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Nagra IV-S mic preamps compared to Lake People MPA RS-01
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
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Nagra IV-S mic preamps compared to Lake People MPA RS-01

Hi guys, this is my first post on Gearslutz. I mainly record "classical" music, using a Nagra IV-S tape recorder (working at 38 cm/s Nagramaster, calibrated on SM 900 tape) and a Korg MR-1000 digital recorder (DSD 5.6MHz). I am also often using the Nagra as a mic preamp (connected to the line inputs of the Korg) : this combination gives me excellent sound quality and musicality - the IV-S' preamps being more "coloured" and musical (but still extremely detailed) than those found on the Korg. However, I would like to find a more lightweight mic preamp that could be as good as the Nagra, battery-powered. I came across the Lake People MPA RS-01 : do some of you have experience with it ? Did you have the opportunity to compare it with the Nagra IV-S' mic preamps ? (For instance, to my ears at least, preamps found in the Nagra VI are excellent too, but they are less "coloured" = more neutral than those of the IV-S; do the Lake People RS-01 sound closer to the preamps found in digital Nagras, or closer to those of the "old" IV-S) ? Kindest regards, Momboisse
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Sonosax.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Plush's Avatar
Consider SONOSAX M2D2. It is battery operated and very clean.

Nagra preamps on the IV-S are very neutral and not colored. Analog beautysound. The same with SONOSAX's new preamp.

SONOSAX preamp is around CHF 1390.

SONOSAX is substantially better than Nagra preamps.

Lake People is an excellent sound but clearly eclipsed by SONOSAX.

Move towards FUTURESOUND.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Consider SONOSAX M2D2. It is battery operated and very clean.

Nagra preamps on the IV-S are very neutral and not colored. Analog beautysound. The same with SONOSAX's new preamp.

SONOSAX preamp is around CHF 1390.

SONOSAX is substantially better than Nagra preamps.

Lake People is an excellent sound but clearly eclipsed by SONOSAX.

Move towards FUTURESOUND.
Hello Plush, thank you very much for the mention of the Sonosax M2D2 and a happy new year to you ! I am sure the Sonosax preamp will be the best choice for my needs. You wrote that "Sonosax is substantialé better than Nagra preamps" : by Nagra preamps, do you mean those of the IV-S, or contemporary preamps found in the Nagra VI and VII recorders ? For the moment I never had the opportunity to compare Sonosax and Nagra side by side, do you think that the M2D2 is far Superior to the IV-S regarding mic preamps only ? What exactly makes Sonosax better - sound quality ? simpler electronics and wider dynamic range ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Plush's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momboisse View Post
Hello Plush, thank you very much for the mention of the Sonosax M2D2 and a happy new year to you ! I am sure the Sonosax preamp will be the best choice for my needs. You wrote that "Sonosax is substantialé better than Nagra preamps" : by Nagra preamps, do you mean those of the IV-S, or contemporary preamps found in the Nagra VI and VII recorders ? For the moment I never had the opportunity to compare Sonosax and Nagra side by side, do you think that the M2D2 is far Superior to the IV-S regarding mic preamps only ? What exactly makes Sonosax better - sound quality ? simpler electronics and wider dynamic range ?
I have been a Nagra devotée for nearly 40 years. I have owned every Nagra since 1981. They make / made fantastic recorders. They are still making some of the best recorders known today in the Nagra VI and Nagra Seven.

However, when I became acquainted with the "sound of the future" and the "super advanced sound from the far reaches of the universe" in SONOSAX, I have found the best sound that there is in pro audio.

SONOSAX provides:

the most quiet mic preamp
the mic preamp with the widest dynamic range (135 dB)
the most neutral preamp
the preamp with the highest resolution for detail
the preamp that never sounds clinical
the preamp / ad system with the best sound--better than Nagra
Best sound quality by far

Yes, SONOSAX SX-R4+ and SONOSAX M2D2 are far superior to the preamps on the Nagra IV-S. The IV-S preamps belong to a former generation where we recorded on analog tape. IV-S is a sweet sounding mic preamp, but both noisy and much lower resolution of details than the current best preamps.

I reccomend moving towards FUTURESOUND with the SONOSAX M2D2. You can even record the best sound there is on your iPhone with that set up.
Use the Apogee app to do it.

