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Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell


JBond

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Hey there - I just wanted to chime in and say thanks for this thread, I just bought a Nagra 4.2 for some field recording and this thread has been amazing. All your information, no matter how small is really important and opens doors for a newbie like me. Respect. Richie.

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Thanks Richie Egan, Your from Sweden, I watched a movie the other night Mamma Mia full of ABBA songs.  Afterwards I watched a bunch of Youtube videos on ABBA and their history. What a great group they were. I forgot they had so many great songs they all came back to me. 

 

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On 4/4/2017 at 11:52 AM, JBond said:

Hi Rachel - don’t feel you loss something.  If it was all beat up you were probably better off.  I was pretty disappointed at first with my phone booth.  When I saw it out in the field of antiques for sale it looked great. Brimfield - anybody hear of it?  It happens 3 times a year in Brimfield Mass.  I noticed the booth right away from a distance.  Close up it looked pretty good too. 

Once I brought the phone booth home and in the garage, I started cleaning it up. It’s an all glass booth. Under the dirt and grime I noticed that all of the aluminum rails were all scratched up vertically where apparently the antique dealer would slide it in and out of his truck laying down from show to show.  Researching the booth, I found it’s a 1964 Bell systems booth and it came in other custom colors other than the anodized bare aluminum that I was used too. Once scratched, you cannot just re anodize the bare aluminum to make it look like new.  If it was scratched and marked from ordinary use I would have left it alone but once cleaned it was all heavily scratched at close inspection. I should have inspected it more closely. 

My desire to have the phone booth I knew as a kid got the better of me.   So I took it all apart and had it powder coated in dark bronze.  It came out beautiful inside and out,  a hard tough low luster professional finish.  It goes together and comes apart like an erector set - everything just slides together and a few screws hold the four sides together. It has a built in cooling fan which was an option back in the day.

Putting all the now like-new individually wrapped pieces from the painter together, the old glass looked terrible, all vertically scratched like the rails were and every little mark stuck out like a sore thumb. This type of full length vertical scratches would never happen in normal use.  So I had all the glass panels remade except for the door apparently he would slide it on and off his truck on all the other sides without a care.  Ouch, being so pissed off I spent so much on getting the booth ready to be put inside my house, I didn’t want to spend anymore money to get the phone for it . The booth was now like new but without a phone.  So it sat without the phone for 6 years.  So maybe it wasn’t a missed opportunity for you, instead it could have been a godsend you didn’t bring it home.

I always planned to get a dummy mannequin to set up in the booth and take pictures using the different covert recorders I have. My wife said I’m the dummy and said I can step into the booth and she’d take a picture for free. 

So there you have it, the story of my 2k Phone booth, before the phone!!!

 

Thanks, I'm sure it would have cost me a bunch..and by the way, I love the pics you added. Well done!

On 4/4/2017 at 5:19 PM, Richie Egan said:

Hey there - I just wanted to chime in and say thanks for this thread, I just bought a Nagra 4.2 for some field recording and this thread has been amazing. All your information, no matter how small is really important and opens doors for a newbie like me. Respect. Richie.

+1. So true, and welcome to the board, Richie.

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  • 1 month later...

I know that I should probably start a new thread about this, but nonetheless I have something that I would love to find out more about...

Once in a while I have come across eBay listings of the Nagra 4.2 IRT, which is a bit of a mystery to me. When you look at a 4.2 IRT the only immediately unusual thing about it is that the function switch and knobs are green in stead of the usual black. But another significant feature is that it has stereo heads in stead of the usual mono heads. Yet another indication that something is different is a little indicator light near the function switch marked "Zeitcode".

So I guess that it is a 4.2 modified to record and playback LTC, and since the LTC is put on the middle track, the playback head gap must not cover this track, and thus they use a stereo head (for a pilot/TC IV-S, with broad guard band) with the two tracks paralleled. But that is just my assumption; I have seen them both with a normal crystal generator board and an unknown, more advanced board installed on top of the battery compartment.

Does anybody know if the 4.2 IRT is an "original" Kudelski version or a third party mod? Or just anything at all?I am really curious... 

Nagra 4.2 IRT front.jpg

4.2 IRT heads.jpg

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On 6/3/2017 at 2:41 PM, dela said:

I know that I should probably start a new thread about this, but nonetheless I have something that I would love to find out more about...

 

I’m glad you posted it here dela.  Otherwise, I would have never seen your post, as it was I never received a notification that you posted.  

I have not seen the IRT before. But It seems very familiar to me.  I may have come across it and just moved on thinking it was a worn and faded 4.2 from use.  But now I see the cool green.      I interesting R recorder To own   Is what I call it. 

You asked all good questions, hopefully, someone will have the answer as I would like to know more about it also. 

 
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I'm not sure if the information I have helps illuminate the matter or clouds the waters. This alternate version of a Nagra 4.2 is a new one for me but it's not that dissimilar to a Nagra modification that Neil Stone performed in the 1980's.

