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Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell


JBond

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What every collector loves to see on eBay. A Nagra propped up and posing on course weathered concrete and stone.  Some scratches, but in no way affects the way it works?  I have seen mint ones handled the same way over the years.
 
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I’m glad he never got a hold of my Nagra, the seller placed mine on styrofoam from the original box to take the pictures. 
 
I should add, finding one in this condition is rare, there are no feet on a Nagra III, even though the hammer tone paint is tough, most units are scratched up on the bottom. Unless they stayed in the case.
 
 
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So.... how did people actually use the Nagra 1 well without a meter? Was it all by ear. Very cool thread for us youngsters who missed the good old days. Actually being able to think about sound as a part of the process as opposed to "wire everyone we aren't going to make a plan" - I long for those shows.

Oh I didn't realize this thread was 12 pages long. Apologies if my question has been answered.

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Sometimes it was just about all by ear. There was one mixer - can't remember its name - where the only indicator you had was when the limiter began to operate. Another mixer widely in use when I started was the Perfectone which had a tiny VU meter which really was not much use. I've just found a picture of one, here it is:

1960s Shepperton Studios Perfectone Portable Sound Mixer

But even now, when you are running around as a one man band waving the pole around, how often do you get a chance to peep down and check? Thank Heaven for limiters to save you when the unexpected happens!

Edited by Nick Flowers
Adding picture of Perfectone mixer
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If anyone in the UK is interested, there's a fairly clean Nagra 4.2 on ebay with a BIN of £499. (It's not mine and I have no knowledge of the seller.)

Ebay No. 321923287522

There's also a Nagra IV-D with a starting price of £150 and a BIN of £450 with no bids so far.  

Ebay No. 191740541237

Just FYI.

John

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Here’s a Telefunken from Germany at 1.06 US right now. On eBay.
It's one of the rare ones I was talking about, the black round panel is missing on the control knob, its the same on all of them. Looks pretty clean, except maybe the serial number.
I don’t own one, but I'm not interested in this one. 
 
 
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This is the first Microcassette recorder ever made in 1969. I was looking for one of these for years without luck. I was able to find one in Spain a few years back complete with the kit as you see it in this video someone made. It's clear in the video he has no idea how to use the microphone stand. 

Very rare and I'm glad I could finally have one in my collection. A historic recorder.  Olympus also was the one who invented the microcassette tape. Olympus went on to be the most successful microcassette recorder company with many models over the years.

What were you using in 1969?

 

Sj4y6MG.jpgAll 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.

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I was always astonished at the quality given by the Sony Pro Walkman (which recorded and played back Compact Cassettes). On one occasion we were shooting in a very rural village and had been using quite a big playback set up for the May Day dance sequence. During lunch it amused me to play through this system a cassette from the Walkman of the down Master Cutler train from Marylebone to Sheffield passing at about 70mph. It really was very good and caused many heads to pop out of windows, as the nearest railway was about 15 miles away.

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Sometimes it was just about all by ear. There was one mixer - can't remember its name - where the only indicator you had was when the limiter began to operate. Another mixer widely in use when I started was the Perfectone which had a tiny VU meter which really was not much use. I've just found a picture of one, here it is:

1960s Shepperton Studios Perfectone Portable Sound Mixer

But even now, when you are running around as a one man band waving the pole around, how often do you get a chance to peep down and check? Thank Heaven for limiters to save you when the unexpected happens!

AHHH!  The nightmare of Perfectone returns!  Do not put this thing in the same category as Nagra anything, any vintage.  A dreadful sounding piece of junk!  Good riddance!  Moving a mic from running through this to running through the Nagra's own pre was eye-opening to say the least!

p

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The Perfectone Mixer is just ever so slightly before my time, thankfully my first frame of reference was Nagra preamps. When I started working, there were many sound mixers still using this beast and I did have several opportunities to play with it and listen. Self-noise was like a bad case of tinnitus that never went away, even with everything closed, just having the unit powered up.

My father had Perfectone camera motors for his Eclairs, both 16mm NPR and 35mm CM-3s. They were Swiss made, very well constructed and I think quite reliable. 

Perfectone_motor.thumb.JPG.4977d1cf01633

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Yes, I agree, those Perfectone mixers were not ideal to say the least. They also had a wonderful little trick of when they were being transported abroad and subject to less than considerate handling, if you left any batteries in them the inertia or momentum of the batteries would break the tubes in which they were held. I found that out the hard way.

