Wimberley, TX (March 1, 2021)—Rupert Neve Designs has unveiled the 5057 Orbit 16 x 2 Summing Mixer, based around a summing architecture inspired by the company’s flagship 5088 mixing console.
The summing mixer uses the company’s Silk Red and Blue circuitry to provide control over the amount of harmonic content and tone of the mix, helping shape its sound character. Silk Red accentuates transformer saturation in the high and high-mid frequencies to amplify midrange harmonics, while Silk Blue enhances saturation of the lows and low-mids to add thickness and weight.
The Orbit is designed for integration with a DAW-based workflow, providing 16 inputs via DB25 connectors, the first eight of which can be center-panned via front panel switches. Both sets of XLR outputs utilize Rupert Neve Designs’ own custom transformers. In addition to the Main outputs, the -6 dB outputs are also simultaneously available, allowing the user to drive the Orbit’s mix buss harder into saturation without clipping the next device in the signal path.
The Orbit offers fixed channel levels and mix buss attenuation via stepped switching, aiming to provide low crosstalk, and channels matched to within +/- 0.1dB.
To expand the channel count, multiple units can be combined via the Link I/O on the rear panel. The 5057 Orbit can also be used as part of a larger summing system utilizing the 5059 Satellite for flexible summing and routing, and the 5060 Centerpiece for additional mixing and monitoring features.
The 5057 Orbit is available with an MSRP of $1,999 USD.
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.
Asheville, NC (November 30, 2020)—Vinyl record sales have been steadily rising over recent years, a fact that did not go unnoticed by 30-year music industry veteran Gar Ragland. Following a visit to musician Jack White’s pressing plant in Detroit several years ago, he decided to open his own vinyl facility in the mountains of North Carolina.
“It was seeing what Third Man Pressing are doing that really helped affirm my gut instinct that a similar concept would do well in Asheville,” says Ragland. “Not only because of our homegrown love of music and history of craft here in North Carolina, but also because we have 12 million tourists coming through town, many of whom are seeking a cultural adventure.”
Ragland’s Citizen Vinyl plant, on the first floor of the historic three-story Asheville Citizen-Times newspaper building, has plenty to appeal to tourists. The pressing plant, operated under the guidance of German native Peter Schaper, is behind glass and open to view. Ragland’s business concept has evolved to include a collective of local craftspeople.
“Under one business entity, we have vinyl pressing along with a vinyl record-themed cocktail bar, a farm-to-table café, and a store, Coda, that features new vinyl records and an art gallery featuring local visual artists. We call it analog sound and art,” he says. Staff curate Daily Sides, an in-store vinyl playlist that’s posted on Instagram and soon will be streamed on Citizen Vinyl’s website.
The newspaper built broadcast studios for its WWNC-AM radio station on the third floor in 1939, introducing a national listening audience to bluegrass music. “Hundreds of acts would play in Studio A, including Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys,” says Ragland.
Having rented a room for years at the nearby Echo Mountain Recording facility, Ragland, a musician, composer, producer and owner of the New-Song Music label, saw an opportunity to open his own studio. The building’s owner was days from turning WWNC’s studios into office space when Ragland took a tour: “I pleaded with him to put the sledgehammers down and give us some time to figure out how we could save this piece of Asheville and American roots music history.”
The Citizen Studios are in WWNC’s former Studio A, with 32 tielines to the high-ceilinged Studio B, now a multipurpose live and event space. “We’ve tracked a few projects in there and are still figuring out what the room’s strengths and weaknesses are,” he says.
“We hired David Rochester of Technical Audio Services to work on our restoration and treatment. He’s also a dealer for Rupert Neve Designs, so I worked with him to get a 5088 console in here and he helped with the wiring and installation. He’s been a great member of the Citizen Vinyl team.”
Ragland, a Rupert Neve fan, says, “What I love about this console is that it’s a new, warrantied piece of equipment, but it has all the mojo and vibe of the classic Neve sound. It’s got a lot of depth and breadth and horsepower, but it’s also simple and elegant in its design, which I find empowering.”