To accomodate clients who already had a significant investment in mono Nagras when time code was first coming into use, Neil performed a conversion that enabled the mono recorders to lay down time code tracks. At the time, most mixers were delivering a mono track, even when using a stereo recorder, so the multiple tracks were not so important. As anyone who has listened to a playback of a timecode sync signal can attest, it is an annoying signal not easily separated from dialog. So, simply recording the code through a neopilot head wouldn't work; the timecode signal would corrupt the recorded audio. Neil replaced the mono and neopilot heads with stereo and center track heads from the Nagra TC. I believe there were also some circuit alterations to deal with the specifics of the timecode signal. That signal came from a Denecke GR-1 sync box that he simply fastened to the lid with velcro. Although the modified machine had two-track heads, it still had only mono circuits so the audio was still mono - identical in each track.

These modified machines worked very well and served their owners well until standard practice moved into DAT machines and, subsequently, file-based recording.

But the business of green knobs and an altered name plate doesn't look like Neil's work. I expect that another technician with engineering capabilities similar to Neil's took on the same challenge.

David

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Neil Stone's conversion, making the Nagra 4.2 (mono) timecode capable, was a very welcomed modification. when timecode first came into our world in any significant way, most everybody was still recording mono single track and few had purchased the Nagra 4-STC. Timecode was really only a necessity on commercials. Very few if any feature films were utilizing timecode in production but the commercial world adopted timecode very quickly which made it a requirement that the production sound mixer on these shoots provide timecoded track. Most of the top commercial sound mixers did purchase a second or third Nagra and this would be a Nagra 4-STC fully timecode capable 2 track machine. Most of the sound was still mono since there was seldom a need for anything more than one track but the 2-track (stereo) Nagra had the all important and now mandatory timecode track. Neil's conversion allowed some of us to do commercials without the need to purchase the $14K Nagra 4-STC.

The one pictured here, the "Nagra 4.2 IRT" is a mystery to me --- I don't think Kudelski ever produced this sort of modified mono Nagra with timecode.

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I had actually thought about the Neil Stone modification; it seems to be the same principle as in the IRT 4.2...

I have just had a 13 hours watch at the TV station I am working on, so I have had a bit of time to look for more clues. And in another forum (Gearslutz), I found a reference to a 4.2 modified by IRT, which I completely had forgotten stands for Institut für Rundfunktechnik. A bit silly, as I am regularly receiving updates from them after buying some very expensive software from IRT. It seems that they were equally inventive back in the days of the 4.2, because they made a modification with an extra board that generated a short TC burst when going into record. You could then jam sync a TC generator when transferring it back home. This sounds reasonable, as the 4.2 IRT currently up for sale is from WDR (West Deutsche Rundfunk). Judging by the details on the IRT machines (ruby guides, tape counter roller) it seems like they were modified somewhat late in the 4.2 life time cycle.

So it seems that it is not a real Kudelski mod, but a very capable one, that was made on quite a few machines. But still nowhere near the sheer brilliancy of Harvey Warnkes superb TC mod. I know that I will get one eventually; it would be great to add that to the collection.

And thank you for you comments; I imagined that I would get some very insightful answers.

 

 

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Very Nice.  If I had only one Nagra to keep, it would be a very hard decision between the SN and the IS.

 Luckily, I don't have that life altering decision to make (smiley face goes here)  :mellow: if the powers to be would let us have more than one emoji.:mellow:

 If I did make the decision between the IS and SN, you can bet I'd soon be looking for the other one. 

Just curious how many people have ever seen an IS after owning any other Nagra?  The first thing you notice is the small compact size in comparison. You're expecting something similar to the 4.2 etc but oh boy it sure is smaller in real life.

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I never owned an SN but used one a few times, I did own an IS and loved it! The IS was my third Nagra purchase. I had two Nagra 4.2s and then purchased the IS for a smaller, lighter recorder. I had no idea it would feel and operate so differently than the full size 4.2. The biggest difference, besides the weight, was the 3 motor solenoid controlled transport --- had the feeling of a full sized studio recorder in a small lightweight package, still very much a Nagra in all the most important ways. 

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The SNs I rented (could never afford to buy one) back in the day were how we got some otherwise impossible jobs done.  Those jobs would be handled a very different way today, but the hardware that would be used is an order of magnitude less cool (sorry, folks).  I very seriously considered the IS when I moved up from a Nagra III, but I was only going to have one recorder and I needed all those groovy features that only the 4.2 had.  And was bummed about the weight diffs: the IS weighed only about as much as my Uher 4000.

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Well, I'm glad you guys remember how small it was, just pictures of it do not really show the size difference, pictures of the IS are misleading even taken next to a 4.2.  When it's in your hand it's a different story.

