Early RUPERT NEVE consoles and their stories | PART TWO: 1962 – 1968 | ‘A Revolution Has Occurred’

2022-06-18 Off By David Taylor
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Researched and written by DAVID TAYLOR
With information and photographs by JOHN TURNER

Mike Thompson
Mike Thompson and the Wessex Neve
From ‘In The Studio’ in Beat Instrumental magazine

The mixer for Wessex was, along with others built for Philips, one of the early Neve’s finished in the ‘shiny black’ that Rupert used at that time. This Wessex desk survived for many years, finding a new home in California in 1981.

With the help of John Turner, the longest serving employee of ‘Neve’ – in its various guises, we will try in this series of articles to give an accurate as possible account of the history of the early Rupert Neve mixing consoles, up until 1975, which was when Rupert himself left Neve.

There is no listing of every early Neve built so John has to rely on shuffling the many ‘bits of paper’ to source information on the oldest mixers. There is however a copy of a folder listing the drawings for the various mixer modules that Neve produced through those early years. The same modules were often used on numerous consoles, so the list isn’t in absolute sequential order, but we’ll use it to find our way through the Neve’s produced as best we can. Also useful are the Billboard magazine ‘Recording Studio Directories’, from 1970 to 1975, which lists recording studios and their facilities, showing which had Neve’s. Other sources we will credit as we go. We are lucky that some of Rupert’s own memories are preserved in videos on his own RND website but as many years had passed, I don’t think he would have minded if we point out that his dates may not always have been wholly accurate.

Neve engineers built these consoles as creative tools, so as well as detailing the consoles, we’ll put in some names of the people who built them; those that used them, and some the work they produced, in all the extremely varied areas of sound.

I haven’t credited the many images that John Turner has contributed. Hopefully the other other photos used are correctly credited.


[Click on the Section Nos. to ‘jump’ and use browser ‘back-button’ to return here]
Rupert takes Neve to a Rectory
‘Have you ever heard of these transistors?’
4| 1964: ‘More guitar please’ Philips Records
Tape Control Unit.
5| 1964: ‘The first modern sound mixer’ – Neve’s dual mobile consoles for Philips.

1965: ‘A revolution in Professional Audio Equipment has occurred’
6| 1965: ‘Industrial Applications’ – Neve’s other audio equipment.
7| 1965/6: ‘Mixer for a Town House’ – The Philips Studio 20 channel Neve.

7a| The Neve 1053 mic-amp module
Records from the Philip’s Neve.
8| 1966: ‘The Church Hall Neve’ – The Wessex Studio 18 channel.

8a| More on the Neve 1053 mic-amp
The Crimson King records in Wessex.
1966/7: ‘Two for the road’ – Intertel’s Neve consoles.
9| 1966: ‘The first mobile Neve’ – The Intertel 24 channel.

9a| The Neve 1054 mic-amp module.
9b| The Neve 1853 switching module.
10| 1967: ‘The same but bigger’ – The Intertel 30 channel Neve.
10a| The Neve 1058 mic-amp module.
10b| The Neve 1862 switching module.
Programmes from the Intertel OB Neve’s.
11| 1966: ‘The really small Neve’ – The Portable Sound Mixer.

11a| The Neve 1055 mic-amp module.
12| 1966: ‘The Station Of The Stars’ – Radio Luxembourg’s 8 channel mono Neve.

12a| The Neve 1056 mic-amp module.
Hertford Street’s Records and Jingles

Rupert takes Neve to a Rectory

” I was also working as a consultant to various companies; doing microphone design for the Royal Air Force and loudspeaker design for one of the Philips companies in Cambridge. The factory for the Royal Air Force microphone was in Harlow, so it seemed to be logical that we would look for a place that was half-way between the two places and didn’t have to travel too much.”
“Having looked at many different places, we found an old Rectory, in the village of Little Shelford. A beautiful little Cambridge village, and this was priced at £15,000; two acres of land. A large old house, built in 1858; 27 rooms and various out-buildings that was absolutely suited to what we wanted to do.
We kept on coming back to look at this house, having looked at various others; it seemed to be the ideal place, but we couldn’t afford it. Every time we looked at it we needed to go and see the Rector, who was living now next door, in a smaller house than this great old Rectory. He suddenly said to me one day when I was taking the key from him, “What’s your name?”
“Oh, are you any relation of the Reverend Neve, in the Isle-of-Wight? I was preaching in his church last Sunday.”
That established a sort of point of contact.
“Well that’s wonderful” he said, “We’ve been praying for a Christian family to come and live in that house”. He said “It’s so good to welcome you into this village”

I said, “Hold on, we can’t buy the house, we can’t afford it. We’re still doing our own praying to try and find a way of doing this.”
“Ahh”, he said “That’s alright; the Lord will find a way for you.”
And he was supremely confident. Much more confident that we were.”

Rupert had to deal with someone from the Diocese, who arranged a meeting to discuss his offer and to find out what he wanted to use the house for:

“I went to see him in his office in Cambridge and explained to him that we were Christians, that our basis of business was on Christian principles.
I said “There is no such thing as a ‘Christian business’; there are Christian’s in business, and they would hope to apply their principles in the business, as well as in their lives.”

Despite Rupert’s insistence that he could only afford half the original asking price, he was finally allowed to purchase the house.

The Old Rectory ‘Priesthaus’ in Little Shelford.

“Well that was ‘The Old Rectory’ in Little Shelford, where the business was born and we had undertaken; wrongly, as consultants, because that’s what I still called myself, not to employ more than 3 people in that house. And within about 18 months, we had about 30 people; we had refurbished the out-buildings. We had people working there far in excess of the planning permission we had and there are many episodes during that time of our fighting with the Planning Permission people.”

To the left in the above photo is the small ‘portable building’ that was erected as the business increased.


‘Have you ever heard of these transistors?’

The very first transistor circuits that Rupert ever made were for the RAF aircraft headsets for a microphone manufacturer.

“Transistors…. I was asked by one of the studio owners in London,
“Have you ever heard of these transistors? “.
“Are they any good, will they ever be any good?”
Well I really didn’t know, so I had to find out.
I put together a transistor amplifier with an output transformer, which of course was very different to the tube output transformer because it didn’t have to cope with these very large voltages on the plates of the tubes. So the line amplifier which I started to work on was actually very, very similar to the line-amplifiers we use today. Essentially the same circuits, essentially the same kind of components; all somewhat larger and less reliable than they are today, but the same basics.”

“But I quietly went back and bought some transistors. Didn’t like them at first, but then I had a breakthrough. I was designing microphones for the Royal Air Force. Stuff for use at high altitudes — not high quality but very durable. And the mic they were using was a carbon mic which has a very high output and is very reliable; if it goes weak you can give it a shake or bang it and it starts up again. But it does not like high altitudes. I was talking with the Ministry of Aviation officials and they were laying down all of what they wanted. I asked, “What is your actual objective?” And one guy says, almost as a joke, “I want to talk to people on the flight deck as easily as they’re talking across this table now.” I said, “There’s no reason why you shouldn’t, but can you pay for it?” We did a carbon mic and a rocking armature mic, then I went to a collar microphone but it had no output. Aircraft are full of high current cables running everywhere, all electrically operated, big solenoids, great big spikes everywhere noise, noise, noise. So the carbon microphone had the advantage that it was low impedance but high output. So to get high output from a moving coil we had to give it an amplifier. There was no way we were going to give it a tube amplifier, so I started on this transistor design, and after a bit I found that you could actually do things. We made it electrically, look like a carbon mic ’cause all the aircraft were equipped with carbon mics, so you could plug it in and it would be fed to the same volts and currents and so on, same output level, and they were just over the moon, it was great. Then they discovered that the moving coil unit was made in Austria and said, “We can’t buy them, we’ve got to have them from the UK.” But nobody else made them — so we either had to buy enough to see us through the next ‘Great War’; in case Austria was on the other side, or buy the rights to manufacture them. So I said, “What you need to do is buy enough and get the drawings…” That was where I first met Bernard Weingartner. Bernard was, at that time, the chief designer at AKG. He started Neutrik sometime after that. They’d make a huge number of moving coil capsules and they did them quite cheaply, about 3,000 per week — aiming mostly at the European telephone market. They would have a quick scan of response and sensitivity, then bin them, the top bin being the high quality mics for recording, the bottom would be for telephones, and we got something in-between for the R.A.F. But it was all the same design.” [1]

The transistors were the new germanium types, but at that time none were specifically designed for professional audio applications that really required very low noise.

