Grammy-winning engineer and legendary audio equipment designer Rupert Neve has died at the age of 94. His legacy as one of the most important and influential studio and recording equipment designers cannot be overstated. Tributes have flooded in from the wider music industry including from Above & Beyond, El-P, engineer Alex Tumay, The 1975, Paul Epworth, Daddy Kev, Nigel Godrich, Abbey Road Studios and many more.
He designed the first-ever transistor-based EQ, followed by the first transistor-based console, installed in Phillips Studios in London in 1964. Up until that point, consoles were powered with vacuum tubes – or valves – rather than transistors. Neve’s design offered a new sound and stability. He was then commissioned by Wessex Sound Studio to create the first 24-channel console in London, which equipped his now-classic 1073 mic pre and EQ channel strips. Those 1073 strips are possibly Neve’s greatest legacy, still sought-after today in hardware form and modelled in many plug-in iterations including from UAD and Waves. Neve’s 50- and 80-series consoles also became hugely desirable, with the custom-built 8028 – now owned by Dave Grohl – praised heavily in the popular 2013 documentary Sound City. Paul Epworth’s Church Studios features a 72-channel Neve console in Studio 1, aka the Neve Room.
Neve also designed the world’s first moving fader system, incorporating digital technology into an analogue world in 1977, which was then installed in George Martin’s AIR Studios. In the 1980s, Rupert and his wife Evelyn founded another legendary brand – Focusrite – which continues to build pro and home studio hardware and software to this day.
His consulting and design company ANR would go on to collaborate with sE Electronics on high-quality microphones and many more brands and equipment, spending “most days on a perpetual series of audio electronics projects and continuing to mentor our engineering team” all the way up to age 94.
Rupert Neve’s list of awards and accolades include Lifetime Achievement Technical GRAMMY Award in 1997, Studio Sound Magazine’s Audio Person of the Century Award in 1999, an Audio Engineering Society Fellowship Award in 2006, and 16 TEC (Technical Excellence and Creativity) Awards with Rupert Neve Designs.
Rupert Neve RIP.