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About dela

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    I have been working with film post production for 12 years; I am now primarily working with TV (on a danish national broadcaster, as well as being involved i film projects. I am quite fascinated by Nagra recorders and everything connected with them.
  • Interested in Sound for Picture

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  1. I hope that they are not trying to record anything on the second shot... The tape is threaded wrong, making the tape pass the erase head without contact...
  2. A few notes to Eric: During the last 7-8 years I have acquired quite a few Nagras of different types, and I am impressed how well (nearly) all of them has performed, even when in a battered/ugly state. They are very, very robust and also mechanically relatively simple; not like in "crude" or straightforward, rather like finely tuned and intuitively built. I have only two recorders (a III with a disintegrating idler wheel and a water damaged 4.2), that I have put on the shelf without starting repairing it. The rest are functioning well, I guess that they would have the heads adjusted to function optimally, but the overall impression is that Nagra recorders rarely fail or behave badly. The Nagra 4.2 is, like many other Nagras, built around a very robust case with all the critical tape path mounted on an even more robust steel plate. If that plate is deformed (I have never seen one be damaged...), avoid the recorder. Apart from that, don´t be overly concerned about dents, scratches, rubber gasket melting; it is all part of the daily use of the recorder, and not necessarily a sign of real damage. And a ugly Nagra will be way cheaper than a pristine one... One thing is especially great: I have never had to replace any degraded capacitors in a Nagra. On most other devices of similar age (even Studers and other high quality units) , a fair amount of the electrolytic capacitors will have dried up and need to be replaced. In the Nagras, which were designed to be compact and reliable, wet tantalum type capacitors where used; they were expensive but compact and had an extremely long life time. So don´t worry about recapping (except the 1000 uF capacitor in the ATN supplies. Most are dry by now, but it is cheap and easy to replace it). If I was to buy a Nagra for "proper" use, I would observe: 1) Buy from a trustworthy seller. Not easy to know beforehand, but the ad text and photos give you a clue. Some sellers are thorough but very expensive, but others have a good balance between price, value for money and a serious sales material. Just to name one, I have bought things from Jörg Geidies (joerg_geidies on eBay.de) in Germany; he is a collector, but also a great restorer, and he is absolutely trustworthy. 2) Check the heads (visually). Nagra heads are quite hard, but all heads will wear out eventually. Don´t consider replacing the heads, they are quite expensive in themselves. 3) Have the seller make a demo video, demonstrating play, wind, rewind, playback sound and the general state. Keep an eye out for whether tape tension seems OK. Check that all available speeds work. If just one speed is correct, it might be a faulty power/motor control board, and they are really irritating working on. If the pinch roller is a yellow/brown translucent type, it is normally quite fine; if it is black, have the seller confirm that it is not cracked or hardened. 4) If 1, 2 and 3 seems OK, ask for a recording test. If it sounds OK, it is obviously a good sign. If the head parameters need to be adjusted, it will primarily affect compatibility with other recorders, so if it sounds muffled on a recording made on the same machine, I would be a bit worried. 5) On the recording, listen for crosstalk from the servo system. It gives an app. 1 kHz tone, that shouldn´t be audible. If it is, think about finding another recorder unless you are very well versed in Nagra repair. Here in Denmark, one 4.2 is on sale: https://www.dba.dk/spolebaandoptager-nagra/id-1054463116/ I don´t know the seller, but the recorder in itself looks like a typical 4.2: A little scratched, but nothing really serious. And it seems to have phantom supply on at least one input (often this is not the case). If you should end up with a faulty 4.2, don´t despair. The service manuals are very thorough and the components are often not hard to find; they used good standard components, and most components were available for many years.
  3. If you want a quick tour through the history of the Nagra, here is a good place to start: https://medias.ircam.fr/x957613 It is in french; my french is not really great, but still I managed to get the main points (obviously it helped, that I knew most of it before seeing it...). But the speakers french is clearly articulated, and some slides are in english, so it should be possible to get the grasp even with a basic knowledge of the language. A funny detail is that she actually refers to this thread a source in her research... I can also recommend the documentary "The Camera That Changed the World"; here there is also a description of the paralllel development of the hand held camera. Without the Nagra, there wouldn't´t be much point in such a camera... And it is in english...
  4. Stefan Kudelski was indeed a man of many talents... A facet, that I have not been aware of until very recently, was his musical interests. Within the Kudelski company his role was primarily developement of equipment for recording sound, but he was also in contact with the french music theoreticist Alain Daniélou, who wanted to have a musical instrument built especially for performing music following his theories. Stefan Kudelski "outsourced" the project to his son André Kudelski (now CEO of Kudelski SA) and Claude Cellier, who then worked for Kudelski (he later formed the company Merging Technologies). They built the instrument S52; it didn't´ evolve past the prototype, but it became the foundation for the later instruments/software dedicated to Daniélous music (which, I admit, is not for everyones taste...). But still a fascinating story... As a side note, if the name Cellier rings a bell, Claude Cellier is the son of the late ethnomusicologist Marcel Cellier, who was indirectly responsible for the IV-S, as he asked Stefan Kudelski for a stereo version of the Nagra for recording music. He later used that for recording f.ex. the fabulous bulgarian musicians of Le Mystere de Voix Bulgare. And Georghe Zamfir (you can´t get it right every time...). For the (very) patient reader, a more complete description of the theory of Alain Daniélou (and the instruments) is here: https://www.semantic-danielou.com And sorry about the slight excursion away from the Nagra recorders...
