Early RUPERT NEVE Consoles and their stories | PART FIVE: 1969-1970 | ‘Free-grouping comes to the Thames’

2022-05-31 Off By David Taylor
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Researched and written by DAVID TAYLOR
With information and photographs by JOHN TURNER

With the help of John Turner, who joined Rupert Neve at Little Shelford in 1968 and is still with AMS-Neve today, this series of articles is trying to give an as accurate as possible account of the history of the early Rupert Neve mixing consoles.

Thames 60 channel Neve St1
Photo: Brian Scott via ARTS-TV website.

Installed in 1969, Thames TV’s Studio 1 Neve at Teddington was, in its full configuration the largest Neve built at that time, and is seen here with all 60 channels in use; the main 24 channel Neve plus all 3 of the interlinked 12 channel subs desks.

CONTENTS

[You can click on the section numbers to ‘jump’ and use your Browser’s ‘back-button’ to return here]
1969: Neve move into their new Melbourn factory.
1969: ‘Rupert changes the faders‘ – the arrival of Penny & Giles.
29| 1969:‘Free-grouping’ – The Thames TV 24-channel Neve’s with 12-channel sub-mixers
  – ‘Serial 2044.
29a| The Neve 1063 mic-amp module.
29b| The Neve 1878 switching module.
1970: ‘Medway’ – The first ‘digital code synchroniser‘ for sound dubbing.
‘The Taskermatic’ Sound Effects Switching Unit.
Programmes done on the Neve consoles at Teddington.
30| 1969/1970: The Thames Euston 24-channel Neve’s.
31| 1969/1970: ‘The World at War’– The Thames TV 16-channel Film Dubbing Neve  – ‘Serial A1‘.
31a| The Neve 2072 Sliding Notch Filter.
‘The World At War’ – combining a Film and Video sound dub.
32| 1969: Recorded Sound’s 20-channel 8 group Neve ‘Serial 2056’.
Music from the Recorded Sound Neve.
32a| 1970: Recorded Sound’s Re-mix 16-channel 4 group Neve – ‘Serial A20’.
33| 1969: ‘Pathe News’ – The Pathe 12-channel Film Dubbing Neve ‘Serial 2061’.
33a| The Neve 1064 mic-amp module.
34| 1966 to 1973: Early Neve Compressors and Limiters.
The Neve 2251.
The Neve 2252.
The Neve 2253.
The Neve 2254.
The Neve 2254/A.
The Neve 2254/E.
The Neve 2262.
35| 1969: Pye Records 12-channel ‘Reduction’ Neve – ‘Serial 2096’.
35a| The Neve 1065 mic-amp module.
36| The Eurovision Song Contest Neve.
37| 1969: Neve 16-channel 4 output for S.E.D.M./Regson, Madrid.
37a| The Neve 1067 mic-amp module.
38| 1969: Bob Auger’s 16 and 8-channel Neves.
38a| Neve 1066 mic-amp module.
38b| The Neve 1883 switching-module.
Bob Auger’s not so mobile ‘Granada Recordings’.
Bob Auger’s wide range of Recordings.

1969: Neve move into their new Melbourn factory.

RUPERT NEVE:
“In 1968, we realised that we could not continue in this house; it was far smaller than our needs were now developing and we had to build a factory. And the Planners were opposing us at every step of the way. Finally we had agreement from them, providing we did not exceed 10,000 sq. feet, to build a factory about 10 miles south of Cambridge, in the little town of Melbourn.”

JOHN TURNER:
“The Melbourn factory opened in March 1969. I remember on one of the weekends, prior to moving into the factory, driving from Cambridge to Melbourn in a blizzard in order to wire up the mains supply to the new the wooden test benches for the test department.”

“By 1968/69 almost 50% of Neve consoles were exported with a  turnover of approximately £360,000.
The Customer list at that time was impressive, even by today’s standards, with over 50 leading organisations in 15 countries being owners of Neve equipment.”
 [2]

Studio Sound – June 1970

The new 10,000 sq.ft. factory was featured in Studio Sound the following year. [3]

The Melbourn ‘wiring shop’

Initially all the console manufacture was carried out at Melbourn, but as the company carried on expanding Rupert was forced to go much further afield to find a location happy to take small manufacturing premises and he started a smaller factory in Kelso in the Scottish ‘Borders’ to undertake the construction of the desk modules.

The Neve Melbourn factory

Rupert became so involved with managing his company that he was rarely able to get his hands on any ‘engineering’:

From REP magazine Feb 1992

By Christmas 1969 Neve had been building the consoles out of the new factory for some months, and the Neve Newsletter in December celebrated the fact in a number of ways:

The heading drawing for the Neve Christmas 1969 newsletter

The Melbourn Neve factory in the snow was the heading image, and Rupert gave some facts about the growing production:

RUPERT NEVE:
“2,000 square feet to Melbourn’s 12,000 resulted in something like an explosion in production, once the initial disarray had been overcome. Everybody has carried an unusual burden during the past six months, and none more so than the Project Engineers, whose loyalty and dedication have achieved so much to keep customers happy during these difficult days. Thank you one and all.

And while we are thinking about growth – here are some figures!
The Neve Companies were formed on 1st December, 1966 to take over the business previously run privately by Mr. Neve.
Taking the last year before “becoming a Limited Company” as a base, the output of the business has been
1967 200% (double the previous year)
1968 400% (again double the previous year)
1969 1400% (31/2 – times the previous year)


Now, doubling every year cannot go on. For instance, if a Neve apprentice doubled his income every year, he would be earning a million a year by 1980! But we do have a growth target. We expect to achieve a further 80% growth in 1970 and between 30% and 40% in the years that follow up to 1975.
After that we shall have to think again.”

And humour was still to be found amongst all the hard work keeping up with the booming sales:

Mike Thompson’s winning cartoon in the Christmas 1969 Neve Newsletter

As John Turner had just been promoted to Senior Test Engineer, we assume that’s him under the console!

JOHN TURNER:
“The person who did do a final overall “sales acceptance” of each console prior to dispatch was Tony Cornwell or one of his sales engineering team. Tony had a great knack of finding the one thing which wasn’t quite right!”

RUPERT NEVE:
“Life in those days was full of interest because from some points of view, no two consoles were the same; the input modules were pretty much all different, you’d go from one console to another and there would be different detail.
My Factory Manager Jim le-Hay, used to tear his hair out and say “Why in the world can’t we build two  the same, it would be so much easier, instead of having to do 48 or 50 modules with one set of specs and another set, another  48, with some marginal differences. Can’t we make them the same?”
Well of course it did lead to making them the same and they became identified with numbers; those original wide modules that I mentioned earlier, the 2.8 inch; were the ’51 series’, the 1051’s and 1052’s and 1053’s. And they were all with germanium transistors and then we went down to the narrower modules; 1.8 inches wide and that was the ‘1060 series’, 1063, 1066 and so on.”
[1]

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1969: ‘Rupert changes the faders‘ – the arrival of Penny & Giles

RUPERT NEVE:
“Well you know in the early days of consoles the BBC were using what was known as ‘quadrant faders’. These were a handle that was on a hinged arm underneath the desk, and it was a series of 54 contacts and as your fader was moved up and down, so it made contact with one or other of these little contacts; little brass contacts. And as you moved the fader it would go ‘tic, tic, tic, tic, tic…’, electrical ‘tics’. Well we’d spent a lot of time making really quiet amplifiers and switches and all the rest of it, so I simply abhorred the idea of putting something into the console that was going to make noises like that. In any case this somehow gave the console a really old fashioned feel and look.
On the continent there were a couple of manufacturers who were making flat faders and they were not based on the same mechanical design at all. One firm was called Guiling and the other one was called EMT. The Guiling fader was a very nice fader but not all that reliable, the EMT fader was also a very nice; the movement of this fader was on little horizontal ball-race and everything was fine, except that every now and the ball-race would fall apart and you’d get little ball bearings splattering down onto the floor under the console, and the fader no longer working.
 [1]

JOHN TURNER:
“I still have one of these EMT faders with the ball bearings on my desk at Burnley, it still has a lovely smooth feel.”

Well our signature was reliability and it didn’t really matter whether it was our circuit that was not working reliably or whether it was some body’s fader that wasn’t working that wasn’t working reliably; the customer simply blamed Rupert Neve for an unreliable console, if the ball-bearings fell out of it, quite reasonably.
So I was trying to buy these faders in quantity but to a higher specification. The importer of these faders was charging a ridiculously high price for them and I thought I could do a deal with him. I went to him and said that if you could increase your quality and if you can keep your price down, we’d be prepared to buy…I forget the quantities, but I’d be prepared to place a contract for these faders. So this gentleman was German, and he wasn’t having any of that and he said
: ““Who do you think you are Mr Neve, you think you can control my pricing and control my business; no I will not do this. If you want to buy more faders the price will be more not less”. (laughs).
I said “In that case we won’t buy anymore of your faders.”
“So how are you going to make your consoles?”

Luckily for Neve, ‘Penny & Giles’ arrived at the opportune moment.

Well just about that time, we had been approached by a company who were in the aircraft industry and they were making parts for the aircraft industry; a sort of potentiometer type of effect – an actuator, which they said, the operating element was actually ‘conductive plastic’. Well I’m not even today, fully aware of what the difference was between ‘conductive plastic’ and the old high-quality ‘carbon’ fader but they came and said“We would like to make faders for you and we’ve come to the conclusion; we’ve done a survey, that you are the largest consumer of faders in Europe, and we want you to tell us what fader we should make and we will make it for you.”

“Well I was astonished to find that we were ‘the largest of anything’; we’d always thought of ourselves as really quite small. We gave them a drawing showing them the scale that we wanted the fader to be and they made one that was reasonably close, but not close enough. And they eventually got that right after a few further attempts, but when the day came when we bought, oh I don’t know, fifty or so of these faders after a few further attempts; but there were no two the same. That was the first thing, we found that they all had different scales; they could not get consistency in these faders.”

Neve initially provided a jig to help with improving the consistency of the fader calibration but this still didn’t produce the required accuracy and after studying the unsatisfactory method used by Penny and Giles to vary the output from the fader track, equipment was made that finally provided the help that was needed.

“We provided them with a quality control jig, which meant they would set this up on an actual fader and move the fader to specified points along the scale were it had to read electrically certain values, and bit by bit they got this right. Well you can imagine it was an expensive process but Penny and Giles, despite of everything, did a good job and although we joke about the way in which they did it, they were the people who emerged ahead of anybody else who was trying to make faders at that time.”

Flat’ audio faders soon went from having ‘carbon tracks’ to ‘conductive plastic’, as soon lots of other manufacturers followed suit.

JOHN TURNER:
“Rupert, Geoff Watts and Derek Stoddart were involved in the introduction of the P&G ‘conductive plastic’ faders – another piece of brilliant British design.” i

P&G 1520

This is the ‘classic’ black Penny & Giles 1520 fader with the dual P&G and Neve logos in the 45mm width that suited the Neve modules being produced. About the time that the consoles started coming from the new Melbourn factory, they also started to be fitted with the new faders.

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29| 1969: ‘Free-grouping’ – The Thames TV 24-channel Neves with 12-channel sub-mixers  – ‘Serial 2044

In 1968 the UK’s ITV companies had a big change round in their franchises allocated by the IBA. The two London TV companies, ABC and Rediffusion were forced to combine into a new company called ‘Thames TV’, that was to broadcast in London on the weekdays, and with a new weekend franchise being allocated to a another new company, ‘London Weekend TV’.
ABC was considered by the IBA to be have been a satisfactory performer in the past, and they held the crucial 51% share in the new Thames company, kept their existing ABC studios beside the river at Teddington Lock and they started broadcasting as ‘Thames Television’ on 30th July 1968.

Thames needed to prepare for the coming of colour to ITV and started to upgrade. This was a big undertaking and like Granada TV in the North, who already had purchased a Neve, Thames initially ordered a Neve for their biggest Studio 1 at Teddington. Although ABC knew that their Midland contract was being changed, they expected to be given the weekend contract in London, which would still require Teddington, so this studio upgrade planning may have started before the franchise change. Rupert Neve’s Drawing Register shows that drawings for consoles ‘2044-5’ was started on 7th May 1968, and the client was given as ‘ABC’ and also Rupert in one of his 2013 video’s still referred to them as ‘ABC’. The Teddington studios became the main ‘Thames’ base and the company also ordered Neve consoles for its brand new Euston Road studios in central London.

The Thames order for Teddington was for a main 24 channel mixer and two 12 channel ‘add-ons’. This was a similar split console idea to that already in use Granada TV and Derek Stoddart was given the task of Project Managing the Thames orders.

Neve mid 1969 advertisement in Studio Sound

The advertisement above from August 1969, shows the first Teddington Neve, with its two 12-channel sub-mixers and states: “This is the first stage of a complete re-equipment programme.”

It seems likely that the serial ‘2044-5’ in fact referred to five separate Neve consoles:

JOHN TURNER:
“2044-5 was the first order Neve acquired for multiple consoles. this must have been the largest order to that date.”

The five mixers could therefore have been the two 24-channel consoles along with the total of three add-on 12-channel sub desks for Teddington, or it could have been the two main 24-channel Teddington desks along with the two similar design 24-channel desks for Euston, plus one other. There was also a ‘Presentation Sound Mixer’ but that was referred to as ‘95005’, in a mechanical drawing M11/454 dated 11/12/1969.

DEREK STODDART:
“Previous to the ‘A’ numbers, consoles were known just by customer name. The Intertel console was also one of mine, which used all-black modules and I think the Pye console was Colin Morton’s”

JOHN TURNER:
“A” numbers were given to specific  orders placed on manufacturing, so could be for spare parts, a mixer for a specific customer order, or a module ordered as an individual item by a customer, even an additional technical manual.  Later on anything which had to be produced for stock was given an “A” number.”

DEREK STODDART:
“The ‘A1’ was mine and it was a console which from memory was 24 channel plus 2  x 12 channel add-ons, one at each side. I had to design a special script-holder on an arm fitted to the top wood of the console plus another arm with a Talkback mic.

The engineer at Thames was Gunter Kahn – he was German and very knowledgeable.”

