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Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell

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13 hours ago, Tunes said:

Too bad as I was watching this and hoped to bid on it on Monday before the end of the auction.

 

Thank you for posting that Tunes, I would never have seen it.  I looked, couldn't find anything about it.
Don’t beat yourself up over it unless you were willing to pay more than a grand. Even if he left the auction up you know that guy was going to bid a grand or more. 
If anything I can see you being mad at me for advertising it. I didn't think anybody on Jwsound was interested in this covert part of my collection.
 
I really do think if the seller left the auction alone he could have doubled that price.  I don't believe he used it three times in the field either. Its new old stock.  Once the PS-1 was out they were useless.  I could be wrong. I'm surprised someone who used it would not fold in or fold out the JBR base in any of the seven pictures he took. 
But with the title of his auction NAGRA JBR tape recorder adapter SN
 I knew it would be hopeless to get this at a good price, so since  I already have one I shared it on Jwsound. I did want to see what it would bring  and it gave me a chance to post the JBR story again. There are details in my JBR story that were never made public "anywhere" only here on Jwsound.  So every now and then I bring it out of the place it hides. 

 

llFgkBk.jpg

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Hi JBond,

I am certainly not mad at you for posting info on the listing! If anything, I appreciate your generosity in sharing so much Nagra historical information and super photos. It has helped me immensely.

I likely would not have won it anyway :)

Will keep looking, but not holding my breath!

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On 2/21/2018 at 12:35 PM, Nagra Tech said:

Mike,

I have one.

BM II.pdf

 

 

I was looking for something Phillip posted earlier about DAT recorders and blenders and I came across this new Member. I can't believe I miss this valuable new member to JWsounds Nagra Thread. It's always a good thing to have another Nagra tech for advice and help.


Mike asked if anybody had a  Circuit diagram for a BM mixer? A few commented and gave advice, then new member Nagra Tech chimed in and BAM!! Produced the diagram.

 Very nice!
I guess Nobody even noticed who posted. Thank you very much Nagra Tech from Nashville Tennesee.  Thank you for being so helpful and posting the Circuit Diagram.  That was very fast service that went unnoticed for a long time.
You're noticed now!  

 

Steve George Remote Audio, Nagra's newest North America Distributor

 

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-13 at 11.45.22 AM 2.jpeg

 

 

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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...

 

 

 

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This is somewhat of a funny Nagra story.
After looking through the French video in the link Dela posted, it's clear it looks like they are referring to some Jbond content.
As I first posted this morning, if anyone that understands French can fill me in, I would appreciate it.  I would like to know how they are reacting to what I said in that quote in this first screenshot below.
I know what I was saying - it would be nice to know how she is interpreting it.  I was just saying if Nagra did keep a 1957 Nagra III, they would show it in any of their pictures describing the first Nagra III. 
Why are they pointing this out?  Are they saying the same as me? Or something different?

 

ULyh3ZL.png 

 

What are they saying here in the next screenshot? This was a very rare hard to find article.  It's clear they got it from Jwsound from the yellow markings. It would be impossible to find elsewhere unless you knew about what to look for.
What is she saying about it? 

 

cOvBRW6.png

 

Showing BGAULLIER nice collection and research also, not bad clearly showing the complete list of Nagra III's 👍

 

IH2lye3.png

 

Then I saw this part at the very end of the video.

 

SK1Jm4z.png

 

What's this all about?  I hope this was not their take from Nagra Stories!  Who cares if Nagra showed the wrong year Nagra III in some booklet.
Counterfeiting!  Falsification! That's a little much, isn't it?  Falsification?  What are they talking about?
 
 I messaged Dela - please take that video down until we know what they are talking about.
 I don't want to show this video on JWsound if anything was negative toward Nagra.  I had no idea of what they were saying and using some of my references to say it. 
So Dela replies 
Don´t worry; there is absolutely no negative feelings towards either Stefan Kudelski or Nagra in the lecture. It is one long appraisal of both the recorders and its influence on the different industries (Film, TV, broadcast, anthropology, and surveillance)... 

 

Ok, but what about this?

 

SK1Jm4z.png

 

Dela said
Oops, I just read the text of the slide: It is a summary of a proposed Kudelski project. The proposed system should be capable of detecting, whether a recording has been tampered with or falsified. I haven´t heard more about the project, but I guess that it was a bit ambitious for the time, given that the only tools would have been analog processing...


