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Nagra Stories Sound-men won’t ever tell


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  • 1 month later...


Good morning,


I am happy to come back today to this wonderful thread.


We would appreciate to get some support, to put a Nagra IS back into 100% recording abilities.


We needed a schematic, for the mic. amplifier.


We have the version of 15. 05. 1975 and of 22. 08. 1979, also Version of 12. 05. 75., the latter being only for dynamic mics.

There is a third version of circuit plan, to connect the IS to a mic with 48 Volt phantom power.

Please excuse poor resolution, I try to fix this.

The photo of the mic amp is of the actual IS we have on the desk.


Thanks for all hints to get the IS back to full operation.

By the way: Some IS have two speeds: 7 1/2 inch/sec is standard.  Some have also 3 3/4, which is good enough for spoken word.

I start to let my children tell stories on a Nagra IS, for instance with an "ordinary" EV 635a*, directly connected  to the mic input, with wonderful results. Being 6 and 7 y.o., they love to tell stories on the tape, and love when their father tells stories, a mixture of true and invented. My son has true joy in stories where someting went wrong, such as the XXL-seagull, who landed right in the middle on the table of our balcony, when my wife wanted to have a little rest with a cup of coffee, all neatly prepared.

The seagull looked at my wife, who sat some 3 feet away, walked to her coffee cup, put it's big yellow beak in the coffee, then decided: brrr... this is no good for you, and this is not my "cup of tea" - it took the cup with her beak, turned it to the side, with the fresh coffee running over the tablecloth, and left the szene. Then my wife said some words, and this is our key for the "happy" end for this genre of stories.

My daughter loves to load the IS with tape & turn it on record - to my understanding it is possible to let her learn how to operate it carefully.

At such, apart from audio quality (!), the IS surpasses all modern devices, which are much-much more complex to be run, especiall if you want to make a longer document.

And - 30, 40 years later, with some luck, you will still have the "files", I mean: the tapes.

With the IS speed 3 3/4 inch  is o.k., this fits well with 13 cm spools.

With a Nagra III I would prefer to switch to 9 1/2 inch speed, and take the 18cm spools.




*The Electro Voice 635a was the standard mic for Denmark Radio, who seemed to use quite a lot of IS with the 9 1/2 inch speed. I have one with "Denmark Radio" engraved on it, which I got with a IS with same engraving.



Nagra IS mic amp. back.jpg

Nagra IS mic amp. top.jpg




Nagra IS mic amp. 15.5.1975.jpg

Nagra IS mic amp. 12.5.1975.jpg

Nagra IS mic amp. 22.8.1979.jpg

12.5.1975.pdf 15.5.1975.pdf 22.8.1978.pdf

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/3/2018 at 4:45 PM, JBond said:
Here is an updated Nagra III picture list and the span of serial numbers known per year as of Jan 2, 2018, this includes  BGAULLIER ten recorders, of course this will change over time, but you can see roughly the dates and serial number range for each year. 

1958)  22 - 58            

1959) 105 -222          
1960)  408- 667
1961)  827- 1471
1962)  2103- 2529
1963)  2998- 4104
1964)  4147- 5520
1965)  6204- 7623
1966)  6714- 8475
1967)  9556- 11769
1968)  12303- 13874
When listing the years and number range above, I found two problems; 1)  was a mistake on my pictures list 65 5348 was supposed to be 65 6248 and has been corrected. 
2) when adding BGAULLIER’s number for 1965 (7623) this blows up my database; this is the first time this has happened.
As you can see under 1965) in red the previous year should not be a larger number than the following year if the serial numbers are meant to be consecutive.
Either this is a mistake somewhere, or Nagra has a whole different way of adding serial numbers then previously thought. Could this mean serial #65 7623 also will have the same number in 1966? 66 7623?  
Does anyone have a Nagra III serial number that contradicts the consecutive order written in the above list?   



Hi JBond,


you can update:


1962: 1625 -2529


Thus, unit numbers for this time turn out to be:

1958: at least 36 units

1959: at least 117 units

1960: at least 259 units

1961: at least 644 units

1962: at least 904 units

1963: at least 1106 units

1964: at least 1373 units

1965 - 1966: at least 2.271 units

1967: at least 2.213 units

1968: at least 1571 units



BGaullier's list blows up your list in a twofold way:

65 7623 blows up your list (66 6714, but

65 7562 also blows up your list (66 6714)

Even BGaullier himself is "blown up" within his own collection, with # 7623 and # 7605:



NP 65 6053 H

NP 65 7562 H

NP 65 7623




NPO H 66 7605

HPO 66 8021

PHO 66 8366


To my understanding your # 66 6714 cannot be correct.


