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Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

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Yes, you had a preview button.  I used the preview extensively because when I was posting lots of pictures, I had to check and see if they were in the right order.   I was working with a link to the picture, not the picture. Plus every time I reread something I would have to correct myself. 

But it's OK, as long as I can still edit the post, I can just keep editing till I get it right. My posts are usually too long, too many mistakes to get it on the first shot.

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The first Nagra III -1958  #58 out of 240 made
 
 
Here are some differences I found in the early 1958 Nagra III’s, the first year they were made.
 
1st difference is the paint.
Pictured here is my 1962 on top of the 1958 Nagra. They used the same wrinkle paint as the Nagra II at the time.
 
JvWB2Wl.jpg
 
 
 
qM8L0YV.jpg
 
 
 
The second difference is the tape path, notice in this first picture of the 1958 deck, the Red arrows deeply grooved into the tape deck.
Unless I’m wrong, I always thought the tape went straight down to the roller, like on all the Nagras.  Also in the center between the bottom of the reels, a milled out section for a serial number plate maybe? Milled off center?
 
 
vUPemKL.jpg
 
 
v6Uqiya.jpg
 
 
irQRwKc.jpg
 
 
 
In this next picture, shows the deck of my 1962 Nagra III, serial # B 62 2529, it's a long way from #58
But this is what the deck top ended up looking like and stayed this way to the end of the Nagra III series, ending in 1968. I don't think there were 1969 Nagra III's
 
It's a pretty good looking tape deck top with all the acid etched raised highlights and the name KUDELSKI spelled out. This has got to be the most Classic tape deck top ever made on any tape recorder.  
As shown in this video
 
You can see the punch marks where the third head would go, just would need a little more machining and it would become the NP third head model.
 
 
I have a picture of every year Nagra III from 1958 to 1968  except I don't have a picture of a 1959 Nagra III
Could it have the same paint as a 1958?  I just have never seen a picture of one.
 
On any Nagra III the serial number shows the year and how many were made, the first two digits are the year, the rest of the numbers are how many made since the first one.  So if 240 were made in 1958.
 1959 should have serial numbers like 59241. Does anybody have a Nagra III beginning with 59?
 
So between 1958 and this deck pictured below, there were  2,529 of them made at this point in 1962
 
59CLXPP.jpg
 
 
 
 
Next picture, The rewind is the plexi button on the front panel. No BAT and EXT stamped on the control knob. Although I can make out a very faint T. Not sure what to make of that, It must be because it is a remote stop and start they did away with that knob turning it on?
 
pCLi9sm.jpg
 
 
 
Next pictures, Plexi guides on the deck top, for some reason not sure why this was done on number 58 it might have been done on the others and came off over the years. I only saw (4) pictures of a 1958 recorder, mine has them, the other three don’t.  But they also didn’t have the remote start and stop.
 
So the guides could have something to do with the remote start lever on it, I think it was mostly used by reporters carrying the recorder, maybe Nagra thought it would help guide the tape.
 
Then found out it wasn’t needed and did away with the plexi tape guides. Don’t forget this was the 58th Nagra III made and may have been one of the first to have the factory remote start lever.
 
0YaCaGI.jpg
 
 
SK7wm9P.jpg
 
 
 
 
Nagra experimenting with the Mic input jack with the plexi spacer coming off at a sharper angle. Definitely, factory produced a piece of plexi. It's on my machine 5858 but I can’t see that side of the recorder on the other three 1958 machines I have pictures of.
The second picture is the 1962 - the Mic input base plate stayed the same to the end of the Nagra III series.
 
6fh5Lq5.jpg
 
 
 
5fU6yXO.jpg
 
 
0Wh9SsU.jpg
 
 
 
The brass chain holding the input jack cover tethered to the machine.
That is lint all over the panel, I was going to take another picture but who looks at these?
 
 
TpDEzxo.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
This next picture shown here is a 1958 Nagra III serial number 5828 the 28th Nagra III made showing the head covers and hertz marking on the two end tension rollers.
 
Notice the width of the screws on the head covers. Remove the head covers and it would look like my #5858 in the next set of pictures. 
 
