the pro-sumer market is being well served by other manufacturers, and I'm not sure what Nagra would be able to do to rescue the share of that market now inhabited by former candidates for Nagra ownership.

As we might say down here: "You've got two chances - Buckley's and none!" (Google can offer understanding, if required ...)


[Subversive thought: Maybe Peter Freedman could take over the company, you never know what might happen!]
Old 29th January 2018
  #3
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I had no idea that Nagra has new ownership and heading a different direction. That’s too bad.
Old 29th January 2018
  #4
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Kudelski Group still owns Nagra
Encryption of Sats and links is their hometurf
Nagra a boutique brand for the elite and wrinkled recordists the world over, who cannot consider any other device comparable
They are all going deaf now so extinction is possible
Roger
Old 29th January 2018
  #5
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I was just at the Nagra (Audio Technology Switzerland) headquarters last week. Enjoyed the day there and with a nice welcome.

Had lunch with the president of Audio Technology Switzerland, Pascal Mauroux and the owner of the company Marguerite Kudelski.

Since 2012 Kudelski S.A. does not own the new Nagra company. A Kudelski family member owns it.


Toured the facility which is really first class and marveled at the quality control and hand fabrication.

Had meetings with management. Cannot talk about it.

I cannot agree that the Nagra VI is outdated or behind the times. Why would it need an HDMI interface since it is an audio recorder? You can change the hard drive to a solid state drive yourself since it is really an easy thing to do. The way to get around USB 2 transfer speeds is to load the program material from the fast CF card.

Nagra did not mention any new pro products.
Attached Thumbnails
Nagra VI being updated soon?-img_1637-1.jpg  

Last edited by Plush; 29th January 2018 at 03:38 PM..
Old 29th January 2018
  #6
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I'm looking for a good condition Nagra VI anniversary unit. Please send a PM if anyone is ready to let one go.
I recognize some folks may require more channels, dsd, etc., but for my needs, the VI remains an incredible option.
Old 29th January 2018
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunes1 View Post
I'm looking for a good condition Nagra VI anniversary unit. Please send a PM if anyone is ready to let one go.
I recognize some folks may require more channels, dsd, etc., but for my needs, the VI remains an incredible option.
On your first post you say you are looking for a Nagra VI? In what country are you located?
Old 29th January 2018
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I cannot agree that the Nagra VI is outdated or behind the times. Why would it need an HDMI interface since it is an audio recorder? You can change the hard drive to a solid state drive yourself since it is really an easy thing to do. The way to get around USB 2 transfer speeds is to load the program material from the fast CF card.
Spot on.

Beautiful recorder. Still current. Will be so for many years.
Old 30th January 2018
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swing View Post
On your first post you say you are looking for a Nagra VI? In what country are you located?
Swing,
Yes! First post was actually in the classifieds
I'm in Canada.
Old 30th January 2018
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunes1 View Post
Swing,
Yes! First post was actually in the classifieds
I'm in Canada.
If you were in Europe I know someone with a VI for sale, but it is not an anniversary edition. Good luck with the search.
Old 30th January 2018
  #11
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Pink Noise Systems always has used VIs
They are Nagra Dealers and very nice people
Roger
Old 30th January 2018
  #12
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Roger has a good idea in checking with dealers with a good reputation. I just checked and it appears Trew Audio is now in Vancouver and in Toronto. Maybe they'd have a line on a used VI.
Old 1st February 2018
  #13
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Most DSLRs and prosumer/entry level professional video cameras use HDMI connectivity. 8 channels of mic preamps is better than 4 and has been standard on high end flagship devices for 10 years. So, an update is 10 years overdue. We are also converting to USB-C and their battery pack is nearly a foot long and filled with foam for 1.5 inches of batteries. A lot of changes and modernization would be welcome and I think all would agree at a slightly lower cost then 1750. Per channel when you can get 8 for the same price on competitive devices. Their menu system and also restrictions on their timecode is dated.
Old 1st February 2018
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo 46 View Post
Kudelski Group still owns Nagra
Encryption of Sats and links is their hometurf
Nagra a boutique brand for the elite and wrinkled recordists the world over, who cannot consider any other device comparable
They are all going deaf now so extinction is possible
Roger
Audio Technology Switzerland SA (for the Nagra audio brand prodcuts) (Nagra - Professional Audio and High end HiFi | Recorded moments that never die...) isn't part of the Kudelski Group, it's a separate company directly owned by members of the Kudelski family (I don't know who exactly owns shares but that doesn't matter as it's still family-owned).