About the "B" at the beginning of serial numbers: I remember somebody asked about it's meaning.

I am not sure if anybody replied to it. For me it seems evident: B stands for "Broadcasting", consecutive: this is not a "tape recorder", this unit is for professional use only.






Screenshot 2022-12-29 00.47.39.png

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Hi, Matthias.  First, I want to apologize to you for not commenting on your last post.  I have not been paying much attention to Jwsound in the last month or so.
I read your complete post again, two nights ago, and very much enjoyed it. Talking about your Nagra IS and your family with your kids recording their voices, and your daughter threading the tape - pretty cool!  And your wife with the seagull, wow.  It sounds like you have a very nice family life. You're a good dad. You're teaching them about life. Just wait till they get iPhones and see how much they like threading the IS after that. 
For now, it's great that you share the IS with them. 
In the post, you asked questions, posted pictures, and told a story. This is just how this thread should read. The title is Nagra Stories, and you did a great job on yours. I planned to reply to you sooner but it was too late last night and it's late now but I don't want to put it off any longer.
Most of the time when I post something, no one replies or comments - that's just the way it is. Nagra Stories is an old off-beat topic for most modern-day working Soundmen.  I'm sure everyone that follows this thread has read your post and it put a smile on the ones who did.  It's always easier for people to read than write.  Keep up the good posts and family stories.
 If anyone missed it, Please, go back a few posts and read it.
Thank you, Matthias
As for the serial numbers,
Yes, there were a couple of numbers so far that made us wonder. The years can be considered correct unless they dated a stack of front plates and a few ran into the following year. But the models were all exact for the most part and the year didn't matter. For warranty, it was the number that mattered.
 It would be nice to know at what part of the assembly the recorder gets its serial numbers. The majority of the numbers fall in line. Even though I'm sure we will find more inconsistencies as time goes on, I'm sure the vast majority will line up to be correct. There will be more mysteries. Nagra always had many mysteries that could be solved if someone had the will and time to investigate.
 One thing is certain about the 1962 Nagra III number you just posted. It's a 1962 P = pilot model. 1962 is also the first year the pilot model came out. 
 As far as I know, every Nagra made from day one was a professional model. That is what Stefan Kudelski set out to do, make professional recorders. They did not make recorders for the average consumer. Nagra made highly specialized and very expensive recorders for professionals.


"It's a Nagra. Swiss and very, very precise."  quote from the 1981 French film Diva


Nagra was a small company that hand-built every recorder one at a time. They still do. Mix-ups and mistakes may have happened in the early years while the company was expanding. I know they moved their operations, and factories, and records did get lost, etc.

When I bought my 1958 Nagra III with the serial number 5858 I determined based on all the other Nagra III's serial numbers it was a 1958 and the 58th one made. 
The previous owner contacted Nagra and they confirmed it when I told him it was 1958 after I received it. 
The mistakes could be as simple as they used a front plate that already had just the year on it, as the consecutive numbers kept rolling, and that's what mattered to them that the numbers were correct.
Well, it's late, thanks for posting, and keep up the good work. 
Keep gathering more serial numbers and feel free to expand my chart. 

One more thing, 
From what I have noticed, the mixup is always in 1965, 1966
Only Nagra II and III and their accessories had the year at the beginning of the serial number. Nagra dropped that procedure starting with IV-L in 1969. 
Possibly, Nagra found that emphasizing the year in the serial number may not be necessary since all of the Nagra III models were made with only minor improvements year after year. 1962 and 1967 were the exceptions.
Of course, this is all just speculation on my part. 

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9 hours ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:


Well as far as 'stories' from sound men go this one is short but I guess as good as any other!



I have stories; Using a Nagra SN with a 416T-F while standing in the bathtub with the cameraman in a bathroom at Ronnie Hawkins' house filming Ronnie Hawkins and Robbie Robertson reminiscing while they alternately went off camera multiple times to snort from a small mountain of coke. I have more stories. 