He has since added some Shelford modules in the desk’s penthouse. “Those sound so good—the EQs are amazing. Over time, and as our needs grow, I can pick up more.”
Ragland’s moved in his collection of gear and added some new pieces, including pairs of ATC SCM25A Pro and Yamaha NS-10M nearfield monitors. “I’m really into analog sound and trying to do as much out of the box as I can,” says Ragland. “I find it’s a much more enjoyable workflow and a more creative way to put mixes together.”
Ragland intends to continue taking projects to Echo Mountain. “We have no aspirations of being a commercial recording studio. In addition to my own workload, there are a couple of younger producers and engineers coming in a few days a month, but we’re not advertising day rates.”
Mastering engineer Ryan Schilling of American Vinyl Company has now moved his Neumann VMS 66 lathe into WWNC’s former control room. “We’re going to be able to offer vinyl mastering services on site for our pressing clients,” says Ragland. He plans to engage Schilling’s services to offer local and touring artists and their fans limited-edition vinyl keepsakes of in-store performances in the first-floor space.
“It’s not the ideal time to be starting a business,” Ragland admits, “but vinyl sales are up 17 percent from last year. It’s one of these industries that’s grown—not despite the pandemic but because of it.”
New Orleans, LA (November 13, 2020)—Mischa Kachkachishvili, owner of Esplanade Studios, opted to use a remote setup of 32 channels of Rupert Neve Designs’ class-A RMP-D8 Dante-connected microphone preamplifiers when tasked with recording the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s virtual season during the coronavirus pandemic.
Given the performance restrictions of 2020, the current season of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra is being presented virtually this year and is available to stream on demand. For the first week of sessions, Kachkachishvili initially assembled a massive rig consisting of 24 channels of Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052 microphone preamplifiers, which normally occupy slots in his studio’s 48-channel RND 5088 console, coupled with an Apogee Symphony mk1.
“The gain, sound and EQ of the 5052 is fantastic, but it’s a [hassle] to take modules from the console, rack and install them in remote cases. Plus, all the downtime of doing that and extra cabling — I was losing an entire work day just doing that. The week after, I switched to the RMP-D8s,” he says.
“At first, I was a little skeptical,” he reports, “but the system is super stable, and I’m so happy with the flexibility of the RMP-D8s, and the sound difference is almost negligible between my two setups. Even better, I’m enjoying the extra clarity that the RMP-D8 converters are adding to my recordings. There’s extra air — not brightness — that the RMP-D8 converters have delivered.”
Microphones used for the sessions include four Neumann M150s for room back and front, Neumann KM84s, KM86s, U87s, and Schoeps CMC-6-Us with various capsules. The RMP-D8s are controlled by a Focusrite RedNet HD32R and clocked by an Apogee Big Ben at 96 kHz.
“The system is very stable and allows me to record eight or more hours straight to a 12-core Mac Pro via HDX card. It sounds big and open, with plenty of low end and smooth, ‘analog’ highs, and very quiet. Ideal for classical music and film scoring. I love the sound.”
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.
Las Vegas, NV—Mariah Carey’s music is tailor-made for Las Vegas, packed with driving beats and good-time vibes, all of which makes her ongoing series of residencies at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that much more exciting. The most recent run, The Butterfly Returns, finished up its eight-show stint just before the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in, treating fans nightly to a string of greatest hits from across her career. Veteran engineer Phil Strong has mixed Carey’s live shows since early 2019, manning the FOH desk for a summer tour and three rounds in Vegas so far.
Setting up shop at the Colosseum for two-week runs gives Strong time to delve into the acoustics of the 4,300-seat venue and further optimize the show’s sound as time goes on. That effort is aided by the house audio system, which received a top-to-bottom renovation last summer. The setup is now centered around a Solotech-provided Meyer Sound Leo Family system anchored by Lyon arrays, which replaced the Meyer system that Solotech installed there in 2003.
“The new system has been really cool,” Strong confirmed. “It’s much more coherent and offers a lot of bells and whistles in terms of how you can manage it. Being there for a couple of weeks, too, allows you to really dig into it. You get some things done that you can’t on the fly when you’re on the road, where you’re worried about getting the show up and making sure everything’s functional.”