The Kudelski Group with about 3800 employees worldwide focuses on other activities, details can be found here (including annual reports and other documents):
Kudelski Group

HDMI audio is somewhat special IMO, it's more geared toward DSLR users and considering the quite limited audio performance of most DSLR and also typical budget constraints, it's not that much a market requiring high-end products. Also there are still all sorts of compatibility issues interfacing HDMI not even to mention connector systems which aren't reliable (the same applies to common USB connectors).

Overall I don't expect Audio Technology Switzerland SA to disappear in any near future, it's a typical small highly specialized Swiss high-tech company. There are thousands of niche market companies mostly not well known by the general public.

Some less known details:
Nicolet-Engineering SA // European Business
now:
About - Axiomes SA

Formerly Pascal Mauroux was also with Nestec SA, a Nestlé R&D company. IIRC there were two main sites, one in Vevey not far away from the former ACMV (now Andritz Hydro but there's not much remaining) as well as in Orbe and activities focused on packaging and production processes but I haven't been there since ages. Not to be confused with the very large Nestlé research center in Vers-chez-les-Blanc (municipality of Lausanne). The quite small Nespresso headquarters moved from Paudex to Lausanne (Kudelski was also once located in Paudex, a tiny municipality of 0.48 km2 or about 124 acres) but Swiss Nespresso production sites are in Orbe and Romont.


Edited:
Overall I'd expect a Nagra VI successor to become available in a not so far future. Development has probably been started quite some time ago, so maybe after 3-4 years of riping there will be something new. Wouldn't be surprised if released this year.
Old 6th February 2018
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That’s the buzz I am hearing through the vine- as soon as this year (possibly). Exciting, unless of course it’s $10K then it’s exciting as dating Miss Universe - you can look at her but that’s it.
Old 6th February 2018
  #16
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For similar functionalities I would rather expect a somewhat lower price than current VI but who knows.

The main reasons to issue a successor are lower productions costs (for at least the same audio performance), smaller weight and size, somewhat lower power requirements, lower maintenance/repair costs, easier firmware development, new memory card formats,...

As I expect SD to be able to suddenly issue a new aggressively priced high-end recorder, Audio Technology Switzerland (ATS though here it means rather Agence télégraphique suisse) is getting ready to remain competitive even with that relatively recent player in the high-end field recorder market (though not forgetting that ATS in terms of turnover, the security market is more important than the pro audio market or audiophile market).

Indeed I'm even surprised that a Nagra VI successor has not been released within the last 12 months or so.
Old 6th February 2018
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schoeller View Post
As I expect SD to be able to suddenly issue a new aggressively priced high-end recorder, Audio Technology Switzerland (ATS though here it means rather Agence télégraphique suisse) is getting ready to remain competitive even with that relatively recent player in the high-end field recorder market
I wonder about the extent to which Sound Devices represents serious competition to Nagra. There will always be people willing to pay more for the Nagra name. Let's face it, there are people who spend the extra money to obtain the red-dot Leica logo on their camera or lens, despite the availability of many less expensive options with equal or better image quality. Leica has the same "legendary" aura in the world of cameras that Nagra has in the world of audio recorders.

If Nagra's margins are high enough, it should be able to make a good living as a small niche player. Many companies take this approach (even before the iPhone, for example, Apple was very profitable despite having less than 1% of the personal computer market).

A truly high-end recorder from Sound Devices would certainly pull some of the potential market away from Nagra, but I am skeptical that the impact would be large.
Old 6th February 2018
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
I wonder about the extent to which Sound Devices represents serious competition to Nagra. There will always be people willing to pay more for the Nagra name. Let's face it, there are people who spend the extra money to obtain the red-dot Leica logo on their camera or lens, despite the availability of many less expensive options with equal or better image quality. Leica has the same "legendary" aura in the world of cameras that Nagra has in the world of audio recorders.

If Nagra's margins are high enough, it should be able to make a good living as a small niche player. Many companies take this approach (even before the iPhone, for example, Apple was very profitable despite having less than 1% of the personal computer market).