Oh, ok, geez, I guess I overreacted just a little trying to fill in the blanks without any translation. 😳 I also found out you can't copy and paste a video in Google translator. 
Thanks, Dela, for clearing up that information. 

So they used my writing on Jwsound as research as part of a lecture, and slide show.  Not bad, maybe even a compliment.  If I could only understand what they are saying. (No I did not take French in high school, I was in shop class working on a piece of metal.)
 At least I know someone is actually reading the details in this thread.😎   Anybody know how to translate a video?
 

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 In an interview with Stefan Kudelski, that was shown in that lecture he states about 30,000 Nagra III's were sold. I also posted that interview here #232  Which is where they most likely found the interview for their lecture.

I think Stefan Kudelski states about 15,000 too many Nagra III's.
It's been a while since I updated my Nagra III serial number chart but most updates would just fill in the early years. 
The highest in 1968 is around 13,874  I have never seen a 14,000 serial number on a Nagra III and I have never seen a serial number out of order. Or a double serial or "same number" with a different prefix  Like B or PHO

 I know out of 14,000 I show very few serial numbers here and I guess in time we could see a variation but I have yet to see it and I certainly don't expect to.  

Has anybody?  

Did anybody notice if she made mention to that 30,000 number in the interview?

 

 

2Vsxb6W.jpg

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Hey everyone!

 

Nice to meet you all.  I've been considering a Nagra 4.2 for some mono reel to reel projects for various sound-quality related reasons, and I was wondering if you guys knew any place in the U.S. that could help me with my search?  I've been in touch with someone in the UK who restores Nagras, but I was wondering if there was someone stateside that has a regular inventory, offers a warranty, etc. 

 

I've had a difficult time in my search over the last couple of months and seem to be only to locate both service technicians and sellers in the EU.  Any thoughts or tips?  I wish I lived in a city/place where I could demo the unit, but it also seems like that's not in the cards.  Anything to consider beyond dynamic/condenser mic capabilities and whether it has sync---specifically, questions that could help me avoid a bad unit?  There are several on Ebay, but I think my fear is that I order one that has issues and then do not have someone handy to repair/restore in the U.S.


Thanks, everyone! 

 

Eric

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Well, the context here is that you are seeking support for an analog recorder that hasn’t been made in about twenty years. Finding a shop that can work on the machine, have an inventory of parts and also provide a warranty for work performed with twenty-year-old parts, is a tall order. But help is available. 

 

I’m pretty sure that Trew Audio continues to service Nagra:

 

Trew Audio

2243 N Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505

888-393-3030

323-876-7525

trewaudio.com

 

Also:

Location Sound Corp.

10639 Riverside Dr.
North Hollywood, CA 91602

818-980-9891

800-228-4429

locationsound.com

 

There is also Dan Dugan in San Francisco area but I don’t have ready contact information. 

 

And, the manufacturer continues to offer some support. The audio company, spun off from The Kudelski Company, is Audio Technology Switzerland:

https://www.nagraaudio.com/

 

The company is run by relatives of Stefan Kudelski.

 

David

 

 

 

Edited by David Waelder
Clean up typos

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Hi Eric

Ebay has many right now, https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=nagra+recorder+4.2&_sacat=0&_sop=16
I have always had good luck buying Nagras, they always seem to work very well for me. Or should I say work well for my limited use. My problem as a collector they also have to be in near perfect cosmetic condition . The cosmetic condition is more important to me than working perfect in every aspect. But you want to use it so the information posted above is important. 

 You do know the 4.2 is not a stereo machine. Even so many thousands of movies were recorded on the 4.2. It's a great machine. 

Sorry disregard the other link I sent you., that was a IVL. But the Ebay link is good. The post from David Waelder above is why I told you to post your question here to get answers. 
 

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As for the eBay link I sent you , none are clean enough for me and all are uncertain to work as you need it to. I would just be patient and keep checking eBay for a clean well taken care of recorder to come up.  Or contact the two dealers above to check their consignments.

