As though the point needed driving home, three Nagra-sponsored CDs which cover the solo piano competitions of the famous Montreux Jazz Festival from 2007 to 2009 did drive it home with fanfare back in Matthieu's office: Nagra is in the recording business.

Matthieu's shelf of reject parts—knobs, modulometers, face plates and such—bore very close scrutiny and even then didn't make it apparent just why they had been rejected. Next one of Nagra's auxiliary parts kits showed how the company treats its customers - with consideration and the kind of luxury this sector of bespoke hifi demands.

NagraAudio maintains two listening rooms on the premises but being pressed for time, we only visited one. The main speakers of choice in the room on the upper floor were big Verity Audio Lohengrin II, with a pair of Wilson Audio Watt/Puppies standing idle in the corner. The inverted pyramid constellation had been a custom request from a client.

With the company's clear mastery of complicated mechanics, it's surprising that Nagra has never authored a turntable. Perhaps those tides have turned too far by now?

The BPS bipolar MM/MC phono stage is Nagra's second and more affordable vinyl offering after the valve-powered VPS. Its small size reflects drive off a 9V 6LR61-type battery though an external power inlet for a 7-10V/10mA wall wart (not supplied) is also fitted. "All electronics are fitted onto a single compact double-sided gold-printed mother board made from epoxy resin. The connectors are soldered directly onto this board to avoid all wired connections as potential interference sources. The circuit is entirely constructed of discrete JAN-standard components. Amplification is provided by sorted and matched bipolar transistors. These reflect the same philosophy of negative feedback that applied to the valves of the Nagra VPS phono preamplifier, ensuring very rigorous RIAA correction compliance. Part of this correction is via the negative feedback of the input stage. The other part in the lower frequencies is effected by the load of the emitter (the cathode on the VPS) on this same input stage. This approach also provides excellent noise rejection." 11dB-gain custom Nagra transformers in mu-metal shields boost the signal additionally when the internal jumpers configure the unit for MC while the core MM circuit develops 64dB without transformers.

The museum's room where Nagra keeps a sample of each of its components showed how the present Nagra aesthetic truly does trace back all the way to the beginning. The famed modulometer made its first appearance already in Stefan Kudelski's second model two short years after it records first set the world of particularly journalism and movie sets on its ears.

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.

The Nagra II of 1953 already sported the famous multi meter which wasn't a traditional VU meter—those always deflected well after the fact—but a rather faster version which reliably prevented tape saturation by displaying peak values in real time.

One turn of the right top-mounted control rotated the capstan into place.

It's one of many reasons why Swiss precision eventually grew legendary.

The famed SNTS-R miniature recorder for concealed spy craft was commissioned by the CIA, unavailable and unknown to civilians for 10 years and thus part of Nagra's Black Line. The sample of Greek/French Nagra importer Costas Kekemenis which I'd photographed at the Athens Hifi show a few weeks prior had been procured from Scotland Yard in fact. In short, old Q in the bowel's of James Bond's byzantine accessory boutique had nothing on Nagra as contract outfitter to the American intelligence service.

Here is Nagra's publicity shot of the same machine in glorious full size and professional lighting.

Miniaturization continues to be Nagra's game to this day. Some of the latest stuff is truly tiny - but not for civilians and thus not vetted for further public details. Back to the museum and past accomplishments.

When Nagra's boss encountered heavy weather on the seas without warning one day, he returned to the factory determined to henceforth have access to high-resolution weather forecast charts. He duly built the necessary fax machine to make it so.

As you scan Nagra's illustrious product history below, you'll come across a light-weight mono broadcast recorder described as idioten sicher, i.e. German for idiot proof. There's the Crevette military recorder for torpedoes and much later, the covert body recorder CBR whereby the company once again addressed the international security sector. This device succeeds the SNST-R and measures a mere 60 x 55 x 18mm. "It allows recordings of the highest quality to be made in the utmost discretion. Programmed via its USB 2.0 port, it is very simple and reliable to handle and has a nearly three-day functional autonomy." Not listed but shown in the museum is a recorder specifically made for spying into telephone conversations. With its ongoing work in encryption technologies, the Kudelski Group works well outside consumer or even professional audio. Naturally, the latter benefit from all in-house know-how wherever it pertains to their sectors.