A truly high-end recorder from Sound Devices would certainly pull some of the potential market away from Nagra, but I am skeptical that the impact would be large.
Paying more for a name is ridiculous. Sincerely, Apple Customers
Old 10th February 2018
  #19
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IMO the situation in 2018 cannot be compared to the golden age of the amazing Nagra tape recorders.

I expect that developing very high end tape recorders requires more critical know-how than developing a high-end digital recorder, also there are many specialized parts (including heads) and the precision mechanical parts are demanding (the mechanical part is not nessarily extremely complex to design but there are lots of parts which are expensive to manufacture).
Digital recorders don't require any precisely custom-machined parts (i.e. any case parts are not considered as precision parts from a machining POV) and beside possible transformers I'm not even sure if any custom-designed semiconductors are used. Some capacitors are possibly OEM but one should check if they're really that different compared to COTS (Common Off-the-Shelf [parts/components]).

Another point is that the performance of electronics COTS has steadily increased and also costs of evaluation boards and software (cross-)development suites have dropped. Further there are also better engineering tools to design and simulate circuits, optimize PCBs, optimize thermal design,...

The Nagra VI design is about 12-15 years old now (taking in account the development time), designing a successor is now less complex for various reasons even if software challenges are certainly increased, a part of the time saved on hardware design is lost due to increased software development resource requirements. Also there are some challenges like memory card compatibility issues (modern cards are much faster and require tighter signal timings).
The challenge related to power optimizing remains and there haven't been any battery energy storage density (mass specific in [J/kg] or volume specific in [J/m3]) quantum leaps.
Mass and volume of the recorder can be reduced, as discussed, IMO the Nagra VI design is more optimized for easy servicing than compactness.

Last but not least, the availability of parts is to be considered. While for classic analog through-hole PCB assembly SSL consoles spare parts and replacement solutions will be available for some time (excepted maybe the computer and bar graphs), specialized ICs, especially for audio and well as processors/microcontrollers, some ADC/DAC, etc. will no longer be easily available after maybe 10-15 years. Obviously the more common a part is the longer it will be possible to find it.

In my domain I know users who can still maintain 30 years old Siemens Simatic S5 PLCs while for some more recent but way less common Sprecher & Schuh SESTEP PLCs spare parts quickly became officially unavailable once the company had been taken over by Allen Bradley.
Conclusion: The more exotic the parts the more difficult it will be to perform maintenance after some time.


That's also another reason why Nagra is successful: Support and spare parts availability, also the firmware was still updated in 2015. It's not only about the hardware itself.
Good support costs a lot, you can't just have some call center idiot answering calls (ever tried to call the consumer support of Panasonic?).

Last edited by Schoeller; 10th February 2018 at 04:52 PM.. Reason: Full edit.
Old 10th February 2018
  #20
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by supoUSA View Post
The Nagra VI ..... was offered in 2009 I believe.
A year earlier I think.

I reviewed it for LineUp magazine in 2008 (review is HERE) and they actually changed it slightly from a comment I made to them while doing the review (see note at the end of the review).

And I ordered my own red one as I was doing the review.

So it's 10 years old this year.
Old 10th February 2018
  #21
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by supoUSA View Post
I had no idea that Nagra has new ownership and heading a different direction. That’s too bad.
It's the same owner really - it's still owned by the Kudelski family.

Nagra Audio was set up as a seperate company to prevent it being swamped by the main Kudelski products - Nagra Audio was only about 5% of the company - so, to protect it, theymade it a separate company still controlled by the Kudelski family.

The Nagra was Stefan Kudelski's "baby" and the new company was only to protect and nurture the product.

So it's very GOOD news, rather than bad.
Old 10th February 2018
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Old 11th February 2018
  #23
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My comments about the Nagra VI battery being of a lower-end design are objectively correct, not because of the used cells which are the most common cylindrical Li-Ion cells and quality is certainly fine, but simply because of the lack of single cell balancing. In that price class I'd simply have expected a less crude cell management as single cell balancing improves cell lifetime. Individual cell balancing is in no way a new technology and could easily have been implemented 10 or 15 years ago using cheap COTS.

I partially disagree with Plush's statement that the Nagra VI does not require a successor.
Of course I expect that its audio performance is very good, I don't nor can challenge that statement but that alone won't be a decisive factor to not develop a new full-sized field recorder.