 Rachel, it's a real prize,  I am happy for you because I know that feeling when I opened the package of my IS for the first time.  You realize how big and bulky the 4.2,  IVL, IVS etc compared. Even though they were considered small for that quality of a reel to reel. 

Though, I never liked the ears containing the Mic inputs sticking out of the sides on the IS.  If only Nagra could have fit them inside the tiny case. I think I would "still" be sleeping next to mine. (smiley face goes here)

Thank you, Jeff and Philip, for remembering and your comments about it. 

 

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Rachel: Congratulations with the IS; it is a really nice little recorder. Small, but in every aspect still a Nagra. In Denmark (where I live) it was almost exclusively used for radio, so it is rarely seen in the pilot version here. For film work the 5" reel limitation was a problem, but many a Radio Denmark journalist loved not having to carry a IV/4.2 around. I can also imagine a journalist would hate having to transcribe an interview with the rudimentary tape winding system on the IV/4.2; here the IS motor controlled transport really shows its strength.

I have been looking in my manual archive, and I have found an IS user manual, unfortunately only in german. I have an english paper version, that I can scan at work this weekend, if your german isn´t up to scratch. I also have a service manual, and that is in english. If you send me an email address, I will send them to you. They are quite informative, as you would expect from a swiss company..

The one problem that I can see with the IS is that (mechanical) servicing is quite a bit more complicated that on the larger recorders. F.ex. if you want to change the reel motor assembly, you need a special measuring gauge to adjust the position very precisely, and even with that it should not be quite time consuming. On the larger machines, the tape transport was built around a very sturdy steel plate, so virtually no mechanical adjustments of the position was necessary. The small, all-aluminum chassis came at a price... But still a marvellous little recorder; I have 6 of them in various versions, and I love them all. The cuteness-factor of the SN is undeniably larger, but it is a bit like choosing one of your children over the other (but, having just about all available types on the shelf, I can enjoy not having to choose).

And by the way: I couldn't´resist buying the 4.2 IRT, so I will get back with some more info after I pick it up next week. I haven´t heard from Institut für Rundfunk Technik, so I will probably have to figure it out myself how to use the TC system. Fortunalely I have salvaged a scrapped Alpemann & Velte TC generator/reader, som I am prepared for everything. And looking forward to it.

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Here's a picture of one on eBay right now, it's not the pilot model but notice how much is going on with all that silk screening,  all done in Nagra's fine quality.  I like that look, looks like something Nasa would have.   Notice the brake switch,  with three motors it could stop and turn on a dime, Or less.(smiley face)

I guess I could have used one of my recorders for the picture but this is quicker. The first IS I bought had the center head missing like this one, the second one I bought was a three head pilot like Rachel's. I like having all the options, I hate to see something missing.

uR5C3AH.jpg

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On 6/16/2017 at 5:05 AM, dela said:

And by the way: I couldn't´resist buying the 4.2 IRT, so I will get back with some more info after I pick it up next week. I haven´t heard from Institut für Rundfunk Technik, so I will probably have to figure it out myself how to use the TC system. Fortunalely I have salvaged a scrapped Alpemann & Velte TC generator/reader, som I am prepared for everything. And looking forward to it.

Congratulations dela on the 4.2  IRT. 

I thought that would be a nice one to own someday.  Pretty rare, good looking too.  I always thought the IVS was the first time code, but I was wrong. Nagra original or not it has a history.

Since you have 6 Nagra IS's How about posting the differences and the options between them. All the different models with pictures for reference would be very interesting.

Hey,  Where else could you find this information if not for JWsound?

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On 5 April 2017 at 2:45 AM, JBond said:

Thanks Richie Egan, Your from Sweden, I watched a movie the other night Mamma Mia full of ABBA songs.  Afterwards I watched a bunch of Youtube videos on ABBA and their history. What a great group they were. I forgot they had so many great songs they all came back to me. 

 

The Production Sound Mixer on Mamma Mia was Simon Hayes Amps CAS who regularly posts on JW Sound.

Simon won an Academy Award for Les Miserables and I'm proud to have him as a friend & colleague.

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5 hours ago, Malcolm Davies Amps CAS said:

The Production Sound Mixer on Mamma Mia was Simon Hayes Amps CAS who regularly posts on JW Sound.

Simon won an Academy Award for Les Miserables and I'm proud to have him as a friend & colleague.

I also recorded (on location) many effects and atmos for it, not with Simon but with the post team headed by Nick Adams, and the mix was done in New York. I had quite a hefty lot of equipment (and an assistant) but I didn't take or use my Nagra on this one!

Sadly, being in China/Tibet by the time the film got into the later stages of post in NYC I wasn't around to fight for my credit, and appallingly came back to find I'd been missed off - albeit in the company of several other Sound One and otherwise excellent sound crew.

I might point out that Simon had to deal with the (sound wise) rather awful 007 Stage for much of the dialogue work, but still pulled off a good job. I'm sure I could answer some questions on the post front if any came.

All the best, Jez

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