JBond

Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

537 posts in this topic

I guess you have some nightmare DAT stories to tell. Please don't throw away a Stelladat. It's a beautiful and historic machine to a collector . A Dead Stelladat would probably  bring a grand or more on ebay, who knows they never come up.I guess everyone threw them away. 

After the sledge hammer, slightly less. :-[

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Even the screws, [JBOND]

 

It isn't only that the screws were metric. Nagra made it's own screws using a proprietary pitch. I don't know when the practice started, whether the Nagra II had custom screws or if the practice started with the Nagra III or the Nagra IV. I also don't know if it was done to maintain strict control over the quality or if it was to discourage competitors from making components to fit the Nagra. Or, maybe both.

 

I doubt that the screw particulars were patented but just being different would discourage most people from making a product to fit.

 

I'm pretty sure they no longer follow that practice. The large machine shop with dozens of machinists is now gone.

 

David

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Even the screws, [JBOND]

 

It isn't only that the screws were metric. Nagra made it's own screws using a proprietary pitch. I don't know when the practice started, whether the Nagra II had custom screws or if the practice started with the Nagra III or the Nagra IV. I also don't know if it was done to maintain strict control over the quality or if it was to discourage competitors from making components to fit the Nagra. Or, maybe both.

 

I doubt that the screw particulars were patented but just being different would discourage most people from making a product to fit.

 

I'm pretty sure they no longer follow that practice. The large machine shop with dozens of machinists is now gone.

 

David

 

Its nice to have extra screws to replace any biffed up ones, makes a used machine look good.

 

Can’t believe no one pointed this out to me.  I just found and read a very complete history you did in the 695 quarterly about Stefan Kudeiski. 

Here I’m looking for Nagra III history copying and translating some Polish web site in broken english about the Nagra III and all the time it was right here in front of me in the 695 quarterly….and you guys let me go on and on about it.

Very nice job Scott Smith and very complete.

 

David I copied your pictures and never looked where they came from. I guess I have to start paying  attention. 

 

    By the way I did get that 1958 Nagra III #58 out of 240 made that year. Info right out of the 695 quarterly . Once I clean it up I'll post some pictures.  Came Monday from the Netherlands.

 

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My Nagra:

 

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Story: It was owned by Jose Ferrer and Armin Steiner when they had a "garage studio" in Hollywood.

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001207/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0825897/

Very very nice Mike, I missed the boat a couple of times to get one of those years ago.

I'll probably never be able to get one now.

Where do you keep it? How do you display it? Hidden or out for display?  If you ever get sick of it.

Mike, a little known fact, the first Nagra III's used the same paint and color as your Nagra IIC

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Some very interesting rebroadcasts of french audio and video pieces on Stefan were posted on swiss and french websites after his death, which offered very interesting things about Stefan and the early days of the company.  One documentary from the early 90's interviewed some of his early collaborators when they were just working out of a house.

 

One thing I recall Stefan saying in a late interview, only a year or so before he died.  In it he said something like (going from memory here) "as a refugee, you always go through life with a bit of a hung-dog expression, and have to learn to swallow your pride and it sometimes lends you a certain arrogance perhaps".  I think he was reflecting on his life, having had to leave Poland because of the war, resettling in Switzerland, starting over, trying to make a life for himself and his family.

 

I find it sad that his company have not published a proper biography of Stefan.  I was told that Roland Schellin, who wrote the book on the history of Stellavox, has had a book on Kudelski-Nagra ready but the company won't allow him to publish it for some reason...  The early years of the Nagras would be very interesting to know in detail, but sadly most of the people involved directly are now gone, and I'm not sure that much of that corporate knowledge still remains in the "mother ship"...

 

I have a lot of respect for Stefan, and am happy to also own one of his early Nagras (a IICi, which I bought last year from someone in Rome who was given it by his old uncle, an italian reporter).  I also own a III (the iconic Nagra) and some of the IV's.  Bit of a shrine I suppose...  And they all work!  (except for the IICi, I haven't gotten around to checking the electronics yet, though the mechanical transport works perfectly).