“But of course transistors were noisy little beasts; nobody had thought of trying to make them behave quietly in a circuit. And by noise, I’m talking about the signal-to-noise ratio that you get in an amplifier. If the amplifier produces its own noise, that’s bad news. You need to work at it so it does not produce anything of its own but it just passes the signal that you want it to pass as faithfully as possible.
I found a transistor that was produced by Texas Instruments; they had a depot only a few miles away from where I was living and I bought, I think it was about six of these transistors with great difficulty. They didn’t know me, I was totally unimportant to them. In the industry, they’d never heard of me. It was like trying to squeeze a great favour out of them to get these transistors.
“What do you want six for, won’t one do?” So “no, I need six”.
And then I found that yes, this was a very nice little transistor and even by present day standards it was low noise. These transistors cost, in those days £2.10 shillings each, and bearing in mind that the dollar was about 3.80 to the £. It was a lot of money for a transistor (about $60 in 2013).” 

“Now the day came when I had put together some circuits which were all now transistor circuits, running off 24 volt supply rails as opposed to the typical tube 300 volts. I had friends and clients in the industry who said “If it’s running off such a low voltage, how’s it going to give us enough output?” So again we come to my friend the transformer. The transformer would have to be designed between the transistor amplifier and the line, or other level that you wanted to get on the other side of that transformer.  I found that there were huge advantages in these transistors, for one thing we didn’t need any heaters and so the power demand was much less than with tubes. And then of course we had the high voltage which was not necessary. And the reason I went with 24 volts was because there were no bench power supplies in those days and when I started to construct the power supply it was very difficult to find parts and regulators and stuff that we take for granted today, they just didn’t exist in those days. So I abandoned my attempts to produce a low voltage power supply, which was low noise and high current and I used lantern batteries; flash-lantern batteries. 12 volt batteries, two of those would give me 24 volts. That was the first power supply on my bench, a couple of batteries and of course the battery in those days was an old Leclanche battery which starts to die the moment it’s manufactured and it has a nominated 12v volts output when it’s new but it starts to go down and down and after a period of time, even if you don’t draw much current from it, it’ll drop. And so almost by default I was finding that my amplifiers had to be able to run on not 24 volts but had to be able to run on 22 or even 20 volts and give the same performance. So that was part of the design challenge and then transistors had a bad reputation for reliability. The circuits which were common in those days were amplifier circuits that were prone to an effect known as ‘thermal runaway’ where the transistor would start to get hot, it would draw more current and therefore get even hotter and finally it would get hotter and draw more and more current. And it would ‘pfutt’ that’s the end of the transistor and that’s the end of your signal.” [7]

At this point in the 2013 video that the above text is from, Rupert produced a crude bent aluminium panel with wiring on tag strips and a transformer at one end, labelled in pen, ‘The first line O/P transistor amplifier 1963’.
It’s wonderful that he still had it after all these years.

“That is the line amplifier, and those little guys inside that are transistors and a transformer. And that circuit; I actually fired it up a year or two ago and it still works, it’s surprisingly good!” [7]

“By 1964 Rupert Neve had developed high performance transistor equipment, using the relatively new germanium transistors that replaced the previous valve designs. The first client for the new transistor equipment was Philips Records Ltd.
Rupert Neve was commissioned to design and build a series of equalisers to enable them to change the musical balance of material that had been previously recorded. This was before the days of multi-track tape machines”.

As a ‘new’ audio designer. Rupert did seem to be having more trouble than other big UK audio companies in getting hold of useful transistors. More UK broadcast companies were now using transistor consoles such the desks Pye made for the new BBC OB ‘scanners’ in 1963 and the small broadcast consoles fitted with full EQ built by the EMI broadcast division that my colleagues were using at Anglia TV by 1965. Germanium transistors mixers though gained a poor reputation for being noisy, which was something early Neve consoles didn’t seem to get accused of. His diligence in searching for the best performing transistors along with his design skills must have really paid off.
It’s interesting to note however that in 1963, the US console manufacturer Langevin was already selling a transistor based mic amp that was using silicon transistors, the AM-16 that came in a tray suitable for ‘in house built’ mixer designs, as were still found in most US studios. The Langevin catalogue stated:
“Noise level should not exceed an equivalent level of -127dBm, unweighted. Amplifier shall only employ silicon transistors, no electron tubes. It shall not contain any electrolytic capacitors, nor any part with known shelf life of service life.” Alas it only had a gain of 45dB and the distortion figures for +24dBm output were 0.75%.

“The very original transistor designs were germanium transistors and they were certainly all Class A. We then went over to silicon transistors, and keep in mind these were very difficult to get. In 1965 the only germanium transistor that came anywhere near low-noise was made by Texas Instruments. I would call up the TI folks in the UK and order a hundred (two per channel x 48 channels), but they only got an allocation of 24 every three months — even at that price. It was a constant fight. I had to call friends in the US to see if they could get them. That was how difficult it was. Eventually we got away from those. There was a UK manufacturer that started to make transistors. When we found them we were in desperate need of a hundred. My wife went across to get them and came back with the transistors but she was very worried. She wasn’t sure they’d be any good. They were stamped with the type number right as they came off the line — they could have been anything. They worked, not quite as good as the Texas ones, but they worked. They never, in my opinion, sounded as good.” [1]

All the early mic amplifier modules from the 1053 through until the 1062, used the same ‘front end’ microphone amplifier circuit, which Rupert designated the B100. In this drawing it is using a pair of Mullard AC107 germanium transistors, which would be the ones Rupert finally settled on using. Here’s the original circuit, drawn by Rupert’s hand:

Neve B100 mic amp.
Neve B100 mic amp.

The first mic modules produced by Neve used this B100 mic amp, here with a pair of Mullard AC107 germanium transistors, with an equivalent Newmarket NKT216 also shown.

The AC107

Rupert and his fellow Neve designers started changing to silicon transistors, initially mixing them with the existing germanium ones they were using. We’ll further explore some of the Neve circuits in a later article.


4| 1964: ‘More guitar please’ Philips Records Tape Control Unit’

Rupert’s first audio transistor equipment was certainly produced for Philips, but it’s hard now from Rupert’s recollections to pin point which actually did come first, but it is most likely this small two channel ‘equaliser desk’, that was produced for a specific problem…..the recording engineer hadn’t quite got the balance right!

So the point was that everything was mono in those days and if you had a studio full of musicians and you made a recording and later on as you listened to it, you didn’t get the balance right or in the case they were trying to put an orchestra with a guitar in the mix and as you all know it is quite difficult to balance such a disparate set of signals and the guitar is not a very powerful instrument and he said “Is it possible to lift the guitar out of the mix as the alternative is we have to call the artist back into the studio and we have to re-record and rebalance the whole thing at enormous expense, so if you can improve the level of the  guitar in the mix it’s going to be of very valuable to use”. [7]

The TCU console
Very simple, with only 2 channels. Note the depth underneath.

If this was produced before the Philips mixers, then this would be the first ‘shiny black’ finished piece of Neve audio equipment. He was to stay with that for the next few years.

