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JBond

Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

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I found the Stellavox Operators Manual. It's really a very sparse document. In fact, the introduction page advises that users are expected to utilize the help menu more than the printed directions. I've scanned two pages, more or less at random, to give a taste of the document. The directions do not contain a block diagram, circuit drawings or anything of the sort.

In fairness, one should acknowledge that when Jacques Sax took over building the recorder, he did remedy most (maybe all) of the problems that beset the original roll-out. The excessive power draw and associated heat were reduced to reasonable levels. But, it was too little too late and most sound professionals had already moved to HHB and Fostex recorders.

David

Stelladat Manual excerpts.pdf

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MarkC   

Hi Dearest Friends from OZ,

Is there an audible difference between the NAGRA IV-S stereo and X4S to record music?

Regards

Mark

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dela   

I would guess not, as the audio path is the same in both models. The only (very hypothetical) problem could be crosstalk from the TC system, but that will be easy to detect just by listening.

Be aware that there could be quality differences between unmodified IV-S recorders, they were delivered with heads for either 2 mm track width (for pilot/TC models) or 2,75 mm track width (for non-pilot machines). The larger track width gives a slightly better S/N ratio, so if you compare a wide track IV-S with the X4S, the IV-S will be a bit better. But, to make things even more complicated, non-pilot recorders were sometimes fitted with narrow track heads, so that there was compatibility between pilot and non-pilot machines...

So, to quote Beastie Boys: Check your head.

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MarkC   
29 minutes ago, dela said:

I would guess not, as the audio path is the same in both models. The only (very hypothetical) problem could be crosstalk from the TC system, but that will be easy to detect just by listening.

Be aware that there could be quality differences between unmodified IV-S recorders, they were delivered with heads for either 2 mm track width (for pilot/TC models) or 2,75 mm track width (for non-pilot machines). The larger track width gives a slightly better S/N ratio, so if you compare a wide track IV-S with the X4S, the IV-S will be a bit better. But, to make things even more complicated, non-pilot recorders were sometimes fitted with narrow track heads, so that there was compatibility between pilot and non-pilot machines...

So, to quote Beastie Boys: Check your head.

Thanks Dela so a 0.75mm difference in head width is the difference. What do the 2mm and 2.75mm look like? Can somebody share photos please?

Peace

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"Is there an audible difference between the NAGRA IV-S stereo and X4S to record music?"

I'm a little puzzled by the question. As I understand it (and maybe I'm mistaken about the terminology), we use the letters "X4S" to designate a Harvey-mod time code Nagra. To get a Harvey-mod machine, one started with a Nagra IV-S and installed the Harvey-mod components which were available as a kit. So, an X4S is a Nagra IV-S at heart. 

The other matter of people doing additional modifications and swapping out heads leads one into a rabbit-warren of possibilities but good to be aware of potential variations. 

David

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Harvey required one's Nagra to be in excellent shape overall, esp heads and transpo, before he'd mod your machine with his gear.  He didn't do that sort of work himself.  I never hear of anyone Harvey-izing anything but what we called the Nagra IV-SL, the standard CTTC pilotone version.   Harvey did nothing at all with the audio electronics besides swap out the factory speaker for one  small enough to work with his side panel.

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12 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

 If Stella really did make their machine in a way that would have allowed some other sort of later-tech post-DAT record transport to be swapped in when one became available, then it's really too bad that never happened.... 

Fascinating in fact. I wonder if it's indeed possible (?easy?) to retrofit ... Apart from the transport, were there other regular failings? How was the ADC feed to the heads carried about? Ahh speculation!

Jez

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dela   

A bit of mixed comments (after all there are quite a few differents subjects here...):

I have enclosed a couple of photos of resp. wide- and narrow track heads. They show a wide track recording head and a narrow track playback head (with space for a pilot track in the middle of the tape. My apologies for the awful pedicure on the pictures...

Just for illustrating the somewhat strange choices of the Stelladat, I have also enclosed a couple of photos of the inside of the Stelladat. From the bottom view photo of the base board it is obvious that Sonosax had no second thoughts about selling a near-prototype device. It shows that the company simply didn´t have the resources for designing a product that advanced, and when they tried, they couldn´t afford to scrap obsolete versions; they chose to add a multitude of corrections in stead. If you wanted to control the recorder using the AUX-connector? Too bad, it isn´t connected to anything on the inside. And the list of strangeness is long...