In various posts I mentioned why I expect that a successor of the VI should be anounced in some not too far future, if not I'd expect ATS to either more or less progressively retire from the professional audio market segment or maybe just focusing on their made in China handheld recorder line which is certainly very profitable and relying heavily on security as well as audiophile products, again two markets allowing high profits as you can sell heavily overpriced products for various market-specific reasons.

With tape recorders it was easier to stay ahead of the competition, now it's all solid-state and new high performance audio ICs are made available every year. A good example is Sound Devices, LLC a relatively new player which quickly became a reference.

In 2018 it's much easier for a good staffed competitor to develop an attractive field recorder.
Will it sound better than a highly praised Nagra VI? Maybe, maybe not but for sure it can be sold with good profit at a quite lower price, including good battery life, sunlight readable display, rugged enclosure, etc.
Even if possibly there will still remain a difference considering pure audio performance, many users don't absolutely require that ultimate premium for their work and even less will be able or agree to pay a significant additional amount for a small performance increase.

Just paying for a brand is not very wise even if common for audiophiles/phools, OTOH true professionnals should be able to evaluate equipment value more objectively.

Indeed the mechanical design of the Nagra VI sort of surprises me, it's closer to prosumer products than former Nagra (or Stellavox) tape recorders which featured more machined metal parts (the Nagra VI sports metal sheet panels, composite material front panel, even money is saved on some screws which are zinc-plated instead made of stainless steel). The mechanical built quality of Aaton, as well as the Sound Devices recorders with full metal case, is superior IMO. The Nagra VI ruggedness is certainly not one of its strengths even if otherwise reliable (but reliability should be the least one can expect from a professional recorder).

Technological reasons also make a Nagra VI successor necessary .
Typically after 10-15 years spare parts availability can become an issue. Of course I expect ATS to still stock lots of spare parts but there comes point where costs (both for production and service) explode for many reasons. Even simple details like outdated cross-development software tools which no longer work correctly with recent Windows versions, maybe there are also in-circuit emulators, programming devices, hardware test suites, etc. which become obsolete cause problems.

Product life cycle strategy is important.

IMO there are following options for Audio Technology Switzerland SA:
1) Issue a Nagra VI successor, its development has been started a couple of years ago, the question is if (ever?) or when it will released.
2) Retire from the high-end field recorder market but still selling Chinese-made handheld recorders (no idea about the Swiss made Nagra Seven which is rather a very special niche product).
3) Retire from the professional audio market to focus only on security audio solutions as well as audiophile/audiophool HiFi.

Relying solely on the Nagra VI as flasghip field recorder for the next couple of years doesn't seem a realistic option unless ultimately retiring from the high-end portable (non-handheld) audio recorder market.
Just selling the Nagra IV as long as reasonably possible is an option though for example in 2018 CF cards are not an attractive memory card option and modifying the ageing Nagra VI design to reliably work with recent memory cards isn't even worth the corresponding R&D costs (IMO). Reliably handling current fast memory cards with an old basic design is not that easy and requires a lot of development and testing and it's likely that some interoperability issues will still remain.

IMO ATS has no other option left than either releasing a Nagra IV successor in some not so distant future or retire from that specific market segment.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe not. Let's see what happens within say the next 6 to 18 months.
Old 13th February 2018
  #24
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Quite a prognostication.

Some of it might be true.

Currently, the Nagra VI produces the highest quality audio recordings. That is what it is made to do.

How much better do you want it?

Nagra is a "tape recorder" company so I would expect them to release a new "tape recorder" at some point.

I do not think the next recorder will be an updated Nagra VI, but instead a new "tape recorder."
Old 13th February 2018
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Quite a prognostication.

Some of it might be true.

Currently, the Nagra VI produces the highest quality audio recordings. That is what it is made to do.

How much better do you want it?

Nagra is a "tape recorder" company so I would expect them to release a new "tape recorder" at some point.

I do not think the next recorder will be an updated Nagra VI, but instead a new "tape recorder."
Hudson, did you own or use the 'digital tape' Nagra D....the generation before the VI ?

Nagra D open-reel digital recorder | Stereophile.com


How do recordings from that compare with the later non-tape version ? It's a stretch to imagine any company going back to a tape-based recording medium, now that HDD/SSD/CF/SD card and solid state storage exists ?