Despite Derek’s recollection above, which was from many years later, the Neve records show that the 16-channel Film Dubbing desk at Euston as being the Thames desk that was allocated that first new-type serial ‘A1’. From the Neve drawing dates it probably left the factory in mid-1970.
Certainly desks like those for Thames would have taken a fairly long ‘gestation period’, during which the design was discussed and alterations incorporated. Thames sound engineer Mike Pontin recalls Rupert Neve visiting Teddington and Derek Stoddart also remembers making visits there.
Here’s the colour version of one of the photos used in that 1969 Neve ad, showing the completed installation of the first desk in Teddington’s Studio 1:

The very smart installation in Teddington Studio 1

The 24 channel with the two 12 channels with a separate grams area behind. The single monitoring loudspeaker built in beside the picture monitors is a BBC designed LS5/1 in its ‘ceiling hung’ version.

Teddington’s Studio 2 also got a matching 24 channel and a single 12 channel add-on:

MIKE PONTIN – THAMES SOUND SUPERVISOR:
“The company bought two 24-channel main desks and three 12-channel sub mixers.
The 12 channel mixers could be moved between control rooms although steps were involved and they were very heavy. We ran them up steps on portable ramps.
The usual setup was 48-channels in Studio 1 and 36 in Studio 2. On occasion we used 60-channels in Studio 1.”

Mike Pontin later became Head-of-Sound at Teddington and still has very accurate recall of many of the Teddington details, even back to the period before the Neves:

“In the Marconi era  the Quad amps drove Quad Electrostatic control room main monitors! They were built in to the picture monitor display panel and not in open space for which they were designed. The result was absolutely dire. The control room design was a matter of great managerial pride with huge windows and everything neatly built in. Almost immediately we (the supervisors) managed to obtain a Lowther Acousta  which was very efficient and provided much more oomph from the 15watt Quad amp and it was place alongside the supervisor. I found it very satisfactory but the management insisted that it be removed whenever we had visitors.
It was probably when the Neve arrived that we had KEF LS1’s installed in the monitor array and they also got derigged to be placed to the side of the supervisor on stands.”

Les Hill with the Studio 1’s Production Control Room visible through the window.
Photo: IBA Year Book 1970

The two project engineers, Gunter Kahn, the Senior Sound Project Engineer at Thames and Derek Stoddart, the Neve Project Engineer, worked out the requirements and specification of the Thames desks and came up with some interesting new facilities.

“Free-grouping”

The Thames’ consoles had truly innovative idea for a Broadcast console; ‘free-grouping’, which was a remarkably simple concept, but was a big step in helping TV mixers cope with audience shows and complicated music TV productions as the number of desk channels increased.
Because TV sound mixers had a differing set of requirements for almost every show, it was rather inconvenient to have a bunch of fixed ‘group faders’ sitting in the middle or end of of your ‘desk’. The ‘free-grouping’ idea was that there were no dedicated group faders at all, just patchable group outputs. You could then pick-up the output of any of these group outputs on the jackfield and return them into any fader (at line-level) of your choice. You now had a ‘group-fader’ exactly where it was most convenient. Therefore say 16 ‘band mics’ could become one (or more) group faders at the end of the ‘band channels’ if that was the best place. Then perhaps 8 ‘chat mics’ could be joined into another convenient fader, as could your 12 ‘audience mics’, and the high-level grams and VTR channels etc. In fact it was often most convenient to just put the ‘audience’ fader directly in front of you, as on an audience show you needed a hand on that fader throughout and it was then next to the ‘chat mics’ (possibly ‘booms’) that you were going to use most. It was brilliant design idea for TV sound mixing
and preferable to the later ‘vca grouping’ as you got the complete facilities of a channel, such as auxes and inserts.

MIKE PONTIN:
“I think the free grouping concept was all Neve and probably Rupert’s. He visited us quite a lot perhaps because he knew TV companies had deep pockets. We had a very progressive Chief Engineer, Howard Steele. He liked new ideas and Head-of-Sound John Tasker was also enthusiastic.

JOHN TURNER:
 “I suspect the “free grouping” concept came from Tony Cornwell a brilliant systems engineer who headed up Neve sales engineering. Rupert had a knack of surrounding himself with a number of dedicated people who rarely get the credit they deserve.”

29a| The Neve 1063 mic-amp module

Although the 1063 was not a full length module, Derek Stoddart found a way to fit more controls into it.

DEREK STODDART:
“The 1063 was one of mine and I designed the aluminium dual-concentric outer knob.”

JOHN TURNER:
“The new 1063 mic amp was the first Neve to be ‘all silicon’ and was the first in the generation of Neve class A “45 series channel modules”. This unit was being designed specifically for the ABC / Thames Television contract (2044) by Derek Stoddart & David Rees.”

“By 1968 David Rees had joined Rupert & had designed an all silicon transistor, class A, low noise microphone amplifier, initially given the printed circuit board (pcb) number B112. As far as I am aware this was never actually produced. David’s original notebook page is dated June 1968 and shows the original B112 pcb connector contact numbers crossed out and replaced with the B183AV pin numbers. This amplifier used the Mullard metal can TO-18 low noise BC109 & BC107’s.
The move from germanium to silicon also meant a change from +ve grounding to –ve grounding of the power supply in the mixer.”

David Rees’ circuit and tested.

“This mic amplifier together with Rupert Neve’s class A output stage driving the gapped LO1166 Marinair output transformer formed the now classic B183/B283 pcb found in pretty well every “45 series” class A Neve Channel amplifier and still in use today in 2022!”

“David also designed the single input Channel sensitivity switch arrangement using the 3 gang Elma switch which optimised the input noise performance, here is the page from David’s original notebook, being for television, this covered both Mic & Line levels.”

“So at the beginning of 1969 the basic building blocks required for the classic ”45 series” were in place.
The first recorded drawing M/10,193 for the 1063 dual concentric knob bush is dated 3rd March 1969, the 1063 circuit diagram H/10,013 was recorded in the on 7th June 1069.”

“The 1063 single input channel amplifier had a 15 way blue Amphenol back connector socket, quite unusual as the vast majority of the 45 series channel modules (such as the 1073 / 1084) needed to have more connection pins and used the blue 18 way Amphenol sockets.
All the channel modules, including the 1063, had their back connectors placed in the centre of the back panel.”

The Neve 1063 introduced that change in the EQ controls in Neve mic amps, with Derek’s idea of adopting ‘dual-concentric’ control knobs. These had an aluminium outer ring selecting the frequency and an inner knob selecting the cut or boost for both the mid-range and low frequencies. This finally enabled the smaller 8.75″ length Neve modules to have the same range of EQ facilities as the larger full length 12″ modules. The 1063 also brought in the dual push-button switches, for switching in the ‘EQL’  and changing ‘PHASE’. That EQ ‘IN’ button replaced the large rotary ‘IN/OUT’ switch used on the 1060 and finally Neve EQ’s sections could be removed from the mic amp circuit, and the ‘PHASE’ button cut out the need to use phase-change jack cords.

Neve 1063

The gain switch at the top of the module has no ‘Off’ position and the settings carry on anti-clockwise to +10dBm.
The more usual modules with
separate ‘Line’ inputs however always went to ‘Off’ at ‘-20’, which was then followed by ‘+10’ continuing to ‘-20’ as below:

Gain control on most 1060 series modules

The lack of a separate ‘line’ input on the 1063, also saves space by not needing an additional input transformer. However TV operations do require lots of line inputs during programmes, but as all line-level sources such as live OB’s, Tele-cine, VTR machines or the ‘Grams’ desk outputs, are always sent from individually buffered 600 ohm (and later even lower impedance) output stages, going into the input impedance of 1200 ohm on the Neve mic amps didn’t cause any significant loading losses.
Broadcast desks like this are also stacked full of transformers, so routing a group output to the ‘0 dBm’ channel mic input to make a ‘group fader’ was not a problem.
The EQ frequency choices on the 1063 are obvious from the above photo of a pair of modules.

JOHN TURNER:
“The 1063 was a single input channel amplifier with a 15-way Amphenol back connector, quite unusual as the vast majority of channel modules needed to have more connections pins and used the 18-way Amphenol, still in use today. The 1459 Oscillator was also for Thames, with a 15-way back connector.”

“The microphone input transformer was a new Marinair Radar produced transformer designed by David Rees (Neve) and Peter Hurst (Marinair), the now classic 10468. However the 1063 used the first version of this transformer which was housed in a round mu-metal can. It was a plug-in device using an 11pin valve base plug & socket.  This was the first Neve channel module to integrate the input transformer inside the module.”

The circuit of the 1063 module

“The 1063 required more pcb’s. The B184 was designed using David’s new mic amplifier circuit together with two virtual earth amplifiers for the equaliser circuitry plus three passive pcb’s B180, B181 & B182 which contained all the equaliser components.”

The Neve 1063 – inside right.
Photos: Derek Stoddart

The photo below of the Neve 1063 interior can be compared later in this article with a similar photo of the inside of a Neve 1066.

The Neve 1063 – inside left

29b| The Neve 1878 switching module

Neve 1884 (a near equivalent to the 1878)

This is actually a Neve 1884 module, but is identical in appearance to the 1878 switching module in the Thames desks, and has the same silver ‘Pre/Off/Post’ knobs for each Aux with small level pots. On the bottom are both ‘PFL’ and ‘AFL’ buttons.

DEREK STODDART:
“The 1878 was also of course one of my modules and I designed the strange flat knobs for the group switching as Gunter wanted the operator to be able to see what was selected by just glancing across the console, so with the flat knobs it was easy to see what they were selected to. I had samples made of various options for Rupert and Gunter to approve.”

These new flat switches for Auxes became standard on broadcast desk switching modules and broadcasters didn’t usually label their Auxes specifically as ‘FB’ or ‘Rev’, as they allocated them according to the programmes needs, however the 1878 had an interesting ‘Aux 4’ in that it was tied to the ‘group you’d selected’, giving in fact a complete set of four Auxes related to each of the four group select buttons on the module. The idea for that would have come from the Marconi mixers previously used by ABC/Thames. These had sets of faders dedicated to the separate Groups and so the Auxes were linked to them as well. Note also that each Aux has its own ‘Send’ pot, unlike most Neve recording desks.
There are also no Echo Return modules on a TV desk like this, as you allocated a channel to return each echo device’s signal. So like the freely allocated ‘groups’, the ‘echo returns’ could also be placed on the most convenient faders.

DEREK STODDART:
I also designed a special Talkback speaker which I built into a double width plug in module. I was quite surprised when Rupert liked the sound of it, him being a loudspeaker designer!“

Thanks to Mike Pontin, here’s a page from the Thames Operators Manual for the Neve desks, written by the Head-of-Sound, John Tasker. Spot all the ‘tranny’s’ and the fact that one of the four groups also became the ‘collector group’ to go to the Main Output in the free-grouping patching.

A page from the the Operators Manual, drawn up by Thames’ Head-of-Sound John Tasker

John Tasker’s Manual shows one of the ‘mid’ frequency choices as being ‘3.5K’, like for instance the 1060, but the photo of the 1063’s has ‘3.8K’, which matches the next 1064 that we shall be looking at. 
That drawing shows that the 1063 has a ‘PFL’ and the 1878 has a ‘CUT’ button. 
The points marked ‘x’ are the available loudspeaker monitoring positions, consisting of all the Groups, including the four available from the group selected ‘Aux 4‘, along with the buffered ‘Group OPs‘ and ‘Main Op‘. This enabled you to find where the fault was if a signal disappeared somewhere ‘after leaving you’.

A closer view of the main desk

On the left side of the upstand are a couple of EMT140 Reverb Plate remotes, a talkback speaker, the ‘Main Fader’, a pair of Pye Compressors on either side of the Main PPM and speaker controls, some TB keys and gain pots and the various monitoring selectors. The desk surface is therefore free to be filled completely with desk channels, keeping the size down.

The Studio 2 Neve.
Photo: ARTS-TV [34]

Above is the second 24 channel main desk that was delivered for Teddington’s Studio 2 in 1970, as viewed from the rear ‘grams’ position. The ‘grams’ in this case being an EMT 930 turntable and an Ampex 300 tape deck. The grams mixer has simple remote switches and also has P&G faders.

MIKE PONTIN:
“Soon after the Neves arrived we obtained custom Audax sub mixers and these were mounted in trollies as were the tape decks and disc units. The machines were connected with custom multi way cables carrying selectable inputs, outputs, mains etc. This allowed for flexible positioning, typically ¾ behind for drama and Sitcom and sort of L shape for LE. Thus the grams person was alongside the supervisor and mixed some of the floor mics as well as cueing in tapes etc.”

“Are those Penny & Giles Faders…..mounted backwards?”

As mentioned earlier Neve had now adopted the newly developed Penny & Giles faders, instead of the EMT’s seen on all the previous desks. However ABC TV and then Thames had for a long time followed the lead of BBC Radio and TV and mounted faders the opposite way ‘from the rest of the audio world’. You pulled the fader towards you to ‘fade up’. Surprisingly it did seem perfectly natural once you were used to it, as I later found out.
Note however that the single ‘Master Fader’ mounted on the upstand above has been left faded up and is therefore the more normal way around, although in some later photos it’s also been swopped to the ‘Thames’ way.

MIKE PONTIN:
“I loved those desks! The concept was so flexible with each mixer having four groups and four auxiliaries with Aux 4 being group specific. This meant that  just about any conceivable requirement could be accommodated. On the downside, large jackfields and lots of patching were necessary.
The desks had an amazing life span. They remained pretty reliable although I used to spend an hour or so before any big show cleaning faders. Any faults were usually dirty switches.”

There were a total of four Pye 4060 Compressors supplied on the Neve ‘2044s’; two on the main desk and one each on the sub desks. Somewhat later in 1973 Neve were asked to investigate replacing them and result is the newly designed Neve 2262’s Comp/Lims fitted into the original Pye ‘slots’ in the above picture. These are shown in more detail in a following section on the Neve compressors.

1970: ‘Medway’: The first ‘digital code synchroniser for sound dubbing

This innovation at Thames was a very important first, certainly in the UK, that wasn’t at all related to Neve, but it came around the same time. In 1970, Thames introduced a digital code synchronisation method for video sound dubbing that used a cheap helical-scan VTR and a multitrack audio machine during the ‘track laying’ and also allowed a synchronised ‘layback’ to the master 2 inch Quad VTR. Tom Sloley, a Thames Projects engineer who had worked at tape machine manufacturer Leevers-Rich, designed a synchroniser using a digital 10-bit ‘address code’ that was simultaneously recorded on the source 2″ Quad VTR and also onto a helical-scan VTR copy, and a 6-track Telefunken audio multitrack. The original mono soundtrack from the 2 inch VTR was also transferred to the audio multitrack. This could then be ‘enhanced’ with music and effects before being mixed down for the ‘layback’, when it was relayed back onto the 2″ Quad master audio track, replacing the original.

