Jul 20 2016

Nagra, DPA & Schoeps

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Christ Church, North Adelaide – October 2015


From the driver's side


For those interested, these two recorders are made by Nagra in Switzerland. The top recorder is an 8 channel Nagra VI. You can buy a ‘normal’ Nagra VI for around US$11,500, but when the Nagra company turned 60, they built 60 special Anniversay versions (with a hefty premium added) The front is machined from a solid block of aluminium and there are some additional features. My Nagra VI is number 40 of that 60.

The smaller recorder is a 2 channel Nagra 7 (they moved away from Roman Numerals for this model). The 7 comes with several options such as WiFi or ISDN to allow fast upload of files in the field. This Nagra 7 has no additional options and is around US$4,000.

Like most multi channel recorders, not all of the input channels have microphone pre-amps. So for channels 5 & 6, (And, if using a digital signal, channels 7 & 8) you need to feed it a pre-amplified signal. That is why my Nagra 7 is there.

I’m feeding the Nagra VI channels 1 & 2 from one pair of stereo microphones and channels 3 & 4 from another pair. The third pair of microphones are going into the left side of the Nagra 7 and straight back out the right side, into the Nagra VI. No recording is being done on the Nagra 7, I’m just using its pre-amps for the microphones.

To complicate the explanation, although channels 5 & 6 are coming from the Nagra 7, they are coming out of it via it’s single digital line (on the right side) as opposed to the two analogue outputs. This negates the need to convert the microphone analogue signal to digital (to go into and through the 7 internals) then back to analogue to go out of the 7 (to feed the analogue inputs of the Nagra VI) and back to digital inside the Nagra VI, to be recorded to the hard drive. By using the digital output of the 7, the signal stays digital all the way to the Nagra VI hard drive (so nothing is lost in translation). ALSO, two channels can be fed along a single digital line. So the digital cable goes into the channel 5 input on the Nagra VI and feeds tracks 5 & 6 of the recording. (this is why the Nagra VI can have channels 7 & 8 if it’s a digital signal, as they feed the channel 6 input for channels 7 & 8 of the recording).

As for the microphones? Channels 1 & 2 were fed by a pair of DPA 4006A Omni mics (Danish Pro Audio), channels 3 & 4 by a pair of DPA 4011C cardioid mics and channels 5 & 6 by a Schoeps CCM4Lg & CCM8Lg combination, in a configuration know as Mid/Side (Google that one)

The resulting 6 channels are edited on a 27″ iMac using an excellent program called Triumph by Audiofile-Engineering. All lumps, bumps and potholes are cleaned up using iZotope RX5 Advanced. It’s great for the fine editing work of removing page turns, audience coughs, riser creaks etc. The RX clean-up process is what takes the longest. I’ve spent over an hour cleaning a cough out of a track before. All of the 6 channels are recorded and edited at a resolution of 24bit/96kHz and mixed into the final 2 channel (stereo 16bit/44.1kHz) CD that, hopefully, you’ve bought.

BTW, I listen to all of this on a pair of Australian made Grover Notting Code 4 studio monitors. They are truly wonderfully designed speakers.


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