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.”
Hollywood, CA (January 20, 2021)—Nick Gross, drummer, producer and entrepreneur, is a busy man, recording and performing with a variety of bands while also overseeing Gross Labs, his growing entertainment, media and investment company. Amidst all that action, Gross found the time over the past year to expand his Noise Nest production complex in Hollywood.
Now spanning an entire block in the heart of Hollywood’s media district, Noise Nest began more modestly under another name about eight years ago. “We leased the smaller space for the first three years for a production team that I had at the time; we used it as a songwriting facility,” says Gross. “We later built it out to be more of a recording studio facility where other managers, publishers and labels could use the space.”
When his neighbor’s larger building became available, Gross snapped it up, gutting the structure and calling in Peter Grueneisen’s nonzero\architecture to design a three-room complex with lounges, kitchen and other amenities. He then had designer and acoustician Chris Owens of F.C. Owens revamp the two production rooms in the original, smaller building.
“It started as this sort of punk-rock, grungy little studio and it’s turned into a multi-purpose, multi-use content factory,” Gross says. His vision for Noise Nest was inspired by pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek’s now-defunct Fantasy Factory in downtown L.A., which he calls “a cool and creative way to think outside of the box.”
The initial two rooms catered to outside clients while Gross was growing his business, but Noise Nest now focuses on in-house content creation. “I host a lot of our internal publishing and label clients; they each get to use the space for free,” he says. “We’re doing all kinds of things: music production, live streaming, gaming. It’s an epic live event space; we built two basketball courts.”
The Gross Labs umbrella company, launched in 2018, encompasses record label and music publisher Big Noise Music Group, Noise Nest Animation, e-sports organization Team Rogue, and philanthropic education and self-discovery platform Find Your Grind. Gross co-founded Big Noise with Vagrant Records co-founders Jon Cohen and John “Feldy” Feldmann, the man behind SoCal ska-punk band Goldfinger; signings include The Used, Ashley Tisdale and The Wrecks. Gross still sometimes plays with Goldfinger, as well as his own bands, Half the Animal and girlfriends. His many investments range from consumer products to new tech ventures.
A common thread throughout Noise Nest is PMC speakers. “The choice of PMC was a no-brainer,” says Gross, who first heard the monitors at the studios of his friend, producer and songwriter Dr. Luke. “They’re incredible. We’re super stoked to have them.” Studio A features PMC’s flagship QB1-A in-wall main monitors, while various IB1S-A, twotwo.6 and twotwo.8 models provide near field coverage there and in the other rooms.
There is a consistent aesthetic between rooms. The largest space, A, is dominated by a massive console supporting a split analog API 1608, with the main desk to the left and 16 more channels to the right, plus a Slate Raven system. “It’s a one-of-a-kind desk that I wanted to build out with a cool mixture of analog and digital. The outboard gear that sits behind it is pretty special as well,” he says, and includes SSL and Neve mic preamps.
The tracking space is just the right size, he says: “It gets the job done. We wanted to be smart with the space and be as effective as we could, knowing that we wanted to build three studios in a 4,500-square-foot building,” he says.
The B room, equipped with an SSL Matrix2 and soffited Genelec 1238A SAM main monitors, transforms into an indoor/outdoor space. “People can be playing basketball outside and see what’s going on inside the room at the same time,” he says. The console in Studio C, the smallest room, overlooks a small booth and houses an industry-standard vocal chain—Neve 1073 preamp and Tube-Tech CL 1B compressor—with ATC SCM25A Pro monitors and a rack of additional outboard gear.
“All three studios have their own vibe. I wanted to take the feeling of old recording studios, whether that was old brick or old wood or analog gear, and give it that high-end, digital, 2020s modern vibe. So we have white brick everywhere and polished concrete for all the floors,” says Gross. “It’s just a fun hang and a good vibe. You don’t want to leave.”
As a music producer, Rick Rubin is known for stripping away the clutter and guiding artists to focus on what they do best, whether it’s Johnny Cash’s deep baritone voice, the primal energy of Danzig’s guitar riffs or Run DMC’s iconic breakbeats. Broken Record, a podcast that fosters conversations between musicians and their audiences in the way album liner notes once did, follows the same premise by keeping the setup simple.
“The main focus of Broken Record is the conversation,” says Leah Rose, producer of the Pushkin Industries podcast. “Because the conversations go so deep, when you do hear the music, you hear it in an entirely new context. You might hear things that you didn’t hear before, and learning about the artist’s motivation or the backstory really adds a lot to their music.”
