A Designer Emerges


Musique Concrete London

Desmond Leslie, a professional composer of Musique Concrete, had a room full of tape recorders (a new medium in those days) loaded up with “concrete” (real-world) sounds. He needed a device that would help him mix these sounds together, specifically for an EMI contract for the musical background to Shakespeare plays.

Rupert designed a mixer and gave Desmond a price, to which he agreed. But there was no money to pay for the parts. This was a truly unique, custom-designed piece of equipment, and not saleable to anyone else. Rupert and Evelyn decided to ask Desmond for one third of the price in advance, Desmond agreed at once, and the very first mixer was built.

Rupert and Evelyn had recently become Christians. What seemed a commonsense solution was clearly God’s guidance. It protected the company from accepting custom console contracts that were not financed, and the policy has been continued throughout the life of the business.

Window of Opportunity

The Neve Company

Vintage Neve Recorder, Mic Pre

In 1961 a new opportunity presented itself: the advent of the pop music scene in London. Two studios were foremost in London to recognize the need for new techniques for sound processing and mixing when recording the modern music of that day. They were Recorded Sound Ltd and Phillips Records Ltd.

Recorded Sound Ltd, London

One of Rupert’s very early clients was Leo Pollini of Recorded Sound in London, for whom he designed and built two valve consoles. The first was for the studio. The design was based on the successful equipment Rupert had built in the Plymouth days and included features that were innovative for that period.

The other was an outside broadcast console. Recorded Sound had a contract with Radio Luxembourg to broadcast a series of live Sunday afternoon concerts for which they needed a high quality, reliable, transportable console with all the features of studio equipment and the capability of feeding music landlines. This console was based on the earlier studio console that had been working successfully at the Bryonstone Street Studio. Both these consoles were used for many years by Mr. Pollini, who found them robust and very reliable – characteristics for which Rupert’s equipment became renowned.

Transistors Take Hold

Vintage Neve Console Phillips Recording

By 1964, Rupert had developed high-performance transistor equipment that replaced the traditional valve designs. The first client for the new transistor equipment was Phillips Records Ltd. Rupert was commissioned to design and build a series of equalizers to enable them to change the musical balance of material that had been previously recorded. This was before the days of multi-track tape machines. Rebalancing a 2-track recording usually meant a new session with artists, producers and engineers, all reconvened at great expense. The success of the equalizers led to orders from Phillips and other recording studios for mixing consoles. These attained a reputation for excellent workmanship and sonic clarity. Demand grew rapidly.

Vintage Neve Console, Phillips Recording

*Complete three- and two-track Studio and Portable Console for Phillips Records Ltd London*

From The Neve Home…

Neve home near Cambridge, England

The company was still operating out of Rupert and Evelyn’s home, an old Rectory in Little Shelford, England. A metal workshop and stores occupied the old coach house. A prefabricated building in the grounds accommodated the drawing office, project engineers and sales office. Before long, many of the rooms in the house were commandeered for research and development, purchasing, accounting, and secretarial services. Studio owners and engineers came to discuss their requirements not only from London but from many parts of the world including the United States, Australia, South America,and many countries in Europe and the Far East.

Neve Console Design Lab

*Workshop alongside Neve home*

…Into The Factory.

BBC Cyber Edit Room, Neve Console

Early in 1969, the business moved into a purpose-built factory. During the next five years, a satellite factory to manufacture modules was established in Scotland. Sales offices were opened in Toronto, Canada; Bethel, Connecticut; Hollywood, California; and Nashville, Tennessee. Agents were appointed around the world. By 1973, the Neve team had grown to over 500 worldwide.

The business was built on principles of integrity, “going the extra mile”, amazing team loyalties, innovative but very simple technical designs, and workmanship second-to-none.

Neve Console Factory 2

Neve Console Factory

Neve Channel Amplifiers

Neve Channel Amplifiers comprised a range of high-performance input amplifiers available for use on NEVE sound control consoles, which incorporated alternative arrangements of filter and frequency response curves.

These amplifiers were designed to accept signals from microphone and line sources and raise them to 0dBm for feeding a 600 Ohm load. Important features: low noise & distortion and generous overload performance.

Example: Neve 1066 Channel Amplifier

High frequency, mid-frequency (presence) and low frequency correction controls were provided. The shapes of the curves and the frequencies were carefully chosen to give the maximum possible flexibility in high quality recording. In addition, a steep cutting high-pass filter with a choice of cut-off frequencies could be engaged.

Neve 1066 Mic Pre, EQ

Neve 1073, Neve 1066, Neve Console Channel Amp Drawings