One of the 12-channel Neve ‘sub-mixers’ in the Thames TV ‘Medway’ suite. Project engineer Frank Byde on the left and Sound Supervisor Bruce Englefield
Photo: ARTS-TV [34]

I know of no other organisation using a digital synchroniser, even if it was a primitive one, as early as 1970 and I’ll include ‘Medway’ in a forthcoming ‘history of video sound dubbing’ article.

‘The Taskermatic’ Sound Effects Switching Unit

A common way of telling ‘some of the plot’ in a TV studio drama was to include a sequence with a telephone call taking place, and in order to make the ‘distant voice’ on the phone-call believable, it was heavily equalised to imitate ‘phone quality’, and this distorted EQ. had often to be ‘switched’ between the two participants in the phone-call, as the studio picture was being cut by the vision mixer. A ‘telephone distort switching’ unit was therefore often installed in television consoles, such as the Pye transistor consoles I have previously written about, but Teddington’s two Neve desks though were not fitted with them.
Such a ‘tele-distort’ unit usually comprised a bank of patchable inputs that could be linked to the vision mixing panel in the adjacent Production Control Room. The cross-cutting of the mics being used in any particular studio set in the drama production, which were usually studio ‘booms’, could then follow the live picture cuts being made by the vision mixing operator (also confusingly called ‘the vision mixer’). Thus instant sound cuts were achieved in sync with the picture cuts and the ‘distant voice’ was thus given the required distorted telephone quality EQ.

BILL RAWCLIFFE:
“Our Neve desks did not have a built-in ‘tele-distort’ system, so I self-designed the ‘Taskermatic’ system operating from the Vision Mixer using switching relays, to achieve such operation.”

The Thames built equivalent unit, though also carried this cross-cutting over to also switching any background sound effects. Thames tied it to a previously recorded domestic type 8-track cartridge system that had been recorded with the sounds needed:

BILL RAWCLIFFE:
“When you had two 1/4″ tape machines and three gram decks, you had to open and close the faders; we used to have elastic bands so that if you opened one, it closed another. But the ‘Taskermatic’ was the idea came from the Head-of-Sound, John Tasker. In those days, there were such things as 8-track cartridges, playing in cars. And they were on a continuous loop of tape, and they, in the cars, would have an LP on them; so about an hours worth of tape. But we knew that you could put small amounts of tape in; five minutes, eight minutes. You could record on those ‘birds tweeting’, ‘typewriters’ in an office for instance. I designed the console and it had six of these 8-track cartridges in it and switches, one for each camera. You could select, say ‘camera 1’ and ‘camera 3’ that were in an office; and ‘camera 2 ‘ and ‘camera 4’ in a parkland scene and switch them to operate certain cartridges when the vision mixer ‘went’, switching from a relay in the vision mixing panel. That took a lot of the trickiness out of the gram operating.”

However I could imagine devices that required pre-preparation could be difficult in practice and indeed another Thames Sound Supervisor remarked:

“The ‘Taskermatic’ was not a success. It took too long to set up, was not quickly adjusted and produced clicky transitions.”

Programmes done on the Neve consoles at Teddington

Teddington Studios great location by the river at ‘Teddington Lock’ as it was in 1969.
Photo: via Transdiffusion

MIKE PONTIN:
“We did such a variety of shows – so too many to list but here are a few:
Morecambe And Wise Show
The Benny Hill Show
Kenny Everett
The Tommy Cooper Show
David Nixon Show
Opportunity Knocks
Rumpole of The Bailey
Edward and Mrs Simpson
Rock Follies
Rivals of Sherlock Holmes
and endless Sitcoms.”

‘Opportunity Knocks’ was a very long running Thames show which had originally started on BBC radio, and then ran on Radio Luxembourg. The ITV version started at Rediffusion and was then produced by ABC in 1964 before Thames continued it at Teddington, through to 1978. It even bounced back on the BBC in 1990. During the Thames period with Hughie Green ‘oozing’ his oft quoted ‘sincerity’, it managed to appeal to audience of around 20 million each week, which shows how much of the UK population watched the 3 UK TV channels as their primary evening pastime.

BILL RAWCLIFFE – THAMES SOUND SUPERVISOR:
“One of the most complex shows I did was Opportunity Knocks, in that the acts took place on the studio floor at ground level, the control room was on the first floor, with a glass panel looking down. The band was on the second floor in the Band Room and it was a massive band. It was a big band of 17 pieces, plus rhythm guitar, lead guitar. You had the ‘Lady Birds’ singing, in their own little booth to keep the sound of the musicians away. The string section; first and second violins, violas, celli and double bass, all in their zoned area and probably 50 or 60 microphones; 10 microphones on the drum kit. You had to tie all that up; to get the intercommunications between the control room, the Musical Director and the studio floor. The feed of the band to the studio floor was through a big ‘GRF’ speaker that was nearly 6 feet high, with 2 caravan-type handles on it so that you could wheel it around.

The singer’s sound would go up to the band room; every musician had a pair of earphones and the Musical Director, who also had ‘talkback’ in the other ear. So that was about 40 sets of earphones in the Band Room.
And the big, big problem on that was ‘The Reprise’, of the acts. They had about 30 seconds each. You might have an Opera singer, a comedian, or a pop group, and we had curtains which the Scenes Department opened and closed. The curtains opened, he did his 30 seconds , the curtains closed. Hughie Green would say ‘well that was ‘so-and-so’ and ‘so-and-so’, and after that was someone who did conjuring and he’s here…..and when the curtains opened all the scenery had changed, and the lighting had changed. But the big problem were the pop groups, because they were on a movable rostrum on wheels. So with luck…it was on the end of a loom of cables, and you had to balance that out as well.”
[35]

The Teddington ‘Band Room’.
Photo: via ARTS-TV website [34]

Throughout the ABC and Thames years doing of doing ‘Opportunity Knocks’, the band was that of Bob Sharples, although session players would often change around within it.
Bill was probably talking about the later years, as he goes on to talk about ‘130 channels’. The photo above only shows the drummer Alf Bigden with ‘cans’ on and even the guitarist here, Big Jim Sullivan isn’t wearing any, and certainly it took some time before string players would accept wearing headphones, which had also to be ‘one sided’ of course.

MIKE PONTIN:
The band room was a small acoustically treated studio to just accommodate a small orchestra and it was connected to Studio 1 or 2 on a range of LE shows including ‘Opp Knocks’. It acquired its own control room much later.

Teddington Studio 1 rehearsing a drama.
Photo: via TV Studio History website

Studios like Teddington made every type of TV production, so let’s look at one of the early light entertainment series done in colour, when the the new Neve had arrived in Studio 1. Like many TV entertainment shows as this time, in this one the band is ‘in vision’.

A cameraman with one of the new EMI 2001 colour cameras lines up on Max Bygraves with the Geoff Love Orchestra behind.
Photo: via Arts-Association of Retired Thames Staff website. [34*]

The photo shows a camera rehearsal for ‘Max’. The first series of 14 half-hour shows with Max Bygraves in Studio 1 Teddington, with Geoff Love and his Orchestra was broadcast during 1969 and 1970. The director was William G. Stewart. Further series were then produced up to 1974 and Max Bygraves continued to be a regular Thames performer both at Teddington and on OB’s such as “The Royal Variety Performance” and at “Max Bygraves at the Royalty Theatre”.

“This Thames Television series was commissioned following a successful one-off Max Bygraves special which was broadcast in the opening week of Thames in July 1968. Debuting on 2 January 1969, ‘Max’ starred Bygraves accompanied by the Mike Sammes Singers and Geoff Love with a 40-piece orchestra. Guests included Ted Ray, Beryl Reid, Judith Durham, Aimi MacDonald, Danny La Rue, Cleo Laine, Chic Murray, Vincent Price and Bygraves’ son, Anthony.” [36]

Here’s the opening of one of the shows from 1970:

VIDEO: Press Play in bottom left

Max Bygraves – “Remember Medley” with The Ladybirds & Geoff Love Orchestra  Teddington 1970.
Excerpt from a ‘Max Bygraves Specials’ DVD [37]

Mixing a live, or ‘as live’ Light Entertainment Special with a big orchestra was ‘as good as it got’ for many TV Sound Supervisors at this time.
In the Max Bygrave’s show pictured, there’s a 40-piece orchestra to cope with and a number of different vocalists and comedy sketches. The later being covered by operators on big Fisher studio booms. Plus stuff coming off VT’s and grams….and the all important audience to make sound ‘exciting’. You couldn’t afford to miss any of those ‘laughs’, and had to ride the audience group fader pretty viciously to avoid any bad colouration of course. Also the ‘applause’ mustn’t sound weak, so it was ‘squashed up’ into a limiter. Not forgetting that most ‘presenters’ also try and talk over the applause at some point, so you must look out for that.
The band would continually require changing fader settings, and without automation of any sort, chinagraph fader markings were all that could be used to help…….well apart from sometimes having your assistant reset them for you ‘in the gaps’.
The PA speakers, which in the 60’s and 70’s were still ‘100 volt line columns’ were suspended over the audience, and between them were perhaps a dozen mics dropped for the ‘laughs’.

The picture below was taken sometime after 1973, as the give away is the upgraded Neve 2262 compressors which replaced the Pye’s.

60 channels in use in Teddington Studio 1

Another photo showing all three 12 channel sub desks in use in Studio 1, and with the main 24 channel, the 60 channels is actually taking up remarkably small desk space – for the early ’70’s, when ‘narrow Neve modules’ hadn’t yet arrived.
Here the Sound Supervisor Peter Willcocks has the Gram Op Mike Fairbairn sitting beside him, so Mike’s taking a few of the available channels for tape decks and ‘carts’; although he also has another desk beside him as well. Both operators have given up on Derek’s carefully designed ‘swinging script rack’ however.

MIKE PONTIN:
“Soon after the Neves arrived we obtained custom Audax sub-mixers and these were mounted in trollies as were the tape decks and disc units. The machines were connected with custom multi way cables carrying selectable inputs, outputs, mains etc. This allowed for flexible positioning, typically ¾ behind for ‘Drama’ and ‘Sitcom’ and sort of L shape for ‘Light Entertainment’. Thus the Grams person was alongside the Supervisor and mixed some of the floor mics as well as cueing in tapes etc.”

30| 1969/1970: The Thames Euston 24-channel Neves

With the move from Rediffusion’s old ‘Television House’ in the Strand, to their new premises on the Euston Road, Thames Television undertook a complete re-equipment. The two Thames studios, numbered 5 and 6, at the new ‘Television House’ building each received a 24-channel ‘free-grouping’ Neve, undoubtedly similar to the Teddington desks. [38]

NEVE ENGINEER JOHN COPSEY:
The installation was in London and I believe it to have been the Euston Road studios. It was a brand new building with all brand new equipment (known as Thames Television House).
It wasn’t Kingsway, although I did set up a console being stored there, later on. They wouldn’t sign that one off because it failed the noise spec. Later I realised it was right underneath a transmitter aerial which caused swamping (resistive buses).

PETER THURLOW – SOUND SUPERVISOR THAMES EUSTON:
“Most of Euston studio output, unlike Teddington, was live, I can remember being informed that Euston produced more live hours that any other studio in Europe.
To name a few:- ‘Thames News’, ‘This Week’, ‘The Time, The Place’, ‘Money Go Round’, ‘Chess’, ‘ITV Election coverage’, ‘The Olympics’ , ‘This Is Your Life’ – which started with live pickups; even a late night LE show hosted by Jim Bowen. We also recorded – ‘Epilogues’, ‘Sooty’, ‘Rainbow’, ‘Rod Hull & Emu’ etc.”
“Some things stick in your memory; once a maintenance man decided to remove the Main Out limiter during a recording in ST6……and also to use switch cleaner on the ST
5 Neve main channel gains. Unfortunately, it dissolved part of the plastic and all 24 had to be replaced.”

31| 1969/1970: ‘The World at War’ – The Thames TV 16-channel Film Dubbing Neve  – ‘Serial A1‘

In addition to the two 24-channel Neve’s for the Euston studios mentioned above, a Neve desk went to the Presentation department, mixing the audio for the outgoing sources to the IBA transmitters, along with the ‘continuity announcer ‘ in the adjacent booth.
Lastly, the Film Unit at Euston also got a new 16-channel Film Dubbing desk. This was the console that Derek Stoddart had given the first of the ‘new’ serial numbers too, ‘A1’.

Freddie Slade at the film dubbing Neve.
Photo from the obituary in The Guardian in August 2010 by Alan Afriat

Although configured into two 8-channel sections, the Thames 16-channel Neve dubbing mixer has similar equipment to the other Thames desks, with 1063 or 1066 mic amps and what looks like the same 1878 or 1884 routing modules. There are though a pair of Neve 2254 com/lims in the upstand. A jackfield has been added to the end with a worktop, which accounts for the new metalwork drawings labelled ‘A1’ that were detailed in Neve documents early in 1970.

31a| The Neve 2072 Sliding Notch Filter

David Rees did however design the circuit for a new module specifically for the Thames Euston 16-channel Film Dubbing console.
Freddie Slade was the very experienced dubbing senior mixer in the Thames Film Dept and he must have sometimes needed to remove objectionable noises from film tracks and have asked for a very steep notch filter unit to incorporate in their new console
, which became the 2072.

The drawing of the 2072 in David Rees’s notebook
David’s plot of a typical ‘notch’

A parametric control like this is easier to use than a ‘graphic equaliser’, as a single knob lets you ‘sweep’ up and down to choose your target frequency, where as with a graphic eq, you have to toggle through the available fixed frequencies to find the ‘best fit’.