Also notice the tape support on the bottom of the head covers, could removing the head covers cause them to add the plexi guides on the deck lid? Why would they have the tape resting on the covers?   The head covers even have a beveled ramp up to the head.
The only thing I could think of is when the slack is taken up they wanted to make sure the tape would end up in the right spot on the head.
 
So this is SN #28, by the time, if not before they got to #58 the head covers were gone, the holes still there and filled. At the sides of the heads, tape guides were added and remained thru out the remaining Nagra III's.
 
One thing to notice here, the space between the heads was NOT there for the third head in 1958.
It was the space that was left, once the two head covers were removed.
And in 1962 they used that space for the third head on the NP models.
 
 
i8dPufL.jpg
 
sbFIVV3.jpg
 
This next picture is the deck of my machine. It clearly shows Nagra filled the four screw holes that the head covers used and added the two tape guides. (In new holes)
 
Click on this next picture to enlarge and mouse over and you will see all four filled holes in the deck that the head covers used. You can see the guides added in different holes.
 
They probably decided they needed the tape guides on the ends set further back, so they got rid of the head covers and filled the holes as shown. And then added the new guides. 
 
W3Tc4r4.jpg
 
 
 
TeuGhR1.jpg
 
 
 
Xy5xw9e.jpg
 
 
 
 
It just goes to show the active ongoing process Stefan Kudelski must have been going thru in the early days, to create the perfect recorder.
Can you imagine Stefan Kudelski back then in his shop coat, we have 200 deck plates already machined! What do we do? Fill the holes!
Could it be why you never see Stefan Kudelski with the first Nagra III?  They may have been all pieced together and different things tried with many of the first units. R&D as you go.
 
I believe the heads themselves were always the same - you can see them under the covers, they must have thought at first the sides of the head covers could also act as the guides. But they were in the wrong spot.
So Nagra III #5828 and #5822 has the head covers. Then on Nagra III #5858 30 units later they were gone forever. The paint on the heads is the same hammer tone gray paint the Nagra III’s were finally painted.
What year the recorders were painted hammer tone gray is unknown. I have yet to see a 1959 Nagra III.
 
 
 
 
 
Here is another 1958 Nagra with the first head covers on it,  I think serial # 5822
You can see it looks like the sides of the tape heads covers could keep the tape away from the head. They come to a point. I think the early head covers were meant to also be the guides, the new guides look like they're set back further.
Letting the full pressure of the tape against the heads.
 
xqzD4TA.jpg
 
And another with the head covers, unknown serial number
 
EGXnyKL.jpg
 
 
 
 
Another question I have that is left unanswered is why the plexi cover over the serial number? Does 5858 mean something special?  That's why it's highlighted? Or are there others out there with covers on the serial number?
 
uYAX5up.jpg
 
 
 
 
I never saw a 1958 Nagra III or knew a 1958 was any different from any of the other Nagra III"s
Never even thought about it before, until three days before I bought one.
It came about in a Google search.
I posted earlier in this thread on Feb 2 in post #72  "Did anybody ever see a black Nagra III?" ( it looked black)
 
So I started to look around on eBay just to see if there were any 1958 Nagra III’s in present or past auctions. 
I ended up seeing this #5858 in the sold completed auctions on eBay. Damn, I missed it,  searching further back I found it again Sold same #5858 as I could see in the pictures. 
 
 To my surprise, either that night or the next day he listed it again,  Buy it Now, so I bought it.
(what timing)
It was a buy it now so I wasn't wasting any time with questions. I was just happy it was up for sale again.  I asked the questions after paying for it.
 
When he answered my first email he reminded me I bought his DH Nagra monitor  2 years earlier. (the one posted in the beginning of this thread) post #3. I had no idea he was who I bought the monitor until that email.
 
So two different people before me bought this #5858 Nagra III on Ebay.
One on Nov 16th, 2014 and didn’t pay.
One on Jan 10th 2015 and did not pay for it.
The seller had to re list the Nagra each time.
I bought it on Feb 5th, 2015.
 