Tape Control Unit
Tape Control Unit with Rupert Neve’s simple EQ modules

This 2 channel ‘Tape Control Unit’ built for the Philips Records Studio in Stanhope House near Marble Arch was for the specific task of equalising previously recorded tracks.
The two EQ modules are 2055’s. At the top are keyswitches to put in fixed LF and HF cuts, then a toggle switch for ‘-10 or +4′ (dBm) level inputs. The mid EQ; which is all there is, has only  ‘3K’ or ‘1.4K’  frequencies with a pot for boost or cut, of probably 10db. Finally a large gain pot, with an EMT fader. The monitor selector at the side of the faders has ‘Bypass/normal’, Selector for the phase meter is ‘Off/M1/M2 and M3’ and beneath that the same for the VU’s and then another for monitors. There’s a ‘Monitor Level’ pot, with selector for ‘Stereo/Mono’. Beside the 2055 EQ units is the Oscillator Unit with ’60/1k/10k’ selector and gain pot, plus ‘In/Out’.

The white switch labelled -10/+4 is interesting because it indicates that the ‘-10’ semi-pro level was already in existence in 1964.

I will confess that I’m surprised to see that the EQ units are ‘2055’s’. To me that implies that this ‘TCU’ came after some of the mixing desks that had much more comprehensive EQ’s like the 2053’s in Chappell’s ‘Reduction mixer’. The 2053 had more frequencies than the 2055, which only had 2 ‘mids’. I do acknowledge though that Neve modules weren’t necessarily ‘sequential’ in numbering.


5| 1964: ‘The first modern sound mixer’ – Neve’s mobile consoles for Philips

Rupert realised that using transistors opened up many new possibilities, and he exploited them more than anyone else at this time.

“Now there came a day also when Philips Records, …and Ron Godwyn was the Chief Engineer and he asked me, he said “You call yourself a Consultant, I would like to consult you…we need a mixing console and Philips in Holland, can make this mixing console. It’s a very high price and it will take two years to design and deliver. What is your advice?” I said ‘”Well have you got any other suppliers in mind?” He said “Well we have one or two other suppliers in mind, but the prices range from (I think about) £1500 to about £12,000. I have no idea why there is such a big discrepancy. So as a consultant, could you have a look at these bids and tell me which one I should accept?”  
Well of course that was my golden opportunity. I said, “These bids are absolute rubbish, I will build you a console”. He said, “Can you do that?” And I said, “Yes, I’ll take on anything”. I had that little line-amplifier and knew I could build on that amplifier, so he said “What would it cost?”. Well there was no way to costing it scientifically, or in the way an accountant would cost it; I just pulled a figure inspirationally out of the air, and I said “£4,500.” He said “Oh good, all we have to do now is for you to deliver one working module for use to listen to and evaluate, and then you’ve got your contract”.

It is incorrect though, as has been said, that Rupert Neve ‘built the first commercial transistor mixer’. We’ve mentioned a couple already and Pye TVT were supplying big 34 channel transistor desks, with many of the channels having integrated EQ, to both ATV and the BBC back in 1960, and James Baring claims he put London’s first transistorised studio mixer designed by Eddie Baldwin into his Regent Sound Studio in London. [14]
However these two portable mixers that Rupert built for Philips Records seem to have defined the basic design and appearance of the ‘sound mixing console’ as we still know it today. If you bought these right now, to feed into your Pro-Tools, you would not feel as though you were buying a sound mixing console design that was over 50 years oldThat is remarkable.

The two Philips 'Portables'. The 6 input into 2 output desk with the bigger 10 into 3 output model.
The 6 input into 2 output desk with the bigger 10 into 3 output model.

These two mixers for Philips could be used separately or combined into one big desk as the smaller is a 6 input into 2 output desk, alongside a bigger 10 into 3 output model. They were constructed using Neve’s new 2.8 inch sized audio modules with the new Neve black panel colour scheme.

The Philips 10 channels monitor section
A closer look

The shiny black mic amp modules complete with EQ for each channel, and the control knob design layout was similar in a way to the Tape Control Unit that Neve had already delivered. In the zoomed in photo, we can see a little detail of the 1051 mic amps, his first 1050 series module. Notice also that there’s some of the ‘Marconi’ style knobs in the routing module. Rupert settled on using those some years later. The EMT faders are ‘raised’ along the front section.

The design concept of channel strips in a line above each of the flat linear faders and a monitoring control section at the side seems immediately to be fully developed with these desks.

Design input for the Philips desk had come from the nearby Cambridge company R. G. Bentinck and Associates Limited and it would be interesting to know just how much Bentinck contributed to this stunning looking audio console design of 1964.

“And I built the first low noise microphone amplifier which was using transistors, and the interesting thing was that we now had a means of producing equipment in a much smaller format than before. When you wanted to build an equaliser; there were a number of stages in it. You could do that much more easily with the transistors.”

Philips Records, London – location recordings

Philips Studio, Stanhope House, Stanhope Place, London W2

Sadly it’s hard to find anything definitely done on these Neve ‘portables’, although they might have been used for classical recording at Walthamstow Town Hall, although most of those seem to have been done by the Philips ‘tonmeister’ producer/engineers from Holland.
Peter Olliff was the senior Philips engineer at the studio, so perhaps his recording of “Rod Mckuen’s Something Beyond Instrumental Suite – The Orchestra of Two Worlds” was recorded ‘on location’? Or the discs he made with the Band of the Royal Marines, Portsmouth….maybe you couldn’t get them in the studio.


1965: ‘A revolution in Professional Audio Equipment has occurred’

Rupert Neve’s first brochure declared:

Rupert Neve saw how important the move to transistors was for the development of a more flexible sound console and he accurately summed this up as ‘a revolution’ on the front page of his first brochure. This illustrated the new Philips portable consoles and inside Rupert laid out some of his principles that dictated his mixing design for many years to come, stating:

“The minimum size of an amplifier front panel is governed by the area required for convenient operation of the controls. With this principle in mind, over miniaturisation and its many pitfalls have been avoided.”

“Circuitry is kept surprisingly simple, consisting mainly of feedback pairs or ‘ring of three’ configurations in which DC feedback stabilizes the working point and AC feedback determines the performance. Low noise and exceptionally low distortion of the order of 0.01% at working levels – are important features.”

“Frames designed for a number of modules are made up for either rack or console mounting. The standard module width is 7.1cm (2.8″) and panel heights of 13.3cm (5.25″), 17.8cm (7″), 22.2cm (8.75″) and 26.7cm (10.5″) are supplied, depending on the type of amplifier. Six modules can be accommodated in a single frame for GPO 19″ rack mounting.”

“MICROPHONE AMPLIFIERS having very low noise and distortion incorporating sensitivity variable in 10dB steps from -80 to 0 dBm.
FREQUENCY CORRECTION UNITS incorporating H.F. and L.F. boost and cut with six turnover frequencies.
PRESENCE or PEAK BOOST UNITS incorporating switched peaking frequencies and boost range variable from 0 to 20dB.
HIGH PASS and LOW PASS FILTERS with choice of four switched H.P. and four L.P. turnover frequencies.”

From the first Neve brochure. It continued:

The console is the bigger of the ‘portable’ Philips consoles, but you’d have to accept getting a hernia as part of the job, if you were to be moving this ‘portable’ regularly!


6| 1965: ‘Industrial Applications’ – Neve’s other audio equipment

The ‘Brick Built’ advertisement of 1965.
From International Broadcast Engineer, March 1965

As the last part of the first brochure from 1965 shows, Rupert also managed to move into other areas that were using audio equipment, in this case a ‘console’ for British Telemetry:

The audio equipment Neve built for ‘British Telemetry’
The audio equipment Neve built for ‘British Telemetry’

What exactly is telemetry then?
telemetryhighly automated communications process by which measurements are made and other data collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring, display, and recording.”

Industrial Applications
From Neve’s first brochure

The little ‘endless loop cassette’ housing, seen at the left side of the desk was an intriguing unit for 1965, here it is in more detail:

Endless loop cassette

Neve was happy to design other audio circuits for clients and at some stage built the electronics for a couple of Brennell 2-track tape decks for the Recorded Sound studio, similar to the decks in the British Telemetry unit:

Brennell Mk V
UK manufacturer Brennell made a range of semi-professional tape decks in the 1960’s

This Brennell Mk5 deck has two tracks, but one switchable meter, so mono only. There’s EQ for 3 speeds though, and an additional switch added in front of the tape head housing.
Like the previous equipment, this was built after the change over to the switches and black finish used on his new transistor desks and it now says ‘Rupert Neve & Company, Cambridge’ on the front, so it’s after the 1962 move.

