Taipei, Taiwan (February 22, 2021)—Audio engineer Zhu Chiao Chen has upgraded his J.studio in the center of Taipei, Taiwan with a Neve 8424 console.
“We especially love working with Taiwanese indie bands as many of the bands we have worked with have had their full creative potential realized in our studio space,” says Zhu Chiao Chen. He opened J.studio in 2019 and is now offering recording, mixing and mastering facilities to all types of musical genres including classical, jazz, EDM and pop.
“Our approach is to bridge old-school gear and apply modern techniques to achieve sonically unique results. The studio is equipped with Urei 813C main monitors and we love collecting all types of vintage audio gear. The 8424 console is what connects everything together.”
The new 8424 replaces an older console that had reached the end of its working life. “We were starting to encounter a lot of problems because buttons and knobs were slowly wearing out and this was hindering our workflow,” he explains. “As an alternative, the 8424 was an affordable option in this market segment and it allows us to seamlessly use the gear we want to use alongside it. Plus, we are big fans of the iconic Neve sound.”
Zhu Chiao Chen says that he prefers to use a hybrid workflow: “I initially assign all my channels, groups, sums, etc. to the console. We have six Switchcraft 9625 patchbays that are connected to a lot of 500 series gear. This allows us to maximize the space we have in our studio and create a more ergonomic environment to work in. At this point, I’ll be ready to start mixing, and use a combination of outboard gear and software plug-ins to achieve my mix.”
Wimberley, TX (February 13, 2021)—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.
Born July 31, 1926 in Newton Abbot, England, Rupert Neve grew up in in Buenos Aires, Argentina; showing an interest in audio early on, he began designing audio amplifiers and radio receivers at 13, soon repairing and selling radios as a business before volunteering at age 17 to join the Royal Signals during World War II, providing communications support to the British Army. Following the war, he settled back in England, where he built a mobile recording studio used to cut operas, speeches, choirs and more on to lacquer discs. Concurrently, he also provided sound reinforcement systems for events involving Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth II and Winston Churchill.
Neve worked for a variety of companies in the 1950s before eventually striking out on his own to found CQ Audio, which produced Hi-Fi speaker systems. This attracted the attention of composer Desmond Leslie, who commissioned Neve to build a mixing console for him in the early 1960s; the console is still in residence in Castle Leslie, Ireland.
The Leslie console led to Neve founding the first of multiple audio companies that would bear his name, Neve Electronics, in 1961, initially operating out of his home before moving into proper facilities later in the Sixties. As the use of transistors gained popularity, Neve developed a transistor-based console for London’s Phillips Recording Studio in 1964, and continued to create new desks, most notably the Neve 80 and 50 series, which are revered for their microphone preamp, equalizer and processing modules, such as the widely cloned and emulated 1073 and 1081. Neve also developed the first moving fader system, NECAM (NEve Computer Assisted Mixdown); after seeing a pre-release demo on a Neve 16/4 console, Beatles producer George Martin’s first words were “How soon can I have one?” and Martin’s AIR Studios in London soon became the first NECAM-enabled facility.
Neve sold the company in the mid-1970s and left to form ARN Consultants, the result of a 10-year non-compete clause in the sales contract. ARN in turn teamed up with Amek Systems, a collaboration that led to Neve developing the Amek 9098 console, as well as outboard gear and his Transformer-Like Amplifier (TLA) design, which featured in numerous Amek desks.
In 1985, ARN founded Focusrite Ltd., primarily producing outboard gear such as dynamic processors and EQs, as well as another large-format console, of which only eight were made before the company was liquidated in 1989; the company’s assets were purchased by a new company, Focusrite Audio Engineering (today Focusrite PLC), with which Neve was not involved. Concurrently, but likewise unrelated directly to Neve himself, the original Neve Electronics was sold to Siemens in 1985, which in turn merged with UK company Advanced Music Systems, resulting in pro-audio manufacturer AMS-Neve, which continues to this day.
Neve and his wife, Evelyn, moved to Wimberley, Texas in late 1994, and in 1997, he became only the third person to receive a Technical Grammy Award. The Neves became U.S. citizens in 2002 and founded Rupert Neve Designs in 2005, which today produces a variety of products, including its 5088 analog mixing console and a range of rackmount and desktop equipment for processing, summing and more. Even so, Neve continued to also create products for other companies, including preamps and pickups for Taylor Guitars, microphones for sE Electronics, plug-ins for Yamaha’s live sound consoles, and more.
