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Which Nagra is best for MONO music recording?
Old 13th March 2014
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Which Nagra is best for MONO music recording?

Hello all,

I have a simple question, and I would greatly appreciate any simple, direct opinions. All I want to know is which Nagra would you prefer if you were doing only MONO music recording? I have zero need for time-code or stereo or film syncing capabilities. I've been more than a little turned off by how far off topic the other Nagra threads have been from the OP's query, so I hesitate to even ask - but I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm looking for a Nagra for on-location music recording. I am not looking for a digital Nagra. Signal chain is basically RCA ribbons through an RCA BN-2A tube mixer through an RCA tube limiter to the Nagra. From the Nagra I'll be cutting mono masters on my lathe. Which NAGRA should I buy? Any relevant info is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

Ian
Old 14th March 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicrye ➑️
Hello all,

I have a simple question, and I would greatly appreciate any simple, direct opinions. All I want to know is which Nagra would you prefer if you were doing only MONO music recording? I have zero need for time-code or stereo or film syncing capabilities. I've been more than a little turned off by how far off topic the other Nagra threads have been from the OP's query, so I hesitate to even ask - but I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm looking for a Nagra for on-location music recording. I am not looking for a digital Nagra. Signal chain is basically RCA ribbons through an RCA BN-2A tube mixer through an RCA tube limiter to the Nagra. From the Nagra I'll be cutting mono masters on my lathe. Which NAGRA should I buy? Any relevant info is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

Ian
You can get screamin' deals on Nagra 4.2s these days, find a late model one with low head hours and good maintenance and you'll be very happy. Nagramaster rocks. The even older mono Nagras (IV-L, III etc) are good too if they've been cared for, but there were a lot of improvements between those and the 4.2. Many of us oldsters believe the Nagra 4.2 is the standard against which all portable recorders are measured.

philp
Old 14th March 2014
  #3
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OzGizmo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Can you still get 1/4" tape?
Old 14th March 2014
  #4
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🎧 5 years
Yes you can get 1/4 " tape,theres plenty on the Bay
4.2 would be my choice ,a good one costs about a thousand quids and if it has David Lane mods it has 3 hi gain mic pre amps.
Mono is a bit boring though I would buy a IV ST TC,superb machine ,a total thoughbred.
Hope your front line maintenence is in good order with all that vintage kit.
Old 14th March 2014
  #5
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
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🎧 10 years
I hope that this doesn't count as going off topic but do you think you would ever want to make a stereo recording? Rolo is right. Mono music leaves a lot to be desired these days. I'd go with a nice non-time code IVS if I were looking for a portable 1/4" analog machine. And before I did, I'd make sure that someone somewhere was still doing maintenance on Nagras. Arguably the best in the business, Dan Dugan, doesn't do that work any more. Maybe Vark Audio in Maryland, and maybe some of the techs at the big sound rental houses, LSC, Trew Audio, PSC, still do it. They are fairly high maintenance machines. Even the mono ones. Lots of moving parts.

D.
Old 14th March 2014
  #6
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Forget those babies - I would do it on a Nagra T-Audio.

The only analogue machine (other than the Nagra SNN) that I really drool over.

.
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Old 14th March 2014 | Show parent
  #7
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Those are amazing machines (I say machines, but I've only encountered one and it didn't have the meter bridge) but crazy expensive if you can find one and tough to schlep.
Old 14th March 2014
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Saw one last week at a hifi show.
They are about on the Bay ,not really 'portable'
IVS TC is ,and RFS will maintain it for you in the UK and Europe.
Roger
Old 14th March 2014
  #9
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Thanks guys. You're very helpful. Especially Philper. Over and out.
Old 15th March 2014
  #10
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicrye ➑️
Hello all,

I have a simple question, and I would greatly appreciate any simple, direct opinions. All I want to know is which Nagra would you prefer if you were doing only MONO music recording? I have zero need for time-code or stereo or film syncing capabilities. I've been more than a little turned off by how far off topic the other Nagra threads have been from the OP's query, so I hesitate to even ask - but I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm looking for a Nagra for on-location music recording. I am not looking for a digital Nagra. Signal chain is basically RCA ribbons through an RCA BN-2A tube mixer through an RCA tube limiter to the Nagra. From the Nagra I'll be cutting mono masters on my lathe. Which NAGRA should I buy? Any relevant info is greatly appreciated. Thanks again.

Ian
Don't you need a tape reproducer with a preview head to cut vinyl masters?
Old 15th March 2014 | Show parent
  #11
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adorno ➑️
Don't you need a tape reproducer with a preview head to cut vinyl masters?
I think he's doing remote recording and then cutting lacquers at home. But yeah, he'd need a full track mono preview-equipped machine (haven't seen one of those since about 1980).

@OP -- care to chime in on this?
Old 15th March 2014
  #12
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🎧 5 years
No, not if you know your lathe and understand the rudiments of cutting.
Old 15th March 2014
  #13
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huub's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Off topic as it may be: are you recording in mono because you prefer the sound of mono?
Are you trying to reproduce a certain vintage sound?
I'm just curious..

Huub
Old 16th March 2014 | Show parent
  #14
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicrye ➑️
No, not if you know your lathe and understand the rudiments of cutting.
Yeah, guess so. That's how they did it up to the mid 50's, right?