It would be one thing if the seller listed it once and I bought it, but to have two other people before me, buy it, then back out and not pay.  Lucky for me, which in turn gave me the opportunity to own the Nagra III #58 - the same person that now owns the DH monitor that was displayed along with the 58 Nagra for all those years.
Really,  what are the chances of that ever happening?  
 
 
Could it be the Nagra III just wanted to be with his little buddy DH again?  Whatever it was, I guess it was meant to be.
Either that or I’m one lucky guy...
I should give as much thought into picking lottery ticket numbers as I do trying to figure out Nagra’s
 
He also did not know it was a 1958 Nagra until I told him after I received it. 
In disbelief, he confirmed it was indeed a 1958 Nagra III, the 58th Nagra III ever made with his long time contacts at Nagra. 
He replied he thinks he sold it too cheap.
 
 
And finally the last picture....
 
"So old friends meet again"
 by sheer luck, after being separated for 2 years a world apart, go figure....
 
vuQ1AlL.jpg
All Photos marked RJW are copyrighted. Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
I'm  including these emails only because the story is so hard to believe, but its all true.
 
On Feb 6, 2015, at 1:33 AM, ******** ************> wrote:
ello *****
You bought my speaker two years ago.
Did I forget one side? It is attached.
 
Of course, it is not new. It looks used, it is more than 45 years old, and there is some scratches here and there. But it is clean and working and it looks good as it is, as a vintage machine. In fact, this is the oldest I had.
I do not have the old yellow lid anymore. This 'new' lid is the last that anybody could ever get.
The machine has always been next to the speaker as display in the shop where I worked 25 yrs ago. So old friends meet again.
I can send this afternoon and it will be packed in bubble wraps.
And I will try FedEx this time.
 
cHB9oKI.jpg
B9q1F97.jpg
 
H
 
Op 6 feb. 2015, om 14:34 ************** geschreven:
 
Thank you **** for the picture, I didn’t realize it was you , I love that DH speaker, I have it cleaned up like new in my collection. Do you still have the shop?
Wondering if you have any other Nagra related items.
Would you like me to send you a picture of my Nagra collection.
Roger
 
 
Hello  Roger
The Nagra III is already picked up by Fedex.
Tracking number is ***********.
I think it will be with you on next Monday.
I included some nice extra paperwork :)
 
Yes please, show me a photo of you collection.
I do not have any Nagra stuff at the moment.
 
.
Hello Roger
 
I worked at Capi Lux Vak,  former distributor for Nagra in Amsterdam until 1993.
Now I am still connected to Nagra distribution, but we only deal with the modern Nagra recording equipment.
Yes, they were always together for at least the last 25 years and always in clean, dry and warm environment. 
 
I first started last November with listing this Nagra III on Ebay. 
The first guy that  bought it wanted a demo because he was going to use it as a daily recorder....
I told him that it was working, but there was really no guarantee that it would serve him on day to day use on the street.
He did not understand that, and also the fact I did not want to come to him to do a demo, and the result of a very long talk was that I stopped it.
 
The second guy told me he would  pay it end of the month,  and after waiting for a month he ask for another month time.
This I also stopped.   I never had any problem on Ebay before, and now twice people that did not want to pay what they bought,  so this was very surprising.      The Nagra did not want to leave me, and obviously waited for you.   
I am cleaning up the house the last half year, the reason for selling, but I must say that I already have little regret about it ;
 
XXXXXXX, XXX
 

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Cool.  I feel like at some point I saw a Nagra III with the same cover over the SN plate…but I can't recall if it was in SF (there was an old sound guy who still had IIIs as his daily drivers even in the mid-1970s) or in LA in the 1960s (as a kid walking around in Hollywood and the Valley, and coming upon movie shoots)...

phil p

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I saw them for sale before with the SN plexi cover, never paid much attention to them, but now, I really think the ones I saw, was this same Nagra each time. Once in Nov 2014 and once in Jan 2015.

Back then, late 2014 every day I would search Nagra on eBay for newly listed items. So I would've seen this come up.
 
