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Prior to the internal reorganization as Audio Technology Switzerland
, Nagra Audio was headed by Gérard Beuchat, engineering by Jean-Claude Schlup who shared his time with many other Kudelski Group projects. Schlup's education was as electrotechnical engineer specialized in electronics, mechanics and optical. Key projects outside Nagra involved coherent optics, lasers and speckle. At Nagra he worked for more than three decades first as R&D engineer in close collaboration with Stephan Kudelski, later as R&D manager and VP. He plays the guitar and harmonica and in his free time pursues flying and the building of aircraft and helicopters.

1 - Marguerite Kudelski, 2 - Samuel, 3 - Georges, 4 - Jean-Claude Schlup, 5 - Jean-François
6 - Philippe C., 7 - Jean, 8 - Thierry, 9 - Philippe, 10 - Patrick, 11 - Sylvain


Today Nagra's engineering team continues to work in both the pro and hifi sectors and now is beholden to the vision of new owners Marguerite Kudelski and brother-in-law Pascal Mauroux. They want new Nagra products to perform at an even more rarefied level than before. This requires that each engineering discipline be granted freedom to do what it does best. To demonstrate such team work in action, let's look at the core personnel of engineers involved in the HD DAC. Their average age is 46 years, their accumulated experience spans 250 years and of those 166 years have already been invested at Nagra.

HD DAC at the 3rd Sons et Sens exhibit in Montreux.

Marguerite Kudelski, one of Audio Technology Switzerland's two majority owners, is the daughter of Nagra founder Stephan Kudelski who passed away on January 26th of this year. Marguerite is a full-fledged engineer in her own right albeit not of audio. She holds a Masters degree as well as Ph.D from EPFL in Microtechnology and brushless DC motors calculations and an MBA at IMD. Other education includes film making and working in the Kudelski Group controlling department. Key projects outside Nagra include the development of a sealed motor low consumption heat pump. Key projects at Nagra include research into the acoustic noise reduction of brushless motor drives. Pascal Mauroux is the second majority share holder of the new company and another Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne graduate engineer with an MBA from the city's Haute École de Commerce. He previously held international positions in industry and at Nestlé and now is Nagra's new business manager.

New Nagra VII 2-channel location recorder (battery supply disconnected and placed on top in the final photo). Final retail is estimated between €2.750 and €4.000 depending on options.

Philippe C. was this particular project's team leader and thus the DAC's chief architect. His background is as teenage ham-radio operator who'd launched a wildly popular underground radio station in central France on his very own home-built kit. Once at radio transmission engineering school, he was soon contacted on behalf of a then very recently ex president who proposed he become technical director of his new radio station. A young ambitious student couldn't resist such a lucrative opportunity with its promise of unlimited technical resources. Philippe thus went to work and garnered enviable field credentials in various endeavors including a few years in a hurricane-prone Caribbean location in charge of a life-line broadcast station.

One view of a HD DAC PCB.

His sharp ears and ability to correlate listening impressions with circuit details made him this project's perfect sonic proof reader. He's also the bane of time lines and parts budgets. During my visits Philippe was quick to credit the entire team for its highly specialized work. Without it surgical sonic criticisms, parts substitutions, demands for custom parts, circuit tweaks and such would fall flat on his golden ears. Like Captain Nemo, Philippe plays the organ. And that'll be church, not Hammond. Matthieu Latour who first crossed his path at a French radio station during his own formative broadcast studies plays the drums. And the team includes more musicians. What does Philippe currently do for fun in his spare time? He's building a music computer to multi-track a full symphony orchestra in 10.2 surround at full 24/192 or higher resolution. As is common for Nagra, music used to reference hardware R&D includes material recorded and mastered in-house, often from the famed Montreux Jazz festival. Philippe's personal recording ambitions are shared also by Matthieu Latour who is building his own post-production mastering facility.



Samuel
's EPFL education is in high-frequency radio transmission. His field of expertise is analog audio which at Nagra previously involved work on their CD player, MSA amplifier and the VI and VII recorders. Outside Nagra he contributes to sound reinforcement, lighting design and builds RC models. Georges is an electronician by trade who specializes in PCB design. Past projects before Nagra include designing the circuit boards for the Rolls-Royce engine monitoring units of the Airbus A380, Boeing 7X7 and Embraer. Key projects at Nagra include the new Nagra VII. Philippe also studied at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and specializes in digital/analog electronics and embedded computing. Past work at Nagra includes the Nagra-D, Ares-C, Ares-P and Nagra CD. Since 1993 he's also been involved in audio education via the Swiss Audio Engineering Society. Since 2001 he's been a member of the committee responsible for the electronics exams.


Patrick is another EPFL graduate with a degree in microwave engineering and wireless subsystems design. His field of expertise is the architecture and design of embedded systems, hard/software and Linux. Past key projects include the development of 24-bit high-resolution seismic measurement gear, consumer computer peripherals and a Linux-based controller for telecom power systems. His latest key project at Nagra is the new Nagra VII recorder. Patrick plays the classical guitar. Thierry also graduated from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. He is a microtechnics engineer specialized in robotics. His chosen field of expertise is mechanical, embedded software and electronics. Key projects for Nagra include the Nagra VI and VII and the Nagra DAC.


Sylvain has an education bachelor of science in embedded systems engineering. He specializes in software development. His last key project for Nagra was the Nagra VII recorder. Sylvain sings and plays guitar in a rock metal band. Jean-François graduated the EPFL as an electrical engineer. His chosen area of expertise are digital and analog electronics, PC/DSP/FPGA programming, clocks and time code. Past key projects outside Nagra include programming the flood security systems for the Sarrine river and the emergency brake systems for a cable car. Key projects at Nagra include the Nagra-D, Ares-C, Ares-P, Nagra V and Nagra VI. Jean-François plays the piano, organ and guitar.


Jean
's work 10 years prior to Nagra included the conception and design of circuit boards for embedded military equipment. Since 1981 he's designed all Nagra PCBs to be in charge of insuring signal transparency for all their circuits. In subjective listening tests he is very sensitive to the various 3D aspects of the soundstage. In his spare time he designs for himself various audio components and also is involved in the recording arts.



Next time you admire a Nagra component—preferably in your own four walls—you'll have a better sense for the work which pooled into it and the broad scope of talent required to bridge the gap from theoretical concept to breadboarded prototype to slick finalized product.