Nagra

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by John Stafford, Apr 10, 2005.

  1. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I've been meaning to ask about Nagra for a while.

    Of course David is a user (didn't you post that wonderful piano recording a while back using your Nagra and Amek 9098?). Sorry if I'm wrong.

    On the few occasions I've been in the presence of Nagra gear I've been gob-smacked.

    I've been amazed by some modern recordings made on an old mono Nagra tape machine (Nagra IV?), and was sort of thinking of buying one secondhand (they're quite reasonable) as a preamp. Is this possible?

    I drool over their website, but Nagra gear is just WAY out of my league.

    BTW as anyone here ever heard Nagra hi-fi?

    Thanks

    John
     
  2. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Well what can I say, they are the best bits of audio gear on the planet and are an absolute bargain.

    The usability/ergonomics of these machines alone is worth the price, without talking about the pristine superbly engineered audio quality.

    They will last 15years no problem, maybe longer. While my collegues keep upgrading/changing/ bug fixing their recorders every couple of years, the Nagra goes on and on.

    My father took two of the analog Nagras into the jungles of New Guinea to record flute and drum music in the late sixties and early seventies. The recordings are still astonishing today. These machines ran off dry cells in 99% humidity, equatorial heat and bumped around in mud and canoes etc.

    They have the reputation they deserve. Buy one you will not regret it, ever.
     
  3. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Yes, unfortunately there are not better examples available on the net. I will contact the company and see if we can get some longer samples setup.

    Yes but there are better preamps around now. Also 1/4" tape is very difficult to come by.

    Nagra are offering a buy back on the old machines, so they may actually have a lot of them lying around soon.

    If you want to buy an old one get a stereo IV, ie the last model. I wouldn't waste money on the previous models.

    Just sell your current recorder/laptop, one stereo preamp, one headphone amp, one small 4 ch mixer, and buy the Nagra V. It will replace all those in one neat package.
     
  4. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    I've used the Nagra V once and I was very impressed with it (when I was down in OZ last summer)... I've also used the Nagra Digital extensively (just sold it for my colleague that owned it a couple months back)... You'll never see a piece of equipment that is so well manufactured. It is one of the few things out there I would consider using on a live gig without backup.

    The Swiss certainly don't screw around with their audio gear.

    --Ben
     
  5. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    The Nagra will perform most of those functions, quite admirably. But it cannot completely replace all that you have listed. One will still need a good DAW to perform detailed editing and processing. It makes economic sense that if one is going to own a DAW for that reason, why not get full use out of it and record with it, as well? Yes, it won't be anywhere near as convenient, but one can get comparable quality and more flexibility with the other approach, IMO.

    I certainly advocate the practice of safety copies while doing live recordings. Having said that, I myself do not run a safety for non-critical archival situations. I have recorded to laptops for six years now and have never had a failure. Fate may catch up with me at some point, but I can say that (to date) a stable laptop has been completely reliable for me.
     
  6. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Absolutely... I've been using my remote DAW computer (a shuttle-based system running Sequoia) for everything I do for a couple years now. I have not had a single avoidable problem with it- I carry a UPS battery with me to avoid the power outage issue, but it has been remarkably stable. I still bring my DA-78 out (and only use 2 tracks) as my "just in case" backup. I've never had to use it, but knowing my luck, the one day I don't have it will be the one day I need it...

    --Ben
     
  7. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    That tiny spy-sized recorder could teach a few things to certain elements that are 'modernising' the Swiss watch industry. I'd buy one just to look at if I could afford to do so. It's wonderful to see something made with such uncompromising devotion. Just like a fine Swiss watch really!

    John
     
  8. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    All true, but convenience is profoundly useful, as you can concentrate much more on putting the mics in the right position, instead of connecting up a laptop to a myriad of crappy little jacks, leads, PSU's wall warts, mutliple rack cases etc

    The NV needs no mains power and runs for 11 hrs from its Li battery, while powering two mics and mixing two line signals as well.

    My collegues are like pack horses bringing all this uneccessary crap to gigs, and connecting it all up. Its another matter of course if you need that stuff. :) ie for a multitrack recording.

    Yes, for routine live concert recording for broadcast, I never make a backup with the NV, it gives that much confidence, but for critical studio CD recording we always do.

    Yes, I think a lot of people have had the same exprience, which is quite remarkable and says a lot for laptop drive and PC construction. After all, the NV is a specialised little laptop, it runs DOS from a chip on the upper deck motherboard that runs the FAT32 file system.

    But as I work in the computer industry and see a lot of laptops come in with hardware, PSU, and connector problems and OS's mucked up with updates, and going to sleep at the wrong time and nobody remembering the keystrokes to wake them up, (this happened to a mate with a new laptop he bought to a gig), I am very grateful to the ergonomic genius and simplicity of the NV.

    It simply allows you more time and pleasure to get on with your real work as an audio engineer, which has got nothing to do with setup or debugging equipment.
     
  9. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    Agreed. Low aggrivation factor and peace of mind are highly desirable. The Nagra certainly provides these. I have tuned my own laptop rig to a harmonious state, but this took significant R&D on my part. The Nagra comes right out of the box like that, and it is so much more handsome looking!
     