But I still like it; despite (or because of) its shortcomings it is a wonderful transitional device, and as a stand alone DA converter it sounds really good. If I had two of them, I wouldn ´t hesitate to send one of them to live i JBonds great collection, but I have grown quite fond of it, and I hope one day to succeed in fixing it one day. I generally collect Nagras, but some recorders are too exquisite to not own. The same goes for the Mandozzi DART-2 recorder, also a little swiss masterpiece. Only 32 kHz sample rate, but with at fantastic build quality and, despite the low sample rate, a great sound. It´s also swiss, so at least there is a swiss theme.

And David: If you ever get to scan the Stelladat manual, I would love to see it.

 

 

IMG_0114.JPG

IMG_0115.JPG

IMG_0118.JPG

IMG_0123.JPG

narrowpbhead.jpg

widerechead.jpg

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1 hour ago, dela said:

And David: If you ever get to scan the Stelladat manual, I would love to see it.

I would be happy to scan the booklet for you. It's not that big- only 22 pages, 25 if the cover and list of authorized service centers are included. But it will make a fairly large file that I would hesitate to post here. PM me with an email address that might handle a file of about 7 - 10 MB.

David

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This company is owned by ALL German goverment Broadcast companies. In germany the goverment owned Broadcaster are members of  ARD. (ARD means group of broadcaster.)

I just wanted to correct this statement a tiny bit, and I know this is totally irrelevant to this thread and maybe considered picky-ish and it's probably just a translation thing anyway, but it is important especially in this day and age:
In Germany the ARD and it's local TV and radio stations are not government owned. Just like the BBC and others these are public stations, paid for by the people. The very raison d'etre for these broadcasters (originally) was to be free from government influence - particularly important in Germany.

Sorry for the interruption and now back to this excellent thread

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I had a Stelladat..  Never left me in a real crisis but it did inspire confidence either..   They had a sort of confidence monitoring that gave you a heads up when things were going south.   I was way more cavalier then..  great preamps/ converters.   Had a lot of NP-1s and ran two at a time.   

Bill Drucklieb worked on them and other machines.  Not sure what happened since the demise of DAT.  

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MarkC   

Apologies for shifting the direction of conversation abruptly, but I would was hoping to receive some information about how well the Stellavox AMI48 mixer has worked with the Nagra IV-S for the Sound-men. Any preferences for connectors? Banana plugs vs Tuchel, things to look out for?

Cheers

Mark

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JBond   

I have an extra 1967 Nagra III and a bunch of Nagra III accessories that won't fit in my case.   I would like to get a small roll around sound cart from the early 70's to add to my collection.  My idea is to set it all up as it would be in actual use. The recorder, mixer, pads, pencils anything that would be utilized on a movie set back in the late 60's early 70's using a Nagra III. 
 I know the Nagra IV or 4.2 was out then, but I have the Nagra III equipment already. Everything but the cables. I have to get all the cables etc.; It has to look like its all ready to go. 
I have both the Sennheiser MKH 815T and MKH 805 also.  
I want the set up to be a snapshot in time of how it was in use.
I think it would be a nice addition to my collection. 
I wish I never sold my Sela mixer, but I plan to use a Nagra BM mixer to keep it all Nagra.  What do you think?  
Maybe the things I have are not what was used on the cart. I don't know. 
Does anybody have any vintage pictures they can post of sound carts from the Nagra days? So maybe I can get some ideas? It can have any Nagra in the picture.  I just want to see what it looked like back then. 
Today's carts are all lit up and computerized. 
 