Producing Broken Record, which bills itself as “liner notes for the digital age,” is a bicoastal endeavor led by Rubin, co-interviewer Malcolm Gladwell and host Justin Richmond, from Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, California and Pushkin Industries’ studio in Hudson, New York. The podcast’s guest list has included Industry veterans like Bruce Springsteen and Don Was, as well as newer artists like FKA Twigs, and conversations are free-format affairs that can include playbacks of recorded music and even live, off-the-cuff performances.
In a recent episode, Rubin and artist James Blake dissected Blake’s recording and creative process, and how he often records a single vocal phrase, then stacks it and manipulates the pitch while playing along on the piano. “He lays out that entire process while he’s tinkering around on a piano during the interview, which is just really special and incredible when you hear it,” she says. “It’s like all of a sudden you have this new information to hear the song with, and it makes for an incredible experience.”
Face-to-face interviews like the one used for the Blake episode, which was recorded at Shangri-La on Neumann U87s using Neve 1073 mic preamps into an API console, are typically the most productive. [Rose says Rubin has a doctor onsite who does rapid COVID testing.] The raw audio from the Blake session clocked in at two and a half hours, giving Rose plenty of material to use when building toward the final edit.
“With Rick, nothing is linear,” she says. “As an editor, my job is to look at the entire thing as a puzzle and figure out how the pieces fit together, [to] take something that could be completely non-linear and make it linear.”
As the main facilitator and producer, Rose is on standby via Zoom during recording sessions to cue up recordings for the host and guest. Many of the episodes released in the last year were recorded with the guest at home, with mixed results. Sometimes they get lucky and the artist has a world-class studio at their disposal—as was the case with Springsteen—but often Rose works directly with the guests to ensure their recording setup will be up to standards. She’s even shipped gear to some guests.
After the interview is done, Rose compiles the audio files into an edit that gets reviewed by Richmond and Mia Lobel, executive producer at Pushkin Industries. Once the edit is locked in, she sends it to engineers Jason Gambrell and Martin Gonzalez for mastering.
Producing audio on behalf of one of the most successful and enigmatic producers of his generation might intimidate some, but Rose says Rubin is hands-off for most of the process. “He trusts us,” she explains. “We take the finished product, the conversation, once it’s done and then it’s really up to us to figure out the best way to present it.”
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.
Wimberley, TX (October 20, 2020)—Rupert Neve Designs has unveiled its new 5254 Dual Diode Bridge Compressor and an updated version of its Portico II: Master Buss Processor.
The 5254 Dual Diode Bridge Compressor contains two channels of diode bridge compression, based on the dynamics circuit in the company’s Shelford Channel. Aiming to reproduce the sound of Rupert Neve’s 1970 diode bridge compressors while providing more flexible controls, the new units include advanced timing control, fully stepped controls throughout, higher voltage power rails, internal parallel processing and more.
A unified Timing control offers six selectable settings for different applications, with a Fast button to increase the speed of both attack and release times for each setting, effectively doubling the number of time constants from six to 12. Reportedly faster Timing settings will induce more harmonic content, while slower settings will result in more transparent compression.
The Dual Diode Bridge Compressor can be operated in either dual mono or stereo linked configurations, with two VU meters displaying either gain reduction or output level. It also includes Rupert Neve Designs’ custom audio transformers and Class-A line amplifiers, 31-position detented controls, full-wave side-chain detection, a sweepable side-chain high-pass filter and external side-chain insert, and an internal universal power supply that works worldwide on 90-240 VAC.
Meanwhile, the company’s long-running Portico II Master Buss Processor is now available with new black cosmetics.
The Dual Diode Bridge Compressor will ship later this month, running $3,599 US, as will the Portico II, running $3,995 US.
Des Moines, IA (July 14, 2020)—Iowa-based folk pop act The Well Pennies recently updated its 500 Series rack with a trio of Neve 1073LB microphone preamplifiers for the group’s Golden Bear Records, a studio and record label.
As the Well Pennies, husband and wife duo of Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool, recorded two albums in Los Angeles, before relocating to Iowa in 2016 and founding Golden Bear. When they’re not recording their own material, they’re working with artists in the region. “We moved here with the sole purpose of building a recording studio away from the chaos of Los Angeles,” Bryan Vanderpool says. “We originally built the studio just for The Well Pennies, but Des Moines has such a vibrant art and music community that after a while our calendar started filling up with all sorts of local bands and songwriters. Today, whenever we’re not working on Well Pennies material, we’ve usually got some great local artist in here recording or mixing new music.”