No endless discussion is needed. Move towards FUTURESOUND.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
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I know your question was about preamps, but I am curious: did you ever replace the hard disk on your korg mr 1000, and if so with what? Those 40 gig hard drives are pretty much impossible to find, and the original in mine is getting long in the tooth. I see that a 160 gig Toshiba drive for the ipod touch has been reported to work, and there are still a few of those available.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
I know your question was about preamps, but I am curious: did you ever replace the hard disk on your korg mr 1000, and if so with what? Those 40 gig hard drives are pretty much impossible to find, and the original in mine is getting long in the tooth. I see that a 160 gig Toshiba drive for the ipod touch has been reported to work, and there are still a few of those available.
Hello Brad, for the moment I did not replace the original hard drive in my Korg MR-1000 - mainly because in France I did not find any company that would be willing to do it; my machine is still Under warranty until April 2020. But you are right - I keep in mind to install an SSD drive in the future, knowing how uncertain it is to work with such an old-fashion mechanical drive. I bought the Korg only for its excellent sound quality, which to my ears, is superior to most of the digital recorders in its price range (working in DSD 5.6MHz). However, I bought it with a lot of hesitation because it has some very annoying caveats totally disappointing for a recorder of this class :
-first of all, the two potentiometers cannot be linked, and their precision is far from being perfect : as I am blind, this impossibility to "gang" the pots together - as you would do on a Nagra - is a real problem for a machine specifically designed for stereo recording;
-the choice of a mechanical hard drive was not the best (even in 2006 when the machine was created CF cards would have allowed the DSD128 Stream to be recorded without any difficulty);
-battery life is quite poor because of the hard drive when you work with the internal preamps and phantom power ON; I get far superior battery life by using the Nagra IV-S as a mic preamp connected to the TRS line inputs of the Korg (5:30 hours with 3000mAh NiMh cells);
-the internal mic preamps, not being totally bad, are however very strangely built, obviously with no experience of mic preamp design; with low output mics the gain switch at the back of the machine is useless, for it introduces plenty of noise and kills the (relative) transparency of the preamp; moreover, I have some doubts about the proper design of the line input circuitry, I did not check if it shares the same circuitry as the mic pre;
-last but not least, there is no possibility to create a new index while recording.
For all these reasons, I am really thinking of buying the SX-R4+, allowing me to have 4 tracks available; the problem being, for me, the touch screen interface because of my visual impairment (I am totally blind, so I will need to have a vocal screenreader installed by Sonosax - if ever possible, which is doubtful - or to link the machine with a braille interface).
The Nagra VI would be another option, more accessible to me; but as Plush tells me Sonosax has better sound quality, I would like to try the SX-R4+. I am waiting for an answer from Sonosax to make my decision.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momboisse View Post
Hello Brad, for the moment I did not replace the original hard drive in my Korg MR-1000 - mainly because in France I did not find any company that would be willing to do it; my machine is still Under warranty until April 2020. But you are right - I keep in mind to install an SSD drive in the future, knowing how uncertain it is to work with such an old-fashion mechanical drive.
Wow, the fact that you use any of this equipment without being able to see is impressive! I do hope Sonosax has a solution for you, as the R4+ seems like the pinnacle of portable recording devices available today. An alternative could be the Sonosax M2D2 preamp into a device (iPad or laptop, for example) that has a screen reader interface.

As for the Korg MR-1000, it is unlikely that you will be able to install an SSD based on the research I've done and the experience of others; the best option is to find another hard drive in these non-standard dimensions. The Toshiba MK1634GAL 160GB hard drive will work and can still be found online from a few sources (it was used in one of the Apple iPods), although the Korg will not be able to use the full capacity of that disk (I think 90 gigs will be available). I've only seen one account of a person who successfully got an SSD to work and he was not willing to divulge how he did it (only that it took a lot of effort and multiple attempts).