  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Are you guys familiar with the Aaton Cantar? It's similar in a lot of ways to the Nagra family, but get this - 18 inputs! That's right, you can record on 8 channels at a time selecting from 5 mic inputs with phantom power, 8 AES inputs with SRC built in and 5 line inputs. There's a built in mixer and it records to internal firewire HD or optional internal DVD/CD Burner!!! It's also controllable via built-in (optional) Bluetooth!!!

    Oh, and it's about the same size as the Nagra.

    Price - 15K base, 20-22K loaded!

    Hmmm...a car or a HD recorder? :shock:
     
  11. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    David

    That is so true. I've recently been astonished by the amount of time it takes to set up the computer, deal with the boxes, try and find out why nothing works (only to find that I've forgotten to plug something in :wink: ). Then of course there is the constant fear that everything will go down in the middle of a concert because I forgot to unload the virus software, or tell the computer not to look for a wireless network. Oh yeah, I forgot that one of my mics can pick up noise from the mains cable, but I can't pull the plug out because the software can freak out if I yank out the mains cable and change to battery power while recording. But then I'm not sure how much power is left in the battery because I've turned off battery polling! The list goes on....

    I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

    John

    PS I have a check list, but of course I leave that at home :-?
     
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I feel all of your pains guys, but as cool as the Nagras are (and as good as they sound), it's really not all that difficult to do my setup.

    My PC is in a case by itself and takes no more than 5 minutes to set up (including the time to boot). The Mic pre's, UPS, and the AD converters are in the same case and stay connected to eachother all the time. So basically, I have to set up mics, run cables (both of which I'd have to do in either case), open my portable rack case, set up the pc and then connect the AES cables. It's really not all that.

    Don't get me wrong - if I had a Nagra, I'd use it whenever possible. I just constantly need higher track counts than the Nagra can afford. I can't justify dropping that kind of dough for the only piece of equipment that truly can be called "sexy."

    J.
     
  13. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    You have to ask? :lol:

    John
     
  14. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    Yes its an amazing piece of gear, no question. As is the Deva 5. They are all great and all very expensive. I am sure Nagra is working on a mutlitrack at present as well.

    The Aaton and Deva are the preferred machines for movie guys, they are pretty disappointed with the NV because it is only stereo.

    But for our work the NV was a perfect fit, but its not for everyone.
     
  15. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    http://www.aaton.com/products/sound/cantar/index.php

    http://www.zaxcom.com/audio/deva5.shtml

    and this is also worth a look.
    http://www.zaxcom.com/audio/wireless.shtml
     
  16. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    All stuff that is quite popular in the film world. The whole production sound thing has changed quite a bit since DAT has begun to go the way of the dinosaur. The ability to do multitrack on a DC feed with a small machine has really improved things.

    I haven't use the Zaxcom wireless, but I have used the Lectro Digital hybrid wireless and it sounds fantastic. I've heard great things about Zaxcom's, but it has been awhile since I've done a production sound gig. Perhaps some day I'll get to use them...

    --Ben
     
  17. Plush

    Plush Guest

    Nagra and Stellavox--meat and potatoes!

    Gentlemen--

    record on a tape (disk) recorder, edit on a workstation.
    don't record on a computer because it's not a tape recorder. (not a non sequitur)

    Always make a back-up of any important recording--that is if you will have to pay to have the musicians come back to do it over it there is a "problem."

    Nagras never break and the sound is incredible. That makes them essential for the professional. And. . .THAT makes them inexpensive in the scheme of things.

    We have made back the money spent on various Nagra gear hundreds and hundreds of times over. We could not exist without Nagra.
     
  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Where's the logic in that? So, let me get this right...stick with the converters in the Nagra (don't get me wrong - they're good, but they are no Genex's or Lavry's), and waste my time importing the audio INTO my workstation, just so I can edit it? Why not just start in the workstation, record as many channels as I want, and then waste no time when starting to edit.

    Don't get me wrong, I think Nagras are great and are a convenience for some things, but essential they are not!

    J.
     
  19. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    Actually, the Nagra V records BWF files and connects to a computer via USB 2. To import files is a very quick process indeed...

    For anything that I do that would go direct to stereo, I would think quite highly of using one of those recorders. All the advantages of a stand-alone recorder and you can access all the advantages of your DAW for post. With all of the newest nonlinear recorders, setting up your session for post is really a non-issue. With many of them, you can pull the discs out and mount them on your computer to transfer files.

    I use a computer to record, but I still have to transfer my files over the network or from firewire to my internal drive to get to my studio machine- which has much more capability than my portable (ie I have my Powercore and my UAD-1 on that machine as well as all of my other various plugins).

    --Ben
     
  20. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I guess I can see the difference. The same box I record with live is the same I edit on. My portable rig is uber-powerful, so it's tough to get much more in a desktop. (3.0GHz Extreme with 2MB cache - 2 gigs of RAM, SATA internal drives, Matrox dual head video, UAD, etc.)

    The thought of transporting files frustrates me. I like to begin working with no downtime - even a few minutes.
     

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