Like probably everyone else who saw listed on ebay and thought it was not original. Why buy one that was messed with, when so many original condition Nagra III’s come up for sale. 
What collector wants holes drilled in the front Name plate? And some mickey mouse start switch on the lid?  Pass! 
 
Back then when I was looking for Nagra’s, I didn’t even want to look at anything that someone drilled holes, added jacks, and switches etc. I wanted as clean and as original condition that I could find.
 That was my mistake, but I’m glad this one patiently waited for me. 
 
It was listed on eBay for around 500.00 each time so it’s not like he was giving it away. Since I found out what to look for. I bought it, mainly because of the SN# B 5858. 
 
In the auction, he stated it had a new lid. I asked him if he had the old lid and asked again later if the start switch was a Nagra Factory setup. 
He told me he bought the last replacement lid from Nagra and it already had the extra holes in it for the Start switch so it was a factory option.
 
Why am I posting all this?  Hopefully, someone will read this thread someday and post more information what they know about the early Nagra’s. 
 
Maybe I will send a link to this JWsound page to Nagra and see what their opinion is about this. The posts with pictures might jog some memories. 
 
 

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I found some more pictures, not sure where I got them, probably copied off eBay years ago.
Shown here this Nagra III must be at least 1962 or later, because of the newer style deck top. This top clearly shows the spot for the third head, that wasn’t around until late 1961/62. Surprisingly shows the red arrows in the deck top also.
What is common with my 1958 Nagra III are the plexi tape guides glued on the deck top. The red direction arrows etched into the deck, The pin in the control knob means it must have the factory remote start switch in the lid (not shown, probably not even the right lid on it anymore) The same plexi rewind button on the front panel and the plexi covering the serial number.  Also, notice the BAT/ EXT label is missing like on mine. 
 
So the remote start button was still available 3 years after my 1958 III and the plastic guides on the deck lid must be part of the remote start switch option. 
 
So either a Radio Station or another buyer wanted Nagra to set these recorders up for them or this is how they come if you wanted the remote start switch. Not just a different lid with a lever in it, there clearly was more to it than that.
 
I have to believe the remote Start/Stop switch comes from Nagra with all these changes.
BAT/EXT removed, Rewind button on the front, Plastic tape guides on deck, Red arrows etched in the deck showing a reverse direction of the tape. And possibly the plexi cover over the serial number.  Maybe to mark it as different?
 
This machine and mine are the only two machines I have found with all these things in common.  
I have not found any other picture of any Nagra III with the red arrows, even the other 1958 models don’t have them.
 
I think these special machines were strictly designed to be used standing upright over the shoulder and be able to start, stop, and rewind with the lid closed. This may be why the reverse direction of the tape only on theses Start/Stop machines.
 
M8AOI0m.jpg
 
Lineup marks on the aluminum where the third head would go. That didn't happen until 1962.

GzwHKCB.jpg

 The added pin on the control knob matches up with the start lever on the lid. The late 4.2 tape counter was obviously added later.

vWHblkg.jpg
 
Why only on remote start Nagras does the tape follow a different path? Does having the tape follow the red arrows prevent the tape from getting tangled in the upright position? Instead of the normal way, as shown below.
 
Gra6S6p.jpg

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I first used a Nagra III (rather than being an assistant) when I was sound recordist on BBC Nationwide in the late 1960s. There was a King Clapper fastened to the front of the leather bag the Nagra lived in, but as the cameraman preferred doing end boards (to the despair of the editor) I had to squirm in one direction while he counter-squirmed to create the illusion of the board being upside down. Pre- crystal sync, there was a pulse cable between me and his Arri BL and given that he could dart off like a startled pheasant, I had to be pretty alert to keep up with him. We once filmed near Rugby Transmission station, where long wave transmissions where...well, transmitted. Somehow this induced the BL to turn over by itself through the pulse cable, which I, but not the cameraman, found very amusing.