 I would hate to see you end up with a beat up recorder that you have to send out for repair. The price range of a 4.2 is nowhere near the high-cost IVS and you should be able to find a nice clean one so just don't jump at the first ones that come along. I don't want to mislead you with the link I posted. I don't recommend any of them after checking out each one. 
The Russian Federation one is probably the cleanest. But has very few feedbacks. You're going to have to use your own judgment.  I would wait for a nice one to come along. If you want to own a Classic Nagra why not get the best one you can. 

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Mr Bond

 

Is your serial number project including those that were badge engineered as Telefunken machines?

I remember working alongside Malawi Broadcasting guys who used them to record presidential speeched

and also line feed a post office line back to HQ for a live radio broadcast!

 

mike

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10 hours ago, Mike Westgate said:

Mr Bond

 

Is your serial number project including those that were badge engineered as Telefunken machines?

I remember working alongside Malawi Broadcasting guys who used them to record presidential speeched

and also line feed a post office line back to HQ for a live radio broadcast!

 

mike

 

Mike

Good question I don't have any clear serial numbers of the two units I have pictures of. Luckily, I put the Sony and the Telefunken in my Nagra Stories Index on page one, otherwise I would still be looking to where it was posted.

All I know about the Telefunken is posted here  #268   

 

All it would take is one Telefunken serial number and we could see if it's out of sync with the recorded numbers I have. 
If you look in the 268 post you can see the Sony is a late model Nagra III with the 1967 or later meter and a serial number of 13,000 something but can't see the year.
I assume the Sony is a 1968 machine. The Telefunken has the pre-1967 meter and we cannot see the serial number at all. I assume if we could see the number it would fit right in with the chart I made. 
I think once we see machines with readable numbers we will know right off the bat if it stands out or not. 
 

 

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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. 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks so much for the advice, everyone! I'm in deep in the search and have located some restorers with some inventory.  I'll report back on my endeavors! 

 

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Here is a very cool Nagra III video I just happened to come across, a 1963 # 3980 Nagra III.  Made in 1963 and still looks great today.

It deserves some attention. 

 

 

 

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I’ve come across Nagras here and there at Trew Audio in Los Angeles, usually when someone retires, or when a retired mixer finally cleans out their inventory. I’d call in and see if they have any lying around that they haven’t put up on the web yet. 

 

Like others have mentioned, they are built well and out of the eight that I own, only one is not fully operational (a III that someone intentionally disabled the record head and playback speaker). My thought is that it was probably used as a layback machine, and they didn’t want to run the risk of recording over anything, and also didn’t want to hear the speaker. 

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As you can see from the previous video, everyone everywhere time and time again referrers to the old Nagra SN myth, the wrong story, told so many times over and over on the internet. 
I have yet to be proven wrong with my research and story below. 
Don't forget to watch the  Robert Bouck - Kennedy video as it shows the ties to my version of the Kennedy connection with the Nagra SN.
And why the SN is always referred to "as ordered by President John F Kennedy" The closest you'll ever come to the truth. 
Only on Jwsound,  Aren't we the lucky ones.   

 
 
 
The Mystery of the Nagra “Serie Noire"
by RJW
 
 
The question always asked - What year was the first Nagra SN, the famous Nagra SN we always heard about, actually released? That’s easy; 1960; it’s all over the internet. You can find many sites, articles and tributes to Stefan Kudelski, all repeating these statements:
 
"The Nagra SN Serie Noire was originally ordered by President Kennedy for the American Secret Services" or "commissioned by the Kennedy administration" or "the American Secret Service."
 
The latest 2016 story was written with a few changes:
 
“Kudelski, the high-end Swiss manufacturer of portable audio tape recorders, was approached by the American secret services towards the end of the 1950s to develop an ultra-small recording device. From 1960, unbeknownst to the man in the street, the Nagra SN (for ‘série noire,' or ‘black series,' make of that what you will!) went on sale to selected customers. It would be another eleven years before the device became available to the general public.” (1)
 
Notice the line "make of that what you will". Never have you seen written the Nagra SN was developed, put into production and sold in "1960" other than that latest March 2016 article. Nagra always listed 1960 as the year of the Prototype SN and always without any other information. So many writers over the years just used their imagination and left the reader to "make of that what you will."
 