‘World At War’ – a combining Film and Video Sound Dub

ALAN AFRIAT – Senior Film Editor ‘The World at War’:
“Freddie worked on programmes including This Week and the 1973 documentary series The World at War. Sir Jeremy Isaacs, executive producer of The World at War, wrote about working on the series: “With music, effects, voice tracks mixed and laid and now final commentary to be added, we are off to the dubbing theatre, where another unsung hero, the dubbing mixer, Freddie Slade, will put the icing on the cake. On his fingers depend the final audio balance of the film, and the articulation of each sound element in its own right. We may ask for music to cross-fade to effects just here, or vice-versa, but we never – and I mean never – want to have two tracks clash, voiceovers compete with music, commentary with effects. We want clarity, audibility, and sometimes even silence, for a split second or two, to emphasise a point. With Freddie Slade we get it.” [39]

Olivier in the ‘commentary booth’

JEREMY ISAACS – EXECUTIVE PRODUCER:
“I was tense and anxious as I walked, for the first time, down the Tottenham Court Road from Thames’s Euston Road HQ to the sound studio we were using, one floor up on the south side of Oxford Street. A purple London cab, chauffeur-driven, delivered Sir Laurence at the unprepossessing door. The atmosphere as we greeted each other was pleasant on the surface, edgy beneath. Hesitantly, we recorded ‘France Falls’. Olivier bade us farewell. As soon as he’d gone, Peter Batty (director of the episode spoke his mind. ‘It’s no good; he’s a disaster. It is too quiet, his voice keeps fading away at the end of the line. “
“How does a current affairs producer, dealing for the first time is his life with a great actor, find the words to tell him it isn’t good enough? I decided to play the programme back to him, and let that speak. After half an hour he stopped me. ‘I see what you mean’ he said, I’m tired. I’ll do it again. He did, and it was better. He recorded the commentary for ‘Occupation’, also satisfactory. I was relieved.”

JEREMY ISAACS:
“Inviting Carl Davis to do the music for ‘The World At War’ was one of the best decisions of my life. The studio session (CTS Bayswater) at which he conducted the Title theme was exhilarating; the musicians knew, I sensed, that they were playing something that would last. Thereafter Carl wrote separately for each episode, using a small chamber group in which the horns and the clarinet of Alan Hacker stood out.”
[40*]

Because it was a major film production, Freddie carried out the complicated film dubbing of those 26 episodes of ‘The World At War’, each 52 minutes long, but the Thames studio sound department were also involved in getting it finished for ‘foreign sales:

BILL RAWCLIFFE:
“I was the Grams Operator on ‘The World At War’. I recorded all of the music, conducted by Carl Davis, in the Music Suite, on the 2nd floor at Teddington Studios, on a 16 track recorder in the Sound Control Room. We also used John Tasker’s MEDway (Music Effects Dialogue way), ½” reel to reel Telefunken 6 track recorder, and of course these were in the era of mono TV sound, so those 6 tracks were 1-Music, 2-Effects, 3-Incoming Dialogue, 4-the mixed down Music & Effects (for use by other countries to use and add their own dialogue language track), 5-Commentary (as done by ‘Larry’), and 6 – the ‘time-code’ track which was linked to the Ikegami 3/4″ video player – which took up to 20 seconds to sync. up!
I then recorded the music mix-downs onto 10½” NAB reels of ¼” tape, for them to be played into the programs as they were edited/post-dubbed.

Bill Rawcliffe received one of the ‘War Medals’ that Series Producer Jeremy Isaacs had made for the many staff involved from 1971 to 1974.

So how do you start a 23 hour long documentary on the 2nd World War? Jeremy Isaacs, with his reluctance to make it a series just about ‘the big battles, and his desire to show how the war affected ordinary people in all the countries involved, did it like this:

Opening to ‘The World At War’ Episode 1.
(Sorry the colour balance is so poor-the sky is ‘blue’ in the Thames logo really)

No sound FX or ‘music bed’; just moving images, Olivier and a beautifully written script.
No producer would have Isaacs’ courage to do it like that these days.

The ‘MEDWAY’ dubbing system had been introduced because of pressure from the Thames Sales department to produce ‘M&E’ tracks for foreign customers and I assume that the reason both the Euston film and Teddington video sound departments were involved was because of the ‘foreign sales’ potential of this major series. It is frequently recognised as the most outstanding documentary series ever produced on British TV, and ‘The World At War’ repeats often on TV stations across the globe. In 2010 Fremantle-Thames appreciated that the market was changing and it was completed digitally restored, but since it was being carried out for Blu-Ray discs, this was done in a cropped 16:9 screen format, as in the clip above. It was however later released yet again in the correct original 4:3 ratio.

Afterlife: Derek gets his hands on the Thames Neves again

Removing one of the Teddington Neves in 1988.
Photo: via ARTS-TV website

Derek Stoddart later ran ‘Shep’, a company re-storing and customising old Neve consoles.

DEREK STODDART:
“Many Years later I purchased the Thames consoles and did a conversion to make the modules four band and John Copsey designed the small PCB (with an I/C! ) for the switchable Mid section. Later I did away with that and put in a discrete pcb, and even later did the Shep SN8 single PCB version which also had Hi-Q on both mids.”

We don’t know what happened to the old Thames consoles after Derek had restored them, as Derek no longer has his documentation on the many consoles he restored and re-worked during his years running his company, which was based near the original Neve factory in Cambridgeshire. However the UK dealer AES Pro gives some details on the ‘2044’ on one of the documents on its website, so they presumably handled the Thames consoles at sometime.

*********************************************************************************************************

32| 1969: Recorded Sound’s 20-channel 8 group Neve‘Serial 2056’

Recorded Sound in Bryanston Street, in the West End of London had been the first commercial recording studio to buy a Rupert Neve built valve console, as we detailed in Part One.
In 1968 Recorded Sound was taken over by actor George Pastell and his partner Alexander Dembeniotis, helped by a couple of bankers, the Duboff Brothers with the intent of making it a more commercially viable studio, and in early 1969 it underwent a rebuild.
A new Neve 20 input 8 group was ordered to go with a 3M 8-Track, replacing that original valve Neve, which was moved into ‘Studio B’, a ‘voice studio’ across the road. By May 1969 the new studio was operational.

The Neve photo of Recorded Sound’s 20 Channel

JOHN TURNER:
“In 1968 it was decided an upgrade was needed to bring the studio up to date with 8 -rack recording
equipment. A 20-Channel 8 group console was ordered from Rupert Neve and the design work for
this console – ‘2056’ which was done late 1968 to early 1969. The console was photographed for the second Neve brochure at Priesthaus in Little Shelford. Drawings for ‘2056’ were done between 22/08/1968 and 27/09/1968 by Peter Rees.

The Recorded Sound desk follows the layout that Neve must have been beginning to ‘standardise on’, with channel mic amps on the sloping panel beneath the VU’s and the switching module on the flat panel in front of the faders. Compressors are above the group switching modules and echo returns, line amps and monitoring are on the furthest panels, along with talkback. The jackfield here is on the right side.

Like some previous desks ‘2056’ has the 1057 mic amps, and also has 1867 switching modules, which had already been used on the 24 channel Chicago ‘67123’ and the Anvil Film consoles, and the four 1872 Echo Return modules were also used on the Chicago desk ‘67123′.

Here’s a more detailed photo of the console that I’ve labelled to explain the controls.

The controls on Recorded Sounds 20 channel

In July the studio was able report the first bookings in the Studio section of a magazine:

From Beat Instrumental

The studio required a new assistant to help the three engineers and the job went to Ric Holland, who started work in May ’69

RIC HOLLAND:
“What I finally saw when Leo showed me around on the day I commenced work, was new, modern (well, 1969 new and modern) and stylish. The lobby decor featured mixed shades of wood-stained slats on the walls, solid wood trim, plate glass windows, grey wall-to-wall carpeting and contemporary furniture. From the outside pavement and leading up to the entrance lay a concrete access ramp. Inside and directly facing the front door stood the main studio portal – a hefty wooden door within a substantial frame – that featured a noticeable red light above. The red light, actually a plastic beacon affixed to the wall, served to alert people when recording was underway. Once inside the lobby, and to the right, there was a waiting area with soft seating, a coffee machine and, straight ahead, the start of a narrow corridor. At the right-hand side stood the company admin office, occupied by Mary Leigh. An older lady, Mary took care of the accounts, collated staff time-sheets, prepared and distributed weekly pay packets and dealt with anything bureaucratic.
Further along, the corridor took a sharp turn to the left, past a mixing room known as the Reduction Room on the right, and a maintenance engineer’s workshop on the left. Along the right-hand wall a series of coat hooks were affixed and at the very end of the corridor, after turning right, were female and male WC’s. Suspended above these toilets and washrooms were four EMT echo plates, 2 stereo and 2 mono. These EMT plates were enclosed in sizeable wooden cabinets each containing a thin metal sheet approximately 6ft by 10ft with transducer and associated electronics attached. They EMT’s had been installed above the WC’s at the back end of the building so as to take advantage of the reverberating nature of the plain walls, cubicles and the empty corridor. And to avoid possible audio interference with the studio.”
[41]

The Neve was positioned side on to the studio, with four Lockwood speakers and the new 3M 8-track behind.

The musicians view of the control room at Recorded Sound.
Photo: Studio Sound May 1971

The control room as seen through the studio window in 1971. Ric Holland, now a balance engineer is plugging up the Neve, with assistant engineer Richard Dodd at the M23 8-track.

RIC HOLLAND:
“The main studio amounted to a tall rectangular room, 40 feet long, and 20 feet wide. Two-thirds – the ‘dead’ area – was carpeted in a very short-pile grey-coloured durable fibre. The remaining third to the right was linoleum, pale green in colour but not shiny. This was the ‘live’ area where string sections, violins, violas, cellos were located for recording. When not in use for sessions this hard-surfaced area was where the studio microphones (on stands), mobile soundproof screens and baffles, stacked plastic chairs and folded music stands were stored.”

Ric’s book about his early days in the recording world with stories of the day to day life in a studio in the early ’70s is detailed in the credits at the end.

JOHN TURNER:
“It is highly likely that I met Ric Holland at Recorded Sound when I visited my first ever recording studio together with Tony Cornwell, Neve’s Chief Engineer at the time, probably in 1969. We were visiting to fix a faulty mic input transformer, a grey Gardners Octal base plug in transformer mounted in the rear of the console. At the time Maurice Gibb was on the telephone in the control room, I’d never heard such a foul mouthed tirade previously! I still remember it all these years later. The Bee Gees used Recorded Sound extensively in their early days”

RIC HOLLAND:
“Maurice Gibb commenced recording solo material in November/December 1969 with Mike Weighell engineering and me assisting. When the Neve technicians arrived the diffident Maurice would have burst into show off mode, playing the big boss man who’d not stand any nonsense. He’d think the visitors would be impressed as he shouted profanities down the phone! Maurice loved using the control room telephone.”

32a| 1970: Recorded Sound’s Re-mix 16-channel 4 group Neve –‘Serial A20’

When Studio Sound published an article on Recorded Sound in May 1971, the studio had also added a Neve 16-4 to the re-mix room.

JOHN TURNER:
“Another console ‘A20’ was designed in late 1969, most likely a 16 channel 4 group console for the
reduction room as shown in the May 1971 edition of Studio Sound. This was likely to have been
developed from the Pye Reduction console and the Maldonado 16 channel 4 group console,
together with Bob Auger’s two consoles.

By May 1971 the industry had moved on to 16 tracks and so another new console for the main studio was already on order from Neve.”

Top: The 3M 8-track and a Scully 2-track. Bottom: The Neve 16 into 4 in the re-mix room.
Photos: Studio Sound May 1971.

Staff changes at Recorded Sound

Running a recording studio was rarely a big money making venture, with the high cost of equipment and engineers were expected to work outrageous hours for fairly low pay, and Ric recalled working 88 hours in his 4th week at the studio.
In these British studios engineers moved fairly often, seeking a better position or a higher salary, and when Ric Holland joined Recorded Sound, Leo Pollini was the Studio Manager and the engineers were led by Philip Wade, although officially both Harry Day and Terry Stewart were senior to him. New engineer Terry Evennett arrived and was then replaced with Mike Bobak, who also didn’t stay long until the experienced Mike Weighell joined in October 1969. Shortly afterwards both Harry Day and Terry Stewart left, leaving Philip Wade and Mike Weighell as the engineers, with Ric Holland and Paul Tregurtha as tape ops. At Recorded Sound the next to leave was the original engineer, Leo Pollini and then in late November 1969 Philip Wade was given ‘the push’. It was now time for the two tape ops to move up to mixing so another beginner Phil Lusher, son of famous trombonist Don Lusher arrived to be the next trainee tape op.

Separate Stereo and Mono mixes

As the sales of stereo ‘singles’ continued to take-off, there was a dilemma in producing a stereo and a mono mix at the same time:

RIC HOLLAND:
“7inch 45rpm singles …often required two versions. One mono, one stereo. Conventionally these mixes would be created separately. Stereo couldn’t realistically be ‘folded down’ (combining left and right channels) because such action results in a 6db boost of the signal, or signals, panned centre in a stereo mix. The balance becomes out of kilter. Lansdowne Studios, however, had developed a technique whereby the left and right channels would be sent to two faders in a sub-mix section of the mixing desk and centre information sent to a third fader in-between the other two. The left-hand audio-in sub-fader channel 1 was panned hard left, the centre signal at sub-fader 2 panned centre, the right-hand audio-in sub-fader 3 was panned hard right. For a full stereo mix all three faders were positioned equally (usually at ‘0’ zero), and the signal sent to two channels, left and right, in the master section of the mixer/desk. Concerning the mono mix, all three sub-faders would be sent to one channel in the master section. The centre channel – governed by sub-fader 2 – would have its signal reduced (fader pulled down) by 6db. This resulted in an acceptable mono version.”

I think this must have forced you to a make 3-track mix though, with discrete Left, Centre and Right tracks!

Music from the Recorded Sound Neve

The Bee Gees – “If I ONLY HAD MY MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE” from ‘Cucumber Castle’

When the ‘The Bee Gees’ came to Recorded Sound, the group was down to just two, Barry and Maurice Gibb. In September 1969, the two remaining Bee Gees booked in to record tracks for an album that was also to be used in a TV movie ‘Cucumber Castle’. The engineer was Recorded Sound’s Philip Wade, who had worked with the group during his time at another London studio IBC. He was assisted by Ric and they commenced working on the song “If I Only Had My Mind On Something Else” and the two Gibb brothers brought in the drummer from ‘Pentangle’, Terry Cox.
The drummer was set up in a drum area in the rear left of the studio with acoustic screens and Philip Wade miked his kit with a C-451 on the snare, a U-67 overhead and another ’67 on the kick drum, recording it mono on the 8-track. Maurice Gibb overdubbed his bass in the control room with a DI box.
The Bee Gees arranger Bill Shepherd then took away a listening copy and returned the next evening ready to overdub the strings – in a 7pm to 10pm session. [41]

AUDIO: The Bee Gees – “If I ONLY HAD MY MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE” from ‘Cucumber Castle’ – (Engineer: Philip Wade) – Recorded Sound -1969

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33| 1969: ‘Pathe News’ – The Pathe 12-channel Film Dubbing Neve – ‘Serial 2061’

Not a ‘roaring Lion’, or ‘Tarzan with a gong’- it’s a cockerel!