Doing sync playback on commercials was always entertaining and I loved using the SLP, before the Nagra IV-L came along with its QSLI. One lovely little trick of the 4.2 and other models I found was that the fast forward switch would, through carelessness of the operator, remain in the fast forward position if not replaced. So when the playback was run it would be a fast speed, to the red- eared embarrassment of yours truly. Another embarrassing moment was when I was playing a take back to the director. I had the tape/direct switch in the wrong position so when I thought the director was listening off tape to the take through the cans, in fact he was listening to Richard Burton slagging him off from his caravan through his radio microphone. The fan got rather clogged over that one, but I survived.

On proper films I used a IV-L, a 4.2 and a IV-S as time went on. I made up a little box that took the voltage present at one of the output Tuchel sockets when the Nagra was actually turning over. This operated a relay that started up a cassette recorder that we had to use, for some reason or other that I have now forgotten. On Joseph Andrews (a lovely film shot around the Cotswolds in the long hot summer of 1976) I experimented with taking the off tape output and feeding it back into the mixer for my boss, Peter Handford, to play with. He used to feed this into the mix as the clapper board was going on to make a multiple echo, solely for the joy of irritating the editor. 

One favourite prank I liked to play on gullible directors or cameramen was to stop shooting for a moment looking concerned. Muttering "There's something wrong", I would pull out of the Nagra leather bag an old printed circuit board (placed there for this purpose), bang it a couple of times against my knee, then reinsert it. "That's got it," I would say and continue the job. Easier to do when you are staff: not recommended for freelancers.

 

 

 

  

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Well, I’d like to take full credit for having someone post another Nagra story from back in the day, A story about what this thread was started for. 

Nagra Stories from the Soundmen who used them.  Nagra stories that Soundmen can relate to. Stories that will soon be gone forever. Stories anyone using digital will never know.
I was told it was so long ago and everyone is so old, most forgot any Nagra stories to tell. So I changed the title to Nagra Stories Soundmen won’t ever tell 
 
I figured if I went on and on about the little differences of the early Nagra’s long enough, someone would have to finally crack and tell their story.
I’ll stop with my Stories if you tell more of yours. Deal?
 
Because I still have many more stories to tell, like these,
 
-Why is the aluminum different shades on the same model Nagras?
-The subtle differences between the feet on the bottoms of Nagras over the years?
-Tape guides over the years, what ones are really best. 
-Nagra bags, the differences in the materials used, versus style and prestige.
 
And I’ll use them !!  I'm not kidding…..you see where I could go.. (if I had a smiling face I would insert here)
 
Thanks, Nick (if I had a thumbs Up I would insert here)

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Oh, don't encourage me Joseph! I will wax prolix and garrulous as I dribble into my cocoa, given the slightest encouragement. And I stoppeth a lot more than one in three. One unusual thing I saw in one Nagra 4.2 was its reference tone. Every other Nagra IV or 4 I have worked with had the reference tone set as a sine wave (can't remember exact frequency) at -8 on the Modulometer (= 4 on a BBC PPM). This one was square wave at -10. Never found out why - I suspect something to do with setting up head azimuth. On another occasion, the production company which supplied the Nagra (III in this case) had obviously been to a bargain basement sale and had bought a load of Ni-Cad batteries with bare metal - no labels or anything. Unsurprisingly they soon gave up the ghost and I got my assistant to replace them with dry cells. He put the discarded Ni-Cads in a carrier bag and forgot about them until somehow they contrived to create a short circuit within the bag which caught fire. These things are sent to relieve the boredom of a commercial. When we were working in a studio with studio supplied equipment any fault was referred to the maintenance guys. I got matey with some of them and I was told of the Healing Shelf. This magical device was reserved for equipment that displayed symptoms that puzzled everyone: the object was placed upon the shelf and ignored for three days; then returned to the person who had handed it in. In the majority of cases it had healed itself - or the operator now used it correctly. Straying even further away from the original topic - I said you shouldn't start me off - was another plot to confuse the editors which my lovely boss (alas now passed on) Peter Handford (Acadamy Award for Out of Africa) used. He would stretch an elastic band over the ident mic on the mixer and as the clapper/loader was announcing the take he would twang the band. This obviously got out of hand and senior management was summoned. They closely observed the boom operator up on the Fisher, as they suspected him of plucking the boom strings. Of course while their attention was focussed there, Peter would merrily twang the elastic band. Simple pleasures. I have many memories of the jokes and pranks we played in those days - Murder on the Orient Express was particularly rich in that respect - but I have strayed too far away from the topic.