Nagra SN stories seem to grow on their own over the years, with every writer at the time either copying what others have written or added more to the story. It's easy to do with a secret recorder. Anything you write does not have to be backed up with fact since it was secret. You were not supposed to know the facts or ask any questions. How can anyone challenge if it's secret? Nagra has let the story write itself over the years, and the story just goes on uncorrected. It seems like "make of that what you will" is just what Nagra wanted, just use your imagination, that's the story.
Originally, Nagra did start all this by adding the President John F Kennedy connection with their Nagra SN descriptions, always mentioning but never releasing any photos of the actual SN Prototype.
Not ever seeing the prototype led everyone to believe this super-secret unknown covert recorder was used by the Kennedy administration. Today such JFK acknowledgments are not found anywhere from Nagra except in an obscure Discontinued Pro products category on Nagra's website. Stated in the description of their discontinued 1999 Nagra SNST-R (the last SN model made), Nagra states
 
"It’s a special version of the historical SN “Série Noire” originally ordered by President JF Kennedy for the American secret services and was even taken to the moon on one of the Apollo missions." (2)
 
Today, that is the only place where you will find Nagra using that JFK statement. Unless you search for it directly, you will never find it. The Kennedy Administration began January 20, 1961, when he was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended when he was assassinated on November 22, 1963, a span of 1,036 days. (3)
Either Kennedy didn’t ask for it or Kudelski never had a prototype made in 1960. If they did have the prototype in 1960, Kennedy certainly didn’t ask for it to be developed. Could both statements be true if the word "circa" is combined with the date 1960? In the 2001 Nagra brochure, "Half a Century of Experience", the paragraph describing the Nagra SN states:
 
"The Nagra SN (Serie Noire) prototype was developed in 1960 but not put into production until 1970, as the miniature components available at the time were too fragile. It used silicon transistors, dry tantalum capacitors and later, surface mounted device (SMD) technology, many years before this SMD technology was adopted by others. This pocket-sized miniature recorder was destined for army and police forces (developed especially for the United States government or, more precisely, the United States Army)." (4)
 
No longer any reference to Kennedy or the Secret Service, it looks like a corrected version of all previous statements. That United States Army statement at the end of the SN description above is new for 2001. It always read before as Secret Service or Kennedy Administration. Now, for the first time, it says the U.S. Army. In my researching about this JFK connection, I did find the use of U.S. Army that may corroborate with the 2001 Nagra statement, but does not prove Kennedy asked for it. That 2001 description is probably the most truthful up-to-date statement Nagra has ever released about the SN.
 
It is documented that Kennedy was known to use tape recorders before and after becoming President. It's also well documented that Robert Bouck, at the time one of JFK's Secret Service agents, was ordered in 1962 to wire the White House with a recording system. He was also told to purchase recorders through the U.S. Army Corps and buy them on the open market so there would be no record from where the recorders came from. Kennedy recorded approximately 260 hours of recordings beginning on July 30, 1962 and ending November 8, 1963. There is no mention of any Nagra brand recorders even though other brands were mentioned. (5) 
 
 
 
 
To add to this mystery, Nagra has also stated on one of their website's History section:
 
"…in 1965 the US Agencies start using the Nagra SN secretly." (6)
 
If this statement is accurate, then where are these early 1965 SN recorders today? Doubtful and unsure of this time frame, I contacted Nagra in Switzerland with my questions. In an email dated Aug 4th, 2016, Nagra informs me the 1965 date is wrong:
 
"… the correct date is 1971. The information you have found Nagra Kudelski Group historical milestones) is inaccurate! (We will ask NAGRAVISION to correct it.) Please refer to OUR website for the accurate dates and information.
The prototype we have was the original unit designed in 1960 yet never produced. The first “official” SN was not developed until 10 years later circa 1970, and the first units we actually sold in 1971." (7)
 
Nagra has been acknowledging that 1965 date since the year 2000. It was used in their Annual Reports for multiple years on and off as the first year the Nagra SN was used by the U.S. agencies secretly. That statement has now been debunked by Nagra as inaccurate and has been corrected. Nagra no longer makes that statement on any of their latest publications. No evidence to date has been found to confirm Nagra’s original 1965 U.S. statement to be accurate. 
 