The Britsh Pathé News (there was a French Pathé of course), was surely a staple of every cinema in the UK, filling in between the ‘Ads’ and the ‘feature’ and Britain’s view of the world ‘at home and abroad’ through Pathé’s newsreels became synonymous with the voice of Bob Danvers-Walker.

Pathé’s 12 channel film dubbing console from the Neve brochure of July 1969

Given the serial ‘2061’, the Pathé desk photographed at the new Melbourn factory.

The British Pathé Neve

The desk for Pathé was most likely the first film dubbing ‘Re-recording’ console that Neve manufactured and was 12 channel, with 4 groups that could feed into 3 outputs. It has new 1064 mic amps, fitted at the bottom of the channel strips, along with 1879 Switching Modules and 1880 Echo Return Modules, and has the new P&G faders. The upstand has, on the left, some status indicator lights from the Projection Booth and a TB loudspeaker, four VU meters with a film frame counter and TB mic in the centre with a broadcast PPM on the far right.

A closer look at the centre section

The desk is divided into two 6 channel sections and the centre section of the desk carries the monitoring controls along with the remote controls for the 3-track mag film recorder. At the top of the centre section are the Line Amps, with beneath them, the two Echo Send Line Amps and then the two 1880 Echo Return Modules. An ‘Oscillator’ with a separate oscillator switch panel beside it, a Line Amp labelled ‘Amplifier’ and another for ‘PFL’. On the right is an EMT140 reverb plate remote.

The monitoring panel has push button selection of the three outputs to either of the two control room loudspeakers with ‘Loudspeaker Level’ gain pot and selector switch beneath and a ‘Stereo/Mono’ switch. The remote for the mag recorder includes a pre-selector switches to enable record on any of the three tracks.
Although the 1879 Switching Modules have group routing via push buttons, there are only three groups and the fourth button is only marked with a ‘spot’, indicating it either wasn’t useable or fed a separate u – after all there are four VU meters. The 1879’s have ‘PRE’ and ‘POST’ switches for the two ‘ECHOs’, each with a send pot; there is no ‘FB’ on the modules. Small ‘PFL’ and ‘CUT’ buttons are on the bottom of the module.
The larger photo shows that on the right are the first two Neve 2254 Compressor-Limiters that we’ve seen, with beneath them two 2065 Hpf/LpF EQ modules, and the four group modules, each with 3 way switches to route the 3 film outputs.

33a| The Neve 1064 mic-amp module

Neve 1064

The new Neve 1064 has the same frequency choices as the 1063, without the ‘dual-concentric’ controls, being a ‘longer version’ mic amp module and like the 1063 it had the new push-button ‘EQL’ and ‘PHASE’  switches. [42]

Interior of a 1064

No sooner had the Neve arrived….than Pathé News expired

“Regardless of the merit of the output, the company simply could not compete with the rise of television. Its parent, Associated British Picture Corporation, was itself producing quality TV and owned a majority share in Thames Television, founded in 1968. The next year, the final Pathé Pictorial cinemagazine was released, shortly followed by the last edition of Pathé News. This was when Associated British-Pathé went through a radical transformation, from an active production house, into a film archive.” [43]

VIDEO: Press ‘Play’ in bottom left

Video from Pathé website

That’s a typical Pathé News item from their last year, 1970. Bob Danvers-Walker hyping-up the excitement of a ‘Flu epidemic’. It’s all mute film, with a library music track behind, being lifted in the commentary gaps, and the lone sound FX of ambulances dropped in. “The pressure is immense” says the commentary; well at least the sound mixing of this clip wasn’t that demanding!

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34| 1966 to 1973: Early Neve Compressors and Limiters

The compressor most seen in the UK during the mid ’60s had become the Pye 4060, which I have written about in an earlier article on Pye mixers, and some clients specified these for their new Neve consoles. The Pye compressor used the technique of ‘pulse-width modulation’ to chop out bits of the audio, but Rupert didn’t copy this when he was obviously pushed by some clients to supply an equivalent.

RUPERT NEVE:
“Well in my front living room we had no lab; it had been taken over by production and so I was sitting at a desk and working; “What in the world was I going to use as a control element in this device?” There were no such things as VCA’s in those days. You couldn’t just go and buy the IC and get it to work.
Well it occurred to me that the diode is a non-linear device with a huge amount of distortion, but if you configure it in a bridge format, you can get rid of quite a lot of the distortion and so you can apply audio across one set of contacts and you apply your control voltage across the other side. It’s a classic bridge configuration, and by carefully choosing the limits of control and signal, it gave quite a good account of itself. So I used this as a control element and then actually used the same configuration in reverse to derive a control voltage. [1]

The Neve 2251

Neve 2251 Compressors

Above are three of the first Neve compressors designed by Rupert, the 2251’s installed on the Wessex Studio desk supplied in 1966. These have no markings on the controls in the Neve photo above, so they possibly had just been developed.

The Neve 2252

The 2251 was soon replaced by the 2252, which certainly were available by the second Intertel desk of 1967. (See Part Two), and the Granada TV desk a little later.

Neve 2252 Compressor

The Neve 2252 shown above is in the original black finish. The model continued on just into the ‘blue-grey’ period, and here it is also with the Marconi knobs in the photos below.

Neve 2252’s.
Photo’s from Reverb

RUPERT NEVE:
I used existing amplifiers that were already in stock; for instance the output stages that we used to drive the lines in the consoles were the same circuits exactly, with some minor changes in the configurations; we changed the levels. But I was able then to put everything into the same kind of format; the same kind of modular format, putting three of them together; which you can see here is three ‘line amplifiers’ glued together  (Rupert holds up a 2254, to show the three joined sections).  The amount of control I was able to get in this configuration was actually a good deal more than my competitor was getting. So what we were getting was a very nice control curve; a very sweet sounding compressor. The limiter; it virtually was a ‘brick-wall’ limiter.” [1]

Geoff Tanner worked for Neve from 1971:

GEOFF TANNER:
“The 2252 was Neve’s (the company) first compressor and used germanium transistors with a 24v positive ground power supply.
By today’s values it’s an excellent tool for adding character to a signal but, back then, it was not satisfactory as a broadcast limiter (one of its hoped for roles) because of its very high distortion when compressing.
David Rees, Rupert’s cousin I believe, designed an alternative limiter using the standard bread boarding tools of that era… nails banged into wood and the components soldered to the nails. The IBA accepted the performance and the device became the 2253 limiter. Shortly after, an additional compress side chain was added and this became the legendary 2254
The 2253 and 2254 and all subsequent Neve modules, used the more reliable and better performing silicon technology as soon as it became generally available.”
 [44]

The Neve 2253

Neve 2253

The 2253 Limiter, was a ‘Broadcast Limiter’, typically used to stop ‘over-mods’ and therefore had a super fast attack time of 100micro Secs, plus a more normal one of 1 milli Sec.

The Neve 2254 Versions

JOHN TURNER:
“The mechanical drawings for the 2254 were done at the end of March 1969. I know that when I joined in October 1968, David Rees was in the final stages of designing the 2254.”

It’s often stated that the 2254 was designed for ‘ABC Television’ in 1969, and I believe that this has come out of something Rupert said in one of his videos. I think Rupert may have been incorrect though regarding this, as we’ve shown that the ABC/Thames TV desks of 1969 in fact used Pye Compressors, although the Thames Euston Film Dubbing Neve certainly had 2254’s. It was later in 1973 when they requested a replacement unit for their Pye’s, and that’s when the new 2262’s (see further below) were rushed through design.

A table showing the Neve 2254 versions

Before detailing the versions of the Neve 2254, here’s a an interesting document that John Turner has found, showing the differences:

Some of these models are rarely mentioned today, but its good to find out that the Anvil desk had a ‘2254/B’, which had a ‘de-ess’ switch on the Limiter section, and that the 10:1 Compress ratio that (LWE) London Weekend TV had added to their 2254/A’s, was incorporated in a ‘2254/C’ model. The CBS desks at Whitfield Street had the first ‘2254/D’s’ with additional ratios and also the 10:1 fitted, but kept the 1.5:1 as well. It also shows that the first ‘2254/E’ was on ‘A599’, in 1972, which went to Decca France.

Neve 2254

Above is the first version of the 2254, which has a ‘Limit Attack’ switch with two choices and also a ‘De-Ess’ switch. There’s a ‘Limit Level’, but no ‘Compress Threshold’ with any variable level control.

The first Neve photo showing a 2254 appears to be in the Pathe desk ‘2061’.

The Neve 2254/A

Neve 2254/A

The Neve 2254/A, soon came along. The ‘De-ess’ switch has gone and it is now fitted with a ‘Compress Threshold from -20 to +10 dBm and a ‘Gain Make Up’ control has arrived. There is a fixed Limit attack time now.

Peaking above ‘PPM6’ (+8dBm) is a ‘no-no’ on the broadcast world and when I worked at London Weekend TV, our Neve consoles from 1969/70 all also had a 2253 Limiter to ‘catch’ any overmods, although it was only used in addition to the four 2254/A Limiter/Compressors fitted to the desks. We changed the 2254/A’s to have a higher 10:1 compress ratio, as the first 1.5:1 was seen as of being little use.
Almost all dialogue was compressed at 3:1 with thresholds around 0dBm, and 3:1 was also great on ‘vocals’ of course. That 10:1 ratio though gave powerful ‘squashed-up’ audience applause – all part of making a TV show as exciting as possible!

The Neve 2254/D

The Neve 2254/D was modified to be fitted to the 24-16 Neve’s for CBS Whitfield Street. The additional Limiter and Compressor recovery times and the adding of the 10:1 ratio were most probably required by the CBS Technical Manager George Balla.

JOHN TURNER:
“The two later CBS consoles 3 & 4 had the “A” numbers ‘A314’ & ‘A346’ and a special version of the 2254, the 2254D was created for CBS under the “A” number ‘A348’. “

Its easy to forget that drawings like this were done by draughtsmen, and ‘draughtswomen’, in pen and ink

The Neve 2254/E

Neve 2254/E

With the later Neve 2254/E version, the ‘In’ switches for  ‘Limit’ and ‘Compress’ have been changed and the Limiter now has two ‘attack’ settings ‘Fast’ and ‘Slow’.

Controls of the Neve 2254/E

Obviously having calibrated controls on front of audio equipment requires accurate setting up to achieve those calibrations. The rear of the 2254’s have screwdriver adjustments for ‘In’ and ‘Out’ and to set ‘+8’, so that it really does limit at that level.

The Neve 2262

RUPERT NEVE:
“In 1969 we had fairly recently supplied a console to ABC Television, one of the British Independent programme production companies and they were using in that console, a limiter compressor that came from Pye; Pye being one of the Philips companies. And it was actually not a bad limiter-compressor but the problem was it lacked reliability; it got too hot. And so ABC said “Can you produce a product which could sit in the same physical space, the same hole in the console and will serve the same purpose”.
I was given a very short space of time, something like three to four weeks in which to do this, and they said if I can produce a satisfactory design there would be an order for a substantial quantity of these.”
 [1]

Neve 2262

The Neve 2262 with dual-concentric controls to keep it small was developed in 1973 and as Rupert says, it was designed to replace the Pye 4060 Compressors and to fit into their original console mounting space, complete with the same back connector that Pye used. It was first installed in the Neve consoles built for Thames at Teddington and Euston, that we’ve looked at earlier.

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35| 1969 – Pye Records 12-channel ‘Reduction’ Neve – ‘Serial 2096’

In 1969 Pye equipped their Re-Mix Room with a Neve 12 channel. The choice of a 12 channel desk shows that they were still convinced that the next jump from 8-track was going to be to 12-track, even though, as we’ve seen studios in the US were equipping with 16-track machines.

Neve 12 channel ‘2096’ with new 1065 mic amps

Some Neve consoles were supplied with considerable ‘furniture’ but most came as stand-alone consoles, like some others already shown and Pye’s re-mix Neve, photographed in the new Melbourn factory, and it has a very elegant black wooden surround to compliment the black steel legs.

35a| The Neve 1065 mic-amp module

Neve 1065

Fitting either the 8.75″ 1064 or the 12″ 1063 mic amps became the standard choices for clients for their new Neve consoles for many months in 1969, and quite a few consoles were produced with these mic amps. However this re-mix console for Pye is fitted with another new mic amp module, the 1065. This was like a 1063 but without the High-pass Filter, and it used the same dual-concentric controls for the ‘Mid’ and ‘LF’ that Derek Stoddart had introduced on the 1063 for the Thames consoles. Like the Pye desk above, this 1065 has blue and not grey control knobs; the Ray Prickett influence again.

Centre section detail
The 1861 and 1882 modules

This 12 channel has 3 outputs; a stereo and separate mono, and the new 1881 Switching Module has feeds to two ‘Echo’s’, with separate ‘Pre/Off/Post’ switches and each has a separate send pot, so like the Pathe Neve, a desk in which a channel could send to two echos at once at different levels. There are however no ‘FB’s’ as this is just for re-mixing. Because this is just a 3 group desk, both the 1881’s and the two 1882 Echo Returns’ are interesting in having the push-button switches from the groups labelled ‘L/R/M and P’. These are ‘Left, Right, Mono and Panand obviously no single ‘Pan In’ button is therefore required. At the bottom of the module are the momentary ‘PFL’ and a locking ‘CUT’ button.

The Monitor section of this 3 Group ‘re-mix’ desk is simpler than on a similar ‘recording’ console and a pair of speakers are catered for, which can be switched to mono on ‘both’ or separately.
Since there are still Neve 2252 Compressors fitted to this desk, and not the 2254’s, it’s likely that it was in the design stage at the same time or even before the Pathé Neve serial ‘2061’ which did have ‘2254’s’.

Pye Studios Ad of 1970

In this 1970 advertisement, the Re-mix Neve is shown, but with a pair of channels blanked off. Pye was still 8-track at this time of course.

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‘Maldonado – The Spanish connection’

Rupert spoke Spanish fluently, having been brought up in Argentine and made frequent visits to the country and around 1969 Rupert Neve got a Spanish distributor.