Edited by Nick Flowers
Correcting Joseph's name - Sorry.

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"the Healing Shelf. This magical device was reserved for equipment that displayed symptoms that puzzled everyone: the object was placed upon the shelf and ignored for three days; then returned to the person who had handed it in. In the majority of cases it had healed itself - or the operator now used it correctly."

 

Love it

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Oh, don't encourage me Joseph! I will wax prolix and garrulous as I dribble into my cocoa, given the slightest encouragement. And I stoppeth a lot more than one in three. One unusual thing I saw in one Nagra 4.2 was its reference tone. Every other Nagra IV or 4 I have worked with had the reference tone set as a sine wave (can't remember exact frequency) at -8 on the Modulometer (= 4 on a BBC PPM). This one was square wave at -10. Never found out why - I suspect something to do with setting up head azimuth. On another occasion, the production company which supplied the Nagra (III in this case) had obviously been to a bargain basement sale and had bought a load of Ni-Cad batteries with bare metal - no labels or anything. Unsurprisingly they soon gave up the ghost and I got my assistant to replace them with dry cells. He put the discarded Ni-Cads in a carrier bag and forgot about them until somehow they contrived to create a short circuit within the bag which caught fire. These things are sent to relieve the boredom of a commercial. When we were working in a studio with studio supplied equipment any fault was referred to the maintenance guys. I got matey with some of them and I was told of the Healing Shelf. This magical device was reserved for equipment that displayed symptoms that puzzled everyone: the object was placed upon the shelf and ignored for three days; then returned to the person who had handed it in. In the majority of cases it had healed itself - or the operator now used it correctly. Straying even further away from the original topic - I said you shouldn't start me off - was another plot to confuse the editors which my lovely boss (alas now passed on) Peter Handford (Acadamy Award for Out of Africa) used. He would stretch an elastic band over the ident mic on the mixer and as the clapper/loader was announcing the take he would twang the band. This obviously got out of hand and senior management was summoned. They closely observed the boom operator up on the Fisher, as they suspected him of plucking the boom strings. Of course while their attention was focussed there, Peter would merrily twang the elastic band. Simple pleasures. I have many memories of the jokes and pranks we played in those days - Murder on the Orient Express was particularly rich in that respect - but I have strayed too far away from the topic.

Andy Cooper told me the square wave 10K was for field alignment of the heads.

Great stories.

Cheers!

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Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the 10K tone, traut. Somewhere I still have the tool for adjusting head azimuth on the Nagra 4 and IV and the different one for the III. Never had the occasion to use it in the field, thank Heaven!

One more little story - during the studio part of Murder on the Orient Express (EMI Boreham Wood) the Gaffer Spark was a Northerner with a loud voice and a Lancastrian accent. He would bellow out instructions to his myrmidons, especially to the guy on the switchboard who opened and closed the big doors. We got a little tired of this and the boom operator (David Stephenson, now a respected production mixer) followed the Gaffer around with a microphone so we could pick up the shouted instructions. We edited these and set up a playback unit - and bided our time. When everything was set up the red light was called for, everything settled down and I then played out the Gaffer's recorded command of "Open the big doors". The guy at the switch board threw the switch and the doors opened, and he got a bollocking from the Gaffer. "But you told me to open them," he protested. "No I didn't," the Gaffer responded and the argument continued until the 1st A.D. intervened and order was restored. I shudder to think what would happen to us now if we played that prank now, but then things were a little more relaxed.

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Absolutely, Al. It's been so long now since I've set up a recorder but if my fuzzy recollections are correct, you adjust the bias so that the tone you are recording appears at its maximum value from the playback head, and then you increase it a little bit further so that it falls by 2dB from that maximum. Am I right?

Also, setting the azimuth requires a very expensive test tape to set up the playback head, then you can set the record head. Eventually all these skills will disappear, I suppose.