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13 hours ago, Grim Reaper said:

I have stories; Using a Nagra SN with a 416T-F while standing in the bathtub with the cameraman in a bathroom at Ronnie Hawkins' house filming Ronnie Hawkins and Robbie Robertson reminiscing while they alternately went off camera multiple times to snort from a small mountain of coke. I have more stories. 


Ha ha, something I'd like to watch certainly. Makes me want to watch that Scorcese doc on Steven Prince again too ... maybe along with Stardust Memories.


Re: original comment, I understand your lack of awe compared to (a non-user like) Adam Savage. Though whenever I have waxed lyrical to non-user friends about Nagra (reel to reels) it has been precisely their functional design (and to a certain extent the quality of build around this design) that has started me off. You pointed out both, cheers.



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Does anybody remember my original title 8 years ago this month as a tribute to you the Soundmen?


Nagra Stories, Only Soundmen Can Tell.


I'm sure there are some good ones yet to be told.
Dig up some pictures, and tell us what happened that day in History. 


Geez, it's gotta be better than hashing over the Nagra III numbers - AGAIN!!  I was working on another long one.  Please stop me. 

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For eight long years, I have been studying this now-famous photo of Jeff and Goldie.  My research has concluded that Jeff was showing Goldie a magic trick. 

From the look on Goldie's face, it's clear Jeff pulled what is shown in his right hand out of her ear.  The part I can't figure out is,
As a Soundman on the set that day, what could Jeff have been showing her that he made disappear and then reappear from behind her ear? 



Screen Shot 2023-01-03 at 12.58.47 PM.jpeg




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So, I just got off the phone with Goldie, yeah right, 🤥


Anyway, I thought my interpretation was spot on with only having the picture to go by, of course, it wasn't a magic trick.
She certainly is a cutie in that Foul Play movie. 




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Two of my favorite stories:  The first on me, a doco recordist on a BBC project in the 1980s.  Nagra IVS with a 7" lid, running all over the place following a doctor as I recall.  Listening in tape as I always did.  Finally roll out (remember that?  "Sound rolls out!") and I look in the portabrace case to reload.  A full 7" roll of tape, not neatly rolled up on the take up, but crammed into every nook and cranny in that damned lid.  Quite a while with an empty reel and a pencil and all was (miraculously) well.  Whew!


The other, a story told to me by a famous and Oscar-winning soundman (and not the one who runs this fine establishment) about being in go-go-go and taking the take up reel off one side of the Nagra and flipping it onto the supply side.  He was not fired but after hearing that story, I devised a very strict policy on labeling my rolls.  If I didn't see a label facing up on the supply side, I was damned sure to be taking a second look to make sure all was right.  I must say, I never recorded over any tracks in all my Nagra days.




And yes, that is about the best photo aver!

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  • 5 weeks later...
I did some rearranging for 2023, adding a couple of pull-out glass shelves, lights, etc.
Here are some new photos with the doors opened just right, catching the reflection in the glass.
This is what happens when your motto is, "Always Room for one More"


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The Stereo Nagra (Nagra IV-S) was released I believe in 1971 and was used for many years before the IV-STC (timecode) model came out. For most all of its use, primarily music recording, timecode was not needed. I used the Nagra IV-S in production in 1975 on "Bound For Glory" for some of the musical scenes. I remember that the transfer facility (I believe it was Todd-AO) required advance notice that I would be using the Stereo Nagra and they had to rent a Nagra IV-STC to do the transfers for those specific scenes. Again, timecode not an issue as the majority of film production had not yet utilized timecode or smart slates or any of that stuff.

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I can add one to the list.


From Wiki: 


Big World is a 1986 live album of original songs by Joe Jackson.[4] The album was recorded in front of an invited audience at the Roundabout Theatre, East 17th Street in New York City on 23, 24 and 25 January 1986 (except "Man in the Street", recorded during rehearsals on 22 January). The songs are loosely linked by lyrics covering a general theme of post-World War II international relations and global travel.


I was hired to record those shows on my Nagra X4S ("Harvey Board") and QGB 10 1/2" reel adapter.  I recorded the 2-mix from the truck and "universal time code" from the production.  IIRC, there were a number of the Denecke TS-Grande displays scattered about for the non-TC 35mm cameras to shoot after a reload.  It was a super-fun coupla days.



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