DEREK STODDART:
“The Spanish Agent ‘Maldonado’, sold quite a large number of consoles in Spain, I installed at least 4-5 consoles”

36| The Eurovision Song Contest Neve console

We’ve already shown the console that went to Spanish TV in 1968, and then after winning the 1969 Eurovision Song Contest, there was a hurried contract to get a desk for the Europe wide TV coverage of the Song Contest which was therefore going to be held in Madrid.

JOHN TURNER:
“Neve had previously supplied mixing consoles to TVE, the Spanish state broadcaster and so Neve’s newly appointed Spanish agent, Maldonado, in late 1968 must have seen an opportunity to use the basic design used on the Thames TV mixer. I believe he placed an order – P2128 for a TV mixing console, based on the design work undertaken for ABC/Thames TV,  to be used for Spain’s Eurovision contest live broadcast. It required new end cheeks for a patch panel, probably in line with the main console.

There were two major problems:
The console frame mechanics needed changing probably to include a patch bay.
The Eurovision Song Contest was to be on 21st March 1969 in Madrid!

The ‘mechanical drawing register 1’ records the frantic activity of Peter H. Rees in early 1969, and between the 2nd January and the 10th, Peter produced 23 detailed drawings of the mechanical work required for ‘P2128’ for ‘Maldonado’, including one for the “Bush for 1063 Dual Concentric Knob”; so that would indicate that the console’s mic amps were 1063’s.

JOHN TURNER: “I remember this was produced in record time with much overtime as there was no missing the deadline!”

The Eurovision Neve, based on the Thames TV desks, had the 1884 Switching Module, which as the photo earlier of it shows, was visually identical to the 1878 fitted to the Thames desks. The Neve register also shows a ‘Maldonado’ console, as having the first 1066 mic amp module, so the Eurovision desk might have been the one that received these, as they did in fact use the dual-concentric knobs of the 1063.
We don’t know if it had any side fitting sub mixers, but it even with its side mounted patchbay, it was a compact mixer for 24 channels.

The Eurovision Song Contest in Madrid 1969

Televisión Española (TVE), Spanish Television, was tightly under the control of the dictator Franco’s government but Spain’s Minister of Information and Tourism Manuel Fraga, and presumably Franco himself could see the value of using television as a tool to both promote Spain around the world and to convince the Spanish population that it was equal to other ‘modern’ European societies. Thus Spain’s win in the Eurovision Song Contest in the Royal Albert Hall, London in 1968 was a great chance to further this, at a time when Spain was keen on building up its tourist industry with the other European countries.

“TVE pulled out all the stops to cover its debut in Europe. The contest was broadcast from Madrid’s Teatro Real and was the largest economic and production investment in TVE’s history. In fact, the event was so costly that TVE was forced to cut back on other expenses in subsequent months. Artist Salvador Dalí was commissioned to design the poster and some of the sets.
Even though it was TVE’s first colour broadcast, Spaniards watched in black and white, since colour television was not available in Spain until the mid 1970s. The German television broadcaster lent TVE a mobile production vehicle to broadcast the colour signal to the rest of Europe. The Spanish government approved the introduction of the German PAL colour standard in 1969.” [45]

A West German TV scanner from ARD covered the event in order to produce the colour pictures although the broadcast on the local Spanish ‘La1’ channel was in monochrome.
Presumably the ‘presentation stage mics’ would be handled by the sound mixer in that ARD vehicle and the orchestra sound would be mixed on the new Neve, most probably in a temporary control room within the Teatro Real itself. Each country provides commentators to ‘voice-over’ in the countries own language, and in some cases that would require a separate ‘voice’ for both TV and Radio.

The orchestra in ‘the pit’ at the Teatro Real.

Unfortunately, even for 1969 the TV coverage was disappointingly bland…. and the audience in the Teatro Real looked bored throughout it as well! The guy mixing the orchestra on the Neve worked hard though on each of the live music items.

“For the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, the outcome of the voting resulted in a tie for first place. Four countries gained 18 points each: France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Since there was no solution for this situation, all four countries were declared winners. Luckily, there were four medals available to the four winning singers – the four medals were originally intended for the winning singer and three winning songwriters.” [46]

Something that had not ever been envisaged obviously happened when the four singers all tied with ’18’ votes; the United Kingdom with “Boom Bang-a-Bang” by Lulu, Spain with “Vivo Cantando” by Salomé, the Netherlands with “De Troubadour” by Lenny Kuhr, and France with “Un Jour, Un Enfant” by Frida Boccara, and solution that they had to come up with was that they all shared ‘first place’.

Spanish Recording Studio Neves

Unfortunately there’s no information on the consoles that Maldonado placed in Spanish recording and broadcast studios as the clients weren’t individually detailed back to Neve, but by May 1970 the Billboard Recording Studio list already contained the following Neves in Spanish studios:

Audiofilm, Madrid 3:
Studio owner J. Batlle Engineer Raul Marcos, Re-mixers Antoio Morales, Luis Miguel Gonzales.
Neve 16 input 4 output:

A new console to be installed by July 1970 in Studio 2.
Studio 2 -(available from July 1970) 43x28x17h (Control room 20×13) Telefunken 4T. JBL speakers.

Neve 6 input 2 outout:

Studio 1 – 27x20x13h Telefunken 4T.
…………………………………………………..
Hispavox, Madrid 17:
Chief Engineer ( with a Welsh name) M. LLewellyn-Jones
Neve 24 input 8 output:
Studio 1 – 50x90x35h (Control room 14×20) Ampex 4T, Tannoy speakers, Quad amps.

…………………………………………………..
RCA SA, Madrid 16:
Studio manager Francisco Rivera. (The US company RCA’s Spanish studio)
Neve 26 input 10 output:
Studio 1 – 36x66x23h (Control room 13×20) . Speakers Altec with Quad amps. Ampex 16T.

(Details from Billboard May 9th 1970 Recording Studio Directory)

It was good to see the large US record company RCA, who had previously always built their own consoles, had now bought a Neve, and Maldonado carried on selling many more Neve consoles in Spain, which soon had the highest number of Neve equipped studios after the UK.

37| 1969: Neve 16-channel 4 output for S.E.D.M./Regson, Madrid

There are a couple of Neve factory photos of one of the Neves that Maldonado supplied of an early Spanish console labelled ‘S.E.M. Madrid’. However I have been unable to find a recording organisation with those initials in Madrid at that time, and think it was actually ‘S.E.D.M.’, ‘Sociedad Española de Divulgación Musical’. This company was a Spanish record distributors and owned the ‘DIM’ label. Most of the DIM Records seem to have been made at the Estudios Regson, who’s re-mix Neve of 1967 we saw in Part Three, and as the Regson studio shared the same address at ‘C/ Gustavo Fernández Balbuenain Madrid, this console was most probably for them.

The Spanish Neve 16-4

This console was just a standard looking 16-4, however it’s the first that we’ve seen with Neve 1067 mic amp modules.

37a| The Neve 1067 mic-amp module

Neve 1067

The Neve 1067 mic amps are a cut-down version of the 1066, with just a fixed ‘HF’, a dual-concentric ‘Mid’ and only a fixed ‘LF’. The size remained the same as the 1066, so there was more ‘finger-room’ between controls. I can only imagine that reduced cost would cause you to purchase 1067’s instead of 1066’s.

This SEDM/Regson Neve was also fitted with the new 1883 Switching module. This unit became very common after this, fitted to many of the 4 Group desks that Neve were now regularly producing. The 1883 will be detailed in a later section.

The Monitoring panel

The two ‘Echo Return’ modules are smaller than the 1872 modules fitted to the Recorded Sound console, being the same size as the 1272 Line Amps and the Oscillator that they sit beside.
The monitor panel layouts were still ‘custom’ at this time, and this one has selectors for four monitor speakers. Starting in the upper left are a set of four keyswitches: ‘Echo on Monitor’, ‘Tone to Groups‘, and a pair for ‘Selsync to Foldback 1/2’ with a level pot. Beneath these keyswitches are the ‘Monitor’ selector and the large ‘Level’ pot. The selection can be ‘Output’/’Playback’/’Anc’ and that Ancilliary can select ‘Selsync/ Echo 1 and 2/ Foldback 1 and 2’. An ‘Echo Return to Monitor’ pot has the four pushbuttons (black) for each speaker and centrally are the four group monitor select buttons (white) with their respective level pots and above each of them a switch to select ‘Echo Monitor Send’.
There’s a ‘Studio Playback’ pot with indicator neon. ‘Playback to Foldback 1’ and ‘Playback to Foldback 2’ each have four pushbuttons and in the upper right a ‘Playback Matrix’ that allows ‘Mono/2 track/3 Track/4 Track’. The 2 and 3 Track positions have a pair of pan-pots labelled ‘Pan 3’ and ‘Pan 4’ to re-route the signals. Finally is the ‘Meters’ selector with ‘Output/Playback/Anc’ and the ancilliary meter can have ‘Selsync/Echo 1 and 2/Foldback 1 and 2/ plus Patch Meter IP’. A single ‘Talkback’ key and a pair of ‘Cue’ light switches are by the group faders.

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38| 1969: Bob Auger’s 16 and 8-channel 4 group Neves

Bob Auger had been the Chief Engineer or Technical Manager at Pye Records since 1962 and had a considerable reputation in the recording industry. Although he’d started his working life with British Railways for 13 years, he started again as a trainee at Recorded Sound, back in the Leo Pollini days, that I’ve explored earlier in Neve valve/tube mixer article:

BOB AUGER:
“You got people walking in off the street recording messages for relatives overseas and we recorded an awful lot of stuff for foreign radio programmes, newsreaders – NBC, Voice of America and all those people for their London correspondents, and a lot of political stuff of course; music station idents for Rediffusion when they started commercial television in 1955, was the first time I had been involved in recording an orchestra of any size.” [47]

He moved to Pye in 1956 and spent 2 weeks watching and learning how the American Engineer Bob Fine recorded classical orchestras. Bob Fine was kicking off the Pye Classical department’s series of recordings with Sir John Barbirolli and the Halle Orchestra in Manchester. The simple 3-mike technique that Fine used on his Mercury label recordings was then copied by Bob Auger when he took over the recording venture, which he continued for the next 4 years.
Bob Auger then moved to Granada TV for a couple of years but returned to set up the

Wishing to get back to mainly Classical recording Bob then interested Granada TV in setting him up, and a new mobile recording outfit, ‘Granada Recordings’ was born. It was based in the Granada TV’s London ‘rehearsal rooms’ building opposite The Oval tube station.

Although we have already seen in the earlier section on Pye Studios, Bob had decided that 8-track and even the expected upgrade to 12-track was required for their pop work, but when he ordered this new 4 Group desk he must have assumed he would carry on using 4-track for classical work, with his 4-track Scully tape decks. However by the time of the Verdi recording of February 1970 shown in the photo below, Bob had started working with an 8-track, and in addition to the 4 Group outputs, he began feeding the 2 Echo’s and 2 FB’s as additional outputs to the tape decks. 4 more VU’s were added to the left side of the 16-channel desk.

The two Granada Recordings Neve desks set up in the Royal Albert Hall.
Photo: David Kirk Studio Sound

Both of Bob’s desks would have been the same 16-channels into 4 Groups, but with only one supplied with the 8 channels he required for his ‘re-mix’ room, however during the recording of the Verdi Requiem with Bernstein and the LSO in February 1970, the 16-channel Neve on the left was used for the mics and the 8-channel on the right just for 8-track monitoring. I’ve written about this recording in an earlier article on this website.

38a| The Neve 1066 mic-amp module

The Neve records show that the Neve 1066 was first installed in one of the Maldonado Spanish consoles, with the initial drawing for it being dated 7th May 1969. Bob Auger’s 16-4 console was in use by the end of August 1969, so his desk must have been a very early one to also be fitted with the 1066.

Neve 1066
Photo: via Joel Cameron

Following on from the 8.75 inch high 1063 mic-amp first made for Thames, the similar sized 1066 has the same dual-concentric controls and the same frequencies but is fitted with the mic/line change over position on the gain control, with a pair of separate transformers for those ‘Mic’ and ‘Line’ inputs. The 1063 had a single input for both mic and line, and with one input transformer.

Interior of a Neve 1066

To see the physical difference in the ‘mic’ input transformer, and the second ‘line’ input transformer, compare the interior of the 1066 with the earlier photo of the 1063, which didn’t have a ‘line’ transformer. Click on this link: *Neve and then the use the browser back button to return here.
The differences also point up the ‘hand wired’ nature of each Neve module of course.
First drawn up on the 7th May 1969, this is the circuit of the 1066.

The Neve 1066 circuit diagram
Some comparison details for Neve modules

Having looked at so many Neve mic-amps so far, here’s a chart above comparing the range of Neve modules from about 1969 or ’70, which includes some still to come in these articles. This shows that the 1066 was fitted with similar frequencies to the other modules and that changes then came with the 1073 and 1076.

One of the best summaries of the various ’69 and 70’s Neve modules is provided by Joel Cameron on his really informative website. He starts off by summing up the features of ‘Class A’ circuits like this:

JOEL CAMERON:
“Class-A” refers to the type of amplifier blocks used in the modules.  A class-A amplifier conducts during the entire 360-degrees of a waveform cycle (visualize a complete cycle of a sine wave), meaning it never switches off.  For the sake of comparison, class-B amplifiers (not used in discrete Neve designs) have two active portions each of which amplify 180 degrees of the waveform (think a sine wave divided into ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ halves) in what is called a “push pull” configuration.  These two partials, when combined to produce the complete output signal, may not always match each other at the crossover point between amplifier halves resulting in a rather unpleasant sounding phenomenon called ‘crossover distortion’.”

Joel continues with information on the circuit design:

“The mic preamp design in the silicon transistor Neve class-A channel amplifiers is a 3-gain stage affair with two preamp stages and an output stage.  At gains of 50dB and lower only one preamp stage and the output stage are used.  At 55dB and above all three stages are used.  Between 50dB and 55dB gain positions is an “OFF” position to eliminate pops and such from all of the signal switching going on between these two positions.”