Over the course of his career, Rupert Neve was awarded 16 TEC Awards for his Rupert Neve Designs products, and in 2006, received an Audio Engineering Society Fellowship Award. He is survived by his wife of nearly 70 years, Evelyn; five children, Mary, David, John, Stephen, and Ann; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
North Carolina (February 10, 2021)—Producer Thomas Statnick, one half of electronic/experimental ambient project Anamorphic, has installed a Neve 8424 console in his North Carolina studio to support his hybrid workflow.
“I chose a Neve 8424 because I like using a large, fully featured console for tracking and mixing,” says Statnick. His studio is mainly used to record, mix and master projects for Anamorphic, which he established in 1996 with Elod Horvath.
Originally established in Lafayette, IN, the studio moved to New York City before finally relocating to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 2015. The studio’s new Neve 8424 was installed at the end of 2020 as a replacement for an in-line analog console that was showing its age.
“Given the substantial investment I have made over the years in outboard gear, going totally ‘in-the-box’ is not a practical option. What I wanted was a desk that could cope with a hybrid digital environment by delivering a low noise floor, high output levels and a high channel count for mix-down. Recall capability and the build and sound quality of the console were also important. The Neve 8424 meets all these criteria and also allows me to easily integrate my collection of classic analogue outboard gear into my workflow.”
Statnick says, “I perform all of the engineering, mixing, and mastering duties and assist in creating soundscapes and arrangements. As an electronic music studio, we don’t feature a huge microphone or mic preamp collection, so our outboard gear is mostly comprised of compressors, equalizers and effects units. We also have a 32×32 Apogee Symphony DAW interface and standalone A/D and D/A converters from Dangerous Music for mastering and monitoring.”
He adds, “This is my first Neve purchase and although I have heard a lot of really great music produced on Neve consoles, this is the first time I’ve been directly exposed to the Neve sound. I have been an audiophile since my early 20s and use a high-end audiophile system to proof masters and preview mixes. One of my biggest engineering interests in the studio is trying different things during mixing and mastering, and listening to the result on an audiophile system. Sound quality and soundstage/imaging is extremely important to me, and Neve’s reputation for sound quality was definitely a factor in my decision to get an 8424.”
Charlotte, NC (January 27, 2021)—Cuban-American recording artist Mike Smith, who is also a co-executive producer and main judge on BET’s One Shot competition series, recently overhauled his studio in Charlotte, NC and installed a Neve 8424 console.
Smith’s studio is a commercial facility but is primarily used for his own projects. It houses his collection of more than 60 classic guitars, as well as a grand piano, numerous keyboards, drum sets and microphones. Outboard equipment includes two vintage Neve 1073 preamps and a total of eight 2254R and 2264ALB compressor/limiters. Alongside his 8424 purchase, Smith also recently acquired a Neve 1073OPX, which he is using in conjunction with the desk.
“I never used the preamps on my old desk and as time went on, I realized I was barely using the console at all because I was working more and more in the box, with a few outboard pieces for tracking and mixing,” says Smith. As an artist, producer and songwriter, he has over one billion streams and over five million units sold, not to mention numerous No.1 albums and several Top 10 singles. “The 8424 has given me the ability to come back to the analogue world in a huge way by really streamlining the process between in-the-box and outside-the-box.”
The 8424 was installed at the end of last year. “It is a world-class console in a small footprint and with a workflow that is perfect for someone like me, a singer-songwriter and producer who predominantly tracks themselves or a few other artists,” he says.
“The two 1073 preamps included on the console, along with the 8 channel 1073OPX expansion and integration to the console, are ideally suited to how I work. I now have 48 channels that are easily integrated with my DAW, and instant recall of my settings. However, the biggest surprise is the master section of the console, which is incredible. The inclusion of two 500 series slots, the shelving EQs, width controls, and beautiful-sounding Marinair transformers makes this console a one stop shop for all of my recording needs.”
Burnley, UK (December 2, 2020)—Belly of the Beast, a studio in South London owned by Nick Cage, producer and manager of Dizzee Rascal, has become the first facility in the U.K. to install an AMS Neve 8424 console.
