Following on from the first edition of Beautiful Tech: Bolex H16 comes part 2: the Nagra SN.

Nagra SN

The Nagra SN was first released in 1960, and was apparently commissioned by the CIA, accordingly they were unavailable and unknown to civilians for the first 10 years.

I borrowed this one from John Neill at Park Road Post (thanks John!) who have two mint condition Nagra SNs as well as a collection of pretty much every model of Nagra. (Park Road Post was launched when Peter Jackson bought the previously government owned National Film Unit and along with the film lab and mixing stages out in Lower Hutt came a fantastic collection of equipment dating back to the origins of film making in New Zealand) So who knows what has been recorded with this particular Nagra over the years…

Nagra SN

The design is so throughly well developed, notice how the cover has three small viewing windows, which lets you see the record level, supply reel and take up reel.

Nagra SN

Apart from winning Academy Awards for the Nagra III in 1965 and the Nagra IV in 1977, and for general excellence in 1978, Nagra also won the Film Producers of America: Alan B. Gordon Award for Technical Excellence in 1972 for the NAGRA SN! And to appreciate why that might be, consider that before radio mics were invented these were the only way to record dialogue for some scenes.

Nagra SN

To access the battery compartment you turn three screws and the bottom cover comes off, also revealing the circuitry… And like all good hardware there is a block diagram in on the inside of the lid:

Nagra SN

According to the Nagra site: “The SNST-R and its miniature jewel-like construction is a perfect reflection of the engineering and manufacturing expertise at Nagra. The SNST-R is milled from a solid block of metal, with top and bottom covers drawn from a light metal alloy. Its stunning look and superb engineering allow analog enthusiasts to maintain the values of Swiss crafting. Nagra-made heads, the meter, equipped with two scales, giving the recording level and indicating the status of the internal batteries, the manual rewind crank, offer the famous Swiss-watch precision. Measuring 146 x 101 x 26 mm and weighting just 590 g, the SNST-R becomes a discreet high-end miniature recorder.”

Nagra SN

“The Nagra SN has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 15 kHz ±2 dB. The wow and flutter performance of 0.05% is also state-of-the-art. Its small size renders it an ideal candidate for all portable, location or discreet recording applications. The machine uses 0.15” (3.81 mm) tape on special open reel spools. Operating at a tape speed of 3.75 inches per second (9.5 cm / S), it yields duration of approximately 40 minutes per reel of tape. The Nagra SNST-R uses two “AA” size batteries or rechargeable cells. This enables more than 5 hours of operation.”

Nagra SN

Check out this great virtual visit to the Nagra factory – particularly page 9 which has many photos from the Nagra museum room, with this great story: “Below shows the very first Nagra recorder which forever changed the arts of location recordings. The story goes that Kudelski participated in a French competition where he played back a tape of the Notre-Dame bells he had recorded in the actual cathedral tower. Being used to the minor tank contraptions of recorders of the day, the flustered jury demanded to know just how he had managed to transport the necessary equipment up said tower. When Kudelski presented his small and lightweight machine, history was written. Naturally, he also walked away with the award.”

Nagra SN

Of interest to any johnny-come-latelys; this Guide to the Nagra 4.2 Production Sound Recording PDF is definitely worth a read. Apart from explaining how to use a Nagra 4.2 the author also works through the process of production sound for films, circa 2003 and there is a LOT of very valuable, honest advice!

Nagra SN

I haven’t been able to find an owners manual for the Nagra SN – anyone got a link or a copy they could scan to a PDF?

61 thoughts on “BEAUTIFUL TECH: Nagra SN

  1. Enos Desjardins

    I’ve always admired this little Nagra! By the way that PDF talking about production sound is great! Solid good advice and knowledge for anyone!

      1. tim Post author

        read the article, a PDF is linked to… maybe try searching the article for ‘PDF’

  2. Osmo Vatanen

    Is any one of these machines for sale or do you have a tip as to where one could obtain one?


    1. Åke Carlsson


      I hav a very nice Nagra SNST with its amplifier (needed for replay) but the price tag is high!

      Best regards

      1. Michael Scott

        I am looking for Nagra SNST. Can you quote me a price in USD? Thanks.