  5. The "amongst others" was just not to be too categorical about where the gold reels were used; they might be used elsewhere too.. Regarding the test tapes, the reels for them were engraved with the content ("Azimuth", "Speed" etc). I have my eyes set on a SN test tape kit, but unfortunately the seller is reluctant to name a price. But I know where it is, and I don't think that it will disappear anytime soon... I have got quite a few reels of SN tape, but unfortunately some of the tape stock is in really bad condition. Other tapes are fine, and I am amazed about the sound quality. The recordings from app. 1980 sound brand new and in pristine quality, only the content gives away the age.
  6. The gold anodized reels were a.o. used in the set of adjustment tapes, that were made for the SN series...
  7. szexypapucs: If you look at page 24 in this thread, you can see a description of the 4.2 IRT, as well as some photos of the exterior and interior. It is not fitted with the IRT TC board; it seems that the quite specialised TC board could be exchanged with a "normal" crystal sync board when it was used without external sync. On the IRT a special carrier board was installed, so that it was easy to exchange the boards. I would like to find (or just see) the IRT TC board...
  8. Here is a short description of the history of SQN; I couldn't figure out how to access it from the home page on their web site, but Google helped me: http://www.sqn.co.uk/history1.html And you are absolutely right about the interior of the SQN mixers: Every little bit of space is used...
  9. When I got into the broadcast business many years ago (though perhaps not as many as some of you...), I soon encountered the golden standard of broadcast mixers: The SQN series. I don't know how widely used they were in USA, but here in Europe everybody used them. They were small, good sounding and very, very robust and easy to use. A couple of years ago I was helping clearing out a storage, and there I got a SQN-3 mixer, and I was happy to get a little piece of broadcast history. At that point I had started collecting Nagra recorders, and I was immediately intrigued, when I found out that the SQN-3 was originally built as a mixer front end for the Nagra SN, and I started looking out for one. But I did not see any, until a month ago, when there was an auction at a british rental house, and suddenly it was there: A SQN-3 C in a Portabrace bag. No mention of Nagra, so I gather that it went under the radar of other collectors, but I fell in love with it, made a bid on it, won it and, after a great deal of work, got it shipped to Denmark... So here it is: The "original" SQN-3 C mixer, complete with the special "plug box", which a.o. contained a 10 Hz quartz reference. The background for it is, that when the Nagra SN was introduced, it was much awaited, but it turned out that the automatic gain control on the input made it unsuitable for proper film work. A bit later the SMR preamplifier came on the market, but it was rather limited in use. At that point BBC started looking for a way to make a mixer solution for documentary work, so that the SN could be used like its larger siblings, just with a much smaller weight. SQN (Sine Qua Non) had made a couple of other Nagra related devices, so they were commissioned to build a small mixer that could serve as a front end and control unit for a SN, complete with power supply and quartz controlled pilot reference. SQN came up with the SQN-3 C (C for "Control unit"), and the result was quite good. Actually so good, that they began producing a stand-alone mixer for general use (the SQN-3 M), and the rest is history. As you can see from the photos, it is a really handy little unit, and the SN is kept in a vice-like grip by the clamps, so there is no wiggling and shaking when the SN is attached. It is a very simple solution, but it was so elegantly and robustly built and designed, that it looks like they were made to be used together, and I find it quite amazing that in 1980 it was possible to make a mixer/recorder of just about the same size as two Sound Devices units stacked... And how does it sound? Well, I am looking forward to hear it, once that I get it fixed... It was working (without SN) for app. 5 min, after that the mixer became hot, the batteries drained and I switched it off. It seems that the power supply is shorted somewhere, and once I get the schematics I will start looking into it. Or be lazy and simply replace the board with a functioning board from a donor SQN-3; fortunately the upper boards (which contain the power supply) are similar enough to be altered to fit in both types. As it goes in Game of Thrones: Winter is coming, but in stead of hunting White Walkers, I will spend time chasing the fault, which is probably going to be exciting in itself. I really like the SQN-3 C, both as an amalgamation of two brilliantly designed units, and for it history. As the label on the back of the plug box indicates, it is literally from "The Old School"...
  10. You managed to squeeze in a VPR-5? I would love to have one, but the only one I have been able to track down, is with a seller, who is almost impossible to get an answer from...
  11. Once in a while you come across a recorder that you just have to love. The Nagra ISS is one of them, and this week I have been lucky enough to have had one in for a brush up. It has been standing on a shelf for many years, and it had some serious problems, mostly due to corroded switches and connectors. And a rotted pinch roller... The photos show it before cleanup, but even in this dusty state, it is still a fine little thing. As you can see, I got it with a SN tape threaded, complet with the same amount of dust as the rest of the recorder. After having had a bit of care (and an improvised pinch roller) it now runs smoothly, and the shuttle function is nothing short of brilliant; total control and smooth acceleration/deceleration. The capstan motor is a bit noisy, but apart from that, everything is OK. It was great finally to be able to hear the tape, and I was amazed by the sound quality of a 1/8" tape. It sounded like it was recorded yesterday, and the sound was clear and without noise. But it wasn´t recorded yesterday; judging after the content (an anti-nuclear power demonstartion) it was recorded app. 1978-1980! I wonder if any DAT recordings can be played back in 40 years...
  12. dela