With that happening before their eyes, the duo opted to get the 1073LBs, which sport the unique sonic characteristics of the original 1073 Classic microphone preamplifier, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. “A 1073LB preamp was one of the first things we bought for the studio when we moved back from Los Angeles,” he says. “These preamps help us get that warmth and harmonic drive that is missing from so many modern recordings. They can turn what would normally be a sterile recording into a rich and complex piece of art.”
He adds that one advantage of the Neve 1073LB preamps is their ability to deliver a unique sound. “The real problem with modern workflows is that everyone is using the same plugins, the same preamp emulators and the same reverbs,” he says. “Everything sounds the same. Whenever we add a unique piece of analogue gear to the chain and use our real Neve preamps, it sets the sound apart and makes the recording sound unique (better). The 1073 units helped us sculpt our sound from the very beginning of The Well Pennies music.”
London, UK (July 10, 2020) — Radar Sounds in London, one of the few remaining studios in the UK to offer analog tape recording facilities, has installed a Neve Genesys G32 console, replacing an aging Amek Angela.
Radar Sounds was established eight years ago when studio owner “Fuzz” Barthram-Keet took over the facility, which was formerly used by record label 4AD. Located on Platts Eyot, a small island in the River Thames (close to Hampton Court), Radar Sound Services places a strong emphasis on live recording and making the most use of the analog facilities to capture the best sound.
“The Angela’s reliability had become a problem because it was so old, and we also needed something that offered proper automation and recall for mixdown,” explains Fuzz. “I already own a pair of Neve 1073DPA mic pre-amps and I know just how much I love the sound of them, so a Neve console was top of my shopping list. The desk’s fabulous analog design and Neve preamp circuitry allows us to keep the mix analog from start to finish without sacrificing modern features such as hands-on DAW control and connectivity.”
As well as tracking, Fuzz also offers mixing and mastering services and describes the business as a one-stop shop for musicians, media companies and voice-over artists. Clients have come from many different countries and genres and include Slobheads, Young Romance, Archie Bronson Outfit, Ariel Pink, Atlas Sound/Deerhunter, Hard Fi producer Wolsey White, Serafina Steer and Younghusband.
“I’ve always been interested in capturing the true essence and vibe of a band and I do feel live recording to 24-track analog tape enables you to do that better. But obviously, as a commercial business, we cater for all types of projects and are equally at home with digital, which we record using our *IZ ADA system.”
Houston, TX (May 22, 2020)—SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston, TX, has upgraded its Neve Genesys Black console, installing the GenesysControl plug-in to enable total integration with DAWs.
The Genesys Black console is installed in SugarHill’s Goldstar room, originally built in 1964 and designed by Jack Clement, who also designed the Sun Recording Studios in Nashville, TN. SugarHill has completed many sessions on the console for artists such as Chance the Rapper, George Thorogood, Kevin Gates, 21 Savage, Maxo Kream and North Mississippi Allstars. Most recently, Finley has been mixing an album for The Killer Hearts, which will be released soon on Spaghetty Town Records.
SugarHill studio engineer Stephen Finley says, “In 2018, we installed our Genesys Black G32 console with 16 analog channels. It is a fantastic console and we all really love the preamps and EQs. We have 16 Neve 1084s, which make everything sound better — just a little always helps. We also have one eight-channel bank of dynamics that I like to use while tracking drums as its helps to tame some hits. I use very little gain reduction.”
Finley says investing in the GenesysControl plug-in has brought an entirely new dimension to the studio’s workflow. “I enjoy being able to automate my drum busses on the 8T [8 track] section during choruses for extra excitement. Also, being able to have the automation plug-in on all my tracks, put all the tracks in Pro Tools into the Neve at a touch and finalize any volume automation on the fly is very helpful. With the new GenesysControl plug-in and the console’s recall software, recalling a mix and making an adjustment is now a fairly easy task — depending on your patching, of course.”
Founded by Bill Quinn as Quinn Recording Studio in 1941, the facility was renamed Gold Star Studio in 1950 and eventually became SugarHill in 1972 when it was acquired and renamed by notorious producer Huey P. Meaux. The studio is now owned by Stephen Finley, Fred “Bubba” Hightower and Ryan Youngblood, collectively known as The Hightower Group.