“For studios like ours, where you have a large and varied collection of preamps, EQs and interesting bits of outboard gear, this desk is ideal because it provides a very logical system to bring all of those elements together,” says producer, mix engineer and studio manager James Rand.
“We now have an architecture where we can route our preamps directly into the console and send the sound wherever we need it. This makes life a lot more exciting because what used to be a faff to set up is now much simpler and easier,” says Rand.
The studio was set up as a private facility but in recent years — certainly since James Rand and musician/engineer Raf Rundell began working there — it has become an end-to-end facility where artists have access to a team of writers, session musicians and engineers who can handle all aspects of their projects, from recording through to mixing and mastering.
The studio pre-ordered the desk prior to its release in June, following an in-depth demo that highlighted its full range of features. The decision to replace Cage’s old TL Audio VTC console with the Neve 8424 was part of a longer-term plan to attract more commercial projects, Rand explains.
“We already do a lot of mixing and that part of our business became even more important during lockdown, so having a console with reliable recall was an imperative,” he says. “The arrival of the new desk gave us the opportunity to reorganize the studio and all our racks so that we could create an environment that really supports artists and allows them to get some wicked work done.”
Since installing the Neve 8424, Rand has used the desk on a number of projects including mixes for artists such as Lapsely, Sega Bodega, Mykki Blanco and Beatrice Dillon.
2020 will be remembered as the year we’d like to forget, but when 2021 is recalled one day as the year everything bounced back, much of that will be due to groundwork laid down in the preceding 12 months. That includes the pro-audio industry—next year, when live events and concerts return, new hits rule the airwaves and the latest must-hear podcasts land in your listening queue, many of them will be created using pro-audio equipment that was introduced over the last 12 months. With that in mind, here’s the Gear of the Year for 2020.
So what was the Gear of the Year? That’s not an easy thing to determine, so rather than weigh a hot new plug-in against an arena-filling P.A. or an audio console years in development, we decided to let our readers show the way.
Product announcements have always been among the most popular stories on prosoundnetwork.com, so we dug through our Google Analytics (readership statistics), sifting through all the “new product” stories we ran 2020 (well into the triple digits!) to determine which ones were the most popular with PSN readers. With that in mind, here’s the Gear of the Year that YOU unknowingly picked—a true Top-20 for 2020.
1. YAMAHA RIVAGE PM3 AND PM5 DIGITAL MIXING SYSTEMS
This dual product launch in May was far and away the most popular product announcement of 2020 with our readers. Yamaha introduced two consoles—the PM5 and PM3—as well as a pair of DSP engines—DSPRX and DSP-RX-EX—and version 4 firmware that provides features to new and legacy Rivage systems.
Both of the new consoles feature large capacitive touchscreens that allow users to use multi-finger gestures, with the PM5 sporting three screens and the PM3 getting one. As with their predecessors, the PM5 and PM3 sport 38 faders—three bays of 12, with two masters—but each of the new control surfaces is laid out with an eye toward increased efficiency.
2. SOLID STATE LOGIC 2 AND 2+ USB AUDIO INTERFACES Solid State Logic unveiled its first personal studio-market products—the USB-powered SSL 2 (2-in/2-out) and SSL 2+ (2-in/4-out) audio interfaces—at the Winter NAMM Show. The 2+ in particular caught our readers’ eyes, with a 4K analog enhancement mode “inspired by classic SSL consoles,” monitoring and an SSL Production Pack software bundle. Offering expanded I/O for musicians collaborating, it includes two analog mic preamps, 24-bit/192 kHz AD/DA AKM converters, multiple headphone outputs with independent monitor mix, MIDI I/O, and additional unbalanced outputs for DJ mixers.
3. JBL 4349 STUDIO MONITOR
The JBL 4349 studio monitor is a compact, high-performance monitor loudspeaker built around the JBL D2415K dual 1.5-inch compression driver mated to a large format, High-Definition Imaging (HDI) horn, paired with a 12-inch cast-frame and pure-pulp cone woofer. The JBL D2415K compression driver features a pair of lightweight polymer annular diaphragms with reduced diaphragm mass, while the V-shaped geometry of the annular diaphragm reduces breakup modes, eliminates time smear and reduces distortion, according to JBL.