 

 

OWKsunl.jpg

 

 

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Well, the SLO and SLP wouldn't have been on most carts in 1967--as you know they were transfer-house tools except in a few few circumstances (I actually DID use my SLP with a Nagra III quite a bit on location in the 1980s...) .  The speaker unit might have been around too, but it would have been deployed probably closer to the talent for playback, maybe not on the cart.  The Nagra BM mixer would be cool to show w/ the Nagra III (although, yes, an early Sela, like the model Harry Caul has in "The Conversation" would be cooler).   The BMs were often used by soundies who only needed more inputs occasionally,  people doing bigger shows might have had Perfectone mixers (sometimes more than one at once), or bespoke units they made themselves if not Sela.   Some early wirelesses would be nice to have (early Vega for instance), and the mixer might have been using ear-mold style "earwigs" instead of over-ear headphones.  A Sennheiser KAT15 (the early version) might be on hand to convert the line input to a 2nd mic input.  The cables you could make yourself--if you want to be authentic then some brown-rubber jacket mic cables with cloth insulation inside might be appropriate.  In those days most XLRs (that I saw) were Cannon types (not Switchcraft).

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MBM   

#635  Constantin,

 

Hi Constantin, you are right, my statement "ARD-group as goverment owned" was not correct translated.
What I meant was the the ARD is not a group of private broadcasters, but paid by the germain goverment tax (GEZ).

(To be independent of private business limits)

 

As you are in located in cologne I guess you are working for a company that is related to media/ broadcast.

Let me know which one.  Because my customer at cologne were RTL, CBC, Qvest,but not WDR.

 

I am still searching for an NAGRA IS.

 

MBM

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dela   

MBM: Right now there is a Radio Denmark Nagra IS for sale here in Copenhagen:

 

http://www.dba.dk/baandoptager-nagra-is-tran/id-1029164654/

 

My experience with dba. dk is that it is normally pretty safe (it is owned by eBay). Radio Denmark (DR) machines are usually quite well maintained; I have not seen any major faults on any of my DR IS recorders, apart from one with a rumbling capstan bearing...

 

If you want a couple of "local eyes" on the recorder before buying, I could try to set up a meeting with the seller (who I know nothing about, so I will only be able to vouch for the recorder itself...)

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JBond   

Thanks Phillip for your input.

That's a good idea,  I could just make the cables I didn't think of that.  I guess I really don't have too many items that will go on the cart after all. Must have been bare bones carts back then compared to today.  

Finding some old photos here on Jwsound, from what I see I don't think carts were invented yet.  At least they didn't have wheels on them. But they sure were mobile. 

 

 

 

 

 

7HFlWVz.jpg

 

koVxZC2.jpg

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No--these guys had carts even then: I've seen photos of these guys with their carts (Jeff might have some on his personal site--that's him in the lower pic, and Crew Chamberlain in the upper)-in these shots they are working more portable to get that particular scene.  These pix are also from after the era of the Nagra III as a front-line recorder: they are both using either IV-L or 4.2 machines.  At the time these pix were taken these folks were the "new generation", using new methods etc.  By this time the Nagra III was being used by newbs who bought them used (like me) or by older mixers who were doing simple jobs and didn't see the need to upgrade.  I used a BMII with both Nagra III and 4.2 at various times.   The carts in use were often similar to the pic I attached: a folding AV cart with 2 laminated shelves and small solid wheels.  Many of us had home-made carts based on hand-trucks (with added shelves etc), not so different than what people make today except much heavier and more awkward.  We all oo'ed and ahh'ed when Agamemnon A brought a very cool folding cart back from a job in the UK around this time that fit his Sela+Nagra rig quite elegantly--it was way more advanced than what most of use were using. 

 

av.jpg

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On 4.8.2017 at 10:46 AM, MBM said:

As you are in located in cologne I guess you are working for a company that is related to media/ broadcast.

Let me know which one.  

 

I don't work directly at or for any TV station. Instead I am hired by a production company which in turn was hired by a TV station. I think thereby I have indirectly worked for most larger networks here, but I'm not too sure. 

I'm sure it's like that for most of us here. 

I think that's how it works for most of us here, although I do know some ENG people who are directly employed by the WDR. 

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Here are some pictures of my IS Nagra, with its cover.

I used this Nagra as my main  & my backup machine for many years. A bit like how I felt on the day.

It never gave me any trouble.

I bought it second hand and it had already had a working life, probably just ran it in.