I was investigating the Perfectone 1/4" recorders (too much of a thread drift to include here and it would lower the tone of a Nagra area to include them, as Philip chides me) and I found this site.

http://www.vintagerecorders.co.uk/

This may be well known already to members of this thread, but it was new to me and its gallery includes some old friends.

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I was investigating the Perfectone 1/4" recorders (too much of a thread drift to include here and it would lower the tone of a Nagra area to include them, as Philip chides me) and I found this site.

http://www.vintagerecorders.co.uk/

This may be well known already to members of this thread, but it was new to me and its gallery includes some old friends.

Wonderful site! What an amazing collection! I'm going to have to spend some time going through all of those. It looks like almost every manufacturer is represented on the site.

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Wonderful site! What an amazing collection! I'm going to have to spend some time going through all of those. It looks like almost every manufacturer is represented on the site.

Well worth looking at his Wanted List too since it includes some very interesting manufacturers as well as models which are not represented in his actual collection.

I wonder Nick if you can find a collection of instrumentation data recorders and 'in situ' control room photos? Presently listening on Radio 4 Extra to a radio play of Thatcher's last days in power I am reminded that that week in 1990 I managed to sneak into a very fine such room with racks of spinning 120ips upright machines in a government building in Ulam Batar. I still haven't had the time to make my way through the BBC Tech pdfs you pointed me to but I'll thank you for them in this thread and encourage others here to have a look back through recent weeks on (I think) General Discussion for the link.

Best, Jez Adamson

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Was that in our embassy in Mongolia, Jez? I think we need to hear more about that story!

Meanwhile, you might find this link interesting:

http://www.orbem.co.uk/index.htm

I shot in the BBC's Monitoring Station at Caversham about five years ago where BBC foreign correspondents listen to the world's radio news - a fascinating place. 

To save others the trouble of trawling back, here is that BBC R&D site.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/publications

I have some very sad photos of what the old BBC section of Alexandra Palace looks like now - Quid tempora, quid mores!

 

Edited by Nick Flowers
Added a bit of drivel.
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On 11/22/2015 at 11:24 AM, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

Well worth looking at his Wanted List too since it includes some very interesting manufacturers as well as models which are not represented in his actual collection.

I wonder Nick if you can find a collection of instrumentation data recorders and 'in situ' control room photos? Presently listening on Radio 4 Extra to a radio play of Thatcher's last days in power I am reminded that that week in 1990 I managed to sneak into a very fine such room with racks of spinning 120ips upright machines in a government building in Ulam Batar. I still haven't had the time to make my way through the BBC Tech pdfs you pointed me to but I'll thank you for them in this thread and encourage others here to have a look back through recent weeks on (I think) General Discussion for the link.

Best, Jez Adamson

 
 
 
I’m surprised he is still looking for this Stuzzi, I understand why. Made in Austria, it’s the only four track recorder of its size, not that you can record all four tracks and play them all back at once. But you can record four separate tracks on one side of the tape.
The head moves up and down on the tape depending on selecting 1 2 3 or 4.
How would you keep track of where you recorded it?  Well, the tape counter is stamped on the tape. 085 on the tape will mean different recordings in 1 2 3 and 4   like 1-085 or 2-085 etc. Pretty cool.
 
Not that it's the kind of recorders you guys are into.

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h5JbwnE.jpgAll 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.

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The Perfectone Mixer is just ever so slightly before my time, thankfully my first frame of reference was Nagra preamps. When I started working, there were many sound mixers still using this beast and I did have several opportunities to play with it and listen. Self-noise was like a bad case of tinnitus that never went away, even with everything closed, just having the unit powered up.

My father had Perfectone camera motors for his Eclairs, both 16mm NPR and 35mm CM-3s. They were Swiss made, very well constructed and I think quite reliable. 

Perfectone_motor.thumb.JPG.4977d1cf01633

The Perfectone mixers were still in rental in the little backwater SF was movie-wise when I started…Cine Rent West/Snazelle had them.  I was warned about them, took them out anyhow, and immediately defected back to Shure M67s.  Just as noisy but bulletproof and with much better headroom.  For film shoots the 2 pres I could get via the one built -in to my III plus the outboard Sennheiser accessory thankfully covered most of what I needed then, and when I added a BMII I thought I was pretty big-time!  