Building mixers however would have soon taken over the other areas completely, as his consoles were starting to become well known.


7| 1965/6: ‘Mixer for a Town House’ – The Philips Studio 20 channel Neve

The single Philips Studio was at Stanhope House, 2-4 Stanhope Place; in the basement of a stylish Town House near Marble Arch. I remember visiting and it had a strange entrance off the street down a stairway and you then went back up another stairs to the ground floor, which had both the studio and control room.

Stanhope Place and the entrance to the Philips Studio. Taken in 1997
Stanhope Place, with the Philips Studio entrance in the ground extension beyond.
Photo: via Studio Sound

It was a successful studio, recording Philips own artists and after a complete rebuild by the most famous acoustician of the day, Sandy Brown, Chief Engineer Ron Godwyn now commissioned a Neve 20 channel for the new control room:

Neve 20 channel in Philips
The studio had four Tannoy speakers…. behind the curtain?

Like the rest of the UK studios, 4 track recording was the state of multitracking at Philips, and the desk would have been built to also allow both stereo and mono outputs as Rupert described in his brochure. The monitoring section is mounted sideways on the right of the mixer and the group faders mounted in the wedge section between them.

Here’s a closer look at the desk:

Closer view of the Philips Neve
The two sections of 10 channels each.

The 20 input channels, are in two sections and have flat German EMT faders. The mic amps are different from those on the ‘portables’ and are new 1053 modules, mounted just above the faders. Then in the channel strip come the two newly designed ‘Routing Modules’; the Main Routing 1851’s, with the Echo and FB Switching 1852 modules above them at the top.

Here’s a combined Philips Neve mic channel block drawing, showing the 1053 mic-amp and both the 1851 and 1852 module’s facilities:

The channel facilities diagram with the 1053 mic-amp and 1851 plus 1852 routing/switching modules

The above shows that in the Philips Studio Neve the 1053 mic-amps’s sent to the 1852 FB/Echo Send modules after the Hpf, with the ‘Mute’ and ‘PFL’, keys before returning to the 1053 for the fixed HF, and the 5 frequency Mid EQ circuits. There is also an ‘Insertion’ key, switching in the pre and post insertions in the 1851 module, along with the output stage.
Here the drawing shows Group Selection as ‘Left/Centre/Right’ and ‘Sub1’ and ‘Sub 2’. This must have been changed as the 1851 circuit diagram shows a sets of both ‘4’ and ‘3’ group/main outputs.
The 1852’s allow selection to 3 ‘FB’s’, with pre and post switching, via one gain pot. There are also 3 ‘Echo Sends’, with one gain pot, but with a 4 position switch to make the selection ‘Pre-Fader’ with ‘Pre-Insertion’ or ‘Post-Insertion’, and ‘Post-Fader’ also with ‘Pre-Insertion’ or ‘Post-Insertion’.

7a| The Neve 1053 mic-amp module

The Neve 1053

Modular design was already in use by other manufacturers, but Rupert’s ‘Brick Built’ modules were, at this time, a big leap of progress for him after his valve desks, and the control layout he was now using was something that sound mixers immediately felt at home with. The knobs and pots here are Rupert’s original ‘Bakelite’ ones of course, and the paint finish is his original ‘shiny black’, but otherwise you can see that Rupert kept to this sort of module channel strip for many years afterwards.
Comparing this 1053 mic amp with what we can discern of his previous 1051 in the earlier Philips desk, we can see that Rupert has swopped the layout of the control knobs and the frequency select switches. The mic gain switch is at the top, and goes from -80 to 0dBm, and already he was switching to the separate ‘Line’ input at -20. Next down is the HF boost and cut, at a fixed 10K. He follows this however by putting the High Pass Filter next, with frequencies of ’20/45/70/170 and 360 c/s’.
The Mid has a choice of ‘700/1.2K/2.4K/3.8K and 7K’ frequencies, boost or cut and the LF at the bottom has a choice of ’35/60/100 and 220c/s’, boost or cut.

Since it’s the first Neve mic-amp that we can take a proper look at, here’s the circuit diagram for the Neve 1053:

This is Neve drawing number H/10,003, indicating that it was the 3rd Neve mic-amp designed, although this circuit drawing copy has a few component values that are rather hard to decipher. We can see that at the time of these earliest consoles that the concept of plug-in amplifier cards within Rupert’s modules was already established.

7b| The Neve 1851 Routing Module

We don’t have a photo of the 1851, but here’s the circuit diagram:

Neve 1851 Routing Module circuit

The circuit for the 1851 Routing Module shows that there are 4 ‘Main Outputs’ and 3 ‘Sub-groups’. That must surely be 4 feeds to the 4-track tape decks, ie ‘Group Outputs’ and 3 feeds that are ‘Main Outputs’ ie ‘Stereo L&R and ‘Mono’.
The 1851 here uses a series of interlinked push buttons to select groups. These ‘Isostat’ switches later became the ‘norm’ on Neve consoles, but some users in the early days still choose to have a rotary switch as we’ll see.
The drawing , S/10,001 above is dated as 29/1/69, which is well after it was first designed for Philips, perhaps being drawn when the conversion to 8-track took place.

The Philips Neve Groups/Monitoring Panel

Here’s a closer but rather oblique view, of the Philips console group and monitoring ‘side panel’:

Neve group and monitoring panel
The groups and monitoring panels

The console upstand has 6 Main VU’s slightly split into 4 and 2, however on the side here we see 3 more separate small VU’s, for the stereo and mono outputs. Certainly in 1967 Gerry Bron was producing at the Philips studio on 4 track tape. [15]
There are a group of 4 faders, which I believe are the ‘Group Outputs’, and then another 3 faders for the ‘Stereo L and R’ and ‘Mono’ Main Outputs.
It was still usual to have 4 monitor speakers; a continuation of the 3 track days, when a speaker per track was mandatory. Providing a pan-pot to pan the image between just two speakers didn’t seem to have caught on yet. Perhaps the lack of amplifier power in studios, which in Philips case were 50 watt Radford’s, meant that with 4 speakers you could still satisfy the band’s, or perhaps the engineer’s ego’s.
The panel has an ‘Aux’ VU meter, and selector knobs in groups of 4, with an upper row of 6, and with ‘white buttons’ in rows.
 I suspect that the 4 Groups could be routed to the ‘Stereo L and R’ and ‘Mono’ outputs and they also could be selected to any of the 4 monitor loudspeakers, in Neve’s first ‘monitor matrix’.

Note also the strange patchbay. Philips, being a Dutch company, stayed with the European 5 pin ‘Tuchel’ connectors, which allowed both input and outputs to be patched at the same time.
There are no compressor/limiters visible though.

The Philips Studio

Philips Studio, Stanhope House, Stanhope Place, London W2

“Going east along the Bayswater road, you eventually came to Marble Arch. In a small street one block from this busy junction and directly opposite Hyde Park was the Philips Recording Studio. Set in the basement of a well-maintained large Georgian style house, the studio had a slightly clinical air about it. Everything always seemed so neat and tidy. The control room had the latest equipment including, if I remember correctly, one of the first Neve Recording Consoles. Neve, of Cambridge, went on to be a major player in studio mixing desks throughout the world. The studio was run efficiently by Peter Olaf, the recording engineer. Tall, smartly dressed and with dark-rimmed spectacles, I never saw Peter get ruffled even though there was often justification. Although part of the huge Philips conglomerate, the studio time wasn’t always fully taken up with that company’s recording artists so, like most of the other studios, they hired the facility out to independent labels or even individuals just wanting to record a couple of songs.”