4. APPLE LOGIC PRO X 10.5 Apple updated Logic Pro X with a “professional” version of Live Loops, new sampling features and new and revamped beatmaking tools. Live Loops lets users arrange loops, samples and recordings on a grid to build musical ideas, which can then be further developed on Logic’s timeline. Remix FX brings effects to Live Loops that can be used in real time, while the updated Sampler augments the EXS24 plug-in with new sound shaping controls. Other new tools include Quick Sampler, Step Sequencer, Drum Synth and Drum Machine Designer.
5. AMS NEVE 8424 CONSOLE
The AMS Neve 8424 is a small-format desk based on the 80-series console range. Intended for hybrid studios, the desk provides a center point between analog outboard gear, synths and the like, and the digital world of DAW workflows, software plug-ins and session recall. As an analog mixing platform, the 8424 offers 24 DAW returns across 24 channel faders or, for larger DAW sessions, a 48-Mix mode that allows a total of 48 mono inputs with individual level and pan controls to be mixed through the stereo mix bus.
6. MILLENNIA MEDIA HV-316 MIC PREAMP Millennia Media bowed its fully remote-controllable microphone preamplifier, the HV-316. Offering 12V battery operation, the HV-316 is housed in a 10-pound, 1U aluminum chassis housing 16 channels of Millennia HV-3 microphone preamplifiers with simultaneous analog and Dante 32-bit/192 kHz Ethernet outputs. Other digital audio output options are planned, including USB and MADI. The unit is designed for high-temperature continuous operation (up to 150° F), is powered by both 12V DC and worldwide 80–264V AC, and features “pi filter” shielding on audio and digital feeds to prevent interference.
7. SHURE SLX-D DIGITAL WIRELESS SYSTEM
The Shure SLX-D, offered in single- and dual-channel models, provides operation of up to 32 channels per frequency band. Transmitters run on standard AA batteries or an optional lithium-ion rechargeable battery solution with a dual-docking charging station. For less technically inclined users, it offers Guided Frequency Setup and a Group Scan feature that sets up multiple channels by assigning frequencies to all receivers automatically via Ethernet connections, allowing a 30-plus channel system can be set up via Group Scan within a few seconds.
8. MEYER SOUND SPACEMAP GO
The Meyer Sound Spacemap Go is a free Apple iPad app for spatial sound design and mixing. Working with the company’s Galaxy Network Platform, Spacemap Go can control Galaxy processors using a single or multiple iPads as long as the units have current firmware and Compass control software. Spacemap Go is compatible with various sound design/show control programs such as QLab, so designs assembled using them can be implemented into a multichannel spatial mix using Spacemap Go’s templates for common multichannel configurations.
9. D&B AUDIOTECHNIK 44S LOUDSPEAKER
Housed in a flush-mountable cabinet, the d&b audiotechnik 44S is a two-way passive, point source installation loudspeaker with 2 x 4.5-inch neodymium LF drivers and 2 x 1.25-inch HF dome tweeters, delivering a frequency response of 90 Hz–17 kHz. The 44S features a waveguide and baffle design intended to provide horizontal dispersion down to the lower frequencies while being focused vertically, providing a 90° x 30° dispersion pattern to direct sound to specific spaces.
10. BEYERDYNAMIC TG D70 AND TG 151 MICS Beyerdynamic made two additions to its Touring Gear (TG) series. The second-generation TG D70 dynamic kickdrum mic is meant for capturing the impact of bass drums and similar low-frequency-intensive instruments, while the TG 151 instrument mic is a lean microphone with a short shaft that can be used on everything from snares and toms to brass instruments and guitar amplifiers.
11. QSC Q-SYS CORE PROCESSORS QSC’s Q-SYS Core 8 Flex and Nano audio, video and control processors provide scalable DSP processing, video routing and bridging for web conferencing, as well as third-party endpoint integration without the need for separate dedicated control processors. The 8 Flex includes onboard analog audio I/O and GPIO plus network I/O, while Nano offers network-only audio I/O processing and control.
12. TELEFUNKEN TF11 MICROPHONE Telefunken‘s TF11 is the company’s first phantom-powered large-diaphragm condenser mic. The CK12-style edge-terminated capsule is a single-membrane version of the capsule featured in the TF51, and the amplifier is a proprietary take on the FET mic amplifier similar to the M60, coupled with a custom large-format nickel-iron core transformer.