The Perfectone motors for the Eclair NPR (pictured) were around for a lot longer than the mixers, but we started having issues with them when they got long in the tooth, to the point of always taking two motors on location.  When we worked in remote places like Alaska we'd have 3 along...

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On 11/22/2015 at 5:09 PM, Philip Perkins said:

The Perfectone mixers were still in rental in the little backwater SF was movie-wise when I started…Cine Rent West/Snazelle had them.  I was warned about them, took them out anyhow, and immediately defected back to Shure M67s.  Just as noisy but bulletproof and with much better headroom.  For film shoots the 2 pres I could get via the one built -in to my III plus the outboard Sennheiser accessory thankfully covered most of what I needed then, and when I added a BMII I thought I was pretty big-time!  

The Perfectone motors for the Eclair NPR (pictured) were around for a lot longer than the mixers, but we started having issues with them when they got long in the tooth, to the point of always taking two motors on location.  When we worked in remote places like Alaska we'd have 3 along...

Philip, I wouldn’t  mine having either the mixer or the recorder, it's a part of history now. Plus that fact that a recorder named Perfectone sounded like crap from people that know and used it, makes me want it more. If nothing else it makes the later Nagras look even better. As a recorder collectors standpoint it looks pretty cool. It definitely belongs aside a Nagra Collection.

The knowledge you guys have is just amazing, getting you to share it is the hard part. Who would ever know this if you didn't post it. When did you start Phil? What years were these Perfectone's out as far as you can tell?

Thanks Philip

 
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I've never seen the Perfectone recorder you show in the flesh.  Perfectone mixers were in use in the 1960s, and as I said were still in rental inventories of small rental houses in small markets as late as the mid 1970s, when I used them.  I don't know when they were introduced in the USA, prob 1950s I'd guess.

p

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It shames me (pudet mihi) to admit that Perfectone mixers were in use on mainstream feature films in the UK well into the '70s. They seemed to be the standard audio hire package offered by Pinewood Studios and others at that time. I can remember their use on Nightmare Park, The Glass Menagerie, and on commercials. Thank Heaven Audio Developments 

http://www.audio.co.uk/

brought their products out and saved the day!

I recall that there were multiple ways of pronouncing Perfectone. Perfect One, perFECTone and PERfectone. 

Edited by Nick Flowers
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  • 2 weeks later...

Recently picked up an early Nagra SN, totally different from anything I have or have seen before. For one its painted gray. 

Instructions included says to me, you guys were able to use the SN with Crystal control sync since
at least Aug 16 th 1971. Radio control coming in 90 days.
I didn’t realize you used the SN so early. Does anybody remember the date or the movie first using an SN? Anybody notice the other difference? 
 
 
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Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
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Photos marked with RJW are copyrighted.  Any use other than private with or without the RJW watermark is strictly forbidden, without written permission from the owner.
 
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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.KVDlfdJ.jpg
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Me too, when I bought it,  I thought from the pictures it was anodized aluminum like all the others, but when I opened it, I was pleasantly surprised. It's also missing the lock mechanism next to the meter. Instead, a red circled SN

meaning Série Noir or (Black Series)

I can only assume the early SN recorders were spy recorders, Not known to others and as the story goes developed for JFK administration. They were out for 10 years before becoming available to the public so I read.

That is why it was called the SN, the "Black Series" because it was secret. But this is confusing because I don't believe the SN as we know today was out in 1960, the prototype was developed in 1960 the SN was not for sale to the public until 1970, so when were they delivered to JFK, another question I have for Nagra.

I would say mine is an early cross over model. The true SN spy recorders did not have any silk screen directions on the tape deck like this picture below.  

I knew the spy model SN existed, I just didn't know they were painted gray. Now I do.

 IolWC2P.jpg

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Re: the radio synch system. I wonder if the camera transmitter was the QRRT as used with Nagra 4 machines or if it was special for the SN? I remember reading the instructions for the QRRT years ago and if transferring to sprocketed magnetic film there was a way of getting a Chinagraph pencil to mark where the synch pulses were.

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I believe it was a scaled down version of the QRRT system without the coded pulses and a few other features. Various versions of syncing multiple SNs provided a system of individual multi-track recording much as the current Zaxcom system provides (and Nagra patented this system incidentally) but I never used the whole system myself on any job. I did use the QRRT with the Nagra 4 for a job where they wanted "silent slating" and mobility for the camera and sound mixer. It was quite expensive to rent, not terribly easy to use, but it did work and got the job done.

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