What you're doing sounds really interesting. If you're doing short run pressings, I'd be interested in buying a record, or a few.
Old 18th March 2014
  #15
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Yes, that is what I'm doing. I'm doing it because I love Charlie Christian, Dante Alighieri, Van Gelder, and magic. If that makes no sense to you, then good - it shouldn't. If it does, then I'd love to talk more. Cheers.
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #16
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicrye ➑️
Yes, that is what I'm doing. I'm doing it because I love Charlie Christian, Dante Alighieri, Van Gelder, and magic. If that makes no sense to you, then good - it shouldn't. If it does, then I'd love to talk more. Cheers.
OK, I'll bite. What does Dante Alighieri have to do with it?
Old 18th March 2014
  #17
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🎧 15 years
"The Divine Comedy" was written in mono, of course.

philp
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #18
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper ➑️
"The Divine Comedy" was written in mono, of course.

philp
But what about "Disco Inferno?"
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #19
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tourtelot's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicrye ➑️
Yes, that is what I'm doing. I'm doing it because I love Charlie Christian, Dante Alighieri, Van Gelder, and magic. If that makes no sense to you, then good - it shouldn't. If it does, then I'd love to talk more. Cheers.
Yeah, but it wasn't magic because it was recorded mono but IN SPITE of that.

D.
Old 18th March 2014
  #20
Deleted User
Guest
Mono is much more difficult to balance of course, but once you get it right it can be just as extraordinary as stereo. If only I could do a tenth of what Fred Plaut was able to achieve in mono in stereo. His orchestral and soundtrack/broadway work is phenomenal.

George Avakian quote from the Miles Davis mono box set: "Mono has always been truer to the studio sound and the original intent". If you're listening to anything in stereo that was intended to be in mono you're missing it. The orchestral balances in mono are truly exquisite whereas the stereo has never been overly inspiring.

To the original poster, ignore the naysayers and just stick to the basics. Deliver truly great performances in a wonderful acoustic with carefully crafted balances and the mono won't detract in any way. I am very interested in your process (especially the cutting), DM me if you would.

cheers,
Reynaud
Old 18th March 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Recording is all about information and performance
Mono reduces that
I listen to a lot of mono and dream of how it could have sounded in stereo
Mostly I think it would be superior.
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #22
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User ➑️
The orchestral balances in mono are truly exquisite whereas the stereo has never been overly inspiring.
Really? Fair dinkum?

Quote:
To the original poster, ignore the naysayers and just stick to the basics. Deliver truly great performances in a wonderful acoustic with carefully crafted balances and the mono won't detract in any way.
Are you able to advise on the stereo recordings you use as a benchmark?
Old 18th March 2014 | Show parent
  #23
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt ➑️
Really?
When the mono was given more consideration than the stereo? Absolutely, no question. The Beatles, early Miles Davis, Columbia Broadway recordings, all mentioned above, the list goes on. I don't limit my listening and learning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Spearritt ➑️
Are you able to advise on the stereo recordings you use as a benchmark?
Several for mono, stereo and surround. Fred Plaut, Kenneth Wilkinson, and the likes of Everett Porter, Jean-Marie Geijsen and Erdo Groot are some of the names whose work truly are a lesson in humility.

I try to learn something new every day. There's no enjoyment in knowing everything.

cheers,
Reynaud
Old 18th March 2014
  #24
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
I wasn't meaning to diss mono, just having a little fun. I love mono! The early part of my career -- my first real studio job -- was pretty much nothing but mono, (tape, opticals, lathes, the whole bit) and it was fantastic training.

And I still think the OP should use the preview if his lathe has it. :-)
Old 18th March 2014
  #25
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Good, I sparked a fire. And for the record, the Commedia was recorded in Dolby 3.0 . . . Otherwise known as Terzarimaphonic. You guys are actually pretty fun.
Old 19th March 2014
  #26
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicrye ➑️
From the Nagra I'll be cutting mono masters on my lathe. Ian
Well well, this is a nice departure from all of the usual talk about digital technology, AD and DA converters.

Would you please give us details about this lathe -- somewhere in my record collection I have a direct to disc recording of John Renbourn playing acoustic guitar in Japan -- made without tape recorder -- but generally lathes are a bit out of the ordinary.

Tell us more please!
Old 10th October 2020 | Show parent
  #27
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by philper ➑️
You can get screamin' deals on Nagra 4.2s these days, find a late model one with low head hours, and good maintenance and you'll be very happy. Nagramaster rocks. The even older mono Nagras (IV-L, III, etc) are good too if they've been cared for, but there were a lot of improvements between those and the 4.2. Many of us oldsters believe the Nagra 4.2 is the standard against which all portable recorders are measured.

philp
I agree that going with the 4.2 is the best option. It was the gold standard when I was in film school. We shot on 16mm which is mono.
You definitely lose quality when you switch to stereo using only half of the width of the tape. You can find converters to allow you to use 10" tape but that might be unwieldy on location. If you're running at 15ips, though it might be a good thing to look into. Mine has the 7" expansion.

For maintenance in the US, I'd recommend Trew Audio which is where I bought my Nagra 4.2. Their technicians and quality control are top-notch and they won't tell you something is going to be able to do something it can't ie bias to a higher quality tape than it can. So I really trust them.
A Nagra of any flavour usually doesn't come with power supplies but Trew Audio and eBay offer modern compatible power supplies for around $100. I got my Nagra 4.2 several years ago and have only just now ordered a power supply as 12 D batteries are a pain when they need replacing in the middle of a project.

I hope you are able to find what you need.
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