The machine below left was the earlier mentioned clandestine telephone conversation taper.

For a complete time line of Nagra innovations and products, I copied this break-down list from their website. The original embedded links go to specific product pages:

1951 NAGRA First prototype
1952 NAGRA I Clockwork motor Tube electronics
1953 NAGRA II NAGRA I with a modulometer
1955 NAGRA II CI NAGRA II with the first printed circuit boards
1957 NAGRA III DC servo controlled electric motor. Germanium transistors
1960 NAGRA SN Serie Noire (prototype)
1962 NAGRA III NP NAGRA III with NEOPILOT synchronization
1967 Crevette Military recorder for torpedoes
1968 NAGRA IV NAGRA IV first recorder to use Silicon transistors
1970 NAGRA SNN Body recorder (before radio microphones)
1971 4.2 Improved version IV
1971 IV-S Version IV Stereophonic
1972 IV-SJ NAGRA IV Instrumentation
1972 SN-S Slow speed half track SN
1973 SN-G Slow speed half track SNN full frequency response
1974 NAGRA IS Light-weight mono broadcast recorder (Idioten Sicher)
1975 NAGRA IS(T) IS two speed
1976 NAGRA-E Economy
1977 SNST Stereo SN for security applications
1977 NAGRAFAX Facsimile weather chart printer
1978 NAGRA TI Twin capstan Instrumentation recorder
1979 NAGRA TRVR Transport Rack-Mountable Voice Recorder
1981 NAGRA TA Twin Capstan Audio version Studio machine
1983 VPR-5 Video portable recorder (Joint venture Ampex)
1984 JBR Junior Body Recorder
1984 IV-STC SMPTE/EBU version of the IV-S
1985 NAGRA TATC SMPTE/EBU version of the TA
1986 PS-1 Playback System for the JBR recorder
1989 RTU Rotary transport unit (Joint Venture with Honeywell)
1992 NAGRA-D 4 Channel 24bits Digital recorder
1995 ARES-C PCMCIA recorder
1997 ARES-CPP Rack-mount version of the ARES-C
1997 PL-P Pre-amplifier (Lampes Phono) first high-end product
1998 VPA Vacuum tube Power Amplifier
1999 MPA MOSFET solid state Power Amplifier
1999 SNST-R HiFi version of the SNST (SNST-revival)
1999 NAGRA DII High Bit rate version (24/96) of NAGRA-D
2000 ARES-P Pocket version of ARES-C
2000 RCX 220 USB version of ARES-P
2001 PL-L Simplified high-end pre-amplifier (Line inputs only)
2002 NAGRA V HD recorder based on removable hard disk
2003 NAGRA DAC D/A converter for the HiFi enthusiast
2004 ARES-PII Linear replacement for the ARES-P and RCX220
2004 ARES-BB On-the-shoulder version of the ARES-PII
2004 NAGRA V-PP 19" Rack version of the NAGRA V
2005 ARES-BB+ FAT 32 and 24 bit version of ARES-BB
2005 ARES-PII+ FAT 32 and 24 bit version of ARES-PII
2005 PMA Pyramid Mono Amplifier
2005 PSA Pyramid Stereo Amplifier
2005 ARES-M Ultra miniature hand-held recorder
2006 CD-T / P / C Range of CD players for the high-end range
2007 ARES-MII 2GB version of ARES-M
2007 CBR Covert Body Recorder
2007 VPS Phono stage valve pre-amplifier
2008 NAGRA VI Six channel digital location recorder
2008 NAGRA LB Two-track broadcast recorder with communication
2008 ARES-ML Simplified version of the ARES-MII
2009 MSA Mosfet Stereo Amplifier