“The gain switch on most of these modules is a somewhat involved affair using a 3 pole, 24 position switch that serves several purposes:  it selects mic or line input source (not on the 1063, which has only one input source, but on most other models), it operates a switchable pad between the input transformer secondaries and the first active gain stage, it switches between 2 and 3 total gain stage configurations, it operates another set of pads between the various active stages, and it alters the actual gain of one of the two preamp gain blocks.  All of these various combinations result in the total gain for each setting. “ [48]

38b| The Neve 1883 switching-module

Neve 1883/1

The Neve 1883 switching module became very common, and was used in the later 4 group 8014 consoles. The later 1883/1 version in the photo above has black ‘Echo’ buttons , whereas both Bob’s Neve and the Spanish desk seen earlier have white push buttons, and the 1883/1 also uses the ‘US’ terminology ‘Cue’ and ‘Rev’, that was started with the Vanguard consoles and ‘Solo’ is also used instead of ‘PFL’. Neon indicators for both the ‘Pan’ and the ‘Cut’ buttons have also been added to the 1883/1.

The interior of a Neve 1883/1

Here’s a photo of Bob Auger’s desk with both a 1066 and a 1883 withdrawn slightly on their locating rails. His 1883’s have both sets of ‘aux’ controls; the ‘FB’ and the ‘Echo’ fitted with white buttons on the Isostat switches.

Bob demonstrates his 1066 and 1883 modules – from a Studio Sound article

The Monitor panel

A monitor panel like Bob Auger’s.
Photo: via groupdiy.com

The above is not Bob Auger’s Neve, but by comparing photos, this is as close as we are likely to get, and in fact its one of Maldonado’s Spanish Neve’s, a 16-4 that was restored in Sweden in 2016. [49]
At this time designations like ‘8014’ were still perhaps a couple of years away and all Neve desks were custom designed, and like other 16-4 desks at this time, there isn’t yet a separate panel for the monitor selection and gains and these are still part of the main loudspeaker and VU switching panel.
Bob’s has the same monitor panel controls as above, consisting of:
Top left are four keyswitches- ‘Echo on Monitor’; ‘Tone’ to ‘Line/Patch/Groups’; and ‘Talk to Foldback 1/2’. Next along are the 4 group’s ‘Playback to Echo 1’ buttons and under that ‘Playback to Echo 2’, then the same ‘Playback to Foldback 1’ and ‘Playback to Foldback 2’.
A ‘Studio Plackback’ pot (red on this desk) has an push button on/off switch, which possibly contains a neon. Bob’s possibly has this although it may just be a keyswitch. The ‘Output Matrix’ knob (again red on this desk), has selection for ‘Mono/2 Track/3 Track/4 Track’ with a pair of pan pots above it allowing ‘2 Track’ and ‘3 Track’ to be panned, labelled ‘Pan 2’ and ‘Pan 4’. We’ve already seen various combinations of pan controls on other desk’s ‘Output Matrix’ selectors.
The other controls on the bottom and middle rows, starting on the left with the ‘Main Monitor’ selector giving ‘Output/Playback/Ancilliary’. The later lets you select ‘Selsync’/Echo1/Echo2/FB1/FB2/Mon IP’ and there’s the big Monitor gain pot, plus a ‘Mono/Stereo’ keyswitch.
The four gain pots for the groups have ‘L/R’ monitor speaker keyswitches, as there are only two loudspeakers catered for here. The ‘Meters’ selector on the right side has an ‘Output/Playback/Ancilliary’ selector, the later having the same choices as the Monitor control had for ‘ancilliaries’.

In the section housing the line-amps, above the Monitor panel, Bob’s differs slightly. On the left, his Neve has the same Echo Return modules, 1880’s I believe, but with black group select Isostat buttons, instead of the white on this Spanish desk. Then a row of 1272 Line-amps for Groups. The middle row has the Echo Send, FB and Talkback 1272’s with gain pots, and Bob has his 1461 Oscillator next.
This desk has different VU’s to those on Bob’s and there is no TB loudspeaker here, as on Bob’s upstand.

Bob Auger’s not so mobile ‘Granada Recordings’

Bob had been doing ‘location recordings’ since his early days assisting Bob Fine, and had been the main engineer using the Pye mobile equipment for many years, even whilst running the Pye studios as Technical Manager.

EDDIE KRAMER:
“Bob was one of the most brilliant recording engineers in England. We would go out and use the Pye Mobile, and I would be his assistant. One day, we’d go out and record an entire 90-piece symphony orchestra with just three microphones, and then the next day we’d be back in the studio recording The Kinks. I got a tremendous education from him. He was definitely one of the great engineers of all time.”
[57]

All the Neve desks during this time were still ‘built to order’ and the customer was consulted to make each console customised, however the recording desk that Bob chose was a Neve 16-4 in a standard frame complete with a patch-bay. This was surprisingly since he was going to be ‘carting it around’, and he certainly knew what that entailed.

CHRIS HOLLEBONE:
“Equipment was purchased and staff recruited and one of those early candidates for an interview was a young Australian who had just arrived in England. His name was David Martin who soon revealed that he was a truly multi-skilled person. He not only had a sound knowledge of electronics but had a keen interest in music and proved to be a very skilled in woodwork, making special boxes for transporting the Neve modules.” [50]

In a previous article on Bob’s Verdi Requiem recording, I’ve already expressed my admiration for the of the hard work that getting these two big desks, his large Lockwood/Tannoy Red monitor speakers, and a pair of 8-tracks (a Scully and a 3M), with eight of the big Dolby 301 units, into a temporary control room at venues like this. Classical recording engineers had been doing for many years, and Bob put his gear into any ‘suitable room’ each time, which of course often meant an ‘unsuitable room’.
Carrying even the ‘stripped down’ heavy Neve frames must have been back-breaking work, plus of course the large orchestral mic stands and other equipment on the ‘studio’ floor was equally heavyweight.

By the way that’s the same Dave Martin who, whilst working for Bob, experimented with the big speakers from cinemas for use as PA speakers for bands. This became Martin Audio who finally got ‘loud and clean’ PA as a reality in the UK.

In 1970, I thought it would be wonderful to work for Bob and although he said he didn’t have a need for any other assistants, he still invited me over to his Granada Recordings base at The Oval for a chat, where I saw that all his equipment was also neatly arranged on wooden racking for storage; David Martin’s handiwork again. His Scully 8-track had the electronics in two separate flight cases and the 4-tracks were split into separate ‘deck’ and ‘amp’ units as well.

Bob Auger’s wide range of recordings

Bob Dylan Live – Isle Of Wight Festival August 31st 1969

The first reference to Bob’s new Neve appears to be from August 1969:

ELLIOT MAZER:
 “I recorded the 1969 Isle Of Wight festival. That was a Neve 16-input console owned by Bob Auger. I worked in ’69 with Glyn Johns to record Bob Dylan and the Band at Isle of Wight. I had been noshing at the Carnegie Deli in New York and Bob [Dylan] came up to me and said, ‘I’m playing a show in England next week I want you to record.” [51*]

I’d like to have listened in as these three great recording engineers, Bob Auger, Glyn Johns and Elliot Mazer discussed miking the drum-kit! Glyn used a simple 4 mic technique on drums that became famous of course, and Bob wouldn’t want to put many mics up either….and it was only a 16 channel desk anyway.

BEAT INSTRUMENTAL:
“Good news for all Dylan fans is that Bob Auger, who used to work for Pye, has now got his own independent mobile recording company – Granada Recordings – and was down at the Isle-of-Wight on the big day, getting it all down on tape.” [52]

Bob Dylan at the 1969 Festival

Here’s Dylan, surrounded by an array of mics and stands, just for his guitar and vocal, though he was accompanied by ‘The Band’ with Robbie Robertson (guitar), Richard Manuel (piano), Garth Hudson (organ), Rick Danko (bass), and Levon Helm (drums), who were also smoothed in recording and PA mics and stands. Four songs from the IoW were included on Dylan’s 1970 ‘Self Portrait’ double-album. 
Even into the early 70’s there were no ‘mic splitters’ available or even passive transformers, so a recording engineer had to put his own mics up alongside those used by the PA. Sometimes, as at the ‘Stones In The Park’, Bob Auger taped his vocal mic, an AKG D-224, to the PA’s mic, which also made it a handful for a singer to hold if he took it off the mic stand. A calculated risk is also involved in putting that Neumann U67 seen here on Dylan’s guitar, as it could easily become troublesome, since it didn’t cope well with any passing wind when used outdoors.
When transformer mic splits did appear, they had to allow someone, usually the recording engineer to provide the ‘phantom power’ to the mics and earth lift switches were usually fitted to reduce hum problems. Finally ‘active’ splits came and things got better, although there was always a mic-amp with some pre-set gain involved in those of course.

Jascha Horenstein / LSO – ‘Mahler 3rd Symphony’ – Fairfield Halls -September 1969

The two Neves at the Fairfield Halls.

At the end of September 1969 Auger recorded Jascha Horenstein conducting Mahler’s 1st Symphony in Barking Assembly Hall with the LSO, and this was followed in July 1970 by another Unicorn recording of Horenstein conducting Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, this time at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. This is pictured above in what looks like one of the bigger ‘temporary control rooms’ he was able to use, as he had 4 Lockwood speakers for Quad monitoring set up and Bob was using the 8-track and both of his Neve desks again.

The last few minutes of Horenstein’s Mahler 3rd with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Imagine sitting behind those Neve desks getting this truly emotional work down on tape. No wonder Bob opted for the this sort of work.
I got the LP of this recording when it first came out and it was certainly one of the reasons I would have loved to have worked for Bob Auger! However, I do wish Harold Lawrence, the producer sitting beside Bob in the photo above, had leaned over and said “Bob, just pull that mic you have over the tymps back a bit will you?” Mind you the LSO’s Kurt Hans Goedicke was a very loud tympanist back in 1970.

JOHN GOLDSMITH, FOUNDER OF UNICORN RECORDS:
The original sessions were recorded onto a one-inch, Scully eight-track tape-machine with Dolby A. Six tracks were devoted to the orchestra, choirs and soloist and two tracks on microphones at the back of the hall to pick up ambience. The offstage flugelhorn in the third movement was placed in the balcony behind the conductor. The original stereo recording was widely praised and became a hi-fi demonstration disc. The recording was awarded a Grand Prix Du Disque.” [53]

The lack of those 4-track tapes caused for another approach to realising a Quad version again and French specialists Pspatial Audio had been approached by Misha Horenstein, cousin of the conductor, to decode that surviving JVC quadraphonic ‘matrixed’ LP, to make a usable copy for the archive; a commercial release not being possible currently owing to rights issues.

PSPATIAL AUDIO:
John explained that the eight-track masters of the recording went missing many years ago, but prior to this, JVC had asked him to license them the performance for their new CD-4 Quad LP series. The late Bob Auger, who had engineered the original recording, prepared a 4-track, half-inch tape, which was sent to Japan. Examples of the CD-4 LPs made from this tape still existed – and one copy was discovered which, it was hoped, had never been played.” [53]

Duke Ellington and His Orchestra Live -1969 and 1971 UK Tours

Although Bob obviously had set out for Granada Recordings to primarily record classical music, after all his years at Pye he was able to turn his hand to ‘anything’ and he loved jazz and in November 1969, Auger hurriedly set up the first of two recording dates of the Duke Ellington Orchestra European Tour.

Derek Jewell’s liner notes from the LP ‘Duke Ellington’s 70th Birthday Concert’
Ellington’s Band during the 1969 UK tour.
Photo: David Redfern

AUDIO: Duke Ellington ‘Take The A-Train’ from Manchester November 1969 [55]

Jack Nitzsche and the LSO – ‘St. Giles Cripplegate’ – January 1972 (Producer and mix engineer: Elliott Mazer)

Jack Nitzsche, a musician who worked as arranger for ‘wall of sound’ producer Phil Spector on recordings like “River Deep, Mountain High”, played keyboards on Rolling Stones sessions, worked a lot – and broke up with Neil Young and been a part of the band ‘Crazy Horse’, wanted to gain some more credibility for his orchestral writing. He had already started writing some film scores, so he set about recording some of his own work with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Elliott Mazer:
“That project was recorded in St. Giles Cripplegate, a first-century (sic) Church of England gothic church in the Barbican area of East London. The timpani were literally placed over the grave of poet John Milton. Bob Auger set up his Neve rig in the rectory office, which is next to the pulpit. The pews were removed, and the London Symphony Orchestra was set up in the traditional way. (David Meacham, the conductor, had previously conducted the LSO on the two songs they recorded with Neil Young on Harvest.) Bob Auger knew the hall and the orchestra.
We recorded to 8- and 4-track machines at 30 ips. The speakers were Tannoys. Jack sat mostly on the lounge chair between the speakers listening. David Meacham would ring the intercom and ask me if in measures 134 to 140 the first violins were to play F, F-sharp, G, G-sharp, etc. I would look at the score and see if that was what Jack had written and then ask Jack if this was okay. It was correct, and, for the most part, we just had them make one or two takes. The sessions took two days, and all went exceedingly well. I did the stereo mix at Quadrafonic (Mazer was part owner of the studio in Nashville). I wound up using just the monitor section of the console, since the mix was really a re-balance and no processing of any type was needed.”
 [54]

Sounding like a collection of film score pieces, the album was recorded between the 11th and 15th January ’72 and seems to have worked for him as Nitzsche then became best known for writing film scores into the ’80’s.

WIKIPEDIA:
“In 1983, he received the Academy Award for Best Song for co-writing “Up Where We Belong” (from the 1982 film ‘An Officer And a Gentleman’ with Will Jennings and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Nitzsche had also worked on film scores throughout his career, such as his contributions to the Monkees movie ‘Head’ the theme music from ‘Village Of The Giants’ (recycling an earlier single, “The Last Race”) and the soundtracks for ‘Performance’ (1970), ‘The Exorcist’ (1973), ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975), ‘Hardcore’ (1979), ‘The Razor’s Edge’ (1984) and ‘Starman’ (also 1984)”.

The Buddy Rich Big Band at Ronnie Scott’s- ‘Rich In London’ December 6,7 & 8 1972

Bob recorded The Buddy Rich Big Band in December 1972 at Ronnie Scott’s in Frith Street.

PETE SPARGO – RCA RECORD PRODUCER:
“It was around 7pm on Monday evening and Bob Auger, one of England’s finest mixers, had just checked out the microphones on the bandstand at Ronnie Scott’s Club. Everything was working fine so Bob, John LeBarbera and I sat down to in the control room (Ronnie Scott had graciously lent his office) and discussed Buddy’s live recording which was to take place Monday through Thursday night.