Philips Studio entrance in Stanhope Place
Taken in 1997, the street entrance to the Philips Studio.
Photo: via Studio Sound

The tape machines were in a separate small machine room and they were at this time all made by Philips, being 4-track and 3-track Pro series decks, plus 2-tracks.
One of the balance engineers at Philips and recalled his tape-op years in the mid-60’s:

“There was the studio, then the control room, and then a separate machine room, where the tape machines were.  The control room had big windows so that Johnny (Franz – the producer) and Peter (Oliff – the engineer) could look out and see into the studio and from where I was, in the machine room, we had a little window about 3ft square, so I could see into the control room. We also had a set up so that I could hear what was going on in the control room.  If Peter wanted to speak to the studio or me, he had a talkback button for both.  So I’d be in the control room with all the tape machines, the multitracks and the stereos and big huge patch panel, which we would have to operate.  And Philips then had a totally different patching system to other studios such as Abbey Road.  Huge plugs – send and return within the same plug.  The patch panel was about seven by four feet. ” [17]

The studio at Philips was long and narrow, listed in 1970 as 40 ft long, 22 wide and 14 high. Session guitarist Alan Parker said in 1965:

“The studio was a little bit confined, long and narrow and the control room had like a narrow walkway at the back where we used to stand and listen, you know.  So it was a bit restrictive, with all the orchestra and brass, percussion and singing groups…it was really crammed in”. [17]

Despite that, 30 piece orchestras were common and it had a reputation for getting a ‘big sound’, which of course meant that all the ‘spill’ of the drums and brass onto the strings was being creatively used by the engineers! All very ‘Phil Spector’ as we will see next.

Philips studio interior
From a Philips Ad- which stated ‘up to 50 musicians’.

Records from the Philip’s Neve

Philips mainly recorded its own artists for all the labels it was producing. The biggest stars in 1966 were perhaps Dusty Springfield and The Walker Brothers. These were all produced by Johnny Franz, who was responsible for an amazing amount of work done at the Stanhope Place studios.
Dusty became an enormous star from the records she made at the studio and also from ‘fronting’ the Rediffusion TV show ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ during the ’60’s and then her own BBC TV series starting in 1966.
One of Dusty’s hits from this period was ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Loved Me’, an English version of an Italian song by Donaggio that she’d heard at a Festival in San Remo. On 9 March 1966, Springfield had the instrumental track recorded at the Philips Studio. The session personnel included guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and drummer Bobby Graham. [18]
In their book ‘Dancing With Demons’, the two writers Penny Valentine and Vicki Wickham, who’d been very involved in Dusty’s professional life wrote about the recording session:

” Dusty had already recorded the backing track for the song, arranging it from the original acetate, but at the Philips studio she and her producer Johnny Franz were still dubious about whether her lyrics would actually work. When they did she had something else to worry about: she was concerned about the echo on her voice. With Vicki (Wickham) and Simon (Napier Bell) in the studio, bewildered that something they had written so quickly was sounding so marvellous, the sound engineer Peter Oliffe went to the basement to sort out the sound on Dusty’s echo chamber. “He noticed how good the sound was coming back up the stairwell,” Napier Bell was to remember. Dusty, who had always hated what she hears as the ‘dead’ sound of the studio in Stanhope Place with its low ceiling and who preferred to sing in the tiled space of the women’s lavatory there, “went out there and sang into a mike suspended over the stairwell and the sound was perfect”. [19]

‘You Don’t Have To Say You Loved Me’ was released in April 1966, and was probably one of the first items on the new Neve.

AUDIO: March 1966- Dusty Springfield – ‘You Don’t Have To Say You Loved Me’

If you listened to that I hoped you pictured Peter Oliff at the Philips Neve desk with the 4 tracks of the previously recorded orchestra hitting red on the VU’s, whilst overdubbing Dusty belting it out in the stairwell.

Dusty though gained a reputation for being hard on her musicians, probably because she already knew what she wanted……usually a copy of an American ‘soul’ record, that the poor UK session musicians had probably never heard. Alas she also could take it out on some good players, like guitarist George Kish, who she threw out of a session proclaiming:
“I can’t work with a baldheaded guitar player.” [20*]
The next full album that Dusty recorded ‘Where Am I going?’ in 1967, was done on that Philips Neve and it included the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song ‘The Look of Love’ written for the Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’. For the soundtrack version that she sang she had to have it recorded in New York by Phil Ramone, and a shorter version was then redone in London by Philips for the album.
Dusty left her Philips contract in 1968 and headed to the US to record with Atlantic, the source of so much of her favourite American ‘soul’ recordings. She made a great album in Memphis but her popularity waned when she was away from the UK.

Manfred Mann was an artist with recording experience but still took some time to be comfortable with the opportunities that multitracking offered. He had already had hits like ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ and ‘Just Like A Woman’, when in 1967 his new manager Gerry Bron took the Manfred Mann band into the Philips studio to laydown a new song, ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown. The Producer remembered that:

“I think it took Manfred a while to understand the flexibility that multitrack recording gave you when mixing. Like most people at the time, we were working on four-track then, bouncing three tracks together on one track and then overdubbing. We had been working on ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown’ and Manfred phoned me up at about 11.30pm and said, ‘This is absolutely no good at all, this is terrible, we will have to do it again.’ He told me there wasn’t enough bass in the mix, but I assured him that the bass was on a separate track. He said ‘Are you sure about that?’ I said, ‘Of course I’m sure’ and he went and had another listen. Ten minutes later the phone rang again and he said the same thing, that it wasn’t going to work, and I was absolutely sure that when we mix it across there is going to be enough bass? I emphasised that we could mix it anyway we liked, but he still rang again, way past midnight, saying he didn’t believe me and I could imagine his mind ticking over, trying to work out how it might be done. The very next day we went back to Philips where I did a mix and the bass was just at the right level.” [15]

Stereo though was still a new thing for many record buyers and the stereo recordings of this time still showed the strong ‘left-centre-right’ images caused by recording on only 4 tracks. Decca started pushing their new ‘Phase Four’ LP’s which they made as extravagantly stereo as possible and then when the Philips studio went 8-track, Philips-Fontana produced their version called ‘Living Presence Stereo’. A session band called ‘The Fontana Concert Orchestra’ was marketed with this tag and the back of one the their LP’s ‘Portrait Of Bob Dylan’, featuring a collection of mainly bland orchestral versions of Dylan’s music, had this ‘techno-babble’ on the rear cover to convince the new hi-fi enthusiasts:

The Fontana Concert Orchestra LP
The album by The Fontana Concert Orchestra-all squeezed into the Philips studio.
Photo: Discogs

A fully solid state modular mixing desk incorporating contoured frequency correction covering the entire frequency spectrum, multiple reverberation, delay and foldback outputs, panoramic location, limiting and compression facilities on all channels. Extremely comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system allowing precise control of multiple outputs for fully integrated sonic display, popular injection effects and stereo phase co-ordination.”

Well the Philips marketing boys were certainly impressed with the Neve, and I particularly like that the drawing shows the ‘SPE’ (Stereo Presence Equaliser) being used ‘post fader’ in the stereo mix output. That was bound to make all the difference!

Another of Johnny Franz’s successes at this time were the Walker Brothers. They were three guys; not brothers and not called ‘Walker’, but particularly Scott became a big star for a while.

