Rupert Neve, 1926-2021
February 18, 2021 7:09 AM   Subscribe

The Guardian: 'He was the Steve Jobs of audio': how Rupert Neve changed the sound of music. "Legendary pro-audio equipment designer Rupert Neve died February 12, 2021 due to non COVID-related pneumonia and heart failure. Neve’s passing brought to an end a career of more than 70 years that saw him create some of pro audio’s most revered, imitated and sought-after equipment, created for all corners of the industry, from recording to radio to live sound and more. As much an entrepreneur as he was an inventor, Neve’s legacy includes a slew of companies bearing his name, and it is no exaggeration to say equipment based on his designs will be used in studios around the world for decades to come. He was 94." (from the ProSoundNetwork obituary)

Obituary from online retailer Sweetwater Sound.

Obituary from Sound On Sound magazine, which includes a 25-minute video interview with Mr. Neve.

Long-ish biography (with lots of cool pictures) from the website of his last company, Rupert Neve Designs.

Rupert Neve Designs Twitter
posted by soundguy99 (19 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
There is a great documentary about a legendary LA recording studio, Sound City. Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Guns N' Roses, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica and many others recorded there, producing many platinum albums within the walls of the place.

There's a lot of talk in the film about Studio City having a great sound thanks to its Neve board, and where it ended up after the studio closed. Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) ended up with it, and he now uses it in his own studio.
posted by wolpfack at 7:15 AM on February 18 [7 favorites]

Rupert Neve was a giant in the audio industry, but some might consider the Steve Jobs comparison hyperbolic. If it is, it's not by much.
posted by tclark at 7:28 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]

What distinguished Neve's designs from SSL's (and others) was his use of transformers on the inputs and outputs of his signal paths. They are, IMHO, a big part of the Neve sound. Arguably better suited for tracking than mixing, but certainly warm and lovely.

Re: the comparison to Steve Jobs. By definition a manufacture of products for a professional market doesn't create stuff for the masses. So one can't compare his mixing desks to iPhones. But Neve's life long dedication to sound quality mirror's Job's fanatical dedication to Apple's user experience quality.

posted by Dean358 at 8:04 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]


I would say the silence is deafening, but as the whole point of his life's work was faithful recording of music maybe I'll turn it up instead.

(and that's a great story, wolpfack---maybe I'll start turning it up with the Foos while I hunt down a copy of Sound City)
posted by adekllny at 8:23 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]

posted by pseudophile at 8:27 AM on February 18

Here's a link to the Shelford Interviews where Neve describes developing the foundation of his stuff: the fader, the transistor, the diode-bridge compressor.

A good start is the six minute long video describing when he purchased his first transistor. One of the reasons was personal safety - vacuum tube circuits used incredibly high voltages to push the electrons off their plates. He was almost killed while working inside the cabinet of some tube-based equipment that was inadvertently turned on.
posted by sol at 8:52 AM on February 18 [3 favorites]

posted by Foosnark at 8:57 AM on February 18

posted by riverlife at 9:18 AM on February 18

posted by JoeXIII007 at 10:10 AM on February 18


I guess that great jam band in the sky that's been forming and practicing finally needed some better gear and an equally talented recording engineer up for the job.
posted by loquacious at 10:20 AM on February 18 [2 favorites]

+1 to the Sound City documentary! We watched it a couple days ago and it's really good. Not so much about Neve himself but helps drive home the legacy he leaves behind.
posted by potrzebie at 12:18 PM on February 18

posted by Lanark at 12:31 PM on February 18

posted by obloquy at 12:42 PM on February 18

posted by SystematicAbuse at 2:20 PM on February 18

"Neve + Studer"
posted by ovvl at 6:29 PM on February 18

I've listened to more music on something designed by Neve than by Jobs, I'll tell you that.

What a legend. I'm not sure how to feel that my immediate response was to look up how isa 428s are doing on ebay.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:31 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]

The Sound City documentary is currently free to watch on YT with ads, and it does spend a good amount of time talking about the Neve board and its history. I love when Dave Grohl talks about rescuing the Neve he jokes about all the cocaine they had to vacuum out of it. But in thinking about all the bands which used that board in the 70s and 80s I don't think he's exaggerating much.
posted by indexy at 10:21 PM on February 18

Back in 1985 I was temporarily based at the Cambridge office of a (then) well known software consultancy. Because I had no current assignment I was told to write the driver which moved the faders on one of their big desks. Had my own development machine and a fader to play with. No idea which desk or if my driver ever went into service but at the time I was underwhelmed and would rather have been in the next room working on the big Symbolics machine they had.
posted by epo at 10:21 AM on February 20

posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 6:38 PM on February 22

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