    New to Nagra!!

    The pilot indicator will show if a pilot signal is present on the recording being played. If there is no pilot signal (which there isn´t, if you didn´t input a pilot signal...). it will not be activated. But it shouldn´t be a problem; you have absolutely no need for recording a pilot signal. It is only needed if you have a (very old) film camera connected.
  13. dela

    New to Nagra!!

    It seems to be in a pretty good shape; it will be hard to find a 55 years old piece of equipment that is in mint condition. But the scratches are part of the history... If you are used to seeing "normal" recorders, you will notice that one thing is missing: The flywheel, that normally is necessary for keeping the speed constant and avoid flutter. In the Nagras there is no flywheel, instead Kudelski went all in, and used a powerful DC motor that was electronically controlled by a light weight tacho disc and a sophisticated electronic control system. By keeping the rotating system very light, he avoided having the normal gyro-effect of the heavy flywheel, and that ensured that the Nagra was almost completely insensitive to movement in any direction when recording. You could walk, you could run, you could bump it around, all without variations of speed, and that was essential if you wanted to record on the move. The Nagra IV/4.2 systems were more advanced, but they were in many ways evolutions of the Nagra III, which was a truly revolutionary recorder...
  14. dela

    New to Nagra!!

    I have tried to find a photo or a schematic for a banana plug->RCA adapter, but unfortunately I could´t find any. Probably because it is quite simple... The closest I can get is to google "XLR RCA adapter schematic" and then show images. The line out/in banana plugs correspond to pin 2 and 3 on the XLR (in no particular order). I have 5 Nagra III´s but I must admit that they are not really being used for other than just testing. I like the III as it is an iconic and historically important machine, but my inner technician is more turned on by the newer recorders (especially the IS, SN and D). But I still collect/hoard any type... I have just noticed that I have accidentally posted a pair of exposed female nipples on the image of the table arranged Nagras. Sorry about that; the poster in the background actually belongs to my wife. But I guess that it is a first on this forum. I have attached an image of 3 swiss digital recorders, just to show that digital recorders can also be quite nice, even in a retro/vintage context...
  15. dela

    New to Nagra!!

    Here is a new(ish) image of my Nagra shelf and the Nagras a bit more on display; unfortunately I don´t have room for having them on a fixed display. But at least they are constantly visible and easy to get to... Once in a while they are out working too. In the shown setup you can actually see three generations of recorders working together.
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