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Absolutely, Al. It's been so long now since I've set up a recorder but if my fuzzy recollections are correct, you adjust the bias so that the tone you are recording appears at its maximum value from the playback head, and then you increase it a little bit further so that it falls by 2dB from that maximum. Am I right?

Also, setting the azimuth requires a very expensive test tape to set up the playback head, then you can set the record head. Eventually all these skills will disappear, I suppose.

The amount you'd go past the peak point varied based on several factors, including tape formulation, THD, over-modulation characteristics, self-erasure, and tape compression factors you were after, along with a certain measure of personal preference.  If memory serves, it was typically a range from +.25 to +2dB.

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Occasionally I see a Nagra III on eBay that says SONY on it.  Anyone know the story behind those?  (Sony made Nagra copies, the EM-1 and EM-2 (I have the latter and regret losing one of the former ones long ago).

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The “Sony” and the “Telefunken”
 
Kudelski made Nagra III front name plates printed with “Sony” and “Telefunken” on a very small number of the Nagra III’s.  At one point there were a few Sony ones selling on eBay, all within a few months but I haven't seen any for sale in some time now.  When I first saw the Sony ones I thought someone was doing it as a joke, then I saw some more and then some Telefunken ones and realized maybe they did make them for other Tape recorder manufacturers.
 
I do not know the story behind it. It’s so strange (for Nagra and for Sony to do it) I could only guess what the reason could be, maybe to satisfy a long term Sony customer that wanted a Nagra?
 

Q3cNnj8.jpg

 
 
sN2dvv4.jpg

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From what I've been told by Nagra, the custom labeling was due to large orders by Sony and by Telefunken  for their own stock. I have one of each. Similarly, Schoeps had some CMC5 bodies branded "SONY" and "STUDER".

Glen Trew

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Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the 10K tone, traut. Somewhere I still have the tool for adjusting head azimuth on the Nagra 4 and IV and the different one for the III. Never had the occasion to use it in the field, thank Heaven!...

The discussion about the odd alignment tone has bits and pieces of truth, but there are some misunderstandings. The following should clarify:

At first listen, most people will assume that the internal alignment tone on the Nagra 4 series was just a cheap distorted oscillator, but it was completely intentional. This odd sounding tone is actually two tones: a 1.1kHz combined with a lower level 10kHz (except for the square wave tone describe in the bottom paragraph). The intention for this dual tone was to allow very accurate azimuth alignment using only an Allen wrench and headphones...

Assuming the playback alignment had been properly done with a prerecorded alignment tape, the record head could be aligned to match simply by going into record, pressing the tone button, choosing "TAPE" output, then turning the azimuth screw on the record head to get the most "sizzle". Or, if the record azimuth was known to be good but the playback azimuth was suspect, the playback azimuth screw could be adjusted in the same manner. This is actually a very accurate method for adjusting the azimuth, whether for the mono or stereo heads.

Probably the main intention for this tone is for putting at the beginning of the recording so that the transfer playback machine could be quickly and accurately aligned to match tapes from the field. That is why it was preferred to use this tone on the head ID instead of using the tone on the mixer. Back in the late 70s and early 80s I would use the Nagra tone when transferring production tracks to mag stock, but I've never heard from anyone else who did this or even knew that it was the purpose of this fuzzy tone. Anybody else use this tone this way?

One more thing: Early 4-series Nagras did not have a dual tone, but instead had an actual 1kHz square wave. While it was possible to use it for azimuth adjusting, the exact spot wasn't quite as apparent. It is important to know which tone you have (determined by an 0-scope) because, while the 0VU reference for the dual sign wave is -8dB on the modulometer, the 0VU reference for the square wave is -10dB. This might also explain why some machines have a -10 reference and others lineup at -8.

Glen Trew

Edited by Glen Trew

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On 11/10/2015 at 3:48 PM, Glen Trew said:

From what I've been told by Nagra, the custom labeling was due to large orders by Sony and by Telefunken  for their own stock. I have one of each. Similarly, Schoeps had some CMC5 bodies branded "SONY" and "STUDER".

Glen Trew

Glen, Is there any more information you can share about the Sony Nagra III? 
When you say for their own stock do you mean for Sony’s use?  I really find it strange that Sony wanted Nagra tape recorders to resell under the Sony/Nagra name.
 