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post-7331-0-29449500-1423711627_thumb.jp

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Nice rack, your very lucky to have the 2c. I would have thought you had a Nagra I from your picture.

Nice collection,simple,clean,neatly done and all Nagra. I like it. Is it in you rec room, living room etc.

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I had these recorders sitting inside cupboards in my little "studio" downstairs, until one day I realized they were some of my most prized possessions so I bought the glass shelf unit at Ikea and now have them proudly on display in my living room-dining room.  Visitors get a kick out of looking at them, and don't have a clue...  On top of the shelving unit is a framed photo of young Stefan standing proudly in his lab, with one hand on his prized creation, the Nagra III.

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I had these recorders sitting inside cupboards in my little "studio" downstairs, until one day I realized they were some of my most prized possessions so I bought the glass shelf unit at Ikea and proudly have them in my living room-dining room.  Visitors get a kick out of looking at them, and don't have a clue...  On top of the shelving unit is a framed photo of young Stefan standing proudly in his lab, with one hand on his prized creation, the Nagra III.

Is the picture a Nagra III with pilot?

Never in any Nagra company pictures that I have seen, is the first Nagra III.

On their web sites it always says in the caption Nagra III 1958 but shows a

1962 or later Nagra III in the picture.

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Here's the picture of Stefan that I framed, from the NY Times obit.  Yeah, looks like a later version with pilot.

 

In one of those french interviews, Stefan said that the Nagra I's and II's were built in more of an "artisan" manner (in part, employing craftsmen of swiss watch-making background, left job-less in the aftermath of WWII).  Only when the II's showed themselves to be popular, garnering interest in radio, journalistic and scientific circles, did he realize the time had come to come up with a solid and more professional design, and a larger manufacturing capacity -- that's when they came up with the III.  Stefan designed the electronics and left the mechanical components design to others.  He said that because at the time the company had no distribution or dealer support around the world, they had to design the machine to be extremely reliable and able to function in almost any condition, because there would be no possibility of getting it repaired "out in the boonies".  He jokingly said that they built it "too well, too reliable", so that owners basically could use them almost forever.

 

Of course, it's a well-known fact that he originally designed his first recorder as an experiment with the idea of coming up with some tape-based control mechanism for machine shop equipment.  Only when little interest was shown in his idea, did he decide to adapt it for recording sound.  

 

I was in Paris last year, standing in the square in front of Notre-Dame-de-Paris cathedral, as the chimes struck noon.  I recorded the moment using my pocket Canon camera and thought of Stefan, up there in the bell-tower, recording the sound on his first Nagra, which won him the prize for a recording competition that year.  It set him on his way.

 

post-7331-0-81253400-1423749612_thumb.jp

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I think Nagra considers the Nagra III pilot model their prized, finished, evolved creation. Because that is when it took off in sales. I'll bet they didn't keep a 1958 that is why you never see them with one in any pictures.

I also think 1958 was an on going experimental year for the Nagra III and the 240 units they made. Since in the first 58 units anyway there were a number of changes.

I have no idea what happened in 1959 as I never saw a 1959 Nagra III

I have pictures of the serial number for every model "year" except 1959.

Not sure but there might be a 69 Nagra III also

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and all the time it was right here in front of me in the 695 quarterly…

[JBOND]

 

Glad to see our articles are being read and appreciated.

 

Since Scott drafted that profile of Stefan Kudelski, there have been some changes in the corporate structure at Nagra. The business of making audio equipment was spun off from Kudelski SA. The Kudelski company continues to make video decoder boxes while the new company, Audio Technology Switzerland, makes the recorders. Principals in the new company are Pascal Mauroux, Stefan Kudelski's son-in-law, and Margarite Kudelski, his daughter. Andre Kudelski continues as head of Kudelski SA. Prior to assuming responsibilities for continuing the line of Nagra recorders, Pascal Mauroux was involved in the development of the Nespresso line for Nestle.

 

Government contracts have been a large part of the Nagra's business almost from the very beginning. United Technology Switzerland now handles the security business and, presumably, the government contracts as well but that information is closely held by the companies.