To my knowledge, Buddy Rich has recorded more live albums than any other artist, and I am thoroughly convinced that Buddy Rich and his band perform best in front of a live audience.
The sound that Bob Auger obtained on this album is superior to any on most live recordings and rivals the controlled sound achieved in studio work. This album has to go down as one of the best live recordings ever made.”
[55]

Buddy Rich at Ronnie’s

For a great drummer like Buddy Rich, in addition to that AKG C-12A seen here I guess Bob had only a couple more. I do love the idea of Bob, with his big Neve, speakers and 8-track squashed into Ronnie Scott’s office and can understand why Pete Spargo, a very experienced producer was pleased, as this is a great live jazz big band record and although it was initially released in much abbreviated form on an stereo RCA LP in 1972, and also in Quad, a double CD version came out later and a least in one form from 2008 is still available, see details below. [55]

Classical multi-track recording goes 16-track – and ‘Quad’

The re-mix room at Granada Recordings in the mid-’70’s.

Bob Auger on the right with his assistant Brian Snelling score reading at the Neve re-mix desk, which for this session is now fitted with 12-channels. Behind them are left to right: Scully 8-Track, with the amps split in portable cases; Dolby 301 A-Type noise-reduction units; three Scully 4-Tracks and a 3M M-23 16-track.
One of Auger’s major customers was CBS records and it was then the CBS European Producer Paul Myers that was sitting next to Bob in charge of the session. In the 1970’s Quad recording was expected to be a continuing requirement and Paul Myers used 8 and then 16-track for later re-mixing. For a while this was usually undertaken by Mike FitzHenry at CBS Theobalds Road and a bit later by Mike Ross-Trevor, at CBS Whitfield Street, or sometimes even by CBS back in New York.

Auger and Myers recording ‘Gurreleider’.
From an ad in July 1975 Studio Sound

Taken in 1975, the above is a composite photo used in advertising KLH loudspeakers, and shows the ‘in the round’ BBC Symphony Orchestra surround layout with Pierre Boulez in the West Ham Central Mission and Bob Auger and Paul Myers in the control room for this 16 Track ‘quad’ recording of Schoenberg’s ‘Gurreleider’.
There are now more ‘proper’ VU meters added to the upstand and note the additional 16 external ‘monitor modules’ positioned on top of Bob’s original Neve 16-channel 4 group desk, now set up with 8 group faders.
Although the BBC Symphony was positioned all around the conductor Boulez, with the chorus up in the gallery as well, the producer stated:

PAUL MYERS:
We did not listen to playbacks at the sessions in quadraphonic sound, but used four KLH speakers, strung across the front wall in a straight line. [56]

I did wonder, since they were recording the orchestra in a totally ‘surround’ layout, why they went for just 4 speakers across the front and nothing to the rear, but that was obviously impossible though when you look at the photo below showing the rear of their ‘control room’.

A well framed photo by Clive Barda from the CBS session, published in the Dutton Quad SACD re-release.

In the photo, Producer Paul Myers says thanks Yvonne Minton, who sang the ‘Wood Dove’ in ‘Gurreleider’.
It can be seen that by late 1974; the recording took place between 26th October and 6th December, the 16-channel Neve had now been fitted with 8 group faders, which here are all taped up to stop that large Schoenberg score from ‘tweaking them’.

If you’re like me and you don’t usually ‘get’ the later pieces by Schoenberg, then listen to this really beautiful orchestral opening from very this early, but enormously complex piece, as it is really lovely woodwind writing. The recording is great too, particularly if you can hear it in the now re-issued Quad SACD release.

The opening Orchestral Prelude from ‘Gurreleider’ – Boulez, BBCSO – CBS 1974.

Alas during the work, the male vocal soloists do sometimes sound ‘strained’ and it must be frustrating to produce a great sound mix that isn’t also accompanied by perfect singing.
Bob’s 16-track was re-mixed in Quad back at CBS 52nd Street, New York by Ray Moore. The above excerpt was just stereo of course and whilst the original Quad from LP discs might have been less than perfect for the domestic listener, using the QS/SQ ‘matrix decoders’ back in the ’70’s, the Quad re-releases like those that Dutton are doing, sensibly using four speakers only, are a wonderful way to listen to classical recordings. Pity so few are being recorded with any surround channels nowadays.

Bob Auger and Bob Hardcastle – Hear This! – 1981

As a further way of remembering Bob, I thought it would nice to play a snatch of his voice. It’s from a record he made in 1981, in which he was talking to Bob Hargreaves about various aspects of recording. After discussing the new wonder of digital recording and pointing out that the home listener may soon be able to a disc read by a laser, as his final piece he introduces a further multitracked analogue recording he made in All Saints Church, Tooting on 25 and 26th Sept 1979:

Edvard Grieg – ‘Olav Trygvason: Operatic Fragments, Op. 50’ (Extract From The Finale) – Per Dreier and the LSO with the Oslo Philharmonic Chorus – 1979.

The Neve 16-4’s keep going on

The requirement to move to 16-track had made Bob undertake a ‘management buy-out’ from Granada, who had to cut down their outside business interests in 1974:

CHRIS HOLLEBONE:
“Bob Auger Associates initially operated from the Granada premises in Brixton Road but soon moved to Bob’s house in Bix, near Henley, where a large lounge had been built. The equipment was installed down one wall of the room with the Neve console on wheels that could be pushed to one side when the work was finished. The room was fitted out with permanent Quad monitoring, a full complement of Scully machines with Dolby units and the EMT plate resided in the garage.” (50)

Bob was so used to making a ‘control room’ wherever he needed, that setting up ‘at home’ must have seemed an obvious solution. Although more suitable portable equipment had certainly become available, he had remained ‘attached’ to his Neve console, despite the effort it must have required to repeatedly move it. I did once bump into him at the Conway Hall though recording some Medtner solo piano works with a very ‘minimilist’ set-up, a pair of strapped together Shure M267 mini mixers, and just a stereo pair of Calrec 1050’s.

The house was extended to incorporate a large studio room which doubles as a living room when the equipment is secreted behind floor to ceiling curtains.

BOB AUGER:
“All the equipment is down one wall and the Neve mixing console moves out into the middle on wheels and we sit here in the middle of the room looking out the window at the garden while we are mixing – it is very comfortable. All the editing is done here.” [47]

Bob during the making of the ‘Hear This!’ LP.
Photo: Michael Wheeler

Here’s the bigger of Bob’s old Neves, in its 8 group conversion, overlooking Bob’s garden in 1981, when he was making that LP ‘Hear This!’, with interviewer Bob Hardcastle. The desk VU’s are all ‘wagging’ I see, so there’s some multitrack playback is going on, and I bet that U-87 over the desk has seen some interesting music over its years with him.

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In The Next Part:

In 1970 Neve’s expansion continued at a a real pace with larger desks going to recording studios like CTS, AIR, Wessex and CBS in London, RCA in Madrid and the first to the ‘West Coast’ with Whitney in California. More TV studios like ATV and LWT bought consoles and the BBC Radio got a ‘wrap-around’ with Neve’s first stereo input channels, and before there were any big ‘mobile trucks’, Pye got a 24-channel ‘transportable’, in four completely separate sections.

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Credits and References:

Many thanks to those who talked to John and I about ‘Neve’s’: John Copsey (Neve), Peter Thurlow (Thames), Ric Holland (Recorded Sound), John Klett (Carmel, NY), Derek Stoddart (Neve), Mike Pontin (Thames) and Bill Rawcliffe (Thames).

[1] From Rupert Neve’s video series, ‘The Shelford Interviews’, on the Rupert Neve designs website : www.rupertneve.com. This series of videos available on YouTube, is a great resource and it’s wonderful to see Rupert talking about the early days of Neve. He recorded these in 2013 at the age of 86, so we can excuse a few lapses of memory that are revealed in the timeline of the products and their developments. Thanks to Rupert Neve Designs for keeping them available.
[2] Quote from Studio Sound article ‘Twenty Years of Neve’ by Noel Bell.
[3] From the Studio Sound article ‘Neve in Focus’, by Keith Wicks, published June 1970.
[34] Lots more historic photos from both ABC and Thames TV can be viewed at: arts-tv.org.uk, the ‘Association of Retired Thames Staff’ website, a great resource.
[35] The interview with Bill Rawcliffe is from a video made by The British Entertainment History Project, viewable on Vimeo : https://vimeo.com/197081122
[36] Details From Nostalgia Central: https://nostalgiacentral.com/television/tv-by-decade/tv-shows-1960s/max/
[37] From the ‘Max Bygraves Specials’ DVD available from Freemantle Media.
[38] The website of the UK audio dealer AES Pro, who obviously handled the Thames desks at some point in their ‘afterlife’, listed a ‘2044’ as having: 1066 Mic Amps 1917/1919 Switching Units, 1271/1272 Line Amps, 2544 Comp/Kind and 2068 EQs. See: https://www.aesproaudio.com/vintage-neve-console-reference-guide/
[39] From the obituary for Freddie Slade published by The Guardian on 23 Aug 2010.
[40] From Jeremy Isaacs biography “Look Me In The Eye- A life in Television” published by Little Brown 2006. As someone who worked on many of the early C4 programmes, I have a high regard for Jeremy Isaacs.
[41] From Ric Holland’s book “As I Heard It: In the UK Music Industry 1969 to 1979. Part 1: In the Recording Studio” Available as a Kindle Edition. It’s one of the few books that tell you what working in a UK studio was like back in the early ’70’s. Ric progresses from tape-op to balance engineer as other more senior engineers arrive and depart, and he tells of the sessions that he had obviously carefully noted down during his time at Recorded Sound. I await his publication of his ‘Part 2’.
[42] Details from John Klett’s website: www.https://www.technicalaudio.com. John is still repairing and restoring gear at his workshop in in Carmel, NY – roughly 50 miles due North from NYC.
[43] From: https://www.britishpathe.com/blog/history.
[44] Geoff Tanner’s quote is from the Gearspace.com forum. Geoff worked for Neve from 1971 to 1985, starting as an electrical design draughtsman, and he became head of the Electrical Drawing Office, running the department responsible for producing the ‘2 Wire’ systems drawings and he then ran the Special Products Department. He has kindly given out lots of facts about Neve consoles over the years, trying to reduce the amount of incorrect information that often is now spread on the internet.
[45] From the article “Spain was not Living a Celebration: TVE and the Eurovision Song Contest During the Years of Franco’s Dictatorship “ by Juan Francisco Gutiérrez Lozano at https://www.viewjournal.eu/articles/102/print/
[46] Details from: https://eurovision.tv/event/madrid-1969
[47*] From an article on Bob Auger by Janet Argus in Studio Sound March 1987
[48*] Joel Cameron’s website blog has three very well written articles on the early Neve mic-amps. Let’s have more of these please Joel! http://joelcameron.com/blog/2016/3/15/re
[49*] The post about restoring an ex-Spanish Neve 16-4 in Sweden in 2016 was at: https://groupdiy.com/threads/restoring-and-old-neve-desk-done.63116/
My records indicate this was most likely to be the Audiofilm Neve 16-4.
[50*] Chris Hollebone worked for Bob from 1970 to 1972, and freelanced with him until 1980. The details are taken from the appreciation of Bob Auger that Chris wrote in Studio Sound April 1999, just after Bob’s death.
[51*] Elliot Mazer quote from: A Tribute to Elliot Mazer by Harvey Kubernik, reprinted on : http://neilyoungnews.thrasherswheat.org/2021/02/elliot-mazer-1941-2021.html
Here’s another quote from Elliot Mazer:
“I love live recording, whether it is on-stage or in a studio. In both cases you need to have your gear in place and working perfectly before the artist starts. At the Isle Of Wight, we used the Pye mobile and the engineer was Bob Auger. Glyn Johns and I were in the truck with Bob. His desk was a 16 fader Neve. It worked and sounded great. Bob was an amazing live engineer. A few years later I was producing a Jack Nitzsche album in a church in London. Bob had the same Neve desk but by then all the lettering had worn off. The thing sounded great and had no problems.
From the website: http://shadowplays.com/blog/?p=1940
Note from DT: The last quote is interesting as Pye Studios did have a ‘mobile’, but it was still was a collection of home made mixers at this time that de-rigged into a temporary control room at each venue, and although a new Neve mixer was coming, it was still some months away.
Bob Auger however would have needed a ‘truck’ to use as a control room, as the Isle Of Wight Festival had no permanent structures, only tents. The ‘Pye Mobile’ was not recording there in 1969, although they did record much of the 1970 IoW Festival, when working for CBS Records, and they then used their new Neve. They also did it in a ‘truck’; just the little Ford Transit that they carried their gear in.

[52*] From Beat Instrumental magazines October 1969 edition.
[53*] From an article about restoring the ‘lost’ quad mix of Horenstein’s Mahler 3 from a JVC CD-4 LP disc: http://www.pspatialaudio.com/horenstein.htm
[54*] Elliot Mazer’s memories of the ‘St.Giles Cripplegate’ album from: https://www.mixonline.com/recording/elliot-mazer-372803. The dates come from the ‘LSO Discography’ downloadable .pdf
[55] The Ellington recordings that Bob made of the 1969 and 1971 tours were available on a 1991 CD re-issue called ‘The English Concerts’ on the Sequel Jazz label. Hunt for it!
[55*] The Buddy Rich recording was re-titled ‘Very Alive At Ronnie Scott’s’ in a re-issue double CD from BGO Records in 2008 and although it says ‘Digitally Re-mastered’ it’s been rather heavily ‘limited’ in the CD re-mastering, and a couple of tracks have obviously come off vinyl LP, complete with ‘clicks’! Still worth listening to as it’s an exciting disc because of Bob’s mix.
[56*] From ‘Recording Gurrelieder In Surround Sound’, written by Paul Myers and Bob Auger in Studio Sound June 1975 issue.

[57] The Eddie Kramer quote is from an interview he gave when he received a Tec Award in 2003: https://www.tecawards.org/hall-of-fame/talks/eddie-kramer-2

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Disclaimer:

This website is for documenting the history of Recorded and Broadcast Sound and does not seek financial gain in any way. Copyrighted material is sometimes used when it reveals some of the interesting history that we seek to document. Full credits are given where possible.

I’ve kept audio all levels as near to the recommended Broadcast EBU R128 Loudness Levels as possible. You will therefore find that audio does not ‘shred your ears’ and it’s a pity that despite most internet music outlets (YouTube, Apple, Spotify etc) claiming to require similar ‘loudness level specifications’, we all do still have to use our volume controls to police those ‘normalised’ full-peak digital levels that are still too prevalent on the internet.

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