Scott Walker and Johnny Franz
Scott Walker with Johnny Franz in the Philips studio.
Photo: Believed to be by Dezo Hoffman

Afterlife: The Philips 20-channel crosses the water

The Philips studio 20-channel Neve re-appeared at the Eamonn Andrews Studio in Harcourt Street, Dublin, becoming Ireland’s first multi-track studio. This must have been in 1972, when the Philips studio got their Polygram console.
Here it is in a November 1975 Studio Sound article on Irish studios:

Philip Begley and Brian Masterton at the controls of the 20-channel Neve

You can see from the above photo that it been converted to 8-track monitoring, and now has 8 VU’s which would have been a conversion Philip’s would have made. Frank Ogden’s article in Studio Sound had this to say:

The Eamonn Andrews Studio (yes – he is ‘that’ ‘This Is Your Life’ Eamonn Andrews) had a fire in the late 1970’s and was never re-built.
Despite my ideas about ‘Groups’ and ‘Stereo & Mono’ outputs, one of the Eamonn Andrews engineers in the photo above told me this:

“It was purchased second-hand from Philips Studios in the UK and had been added to from the original Left, Centre, Right console manufactured by Neve. In order to handle 8-track multi-track, 20 channels were added with ‘faders’ that worked on metal bands (they were always breaking) tied to pots along with proper output faders in a separate panel. There was an interesting patch panel that used interesting patch cords of a substantial nature, unlike anything I have seen before or since! The Console was sold to a studio in Bray, Co. Wicklow after the fire in Eamonn Andrews Studios. After that it was sold to an audio company Magennis Place, Dublin.”

Philip has had a long history in recording in Ireland and freelancing in studios elsewhere, and his website tells that he first started his recording career on this desk:

In 1972 Philip joined Eamonn Andrews Studios and worked with some of the great ‘Showbands’ of the day, along with some of the early Rock outfits coming on the Dublin scene.[35]


8| 1966:  ‘The Church Hall Neve’ – The Wessex Studio 18 channel

The next console from Neve, built as I said at a Rectory, went to the new Wessex studio housed in a converted church hall at Augustine’s Church, Highbury Place in Islington, London N5. 
‘Wessex’ as a recording facility for film and records had been in existence for a number of years operating from premises in the coastal town of Bournemouth, not far from Rupert Neve’s original location. It was run by Ron Thompson and his sons Michael and Robin.

“Ron left his younger son Robin in charge of the Bournemouth studio with another partner and opened a second studio at 30 Old Compton Street, where Wessex began to record such people as John Barry and Max Bygraves and where the Thompsons first met Les Reed. Eventually they outgrew the studio in Old Compton Street: We found we were getting more and more work and the studio just wasn’t big enough. So I started writing to the Church Commissioners. I thought they were bound to have a church hall or something they wanted to sell. The first two offers I got from them, I remember, were for premises within a mile of the main runway at Heathrow Airport, so that was no good !” Then Wessex were told of a church hall in Highbury New Park, where they have been ever since.
That was in 1966. They closed the Bournemouth studio and Ron Thompson and his partners went into partnership with Les Reed, writer of hit songs with Barry Mason. Reed had a fifth share in the new company, Wessex Sound Studios, and he did most of the recording for his Chapter One records there. Wessex spent £10,000 on a new desk, an eight track Neve, which was the third desk Rupert Neve had built since he had ceased to make hi-fi equipment and had turned to making studio consoles. Thompson had known Neve since the hi-fi days and they have been great friends ever since.
When Wessex first acquired the hall they had a lot of work to do before they could think of putting equipment into it. To get good sound insulation they had to build additional floors and walls within those of the main building – the walls ended up 18 in thick. The surface acoustic treatments then had to be designed and added.
In fact Wessex were making continual improvements. In Studio Diary in November 1971 Keith Wicks reported that they were altering the acoustics again: “The Wessex staff are more concerned about acoustics than many of their competitors. One end of the studio has been finished with reflective lino tiles which enable the engineers to get a `bigger’ sound, particularly on strings. The other section is carpeted to deaden the sound, making that part suitable for rhythm instruments
. Studio Sound September 1974

The Wessex Neve desk was of 18 channels, initially fitted with 12 channels into 7 outputs; that’s 4 groups and stereo and mono outs:

The Neve as delivered
The Neve as delivered

Although following on from the Philips desk, the Thompson brothers got a completely different layout from Neve.

“The first Neve mixing console installed in Wessex was one of the very early transistorised mixers produced by Rupert Neve in the mid 1960’s. By 1965 Rupert Neve and his first employee, Colin Morton had moved from Harlow in Essex to near Cambridge. Rupert’s home an old vicarage, Priesthaus,  in Little Shelford, was where they manufactured the first transistorised mixing console for Philips, the Wessex mixer must have followed very soon afterwards.
The Wessex order circa 1965 was for an 18 Channel mixer sub fitted 12 channels.
It required five new modules to be designed:-
1053 – Channel Amplifier also used on the Philips Studio mixer.
2251 – Limiter
1452 – 3 frequency Oscillator
1253 – Line amplifier.
1652 – Talkback Amplifier

The circuits for all of these were hand drawn by Rupert himself. The mixer had 4 group outputs to feed a 4 track recorder as well as stereo and mono machines. The linear motion faders were all made by EMT.
From the original mechanical drawing register it appears that in late 1968 modifications were done to the console requiring several new metalwork parts and also new woodwork.”

The three new Neve 2251 Limiters are on the upstand on the far left, and the layout of the channels is similar to the Philips, with the same 1053 mic amps at the bottom of the channel strip and the routing modules above them.
Here’s a closer view of the left-hand side of the console:

compressors and modules
The new 2251 compressors and the Main Routing modules

Strange to see that, at least when this Neve photo was taken, the new 2251 Compressors have no labelling on the controls at all. The ‘Routing Modules’ though, at the top of the channel strip have quite a lot. There are  ‘FB’ and  ‘Rev’ sends with pots, with a choice of ‘Rev 1’ or ‘Rev 2’. Also a small  ‘PFL’ button. Routing via the interlocking switches can be to the 4 Groups or the  ‘Mono’  and  ‘L’ or ‘R’  stereo outs, plus a pan-pot at the bottom.

8a| More on the Neve 1053 mic-amp

The Wessex desk used the same Neve 1053 mic amps as the Philips Studio desk that we looked at earlier. Here’s some more photos:

Neve 1053
Neve 1053 – seen in 2022.
Photo: Vintage King

These photos give a much better view of one the Neve 1053’s, which is for sale on the Vintage King website (in July 2022), and therefore must be the longest surviving Neve mic-amp module that we know about and must surely have come from the Wessex console. For details of some of its life after Wessex see the end of this section.

Rear of Neve 1053
Rear or the 1053.
Photo: Vintage King

The photo of the rear shows that each was fitted with the plug in Gardners 7524 or 7525 input transformer, requiring the module connection socket to be offset, and also externally is a germanium OC22 output transistor. It’s interesting to see that the ‘Hi/Lo’ mic input impedance switch was already incorporated in this 1053 Neve module.
It seems highly likely that the Philips 20-channel and the Wessex 18-channel were the only consoles to have the 1053’s fitted.

The Wessex Neve monitoring panel

monitor panel
The Monitoring Panel and upstand

The upstand on the right-hand side has the ‘talkback’ line amp with gain pot, the 1453 oscillator with 3 frequencies and I think that’s a ‘FB Send’ line amp, plus the other Group and Output line amps.
On the sloping Monitor Panel, at the top left are the 4 LS selectors for the ‘Mono’ and ‘L’ and ‘R’ outputs with gain pots. Under them an ‘Ancilliary VU’ selector switch. On the upper right are the two ‘Rev Returns’ with level and pan-pots. There’s a ‘Rev to Monitor’ selector for the 4 speakers as well.
The rest of the panel has the ‘Monitor Level’, and the ‘Monitor Selector‘ controls with a ‘Studio Loudspeaker Level’ also. On the right of the panel, are switches to allow the 4 groups to be fed out to the ‘Mono’‘L’ and ‘R‘ outputs, with gain and pan-pots for each.
All 7 Groups and Outputs have the EMT faders, which aren’t ‘flush’ mounted but stand proud on the panel, as do all of the desks faders.


Let’s get down on our hands and knees, whilst clutching some jack-cords of course, and look at the patching on the Wessex Neve. Note that the jackfield has single, rather domestic looking jacks, prior to Neve adopting the usual rows of ‘Mosses and Mitchell’ jack strips.