It did not come with a cover so after a bit of deliberation I took it to a local canvas sewer. She worked out this simple solution.

Rachel, this might give you some ideas.

In those days I guess we were never loaded up that much with extra equipment, particularly in my main field of documentary.

So the cover usually carried my small slate, a pen & notepad (for sound sheets). It could also carry 2 radio mic receivers, which was max

that I used then.

1 IS_rear cover.jpg

5 IS_open with cover.jpg

3 IS_above with cover.jpg

4 IS_front cover.jpg

2 IS_rear flap.jpg

6 IS_input side cover.jpg

7 IS_output side cover.jpg

8 IS_top-front open.jpg

9 IS_top open.jpg

10 IS_side strap.jpg

11 IS_sliding record lock.jpg

12 IS_filter.jpg

13 IS_lever to unlock XLR connectors.jpg

14 - My Sound cuphboard.jpg

Hanging about with my IS Nagra

15 hanging about with my IS.jpg

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While I am at it here is an add for the "electronic" slate I used a lot then. It flashed the number and a light above the number and fed a burst of corresponding tone to the Nagra (or it activated the Nagra tone) simultaneously. Pity I threw it out!!!

I also often used a single hand slate, particularly in remote unfriendly environments.

DSee3.jpg

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23 hours ago, Philip Perkins said:

No--these guys had carts even then: I've seen photos of these guys with their carts (Jeff might have some on his personal site--that's him in the lower pic, and Crew Chamberlain in the upper)-in these shots they are working more portable to get that particular scene.  These pix are also from after the era of the Nagra III as a front-line recorder: they are both using either IV-L or 4.2 machines.  At the time these pix were taken these folks were the "new generation", using new methods etc.  By this time the Nagra III was being used by newbs who bought them used (like me) or by older mixers who were doing simple jobs and didn't see the need to upgrade.  I used a BMII with both Nagra III and 4.2 at various times.   The carts in use were often similar to the pic I attached: a folding AV cart with 2 laminated shelves and small solid wheels.  Many of us had home-made carts based on hand-trucks (with added shelves etc), not so different than what people make today except much heavier and more awkward.  We all oo'ed and ahh'ed when Agamemnon A brought a very cool folding cart back from a job in the UK around this time that fit his Sela+Nagra rig quite elegantly--it was way more advanced than what most of use were using. 

 

av.jpg

It may come as a bit of a surprise but in the UK in the 60/70's there wasn't any such think as a cart per se. Most mixers used a fold up picnic table. It was quite a revelation when in the early 70's the Samuelson company brought out a folding stand that just held a Nagra plus a small mixer. It still had to be carried as it wasn't fitted with castors or wheels. The first real cart was made by Stuart Ebbs a close friend of Simon Bishop. His company was the Ursta Engineering Company and was the only company making carts for the film industry.

When Stuart semi retired we took over the manufacture of his cart and until Mathew Bacon started  manufacture of his range of carts. We had the UK monopoly on carts and have made nearly 200 to date. A couple have managed to find their was across the pond.

Stuart and Simon are collaborating on some very interesting cart projects photos of which appear here from time to time.

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I'll have to ask Ag who made his old "tea cart".  I know it was from the UK (in the '70s), it expanded/collapsed up and down and had a canvas bag made for it.  It was exactly fitted to a Sela+Nagra combo with a little shelf below for etc..  Would that have been the Samuelson cart?  Carts in the USA then were a little unusual then too--Jeff et al were kind of out ahead of most.  Some Hollywood stages had the big "sound chariots", otherwise the Nagra (sans any accessories usually) sat on an apple box.  

13 hours ago, Rob Stalder said:

While I am at it here is an add for the "electronic" slate I used a lot then. It flashed the number and a light above the number and fed a burst of corresponding tone to the Nagra (or it activated the Nagra tone) simultaneously. Pity I threw it out!!!

I also often used a single hand slate, particularly in remote unfriendly environments.

DSee3.jpg

This looks way higher tech and better made that what we had on the West Coast then--see below.  I still have this thing and it still works, but it required constant repair and was very much someone's "garage project".  That said I think ASC sold a lot of these back in the day... 

Booper.jpg

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