Given that hard drives often fail after 3-5 years but I've been using my Korg MR-1000 pretty heavily for around 10 years now, my hard disk is living on borrowed time. It did make some clicking noises when I turned the machine on a few months ago, but I rebooted and everything was back to normal; still I don't trust it for recording anything critical until I replace the drive. I am planning to replace the drive, get a Sonosax M2D2 and run it in at line level to bypass the Korg's preamps.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
Wow, the fact that you use any of this equipment without being able to see is impressive! I do hope Sonosax has a solution for you, as the R4+ seems like the pinnacle of portable recording devices available today. An alternative could be the Sonosax M2D2 preamp into a device (iPad or laptop, for example) that has a screen reader interface.

As for the Korg MR-1000, it is unlikely that you will be able to install an SSD based on the research I've done and the experience of others; the best option is to find another hard drive in these non-standard dimensions. The Toshiba MK1634GAL 160GB hard drive will work and can still be found online from a few sources (it was used in one of the Apple iPods), although the Korg will not be able to use the full capacity of that disk (I think 90 gigs will be available). I've only seen one account of a person who successfully got an SSD to work and he was not willing to divulge how he did it (only that it took a lot of effort and multiple attempts).

Given that hard drives often fail after 3-5 years but I've been using my Korg MR-1000 pretty heavily for around 10 years now, my hard disk is living on borrowed time. It did make some clicking noises when I turned the machine on a few months ago, but I rebooted and everything was back to normal; still I don't trust it for recording anything critical until I replace the drive. I am planning to replace the drive, get a Sonosax M2D2 and run it in at line level to bypass the Korg's preamps.
You are right Brad, I remember having read a post (on Tapersection, perhaps) where someone talked about the successful installation of an SSD - unfortunately he was not willing to detail the whole process; the main problem being that the firmware developed by Korg when designing the MR-1000 is probably not optimized to work with such devices. Regarding the analog circuitry of the MR-1000, one of my friends told me that the line input could not yield all the benefits of an external mic preamp because it shares he same circuit that the onboard mic preamp, the attenuation being made when a plug is inserted in the TRS jacks. I never had the opportunity to open the machine to check if this was true; still, to my ears the difference is clearly audible when I plug the Nagra line in. Anyway, did you ever had the opportunity to compare the sound quality of DSD 5.6 MHz vs PCM in 24/192 ? Did you notice any audible différences - especially dealing with the depth of the recording ?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I have been a Nagra devotée for nearly 40 years. I have owned every Nagra since 1981. They make / made fantastic recorders. They are still making some of the best recorders known today in the Nagra VI and Nagra Seven.

However, when I became acquainted with the "sound of the future" and the "super advanced sound from the far reaches of the universe" in SONOSAX, I have found the best sound that there is in pro audio.

SONOSAX provides:

the most quiet mic preamp
the mic preamp with the widest dynamic range (135 dB)
the most neutral preamp
the preamp with the highest resolution for detail
the preamp that never sounds clinical
the preamp / ad system with the best sound--better than Nagra
Best sound quality by far

Yes, SONOSAX SX-R4+ and SONOSAX M2D2 are far superior to the preamps on the Nagra IV-S. The IV-S preamps belong to a former generation where we recorded on analog tape. IV-S is a sweet sounding mic preamp, but both noisy and much lower resolution of details than the current best preamps.

I reccomend moving towards FUTURESOUND with the SONOSAX M2D2. You can even record the best sound there is on your iPhone with that set up.
Use the Apogee app to do it.

No endless discussion is needed. Move towards FUTURESOUND.
Thank you Plush for all these useful info. I wrote to Sonosax yesterday to know more about the SX-M2D2; as a 4-track machine would be interesting for my needs, I also asked them if they could do something to make the touchscreen of the SX-R4+ accessible to me (I am blind, so this kind of interface is impossible to use without a screenreader).
Old 2 weeks ago
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momboisse View Post
Anyway, did you ever had the opportunity to compare the sound quality of DSD 5.6 MHz vs PCM in 24/192 ? Did you notice any audible différences - especially dealing with the depth of the recording ?
I didn't do rigorous controlled testing, but to my ears (and on my equipment) I could not actually hear a difference. I assume someone with more discerning ears or someone with higher-end audiophile equipment might but ultimately I decided to stick with recording PCM.

