Nagra Reel to Reel

Nagra 4.2 Reel to Reel Posted by Hello

This is for nostalgia, more than pratical I-podding! The manufacturer still says the NAGRA 4.2 is a portable mono full track 6.35-mm (¼ inch) analogue audio tape recorder designed for radio, cinema and television applications. I think the cinema application means as a prop in films that have some form of police interrogation in the script or on site surveillance. A reel-to-reel machine immediately tells the audience something is being recorded, even though the cost per MB makes it totally in-efficient in these days. It is a bit like the sound of a telex machine or Morse Code in news jingles.

The NAGRA 4.2 contains separate recording and playback heads for confidence playback, built-in monitoring speaker switchable to source or tape, a reference generator, modulometer, alarm indicator for power supply and tape transport. It also has high-pass filters for recording or playback and a switchable automatic level control and limiter. It is a beautiful piece of mechanical and electrical engineering.

It will also turn you into the Hunchback of Notre Dame when you have lugged one of these beasts around an exhibition. Some people still swear by them – I just swear at them.



  1. Anonymous says:

    I just wish all my new fangled stuff ran as well as the 4.2 or even the Nagra 3.

    Heavy? Yes. But it ran all day on that set of
    D Cells.

  2. Anonymous says:

    For recording guns & explosions Nagras rule!!!!!
    mmmmm full track mono at 15ips
    I dream of the day when digital has such near-continuous resolution

    if you want to see just how little resolution you have up your sleeve
    try recording on a digital format & playing it at half speed

    I have yet to find software that can pitch as well as
    transferring a 15ips recording off a Nagra at 7.5ips

    in this respect digital sucks (for now, anyway)

  3. Anonymous says:

    My Nagra 4.2L just came today, along with a digital-to-pilotone converter and some other junk to let me shoot sync sound w/all my Super 8 and 16mm cameras.

    Affordable DATs are toys.

  4. I think this is the same device that was “used” in the film Diva, when the postman recorded the opera singers performance to obtain a bootleg.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Jonathan, I must disagree. As a professional involved in audio productions, I would expect you to know better. You say: “This is for nostalgia, more than practical. I think the cinema application means as a prop in films that have some form of police interrogation in the script or on site surveillance.”This is very untrue. These machines are still used extensively in the audio post production world, specifically because of their essentially perfect transient response. It has nothing to do with nostalgia once you hear one on loud, sharp-transient sounds such as gunshots, explosions, big falls, and more. Think about the classic, beefy, weighty crack of a Magnum firing in a canyon. That’s the work of a Nagra. Try taking a DAT machine out in the field for this work, or even a digital recorder (like a Deva, Sound Devices, etc). You will be nothing less than SHOCKED at the sound quality difference. And quickly you’ll realize that it has nothing to do with nostalgia, or even “warmth”. It is nothing less than essential.

  6. Nagras run off of a cyrstal synch motor. They are made to be sycnhed to film. Ask anyone who has ever made a 16mm documentary. A nagra as a prop is a waiste of a machine.

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