Sony was a big manufacturer of tape recorders in their own right, why would they want to promote the Nagra III with their name on them. When as far as I can tell, Nagra has been selling the Nagra III for nine years prior to the Sony Models.  All the Sony Nagra III’s that I have seen were 1967, that was near the end of the line for the Nagra III,
 I wonder if Sony wanted to continue the line under their name? All doesn’t make any sense to me.
 
I wonder what year your Sony Nagra III is? I would be very surprised if it was any year but 1967.  In the picture I show, you can’t see the year but Nagra didn’t start using that style VU meter until 1967. I have seen other Sony Nagras that clearly state 67 for the year.  The Telefunken I show is pre-1967.
 
Although a large order as you say could mean as few as 25 or 50 units. I doubt they had many of them. I have never seen any literature of Sony selling Nagra tape recorders. I have a lot of their brochures from the 60’s and are not showing any Nagras.  But yet these Sony /Nagra tape recorders do exist. 
 
I could see putting brand names on the microphones as they were an accessory to the tape recorder. I could also see Nagra putting a company name that didn’t make tape recorders, But the Sony Corp. was making tape recorders and recording tape since the 40’s,  back then they were known as Tsushin Kogyo K.K. (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation) Changed to Sony in the 50’s.  Sony registered the name of all their tape recorders as Tapecorder and Superscope and were a very large tape recorder manufacturer at the time. Much larger then Nagra ever was in 1967.
There has to be more to this story.
 I wonder if there were any other modifications on a Sony Nagra III other than the nameplate?

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I'm not sure what they did with them... Sell them in Japan? Lease them to broadcasters? Don't know. The Sony Nagra III that I have does not have the pilot head. Otherwise seems the same. This would suggest radio journalism or portable music recording. The label says "SONY   Kudelski"

gt

 

Edited by Glen Trew

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Glen

Clearly both Sony/Nagra and Telefunken Nagra III's are now collector items. It's also good to know you have the non-pilot Sony model, which would make it more understandable with the uses you suggested, but knowing the Sony models had both pilot and non-pilot makes me wonder even more.

Wait a minute 

"Sell them in Japan, " you said, Maybe that's the reason, due to some strange foreign laws at the time protecting Sony, or imports to Japan. Maybe the Nagra III from Switzerland could not be sold in Japan economically unless it went thru Sony first, that may be the reason Sony's name was on it. To prove it was going thru Sony.

So it's possible Kudelski made a deal with Sony to sell the Nagra III in Japan only?  Just a guess.

Maybe with Telefunken, it happened that way also?

 

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Text deleted..

 

One more thing: Early 4-series Nagras did not have a dual tone, but instead had an actual 1kHz square wave. While it was possible to use it for azimuth adjusting, the exact spot wasn't quite as apparent. It is important to know which tone you have (determined by an 0-scope) because, while the 0VU reference for the dual sign wave is -8dB on the modulometer, the 0VU reference for the square wave is -10dB. This might also explain why some machines have a -10 reference and others lineup at -8.

Glen Trew

Glen I am convinced that this is what I encountered all those years ago (mid 1970s I think). I have obviously mis-remembered the frequency of the square wave tone and mixed it up with the 10kHz component of the dual tone Nagras. Thanks for putting me right.

Edited by Nick Flowers

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Kudelski made Nagra III front name plates printed with “Sony” and “Telefunken” on a very small number of the Nagra III’s.  At one point there were a few Sony ones selling on Ebay, all within a few months but I heaven’t seen any for sale in some time now.  When I first saw the Sony ones I thought someone was doing it as a joke, then I saw some more and then some Telefunken ones  and realized maybe they did make them for other Tape recorder manufactures.
 
I do not know the story behind it. It’s so strange (for Nagra and for Sony to do it) I could only guess what the reason could be, maybe to satisfy a long term Sony customer that wanted a Nagra?
 

Q3cNnj8.jpg

 
 
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I would have thought that the Kudelski archives could throw some light on the mystery.

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