With tape there's always going to be a worry about 'medium failure' (which anxiety probably never existed prior to those latter storage media being adopted)

If the sound quality were demonstrably better with digital tape, it's conceivable that Nagra could reinvent (or re-release) the tape based version D again...especially if digital tape supplies could be assured into the future somehow ?

I couldn't imagine going back to DAT now (seeing as so many of my DAT tapes will no longer play...blame it on poor playback machine maintenance, and perhaps concomitant tape degradation ?), but I'm sure the Nagra D could still win a place in the pantheon, if recording quality is demonstrably superior to what exists now ?
Old 13th February 2018
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One has to read my earlier post about a "tape recorder" with the quotes around the words and with the convention in the English language that the quotation marks denote.

They denote an expression or, in my case, a generic description of a new recorder. I am not talking about a recorder using tape.

Yes I did own and use the Nagra D open reel digital machine. It was fantastic and was the only recorder that had a 4 hour running time on one reel of 7" tape. Very good for opera recordings.

I paid $20,000 for the machine and made my money back many times over.

Also the Nagra D is still the lowest jitter recorder ever made.

I would expect Nagra to make a new multi-track recorder.
Old 13th February 2018
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
One has to read my earlier post about a "tape recorder" with the quotes around the words and with the convention in the English language that the quotation marks denote.

They denote an expression or, in my case, a generic description of a new recorder. I am not talking about a recorder using tape.

Yes I did own and use the Nagra D open reel digital machine. It was fantastic and was the only recorder that had a 4 hour running time on one reel of 7" tape. Very good for opera recordings.

I paid $20,000 for the machine and made my money back many times over.

Also the Nagra D is still the lowest jitter recorder ever made.

I would expect Nagra to make a new multi-track recorder.
Interesting indeed....it would be great to hear a shoot-out between a Nagra D and VI ! The rotating heads and relatively low tape speed presumably accounted for the long running time...could the tape be re-used repeatedly, or was that not advisable ?

For example, were signal drop-outs due to coating inconsistency or dust ingress ever a problem, or did error correction CIRC take care of that possibility ?

I assume it was materially akin to the open-reel analog tapes of the era, and not the insanely thin DAT tapes of the 80's and 90's ? Finding competent maintenance techs and spare parts for the D would the sticking point in today's "solid state storage" era ?
Old 13th February 2018
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I would expect Nagra to make a new multi-track recorder.
It would be received with much anticipation and welcome, however the multitrack recorder landscape is heavily populated these days, so rather than 'reclaiming the market' I'd expect them to claw back some % of the available high-end quality market share....and they'd have to content themselves with that state of play.
Old 13th February 2018
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 View Post
Nagra D....the generation before the VI
The Nagra-D was two generations before the Nagra VI. The Nagra V was also a digital recorder and came after the -D but before the -VI.

The Nagra V used a hard drive ina caddy which was slotted into the recordr.
Old 13th February 2018
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Quite a prognostication.

Some of it might be true.
I don't have a crystal ball, so let's wait and see.


Quote:
Currently, the Nagra VI produces the highest quality audio recordings. That is what it is made to do.

How much better do you want it?
I already mentioned that it wasn't about the audio performance but various other factors. Improving audio performance may be possible, the main question is about the commercial usefulness of such improvement. A marginal but very expensive (R&D, production costs) improvement is not necessarily what the majority of all potential buyers want.


Quote:
Nagra is a "tape recorder" company so I would expect them to release a new "tape recorder" at some point.
Basically true but tape recording is a legacy technology with barely any viable future excepted for the audiophile/phool market.

Issuing a new digital tape recorder? That would be suicidal. Please mention a single objective advantage of digitally recording to a moving media compared to recording digitally to solid-state memory.


Quote:
I do not think the next recorder will be an updated Nagra VI, but instead a new "tape recorder."
Issuing a new analog tape recorder? Maybe, but not for the working professionals. It's like if Canon or Nikon would issue a new high-end 35 mm film SLR. That just won't happen. Not a single photojournalist would ever go back to film (and various real-life constraints wouldn't
even allow such move).

Something to challenge the Metaxas Georges Quellet Tribute in the audiophile reign? Maybe, maybe not. ATS would be able to issue a new analog tape recorder but if so I'd see it as audiophile division product, not one from the professional audio division.
As you said ATS wants to focus more on HiFi you could be right about a new analog tape recorder but I highly doubt that it would be primarily intended for location recording.
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