13. L-ACOUSTICS K3 LOUDSPEAKER
K3 is a compact loudspeaker from L-Acoustics that is intended as a main system to cover up to 10,000 people, or for use as outfills or delays for K1 or K2 systems. Designed as a full-range line source, K3 integrates 12-inch transducers for large-format system performance in the form factor of a 10-inch design.
14. CLEAR-COM HEADSET SANITIZATION KITS Clear-Com has sanitization kits for its CC-300, CC-400, CC-110, CC-220 and CC-26K headsets. They include replacement ear pads, pop filters, sanitizing wipes, ear sock covers and temple pads in a cloth bag. Items for each kit vary depending on the headset, and can also be purchased separately.
15. ZOOM PODTRAK P8 PODCAST STUDIO
The Zoom PodTrak P8 provides recording, editing and mixing capabilities all in one unit. Six mics, a smartphone and PC can be recorded simultaneously, each with its own fader and preamp with 70 dB of gain. A touchscreen controls monitoring, adjusting, onboard editing and more.
16. WAVES SHIPS KALEIDOSCOPES PLUG-IN Waves’ Kaleidoscopes plug-in creates classic analog studio effects such as 1960s phasing and tape flanging, 1970s stadium tremolo-guitar vibes and 1980s chorus sounds.
17. OUTLINE STADIA 28 LINE ARRAY SYSTEM
The Outline Stadia 28 is a medium-throw system intended for use in permanent outdoor installations. A single enclosure weighs 46.2 pounds and can reportedly reach 139 dB SPL.
18. LAB.GRUPPEN FA SERIES AMPLIFIERS Lab.gruppen‘s FA Series Energy Star-certified amplifiers are intended for commercial and industrial applications, and are offered in 2 x 60W, 2 x 120W and 2 x 240W.
19. D.W. FEARN VT-2 PREAMPLIFIER
The updated D.W. Fearn VT-2 Dual-Channel Vacuum Tube Microphone Preamplifier now features an integrated, switchable 43 dB pad, aiding patching into a master bus.
20. KEF LS50 META SPEAKER
Our Gear of the Year list concludes with the LS50, featuring KEF’s Metamaterial Absorption Technology driver array, a cone neck decoupler, offset flexible bass port, low-diffraction curved baffle and more.
Burnley, UK (June 22, 2020)—AMS Neve has unveiled its latest console, the Neve 8424, a small-format desk based on the 80-series console range that is being aimed at project studios, educational facilities and small pro audios.
Intended for hybrid studios centered around an in-the-box workflow, the desk provides a center point between analog tools such as outboard gear, analog synths and the like, and the digital world of DAW workflows, software plugins and session recall.
The 8424’s dual-input channel strip allows for switching between recording and mixing inputs without additional patching, providing connectivity via 24 line-level inputs, dual 1073 preamps, and dual Instrument DI channels, allowing users to record directly in the control room. The desk sports a dual cue mix system with talkback/return talkback capability and dual headphone amplifiers.
As an analog mixing platform, the 8424 offers 24 DAW returns across 24 channel faders or, for larger DAW sessions, a 48-Mix mode that allows a total of 48 mono inputs with individual level and pan controls to be mixed through the 8424’s Marinair transformer-coupled stereo mix bus. Engineers can use the 8424’s mono and stereo aux busses to connect to outboard FX units and route them back into the console’s two dedicated stereo reverb returns. Also on board are four mono groups with 2-band shelving EQ, inserts, and direct outs. The 8424 has an on-board Recall system, allowing the console to save, load, and recall all settings, faders and pot positions for on a session by session basis.
Harkening back to the Neve 80-series console of years past, the 8424 stereo mix bus provides true voltage mixing into Marinair transformers, while additional features such as Stereo Insert, 2-band shelving EQ and Neve’s proprietary Stereo Width control give users additional tools with which to work.
Each Channel, Group and Stereo Mix bus has its own switchable insert point, while dual on-board 500 series slots allow engineers to customize their signal chain and build a modular hybrid recording system, all connected and centralized through the 8424 console.
The Neve 8424 console is shipping, with a MSRP of $24,950.