To the contrary, the first public showing of the Nagra SN occurred when Stefan Kudelski introduced the SN at the London Professional Audio Exhibition in June of 1970. (8)
 
 
7Rf0cR9.jpg
 
 
 
Another document below is the first known Nagra SN price list, dated October 1970, from Hayden Laboratories Ltd. It shows the very first prices of Nagra SN and accessories in its infancy. (9)
As further evidence against the earlier 1965 date, the second page of that price list shows that major necessary accessories were still being developed as of the October 1970 printing, such as the carrying case and the remote control, both of which would be essential in covert recording use (i.e., if the recorders were used secretly since 1965 (for five years), the remote and carrying case would already have been successfully developed.
 
 
1r4LuVu.jpg
 
 
Nagra now considers the prototype date “Circa” 1960. (15) By using the word circa, one can now believe the prototype SN was developed after 1960 and during the JFK Administration, making the Nagra JFK connection more authentic. Now it’s possible JFK’s Secret Service agent Robert Bouck did ask Mr. Kudelski to make a secret recorder for the U.S. Army Corps. If correct, this is where the "Secret Service," "JFK," and the "U.S. Army Corps" fits into all of Nagra's past statements.  Since JFK’s sudden death, with the fact it was an assassination, it moved the world. With the secrecy involved in Robert Bouck asking for it on the open market and avoiding the standard U.S. government purchasing and documenting channels, it was now best-left alone, so the deal died when Kennedy did. The SN at that time, not yet a functional unit, was put on hold and never fully realized until 1970, just as Nagra states. Kudelski, being somewhat impressed with the outcome of the completed SN and the fact Kennedy did ask for it, never dropped the Kennedy storyline once production began in late 1970 and also never elaborated it either.
 
 
Nagra used the one part of this SN story that may have been true - that Kennedy did ask for it to be developed - and kept the storyline to their sales advantage throughout the early SN years. The more secret and intriguing it sounded, the more appealing it was for sales.  Saying John F Kennedy asked for it didn’t hurt either. That statement was the truth, Nagra had every right to use that statement in their advertising.  It became the perfect scenario; it’s secret… there is no need to say anymore, and because it was secret, no one could expect any answers. The idea that one assumed it was “used” by the Kennedy administration complicated things because dates, times and facts were not clear if someone truly thought about it. So for many years, Nagra tiptoed around the whole subject, and sadly the JFK connection is rarely mentioned anymore. The 1965 date that was used many times since the year 2000 is now dropped from their latest publications
 
There has never been any credible evidence JFK asked for one or that a usable pre-1970 Nagra SN ever existed.  The fact is no one may have known JFK asked for it, except for Robert Bouck and Stefan Kudelski. Since Robert Bouck died on April 27, 2004 at the age of 89, and Stefan Kudelski on January 26, 2013, at the age of 83, maybe no one will. 
 
Perhaps the mystery of the Nagra SN is even more mysterious than one may have thought. It is possible, but not confirmed, that Nagra was just enjoying the publicity of the JFK story along with the marketing enjoyment of the intriguing possibilities that others have written into the story. Going forward, we may never see Nagra use that 1965 date or the Kennedy connection again, but they also didn't remove the old versions for reasons that are unknown. One thing is clear - there has been no evidence of a usable, secret Nagra "Serie Noire" (black series) SN recorder, before, on, or after 1970.
There was only the one Circa 1960 prototype, nicknamed Serie Noire. Anything else was just a myth that has been kept alive all these years with bits and pieces of JFK and tantalizing dark spy statements like in the 2016 Elektor magazine’s story where we started. 
Nagra never released any written precise information for reasons as if to say “make of that what you will” which everybody has done over the years. 
 
The secret that Nagra kept all these years was not, there was a secret Nagra SN during the 60’s, the secret was, there wasn’t one.
 
This could be just another version to the Nagra Serie Noire Mystery, but to believe the opposite, one would have to believe there was a production of 1960 Nagra SNs that were in use for ten years without anyone knowing about it, even the people who supposedly would have used them. Ten years worth of one brand of recorder does not disappear off the face of the earth without a trace or even a scrap of evidence they ever existed.  One would think you could find people today who would have used them, but when people in the “ know" were asked, they don't remember using, seeing or hearing about a Nagra SN before 1970.
 