At the top are the ‘Post Fade Insert’ jacks , with ‘Returns’ at the top above the ‘Sends’. In fact there are both ‘Send 1’ and also ‘Send 2’ jacks, which I must confess I don’t understand. Next down the ‘Pre Fade Insert’ jacks. Just ‘Return’ then ‘Send’ here. Each of the 18 channels has a ‘Phase’ switch wired in the next row.
Then comes the ‘Compressor In/Out’‘Rev Return 1/2’ and ‘Rev Monitor Return 1/2’
The ‘Mixer Outputs’ at the start of the next row are the Groups 1 to 4, giving a stereo out from each. There are a total of 3 ‘Rev Outputs’- ‘1/2/3‘ each with a stereo out. Then ‘Recorder Returns 1/2/3/4’, which I would have expected to be from the 4 -track, except they appear in the next row, where the tape inputs are labelled ‘4 Track M/c I/P’ then ‘2 Track M/c I/P’ and ‘Mono M/c I/P’, followed by the ‘Returns’ for each of those tape machines. At the end are ‘Rev 2 MCH’ and an ‘Osc’ output. The last rows are ‘Mic Inputs’ and ‘Line Inputs’.

When Wessex got a new bigger Neve in Studio A in 1970, this desk moved to the new Wessex Studio B.
As noted by John Turner earlier, metalwork and woodwork modifications were being drawn up by draughtsman Peter Rees in August 1968, and these mods were given the Neve order no. ‘2085’. These would have allowed the further electronics changes for 8-track working.

Wessex desk in 1968
The Neve in the Wessex ‘re-mix’ studio’, showing the modifications done in 1968.
Photo: Roger Ginsley

If you compare this with the photo at the top showing the desk as delivered by Neve, there are newer Neve 2252 compressors now on the left, and all 18 channels are fitted with their 2.8 inch wide germanium 1053 mic amps. An additional set of selectors for monitoring the new groups have appeared on the right side and eight VU’s are now on the blue/grey rebuilt upstand, but the console is still in the original ‘shiny black’ finish.

The Wessex Studio

Wessex Sound Studios, 106 Highbury, New Park, London N5.

Here’s the studio as it looked in the early ’80s – not much had changed, the entrance door being just out of the photo on the right.

Wessex exterior
The studio later became associated with ‘punk’ bands – so the ‘tag’ like graphic on the wall is in keeping.
Photo Tony Harris

Wessex is described in the Billboard Studio Guide of 1970 as 56ft x 40ft x 45ft high and as mentioned in the Studio Sound piece, the brothers Robin and Michael Thompson had gone into partnership with Les Reed, a very successful musical arranger and producer, who obviously would appreciate the big studio for his orchestral work and Michael was soon credited as being ‘Chief Engineer’.
Apart from the two Thompson brothers, the other notable engineers were Geoff Workman and Nick Blagona. Nick would go on to become the co-designer and chief engineer of the Canadian Le Studio, Morin Heights, in Quebec. Roger Ginsley, the son of a family friend, was taken on as a tape-op and worked for a few years at Wessex before joining Nick Blagona in Quebec. We’ll return to Roger’s descriptions of his time at Wessex in Part Three.
Roger provided the above photo of the 18 channel Neve as it was after the 1968 additions, and the second photo from Roger is of the studio interior, set up for an orchestral recording:

Wessex studio
The large Wessex studio, set up for an ‘orchestral’ session, probably early ’70’s.
Photo: Roger Ginsley

On the left would be ‘strings’ with the mics ‘over-head’ for violins and with the lower fore-ground mics for cellos. ‘Brass’ and ‘woods’ are in front and that’ll be ‘percussion’ in the distance I guess. The stairway served a number of upstairs offices including a projection room for 16 & 35mm film, and the control room was a door on the far right and beneath the stairway. Once through this door there was about 5 steps up and around to get into the control room. It was about half the height of a `second-floor’, such that the view from the control room covered the entire studio floor and even working with 50+ musicians you could clearly see everyone.
Roger Ginsley is still working in electronics and has a book about sound engineering available called ‘The Bottomless Money Pit’, see the references below. [21]

The Crimson King records in Wessex

King Crimson – ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ -1969 (engineers: Robin Thompson and Nick Blagona)

King Crimson had started recording their first album at Morgan Studios with the Decca producer Tony Clarke in June 1969, but it didn’t work out too well for the band so they moved to Wessex, a bigger studio that they hoped would give them the sound they were after. They had gained some confidence when they provided the supporting act for The Stones enormous Hyde park concert, and they came into Wessex on the 7th July. However something still wasn’t right and the guys in the band; Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Ian McDonald, Peter Sinfield and Greg Lake decided that Tony Clarke’s way of working, by slowly building up backing tracks as he’d done with his Moody Blues records, wasn’t the way they wanted to make their first record.
So they then did something dramatic; they ditched Tony Clarke, along with their Decca Threshold Records deal

“In order to finance the self-produced album, managers Enthoven and Gaydon swung a deal with the Thompson family (Wessex Studios’ owners) that guaranteed the £15,000 recording costs. To do this, Enthoven remortgaged his house. “A bit of punt, really,” he says. “It was either a test of commitment or bloody madness on my part! We knew it was going to be successful, so at the end of the day it was just down to money, and we had to find the money to do it.” 
“On Monday, July 21, 1969, as man first walked on the Moon, King Crimson walked into Wessex Studios, took control of their own fate and began work on their elusive debut album for the third time. 
The album’s final overdub – Robert Fripp’s one-take guitar solo for …Schizoid Man – was completed on August 20, with plans already under way for the finished album to be leased on Chris Blackwell’s Island Records label.”

The DGM website has available many really fascinating audio snippets of the multitracks from Robert Fripp’s work including the King Crimson sessions. [23]
Here’s the 8-track tape label for ‘I Talk To The Wind’ recorded on that 21st July session when they began to produce themselves:

Wessex 8 track tape label-
The label for the 8Track for ‘I Talk To The Wind’ shows that take 8 became the ‘master’.
From DGMLive.com

Robin Thompson, along with Nick Blagona were the engineers on the tracks that became the LP ‘In The Court Of the Crimson King’ and by now the Neve desk had been modified for 8-track and with all 18 of the 1053 germanium mic amps fitted. The multitrack at Wessex at that time was an Ampex AG-440 8-track, which lasted until the next Neve arrived in 1970, when the studio moved up to an MM-1000 16-track.

PAUL STUMP – ‘The History of Progressive Rock’: 
“If Progressive rock as a discrete genre can be said to have had a starting point, “In the Court of the Crimson King” is probably it. All the elements that characterise Progressive’s maturity are in place: jazz and blues influences are subservient to intense compositional rigour characterized by Mellotron-induced Western classical symphonic arrangements … Individual and collective passages of arresting virtuosity and a rhythmic discontinuity bordering on the perverse are also components of an essentially tonal, approachable whole inoffensive to any classical or pop listener.” [24]

LP cover

The album cover was a rather grotesque drawing by Barry Godber; there was no other text on the front. That would have made a few record shop browsers pick it out of the stack and turn it over; as it was designed to do of course……well I bought it.

AUDIO: King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King and Dance Of The Fire Puppets

We thought those closely recorded ‘dead’ drums were the way to do it back then…..now most bands would run away if you did it that way…and those never quite in tune Mellotron tracks! It’s good to hear that a fairly wide dynamic range was still regarded as acceptable, but a pity the deep LF was lost on cutting the ‘vinyl’.

“The “black” console which was originally in the main studio and moved to the “Remix Suite” after we bought the A88, it was third console made by Mr. Neve. Three things of interest; the faders on this console were made by EMT and… this was the board that recorded ‘In The Court of The Crimson King’; Robin Thompson max’d out the Neve mic preamps to get that fat distorted vocals of Greg Lake on ‘Schizoid Man’.

