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Old January 29th, 2013, 05:52 PM   #1
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R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Apologies for the off-topic post, but I wanted to draw attention to the passing today of Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra audio recorder, at age 84. I'll never forget the first time I held a Nagra IV S reel-to-reel tape deck in my hands; what a solid, compact, beautiful and functional piece of equipment that was (still is).

Official press release at KUDELSKI GROUP > MEDIA CENTER > press releases > Kudelski Group > en
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R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra-nagra-iv-s.jpg   R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra-stefankudelski.jpg  

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Old January 29th, 2013, 06:43 PM   #2
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Wow... I always ASSumed it was some guy named Nagra...

Without the Nagra, we never would have seen the ZOOM H4N for all the dSLR folk who don't know how significant the contributions to live audio capture the Nagra was...
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Old January 29th, 2013, 09:12 PM   #3
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

It was in the news on public radio today and the speaker mentioned NAGRA name means 'will record' in Polish where Kudelski was originally from. They also interviewed a Hollywood sound engineer about Nagra.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 02:33 AM   #4
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

This is going to bring back a few memories with lots of folk here I'm thinking. We used Nagra recorders at two of the sections I worked at Ford's Product development site at Dunton Essex in the UK. One was our NVH (Noise Harshness & Vibration) section, but that had minimal need of portable equipment. The other was RLD (Road Load Data) where prototype vehicles were fitted with various instrumentation, accelerometers, linear transducers and load cells, and driven over rough surfaces to record data that was later used in accelerated durability testing using static rigs. We used Nagra recorders to record data from this testing in the early days.

The equipment took quite a pounding, despite our best efforts to isolate it from the worst of the bumps. We once had another manufacturer's 16 track recorder for evaluation, and having mounted it in a shock mounted frame, I was given the job of driving the vehicle over what we called the 'Railway Crossing' which was like the humped back bridge from hell. This was in a light truck, and I followed instructions to drive over the obstacle at 30 while three engineers watched from the safety of the trackside. The crossing turned out to be much more dramatic than anticipated, and my buddies gave me stunned looks when I got back to them saying 'KPH. NOT MPH you plonker!!!" That particular recorder failed its evaluation, but I honestly don't remember any serious problems with the little Nagra recorders we used.

I just found this link, and got a bit of a shock reading how my old colleague Simon Mooney appears to have come up in the world. No surprise really thinking back on it though, but I shall be emailing old friends asking WTF? :-)

Ford drivers well equipped for potholed roads

I am pretty sure the image in the above link was taken at Lommel, unless they have grown a forest behind the test track at Dunton. I took early retirement nine years ago, so anything is possible.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 02:47 AM   #5
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Yes, Nagras, professional audio recorders that could have a working live of 20 years. Great pieces of kit, speaking as a former owner of a Nagra 4.2.
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Old January 30th, 2013, 03:01 AM   #6
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Great post Trevor.

RIP Mr Kudelski, we've owned 5 of your Nagras all bought new, all with their accessories.

I can't recall one ever failing to do its job. The Nagra Master speed on the Mk IV-S works like a dream. I still have it,
it's mic preamps are the best sounding portable ones I know of.

You showed the way Mr. K. Your Nagra starred in movies ...

And if you'll permit me .. one of my favourite movies ...

They're 3 Uher recorders there, with an Ampex 350, but I always see and hear your Nagras.

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Old January 30th, 2013, 10:30 AM   #7
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Those Nagra recorders were just amazing. The fit and finish was just beautiful. They msut be something else to schlep around though. And the prices of those things were amazing as well :-o !

RIP

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Old January 31st, 2013, 01:34 AM   #8
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

In the 'Conversation' ^ Harry Call (Hackman) and I had some similarities. We both played tenor sax, loved baritone sax player Gerry Mulligan
and we both worked with surveillance tapes.

Our studios had some sophisticated gear and early on, I did some aircraft black box jobs, just small ones to start.
We were able to analyse speech patterns and that business grew. Once the word got around new clients appeared out of the woodwork.

Then the Federal Police started turning up with their Nagra SN recorders and secret tapes they'd recorded. On big jobs, the court would be convened
in the studio, complete with court reporter.

Mr. K. you might enjoy this. I remember one case, the Nagra tapes were recorded in a motel. They'd bugged this room and recorded next door.
There were 4 male voices discussing what turned out to be a murder that night. Later the cops grabbed their suspect and needed the tapes
transcribed for their upcoming case. But some parts were indistinct and that's where I came in.

After some work, the Feds got what they wanted and as they were packing up to leave, one turns to me and says,
'Don't leave town, if our case is going sour, we might need to subpoena you as the expert witness.'

At the time I didn't think much about it, but the following Saturday, it was all over the weekend papers with all the gory details.

My wife says, 'Hey! is this the guy you heard on those tapes?' I says, 'Yeah looks like it'

She nearly passed out and when she came to, she wanted to pack up and leave the country. As it turned out nothing happened,
and the felon got many years.

Mr. Kudelski, my wife couldn't believe it when the 'Conversation' came out, she laughed so much, I gave up wearing my plastic raincoat.


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Old January 31st, 2013, 05:01 AM   #9
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Oscar's in 1965,1977,1978, 1990. Wow!

One man's innovation impacts the lives of so many!

I guess the sound devices recorders that we use today wouldn't have been done or would have taken some more ages to develop, if one man through his vision would not have taken the step to create a somewhat portable recorder. I bow in reverence to such a pioneer.

RIP Mr Kudelski

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Old January 31st, 2013, 05:25 AM   #10
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
Wow... I always ASSumed it was some guy named Nagra...
LOL

"Nagra" is Polish for "will record".



Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
Without the Nagra, we never would have seen the ZOOM H4N for all the dSLR folk who don't know how significant the contributions to live audio capture the Nagra was...
Ohh - comparing a BMW with a cheap bicycle are we? ;-)
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Old January 31st, 2013, 05:31 AM   #11
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Stefan Kudelski was the very first winner of the first International Amateur Recording Contest (which is still going if you want to enter this year's contest).

While everyone else had large and unwieldy mains recorders, Stefan had his clockwork portable recorder where the clockwork ran the transport and the battery only ran the electronics.

This so impressed Swiss Radio that they ordered several machines from him, and this was the start of Nagra - which is why Nagra and the IARC had their 60th anniversaries the same year.

Remember - this was all in the days of valves (vacuum tubes in the American language) and before transistors were invented.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 10:22 AM   #12
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

I learned more about the technology of analog tape recorders from reading a Nagra IV-L manual than I did from all other sources of knowledge combined. The manual was as well-written as the recorders were well-crafted.

It's nice to note that Nagra IV- and 4- series are still selling for USD $2,000.00 or more on eBay. Not bad for "obsolete" technology. [Slightly thumbing my nose at today's $20.00 "digital wonders."]

A very nice history of the Nagra line can be found here: informationHistory
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Old January 31st, 2013, 01:13 PM   #13
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
In the 'Conversation' ^ Harry Call ...
INT. DAY:

Harry cues the tape. "He'll kill us if he gets the chance." vvvvvrrreeeep. "He'll kill us if he gets the chance." Harry looks concerned.

That is one of my favorite films of all time; Coppola really did wonders with The Conversation. And in my opinion, it's the absolute pinnacle of achievement for the prolific sound designer Walter Murch. What a brilliant piece of work that movie was.
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Old March 1st, 2013, 05:30 PM   #14
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Re: R.I.P. Stefan Kudelski, inventor of the Nagra

Chris .. it's now available on Blu-ray, remixed to 5:! with extras.

The Conversation Blu-ray

Cheers.
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