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Purchasing first Nagra deck


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Hello all.

I just joined this great forum, lots of interesting discussions here.

I am a bit of a reel to reel tape deck enthusiast, I love using them for playback & recording.

Lately I have become very interested in doing field recording with analog tape decks, namely a UHER Report 4400. It worked very well, for 3 months anyway, I was using it nearly every day. But it has now developed a nasty audio fault, making it useless for any HIFI recording. So now I want to upgrade to a better analog portable tape deck, a Nagra would be excellent.

So I can probably afford to buy either a Nagra III, Nagra E, or Nagra 4.2, all mono.  The stereo models are way too expensive for me, plus mono is fine for the type of recordings I do. I do not need any sync features, I am not working with film. The field recording I do is just a hobby at this stage.

So what would you guys recommend I buy out of these 3 models ? The Nagra III looks nice, but is the oldest. The Nagra E is the newest, but with the fewest features. The Nagra 4.2 has the best features I think out of the 3. 

I really look forward to getting my first Nagra, just hope I can find the one I want for the right price.

Cheers, Chris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are a number of models available including B, D, L and LE which are all part of the IV family and have varying amounts of features. I'd say that the 4.2 will be the most expensive out of your choices, and the III will be thr hardest to find in working condition. All will be difficult to find 100% functional. I have five Nagras and the only two that work 100% were either never used or completely restored. The others had a great deal of use and have a number of issues each. 

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Chris, I am the service technician for Nagra Distributor Remote Audio. I strongly recommend you search for a 4.2 if you cannot find a IV-S. Parts availability and advanced age (brittle wires, corrosion, etc.) for the older models (Nagra III, and IV-L/D) render those units non-serviceable by our shop (we will sell belts and pinch wheels for those early Nagra's, but we no longer offer any repair or calibration service).

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It all depends on how well-maintained the machine is and its overall wear.  A Nagra III that didn't see much outdoor use and has had its belts etc regularly serviced would be a better bet than a late 4.2 that was used on hard-doc shoots in bad weather, dust etc and was non-maintained.  Many personal Nagras fall into the latter category, so whatever you look at should be vetted by a tech.  Nagra service is expensive.

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Hi guys.

Thanks very much for the replies.

I have found a Nagra E for sale from a reliable guy in the U.K., has been refurbished & guaranteed working ok. So I might go for this one.

Yes, I think the Nagra III models are a bit too old now for regular use.

The other option I have is a brand new, never used, UHER Report Monitor 4000 deck, slightly cheaper than the Nagra. 

Which ever one I get, it must be reliable to use every day, not just a collectable. I can do some repairs on tape decks, I come from a technical background.

Cheers, Chris.

 

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Ok. But I think the UHER decks are reasonably good, if in good working order.

My UHER 4400 was great before it failed, the recordings it made are very good.

But now I have decided not to buy any more 1960's vintage tape decks, unless they have been fully reconditioned, the electronic components are just getting too old now. 

Its down to just the 2 choices for me now, the Nagra E, or the brand new UHER Report Monitor 4000, going by suitable price & availability.

 

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Uhers were just fine when they were current machines in good repair--I recorded thousands of hours on my 4000.  But they were difficult to work on and hard to find service techs for even when they were in somewhat common use.  I would not recommend getting one today--if you can swing the Nagra you will probably always be able to find someone to service it for a long time to come (for a price).

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Ok Philip, thanks for the comment.

I have found 2 companies in Europe that sell NOS UHER Report Monitor decks, for a reasonable price. One of them even has a complete line of NOS spare parts for them, and accessories. The Uhers they have are late production model ones, from the 1990's I think. The belts & all rubber parts have been replaced.

On the other hand, the Nagra E I am interested in is definitely not new, and has some physical damage, but supposedly working ok. 

Still leaning towards the UHER...... Cannot beat a brand new unit...

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Hi all.

Just to let you know, and finalize this thread, I have not gone with the Nagra option.

I have purchased a Uher Report Monitor 4000, NOS never used, from a company in Germany, SDS Sprang Datensysteme.

The Report Monitor 4000 units they sell were made in the 1990's, Uher manufactured these models up until 1997 !

Thanks for all your comments anyway.  Chris.

 

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Don't worry, I would still like to get a Nagra 4.2 one day, just could not afford one just yet. Plus most of my vintage mics already have the DIN plugs to suit the UHER units. Owning a Nagra is still firmly on my list. But most likely not a stereo model, way too expensive, unless I win lotto !

 

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  • 5 months later...

Hi all.  Just a quick update to this post of mine.

I have now purchased a Nagra-E deck, yay !!

Have yet to receive it though, not even sure if it is 100% functional. Was a pretty good price I think.

It does basically work, I have been told.  I am a technical person, so should not have too much difficulty fixing

it if need be.  But it looks to be all intact, no missing or broken bits !

Will let you guys know when I receive it & test it out.

Cheers, Chris.

 

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I've owned a III and IV-S, and a Uher 4000... as well as an Arrivox. They were all good for what they did.

 

The Uher was handy and light, and sounded incredibly good for its time, but operating features were limited.

The III was rugged and easy to service, but not the most field-friendly.

The IV blew everything else out of the water... for operational convenience and flexibility, for sound, for ruggedness*. If I had to go back to analog field recording, it's what I'd use. 

 

The Arrivox was a very odd duck, the semi-cool child of Arri's knowledge of what we wanted in a field pilottone recorder and Tandberg's pretty good "11" portable deck. Two mixing mic inputs, separately switchable filters and limiters and T power on each (I modded mine for phantom), tone osc, mother/daughter board construction, even a footage counter. I called it a "Nagra 3.5". 

 

--

*Requisite Nagra IV story:  1988 presidential primary campaign, January. We were in the middle of a large Iowa farm, on the coldest day of that year, just a few miles from the coldest spot on that day. It was so cold, the rubber on my mic cables cracked and I had to replace them. But the IV ran perfectly, and exactly on-speed. 

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  • 9 months later...

My Nagra E is still working fine, it just needed some basic maintenance. I bought a counter roller for it too.

Also, Jay above mentions the Tandberg 11 portable deck, I now have one of these in excellent condition, working very well. It sure is well made, definitely more solid overall than any Uher deck I had (the Uher decks are all gone now !).

Cheers, Chris.

 

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My question, and it's sincere; what would you do with a mono audio recorder?

 

I am having trouble thinking of any situation, unless it is just a display piece (I have such a piece in a 1970s Nikon F), that wouldn't be better served by a two-track (stereo) machine.  I would, perhaps, consider a Nagra IVS someday for "audiophile music recording."  A mono machine would be of no use to me.

 

D.

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Fair enough question. I would love a Nagra IV-S, but they are just too expensive now !  Don't worry, I do have other great stereo decks, a Tascam 42 and a Pioneer RT-1050.  Also, I happen to be deaf in one ear, from when I was very young, so I cannot properly hear stereo anyway, especially with headphones, so a mono machine suits me just fine !  The Tandberg 11 cost me $100 AUD, by the way.

Cheers, Chris.

 

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8 hours ago, tourtelot said:

My question, and it's sincere; what would you do with a mono audio recorder?

 

Well, Doug, I do a huge amount of recording just mono - it's almost the case that you decide beforehand if it needs to be mono or any other kind of stereo (two or more channels).

 

The (appallingly little) recording I do with my Nagras would tend to be mono, since it's generally a point source sound I want to speed up or slow down. Both my Nagras (IVS, IVSJ) are stereo. Happy to have my stereo machines though - I've yet to take advantage of the third channel.

 

Jez

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  • 1 year later...

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