That flexibility came into play during Carey’s residency last November. Throughout the year, Strong had been using a Midas ProX console, aiming for an analog-like sound, but with maxed-out 9650 ports and other issues that came up during shows last summer in Europe and Saudi Arabia, he opted to start over. “I made the switch to a DiGiCo SD7 Quantum and rebuilt my whole show file from the ground up—which was cool,” he said. “Rupert Neve Designs sent me a 5059 Satellite summing bus. I wanted to try doing some summing outside of the console and it went well. I also added my UAD2 Live Rack to the system and some Bricasti M7s, too. Reprogramming the whole show, I was able to snapshot automate different musical changes that I need to do via timecode, which is great. The timecode gets everything from Ableton, so I run that right into the console, and I was able to write the snapshots for different reverb changes and other things that needed to happen quickly. New P.A., new console, new effects—I had everything I needed and got to play with it, A-and-B stuff and try new ideas.”
A lot of those ideas were about using different UAD plug-ins to fine-tune the show to perfection. For instance, getting the snare right was crucial—a factor that sent Strong on a quest, working through a string of plug-ins until he settled on the API 2500 Bus Compressor: “That was exactly what I was looking for. It helped me control the snare on the hard hits and keep the rim shots right where I needed them—there’s a significant amount of rim-shotting in the show, because, you know, R&B ballads. I can get the snare to sit exactly where I want it to and give that nice ’90s R&B sound as well, so using that in conjunction with the Lexicon 224 digital reverb plug-in, I can emulate some of those great ’90s snares that I need for her. It’s amazing.”
Strong puts some other favorite UAD plug-ins to work, too, such as the Manley Variable Mu on keyboards: “That Manley came through with flying colors. The Variable Mu is so clear and transparent and open, and it controls the level without squishing—no pulling and tugging. It has been amazing. It’s a fantastic plug-in.” Elsewhere, the 1176 Classic Limiter gets applied to the kick and bass.
The fans come to hear Carey’s amazing voice, however, and since it’s the focal point of the show, it’s also the focus of Strong’s attention. That voice is captured nightly via a Shure Axient Digital wireless with a Telefunken M81 capsule, and the plug-ins used on it are applied sparingly, with surgical precision, so as not to get in the way. For example, the UAD Neve 1073, used as a preamp to give the vocal a little more warmth. “I also use the Sonnox Oxford Dynamic EQ to control her powerful vocal,” he added. “She’ll go from joking with the crowd lightly to belting out 25 dB louder, so I get in there, grab the frequencies on the dynamic EQ and control it. Then in the final stage, I smooth it with the Summit TLA100, which still sounds natural even when it’s compressing. There’s moments where she hits her notes really quick—you want the compressor to engage, but you don’t want it to pull the vocal where it sounds like it’s getting cut off. The Summit doesn’t do that at all, so that’s been a really pleasant surprise that I have a TLA100 in a plug-in that works just as well as it does in tube form.”
All that technology isn’t for technology’s sake; it’s to support the show, the music and the artist as much as possible. “I mean, it’s Mariah Carey!” laughed Strong. “You want it to sound the way that it sounded on those records, because people know those songs in their DNA. You don’t want it to come out sounding different. I spend a lot of time making sure that it’s as close to as I can get it. I know she likes bass and it’s funny—every time she comes in, she tells me, ‘I love the bass. Turn up the bass!’ It’s great to get an opportunity to listen with her and get her input on what she wants to sound like.”
Re-creating the sound of classic tracks produced by the likes of Jermaine Dupri and Babyface, as well as any number of signature tunes written by Carey herself, requires creating a full, rich mix with a lot of dynamics without ever bringing attention to the mix itself. “I try to get out of the way,” said Strong. “My goal is to be as transparent to the audience as possible. I don’t want them to ever notice that there’s an engineer mixing. I just want them to fall in love with the music and her, and go home knowing that they heard everything—it was all there.”