For anyone who has more than a passing interest in the field of audio, the name ‘Neve’ looms large. Rupert Neve founded the company in 1961 and after a decade of designing and building individual components and smaller mixers, the company had a major breakthrough in 1970, with the A88 console.
As studios and track counts increased in size, Neve was well-placed to take advantage of this ambitious expansion. In scaling up, however, none of the quality associated with the name was sacrificed. Read on to explore the evolution of Neve through 5 iconic examples of their consoles – each pushing the boundaries of innovation while maintaining their identity through a commitment to electronic craft.
Neve is one of those hallowed names in the audio world. Follow the turning points of the company through 5 of their most revolutionary consoles.
Wessex A88 console (1970)
This desk was installed at Wessex Sound Studios in London as the ’60s clocked over to the ’70s. Though it had serious multitracking capability for the time (24 tracks), the real showstopper was the installation of the 1073 preamp in its channel strips.
This component, more than any other, has been the hallmark of the Neve sound for 50 years. Thanks to its Class A circuitry, the 1073 is able to reproduce sound through its gain stage with clarity and power, with a minimum of distortion. All these virtues and more made it the first choice for King Crimson when the recorded Lizard – the first of many celebrity endorsements for Neve consoles.
Originally conceived as a broadcast console, this little beauty became quite a popular fixture in recording studios as well. More commonly known as the ‘sidecar’ it would happily augment the main console for extended channel counts in tracking and mixing.
Fitted with Neve’s flagship 1073 preamps, this mini-desk became a legend in its own right, enjoying endorsements from The Who legend, Pete Townshend among many others. Neve even saw fit to bring back the sidecar, with flexible channel configurations and choice of 1073 or 1084 preamps.
8048 console (1974)
A few years after the company made a splash with the A88 and BCM10, Neve made an even bigger one with the 8048. This console was fitted with Neve’s new 1081 preamp and EQ sections across its 32 channels. Spacious and elegant, it marked the arrival of large format consoles in a big way.
Queen was a famous exponent of this particular desk, recording a string of their rock symphonies through the channels of the 8048 at Mountain Studios in Switzerland. This console has racked up quite a resumé, with Iggy Pop, AC/DC and David Bowie albums being tracked through its magical circuits.
AIR Montserrat console (1978)
When George Martin opened the doors AIR Montserrat, the console at the core of this plush studio was only going to bear one name. It was a custom Neve desk, with the serial number A4792. Engineer Neil Dorfsman told the Globe and Mail that, “There’s zero doubt in my mind that the Montserrat Neve is easily one of the two best-sounding consoles ever made.” Winning a Grammy for his work on the Dire Straits album, Brothers in Arms, we’re inclined to believe him.
The studio itself was destroyed by a hurricane a mere decade after it was created, but in its brief life, the Carribean paradise and its incredible console played host to The Police, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Lou Reed and more. This hallowed desk now resides in Toronto in the studio of Benny Varadi. The price he paid: a cool $500,000.
Check out The Police showing their love for the iconic console in the clip for Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.
88 series console (2001)
At the turn of the millennium, Neve doubled-down on large-format design with their 88 series consoles. Primarily the domain of the scoring stage, these massive desks made a splash in Hollywood, finding a home in Ocean Way, Sony Pictures as well as famous London studios like Abbey Road and AIR Lyndhurst.
Aside from its generous complement of routing and surround sound mixing features, none of the finer details of Neve processing is missing here. Four-band parametric EQs, gating and expansion, compression and limiting are available across its expansive channel-count.
As a company, Neve continues to take a no-compromise approach to its products. They recently launched the Genysys series of desks, which combine the best of the Neve’s analog circuitry and seamless DAW integration for the modern studio.
They also offer up their legendary processing powers in 500-series preamps, EQs and compressors, so even the project studio owner can tap into the company’s unparalleled craft in audio components. It all goes to show that Neve isn’t content to simply reap the rewards of its legacy – they’re equally focused on the future of excellent sound.