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Two Channel

Swiss company Nagra has long been famous for the meticulously fine craftsmanship of their equipment, of which the best known is the Nagra DII open-reel, 4-channel, digital tape recorder shown to the right. The DII is one of the few digital recorders capable of recording 4 channels of 96kHz 24-bit sound, and can do so through its on-board digital to analog converters (which may be used as a DAC by other external transports as well) or fed by an external analog to digital converter.

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With such diverse users from the very practical and no-nonsense film industry to idealistic, almost fetishistically perfectionist audiophile community relying upon the $22,000 DII recorder, Nagra must be doing something fundamentally right!

Nagra has also been moving into the home, with their $9,500 PL-P tube phono/line preamp (right)...

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...and the line-level only, remote-controlled $6,800 PL-L preamp.

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Power amplifiers include the vacuum-tube-based 50 WPC, monoblock $12,400/pair VPA (right)...

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...and the solid-state, MOSFET-based, two-channel, 250watts per channel $12,000 MPA.

Last, and least only in physical stature, is the $8,000 Nagra SNS-TR, a stereo, analog tape recorder, shown below right next to a CD for scale.

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Nagra demonstrated their components with the PL-P preamp driving a pair of VPA amps, which in turn drove a pair of Wilson WATT/Puppy 6 speakers. The source was a Meridian 500 CD transport feeding the DAC of the Nagra DII digital tape recorder. There were some intriguingly-labeled (to the tune of "Telarc master tapes") open-reel tape laying about, but alas the demonstrator who knew how to load and run the DII was out. I settled for my demo tracks on CD-R, and found that, despite the apparent low-power of the VPA tube amps, the system had good dynamics, and a neutrality I found unexpected from a tube-based system. I also had the pleasure of fiddling with the knobs and dials of various Nagra equipment, and aside from the bristling craftsmanship of the SME Model 30 turntable with its companion SME Series V tonearm, Nagra provided me the most unalloyed joy and revel in mechanical beauty at the show with its sheer physical engineering. []

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Show report last updated: 23rd April 2001. 276 original images on-line.


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