"I met with some FBI and State Department retirees yesterday, and they could not provide any definitive Nagra details. They all used the recording gear, but they could not recall when their use started or ended. Two of them specifically mentioned the Mohawks! They confirmed that nothing about any Nagra gear itself is (or has been) secret or classified. Its commercial gear, period. Commercial gear by its very definition cannot be “classified”. (10)
 
“Nagra Recorder” and “classified” should never appear in the same sentence unless “ classified ”  refers to the contents of the recording or the sources and methods of collection.  Commercial Nagra recorders would not be “classified “ even if the manufacturer or certain customers did not want their existence or use to be widely known. (11)
 
“I have not used a Nagra SN before 1970” (12)
 
Legend has it that the SN or Serie Noire (Black Series) was commissioned by President Kennedy for use by the American Intelligence services and the CIA.
 
"I know of no independent factual support for the first underlined part of this statement other than the company's own press and repeated rumors, but I can confirm that Nagras were used extensively by the British, Stasi and other European services. They were also used by the CIA, FBI and other US intelligence and law enforcement agencies.” (13)
 
That said, you would also have to believe this is the world's best-kept secret of all time. No evidence has been found since I wrote this in Feb 2018 that a Nagra SN was used before 1970, just as Nagra now states today.  So in the future when you see another mysterious Nagra Serie Noire story,  ask, what proof do they have.
 
make of that what you will...
 
 
 
 
Part 6
 
The Circa 1960 Nagra SN Prototype
 
by RJW
 
 
In Switzerland there sits the "one" Nagra SN Prototype proudly on display in Nagra's private collection, as it should. Two things come to mind when viewing the first picture. 
 
1)  Nagra no longer considers the 1960 date, now “Circa” 1960, according to the name tag.
2)  The name Serie Noire is not on the name tag, only SN,    
 
fYw8TgD.jpg
 
 
When asked about the name SN and Serie Noire, a former employee of Nagra said:
 
It's not "Serie Noire” That expression I only heard from you for the first time. Even at the factory I never heard "Serie Noire." The employees at the time referred to the SN line as 
 SN means "Small Nagra," SNS means "Small Nagra Slow," SNN "Small Nagra Nab," etc. and the IS meant "Intermediate Size." (14)
 
In all fairness, this employee worked on SNs and JBRs from 1977 to 1988, so one would not suspect it would be the same atmosphere as in 1970, but it goes to show it was not a common name to use other than in print.
 
XAtHfxN.jpg
 
In this second picture above , the Prototype Nagra SN is entirely different from the 1970 production model SN. What stands out the most are the hinged top, no meter, tape heads and the tape path. The only similarity is the reel hubs. Particularly interesting is the pencil drawing on the deck which shows what Mr. Kudelski was thinking at some point in that 10-year development span, drawing in pencil where a meter should go, and other marks only leave us to ponder his thoughts.
 
 
r6Zb8s8.jpg
 
 
In this last picture above, the bottom shows a fold out SN type rewind crank but on the bottom instead of on the top like on the production SN. Notice the components used in the making of this very iconic one of a kind recorder. These pictures show the engineering design of the original SN that morphed into the production model SN we know today. You wonder at that time if Stefan Kudelski ever thought the SN would go on to be the most famous covert recorder of all times and become one of his greatest achievements.
 
 
 
Stefan Kudelski and family are owed a great deal of thanks and appreciation for their advancements in miniature covert tape recorders. Nagra's highly skilled background in this field with full attention to detail, combined with the ability to produce an ultra-fine quality product, is the reason they are still successful in many different fields. Even today, a part of Nagra is still making the latest in security technology for Government agencies and law enforcement in one of those secret workshops behind the scenes. 
 
 
 

 

Sources: The Mystery of the Nagra “Serie Noire”
1 Elektor magazine, March & April 2016, p.1272 

2 Nagra discontinued Products https://www.nagra.com/group/history Retrieved Feb.2018
3 Wikipedia   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Timeline of the presidency of John F. Kennedy Retrieved Feb..2018
4 HALF A CENTURY OF EXPERIENCE, Nagra Booklet, 2001
5 Reprinted from The Presidential Recording: John F. Kennedy. The Great Crises, Vol. (New York: W.W. Norton),xvii-xx
6 Nagra Historical Milestones  https://www.nagra,com/group/history Retrieved Feb. 2018
7 private email to the author from Nagra
8 DB magazine, London Professional Audio Exhibition, October 1970, p41
9 Price list, Hayden Laboratories Ltd, London, October 1970
10 Anonymous intelligence source
11 Anonymous intelligence source
12 Anonymous intelligence source
13 Anonymous intelligence source
14 Anonymous former Nagra employee.