That's interesting about the line in on the Korg, which makes me think it may not be worth investing more in it and just move on. I like the way it sounds and I like its simplicity; the Sonosax R4+ is a bit hard for me to justify economically (I am not a professional in this field; I'm a musician recording myself and others) but the M2D2 into a laptop or iPad could be a workable solution for me. And I can always try it with the Korg as well to see how that sounds.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #12
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You could also consider the Nagra EMP, which can be powered by either 4-AA batteries or an external 12VDC power supply. The same preamps as in the Nagra IV.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #13
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M2D2 analog output is unbalanced, correct? Perhaps a consideration for some applications.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Consider SONOSAX M2D2. It is battery operated and very clean.

Nagra preamps on the IV-S are very neutral and not colored. Analog beautysound. The same with SONOSAX's new preamp.

SONOSAX preamp is around CHF 1390.

SONOSAX is substantially better than Nagra preamps.

Lake People is an excellent sound but clearly eclipsed by SONOSAX.

Move towards FUTURESOUND.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwanajim View Post
You could also consider the Nagra EMP, which can be powered by either 4-AA batteries or an external 12VDC power supply. The same preamps as in the Nagra IV.
16 bit
Old 2 weeks ago
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwanajim View Post
You could also consider the Nagra EMP, which can be powered by either 4-AA batteries or an external 12VDC power supply. The same preamps as in the Nagra IV.
Hello Bwanajim, the EMP contains the same preamp circuitry as found in the Nagra VI, not the Nagra IV. In the 1980s Kudelski produced in a very few quantity (approx. 15 units built) the "Advanced Mike Preamplifier", a 2-channel mixer with the same preamps as in the IV-S.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentagon View Post
16 bit
Hello Pentagon, I think Bwanajim meant that the Nagra EMP could be used just as a mic preamp, without using the (almost useless) internal recording device implemented in it. The EMP could actually be a good way to have 2 channels of high-quality mic preamps as found in the Nagra VI; however it does not have all the features of the Sonosax SX-M2D2. The only downside of the SX-M2D2 being, in fact, its unbalanced line output - that being said, I never had any problem using unbalanced connections, even isome p;aces ere radiand telephone interférences could have been a problem.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradh View Post
I didn't do rigorous controlled testing, but to my ears (and on my equipment) I could not actually hear a difference. I assume someone with more discerning ears or someone with higher-end audiophile equipment might but ultimately I decided to stick with recording PCM.

That's interesting about the line in on the Korg, which makes me think it may not be worth investing more in it and just move on. I like the way it sounds and I like its simplicity; the Sonosax R4+ is a bit hard for me to justify economically (I am not a professional in this field; I'm a musician recording myself and others) but the M2D2 into a laptop or iPad could be a workable solution for me. And I can always try it with the Korg as well to see how that sounds.
Yes, the M2D2 will allow you to record on any laptop or smartphone with excellent sound quality, and you can try it on the Korg to see if that makes any audible improvement. At first when I bought the Korg, I was also ready to acquire the Tascam DA-3000 : it has all the connections one can desire, but unfortunately it only operates on mains power; if Tascam had built exactly the same product but in a portable form (battery-operated), it would have been a wonderful recording tool (I wrote to them in this sense some years ago).
Old 2 weeks ago
  #18
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Sorry, that was a typing error on my part. Of course the EMP preamps are the same as those from the Nagra VI.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Momboisse View Post
Hello Bwanajim, the EMP contains the same preamp circuitry as found in the Nagra VI, not the Nagra IV. In the 1980s Kudelski produced in a very few quantity (approx. 15 units built) the "Advanced Mike Preamplifier", a 2-channel mixer with the same preamps as in the IV-S.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #19
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Are they the exact same preamps in the SX-M2D2 as in the SX-R4+ or are they “R4+ Lite”?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dogmusic View Post
Are they the exact same preamps in the SX-M2D2 as in the SX-R4+ or are they “R4+ Lite”?
Good question; on Sonosax's web page, some specs are different between the two units - the 135dB dynamic range that they both share being due to the double A/D chip used, not to the preamps themselves. It would be interesting to ask the question to Jacques Sax.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #21
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Plush's Avatar
I was told by SONOSAX that they are the same preamps on the M2D2 as on the R4+.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I was told by SONOSAX that they are the same preamps on the M2D2 as on the R4+.
Thanks, Plush!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #23
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I think I’m going to pick up an M2D2. Two of these could be very useful for recording 8 channels with the Nagra VI.
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