        Michael S.
        Los Angeles

      2. Arthur Ysselstyn

        Hello Ake,

        Do you still have the Nagra sound recorder?

        Kind regards,
        Arthur Ysselstyn

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  4. Jerry Sedley

    I have an original Nagra SN for sale. Hardly used; excellent condition. Many attachments. One owner, purchased in the 1970’s

    1. Marty

      Is this nagra sn still for sale ? Is it in mint condition no scratches, dents etc.
      And does it work as new ?
      Thank you

      1. Jerry Sedley

        This Nagra SN is still for sale. It’s in mint condition, no scratches, no dents. It works as new.

    2. SOMA

      I’m interested in this unit if it’s still for sale. Please contact me at the email above. Thank you.

        1. Arthur Ysselstyn

          Hello Michelangelo,

          Do you still have the Nagra sound recorders?

          Kind regards,
          Arthur Ysselstyn

  5. Pierre BAZONNARD


    I have a Nagra SN for sale, #2531 made in 1971, with manual, invoice, reels.
    I never use it since 1982. I don’t know if it still works.
    Please make me an offer.

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    1. iten simon

      hi, please email me at simoniten at swissonline dot ch if the nagra is still for sale. where are you located? what’s the price?

    2. Arthur Ysselstyn

      Hello Pierre,

      Do you still have the Nagras sound recorder?

      Kind regards,
      Arthur Ysselstyn

  7. Ingolfur Gudjonsson

    Hi threre !
    I´m selling 1975 Nagra IS-L. Spec. no 02 ( No 2031 )
    I think it´s in working condition but the plastic cover is lost.
    Please make me an offer.

  8. Paolo

    I have a Nagra SN in mint-excellent conditions. I have either tapes, microphone and an optional crystal oscillator SGXS…
    make offers to skipper955 at libero dot it.


    私はnagra winding unit を探しています。nagra sn special colectionがあり
    sn full setoを持っていますが、winding unitがありません。

  10. Matthé IJzerman

    Hello Nagra friends

    Great to share the same Nagra fascination. Unfortunately I have to sell a great part of my machines. Such as the IV-S with Time Code and one of my Nagra SN’s. On top of that I am about to sell my SN REEL WINDING UNIT.This is a very race item. Mine has the serial number 76. Pictures can be found on the internet. Anyone interested??

      1. Matthé IJzerman

        Sorry for the late reply. Haven’t been on this site for a while. Can you send me your email adress so I can send you the details plus pictures of my complete Nagra SN set and, if wanted, the other Nagra’s have

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  12. Kelly

    I have a beautiful SNST in working order, lightly used it appears. It has two microphones and 20 full unused metal reels with original tape unused from Daniel Technologies with it. Please respond with an offer if serious. This would be a fantastic addition to any collection.

    1. Zack Vex

      I’d be very interested in negotiating with you regarding your SNST and spare tapes. You don’t have an email address or profile associated with your name here, so feel free to contact me at zackvex (a) gmail com.

    2. Arthur Ysselstyn

      Hello Kelly,

      Do you still have the Nagra sound recorder?

      Kind regards,
      Arthur Ysselstyn

  13. Eugenio N

    Hi , there i have a Nagra Sn Black Series Noir in very very good condition
    I want to sell it, someone is interested?

    1. Arthur Ysselstyn

      Hello Euginio,

      Do you still have the Nagra sound recorder?

      Kind regards,

      Arthur Ysselstyn

  14. Lawrence

    I have an SNST I’m thinking about selling.

    It’s a complete kit in original case with mic, connectors, DSP amplifier, manual, 2 green reels and 2 blue ones. Tested and working.

    What are they worth?

  15. Simon Eatough

    This thread is years in the making. Wonder if anyone in NZ has a SNST for sale ?.

    1. tim Post author

      I sincerely doubt it, but they also sell for $5K+ so would be an expensive toy as they were really designed for recording DX before radio mics existed. I only know of one in NZ, ex NFU now at Park Road Post.

  16. Simon Eatough

    Thanks for the info Tim. It was a very long shot and yes I see the prices on ebay.

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