 

 

 

Sorry for the missing pictures of the prototype. 

The pictures of the prototype were given to me by Marguerite Kudelski, Stephen Kudelski's daughter, for my collection as I asked her for them "for my collection."   I did not ask to post them all over the internet.  For a brief time, I did post them, but I took them down after thinking about it.  To this day, Nagra has not released any pictures of the prototype publicly, on the internet, in their videos or on their websites.  At this time, I don't believe I should be the one to do that if Nagra has not for whatever reason.  They may have their reasons.  The pictures can be seen below in the correct context in which they were asked for “as part of my collection."

 

ehnQnEe.jpg

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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Wow, just wow! JWSOUND is blessed with your extensive Nagra knowledge, your dedication to the fullest understanding of these amazing machines, the history of it all, totally blows my mind. Thank you!

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No, Thank you, Jeff Wexler, for allowing me to post along with very credited Sound professionals like yourself for the last 3 years.  Still amazed by all your and other's accomplishments in movie sound recording.  I never posted my collection or stories anywhere as I do here on JWsound.  You give us the ability to edit our posts at any time.  I can say with great certainty that I would not be here posting today if not for that, my collection and thoughts would have remained private.  So thanks to you for that.  Most forums only allow you to edit for a few hours; then whatever you post is etched in time for all eternity ... somewhere,  never to be corrected if needed.
 Thanks again, for your comments on my Nagra SN story - it's something I spent quite a bit of time on, and I very much appreciate what you said.

Edited  by JBond

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The eBay bidding decipher,
 I have been there many times since 1999.  Use to be the bid list showed the real buyer ID. 
You were able to look them up and see their ebay history what they bought or what they bid on in the past. 
I would research what they bought in the past and was able to determine how much they would spend and see what their high bid was with everything they bid on. Win or lose, everybody had a high bid that you could see what it was.  


Some people bid in fives like 5.50 , 55.00  155.00, etc. some go the extra mile and bid 56.00 or 57.00. If the high bidder at the time was always ending up with 5 or 6  I would then bid 58.88 with great success over the years. Most people end in 55, ie 155.00 or 1,555. 00 etc. I always end with 8.88.  Like 1588.88. 108.88. 128.88 etc.

 

Ten years ago eBay decided to make it fairer and hide the identity of the bidders.  
So this is what happens now. 

 

In the bidder list below, the auction starts out with bidder #02 making the first bid, soon #15 puts a legitimate bid in. Then on May 8th, the " zero" bidder takes over once it hits 8,600, the big time "zero" now pissed off because he has no money and places a bid of 82,600.00 or more.  From that point on everyone tried to be the high bidder.  What I don't understand Is why someone would risk their 532 eBay trading feedback and place a binding bid at 82,200.00?  Does he think it's not binding because the price was too high?  He placed the bid.

In the past when zero started bidding like that on something I wanted, I would message the seller and say I was going to be a very serious bidder on your item.  But I will not bid against a person with no feedback, no money and just signed up yesterday and is bidding your item up and will never pay you. 

The seller has the right to remove and block a bidder. So now, 02 and zero, two losers, took over the auction and the seller just watches with much excitement. 
When the seller comes to his senses and deletes 02 and zero, 532 - a legitament eBayer is going to be sucking swamp water. 
What's he going to say - I was only kidding, really I was just bidding up the price.  Pay up or never use eBay again.  If I were him, I would delete my bid of 82,000.00 as soon as possible.  When the seller relists the recorder it will go for less than 8k 
Unless the zero is some very wealthy tycoon on his $10 million yacht off the coast of Greece and Mr zero fell in love with this Nagra T as JonG and I did and 86,000.00 to him is like $25.00 or $30.00 to us. 

https://www.ebay.com/bfl/viewbids/323800376818?item=323800376818&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2565&showauto=true
 

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Interesting for collectors I guess.  For some of us the current bid amount might represent a big chunk of the value of all of the equipment we make a living with, which is sort of what we're about.  Maybe someone will get $82k+ for that recorder if it turns out that the Beatles recorded several hit records on it or it was one of Richard Nixon's secret Oval Office recorders (I know it's not) or etc etc.   Otherwise....wtf?

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