 

David

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I'm just glad they didn't sell the Nagra name to a foreign company who would exploit it for crap like cheap headphones etc..

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1958 Nagra III one of the first 58 hand made Nagra III’s .

Number 58 out of 240 with a factory installed external on/ off switch. It has the same paint as a Nagra II and many differences from the Nagra III we have known.

 

I condensed my display case over the weekend in anticipation of its arrival to make room for another shelf. No recorders were harmed or displaced in the adjustment. Now I also have room for that Harvey time code mod unit, someday.

It came in Monday Fedex from the Netherlands. I cleaned it up a little which I do with all my recorders. The condition is better than I thought.

 

Here are six pictures, tomorrow I will show you what is different on this machine and make it very clear to you Nagra was experimenting in these early units in 1958

You always see Nagra II's and some Nagra I's but you never see the first Nagra III's There is a difference.

 

Here is a Nagra III in Nagra II's paint.

Not sure when they switched to gray hammer tone paint. Could be #60 for all I know. Hopefully someone knows and can chime in. But it was close because the heads are that color.

But I know for a fact the first 58 units were Nagra II wrinkle paint.

 

 

 

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This is a great thread. Thanks very much guys. Interesting to note that in the side view in the last set of pictures, there is a screw on cap with a chain that looks like the battery door cap on sounddevices units. The control knobs look like the Cantar pots too. Fine industrial design details that have been copied many times over the years.

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"So old friends meet again"

 by sheer luck, after being separated a world apart, go figure....

 

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Jeff the DH is a nice one. I was very lucky to get it in this condition, usually these are all beat up from use. In fact everything Nagra III seems to be beat up from use, no feet on the bottom didn’t help as this Nagra III shows

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The DH was in a shop in Amsterdam, I was told it was never sold.

And I believed him.

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Now i'm curious! Witch shop in Amsterdam? I'll jump on my bike right away.

I stepped into the game at the end of the DAT period. We have allot of luxury with the digital recorders these days. Respect to the old school mixers out there.

Today many times a mix isn't wanted anymore..... Just deliver all 12 ISO's that's fine ;-)

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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"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."
"Capi Lux Vak, former distributor for Nagra in Amsterdam"
"I have no history on the machine from 1958 to 1985"

That would be a long bike ride since both units are now in the U S and that was 25 years ago.
If you know, Please don’t say any names, I would like to keep his identity private.
Thanks

Also, The speaker was not that clean when I got it. A little polishing compound, Windex and Pledge spray wax does wonders, none is strong enough to hurt a finish. ::)

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Of course the US government throws them out. Bought with someone elses money, probably most were unused.  I bet Glen Trew could of just cried seeing that. They certainly didn't throw them out because they didn't work. They probably bought a shit load of new DAT's to replace them.

 

I know a similar story where Panasonic had to take a bulldozer to about $25 million' worth of 1980s VTRs. They wrote off all the MII machines (a pro format based around VHS), but the accountants said that legally, in order for them to take the tax write-off, once the machines were dumped into a landfill, a bulldozer had to grind them to bits before he was willing to sign the paperwork. I think half of these were brand-new, too.

 

 

Actually, a tons of Nagras were unceremoniously tossed in the trash. Glen Trew tells of seeing pallets, bins full of them in a Naval shipyard. When he inquired, he was told they were strictly off limits, as they were heading for the shredder. I have an IS that was recovered from a dumpster in Hilversum. 

 
Doh, I would be especially horrified to see dozens of dozens of Nagra SN's being destroyed. I bet the government had a ton of those that were previously used for surveillance, and once they went digital, everything got chucked.

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Organizations do odd things in the name of Good Accounting.  Dan Alexander rescued big batches of tube Neumann mics and preamps from dumpsters when German broadcasters dumped them in favor of solid-state gear.  A friend of mine observed an Eclair ACL and two mags being crushed by a major American corporation to avoid the paperwork involved in selling it.  Another friend acquired a large name brand console from another big company for pocket change so they could avoid any sales paperwork.  I think that kind of folly is over now, re the big auctioneers...

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