Quincy Jones – ‘Mackenna’s Gold’ -1969 (engineer: Michael Thompson)

The Wessex studio was sometimes called ‘Wessex-Film” and In 1969 Quincy Jones recorded the score for ‘MacKenna’s Gold’ at Wessex, presumably coming all the way from Hollywood because of the quality….and cheapness of British orchestral players.

Quincy Jones at Wessex
Left to right-Barry Mason (partner of Les Reed,) Quincy Jones, Ron Thompson, Les Reed and Mike Thompson in front of the first Wessex Neve console.

In addition to his 73 piece orchestra, Quincy used José Feliciano as both vocalists and guitarist at times in the score, such as this opening piece from the subsequent LP:

Complete with ‘gunshot’, the opening of the soundtrack LP of 1968.

McaKenna's Gold LP
The soundtrack LP cover

Wikipedia tells us:
“In January 1967 it was announced the film would be shot in Cinerama. Columbia provided the finance and J. Lee Thompson would direct. “I’ve always wanted to do an American Western”, said Thompson. “We’re taking a big new approach to this one, striving for an over-all presentation, rightly or wrongly, that will appear new – techniques that may now be acceptable when applied to the big screen.”
Thompson later called the film “sheer adventure in six-track stereo sound. Absolutely without any other dimension.”

The Wessex studio would have been equipped with a 3-track mag film recorder I’m sure, so to get the soundtrack to be ‘six-track stereo sound’, I guess there were just more speakers….it wasn’t like Dolby Surround yet. Cinerama had been around since the ’50’s and although initially using 3 separate projectors on a 146 degree curved screen, by the late 60’s, single projector 70mm techniques like ‘Super Panasion 70’ were being advertised as Cinerama.
For most of ‘MacKenna’s Gold’ Quincy wasn’t doing anything different really to the other rather clichéd Hollywood Western soundtracks but the use of Feliciano was certainly different.

Afterlife: The first Wessex Neve goes West

After Wessex, the 18 channel Neve went across ‘The Pond’.

ROGER GINSLEY: Some years ago I spoke with Dan Alexander when I saw what appeared to be our old console on his website and he confirmed that he had bought it from Leo Lyons. Leo had become our studio manager when Chrysalis moved into Wessex.”

The American musician and engineer Dan Alexander had started his first recording studio in San Francisco called Tewkesbury Sound Recorders in 1976 and in 1980 he purchased Wally Heider’s studios at Hyde Street, San Francisco, re-equipped them with vintage audio gear, which included some truly classic mixing consoles. His interest in vintage audio equipment had sent him scouring Europe for old Neumann, AKG and Schoeps microphones, so moving on to mixing consoles was a natural progression.
The Hyde Street Studios he shared with other engineers and in the first six months they brought in the truly historic ‘first Helios console’ from Olympic, which alas gave endless trouble, an elderly Electrodyne, a 40 input Trident ‘B’, and then an ancient black Neve in 1981 for the smaller of the studios, which was mainly doing voice-over work. It’s likely that it was that studio that Alastair Cooke was using when he came to Hyde Street to continue to record his long running ‘Letter From America’ weekly series for BBC Radio.
That ‘ancient Neve’ was the very same original germanium transistor Wessex console

“Subsequently it was sold, eventually winning an award from AMS-Neve as the oldest operating Neve console in America.” [26]


1966/7: ‘Two for the road’ – Intertel’s Neve consoles

By 1962 a few people involved in TV programme making in Europe had realised that there was money to be made in providing Outside Broadcast facilities to the biggest TV market of all, the Americans. The US Networks needed audience grabbing programming and one place to get it was in Europe, particularly in ‘sports’. First off in building units for this was Inter Tel AG, a TV outside broadcast company that operated out of Zurich, beginning in 1962 and originally comprising a main OB ‘scanner’ vehicle with 4 black and white cameras and a VTR truck with a pair of enormous Ampex VR-1000C 2″ Quad VT’s. Both vehicles were supplied by Marconi with Marconi’s cameras and sound desks and they soon picked up work across Europe, particularly from those US Broadcasters.
Shortly after the foundation of the Inter Tel AG unit, two employees of ATV at Elstree, TV Editor Trevor Wallace and Programme Director Mike Styles decided that they should set up a mobile VTR based unit to cater to the American companies that had also been coming to use ATV’s OB facilities.

They got backing, including from the same Swiss and Dutch financiers of the Zurich unit and the new London based Intertel (VTR) Services was started with a vehicle housing a single Ampex VR1002 2″ Quad VTR. It was soon obvious that it should be a full OB scanner, so it was now fitted with 4 EMI 203 cameras, an 8 channel EMI desk and an EMI Vision mixer and with another VTR soon fitted into a smaller van, they operated out of a garage building in Ealing.

About this period, Steve Beamish, formerly Director of Engineering at Intertel, later wrote:

Intertel (VTR Services) Ltd. was established in 1962 to service the increasing demand by American television networks and independent producers for electronic production facilities in Europe. At first, the camera and videotape facilities were monochrome, on 525/60 cycles. But by 1964, when the Innsbruck Winter Olympics coverage for ABC-TV was undertaken entirely by the Intertel group of companies, the demand was gradually changing to colour camera origination and VT recording”.
Intertel’s desire to have a colour was hampered by Marconi having the only available colour camera in the UK; an overly large camera for TV OB use.
“This left us with no option but to purchase four BD848 cameras from Marconi and to quickly build a scanner to accommodate them.

However the work arrived and so did another truck:
“We had taken delivery of the first four Philips PC60s in the summer of 1966 and installed them in a new vehicle.” [27]

9| 1966: ‘The first mobile Neve’ – The Intertel 24 channel

It was in this new scanner that Dave Ashley-Smith, the Intertel Sound Supervisor departed from using Marconi sound gear; he chose a mixer from the still little known manufacturer Neve. The desk filled the rear sound compartment of the vehicle from side to side and was certainly the most impressive desk in any TV vehicle then:

First Intertel Neve
The first Intertel Neve, a 24 channel, in their second colour scanner. The vehicle is depicted in the inset photo.
Photo from a Neve brochure

“The first mixing console Neve specifically built for an Outside Broadcast vehicle was for Intertel. The black front panel 1054 channel module for this console had the circuit diagram drawing number H/10004 and was dated 11th May 1966. From the original drawing register the 1853 switching unit for this console had the circuit drawing number S/10003, again showing this was a very early console.”

The Neve brochure reproducing the above photo stated:

“Mobile sound: The growing complexity of T.V. sound requirements are not confined only to the studio. The same facilities are needed for outside broadcasts or remote presentations, and in order to compensate for local acoustic conditions, special filters are called for.
Within the Intertel mobile colour T.V. control room, is a 24 channel self-contained sound desk incorporating its own line sending and distribution amplifiers, and all facilities normally found in the most advanced control desks.”

The desk, built with narrower modules, has 24 channels in sections of six. There are 4 groups and two Main outputs, which would allow a Clean Feed Output (usually just ‘FX’ with no commentary) in addition to the full Main Out.

9a| The Neve 1054 mic-amp module

Neve 1054
Neve 1054

Here’s the mic module, a 1054, and the new narrower width of 1.8 inch has dictated it’s fairly restricted set of EQ choices compared with the 1053 used earlier:

The 1054 must have been the first of the 1.8 inch ‘narrow’ modules to be used on a console. It has only a ‘Presence’ control with a choice of ‘0.7k/1.2k/2.2k/3.8k and 7.0k’, and then a fixed frequency LF boost and cut.
Above it in the channel strip came the 1853 module:

9b| The Neve 1853 switching module

Neve 1858

The 1853 switching module is most interesting; it has two pots labelled ‘Rev 1’ and ‘Rev 2′ with ‘Pre/Post’ selection on keyswitches; and two more Group selection keyswitches labelled ‘GR1’ and ‘GR2’. The ‘Pan’ position then gives a panned output on both groups obviously. So ‘stereo’ capability on a TV desk decades before ‘stereo TV’ became a reality in the UK?
In addition to the ‘PFL’ button, there’s a ‘Direct/Insert’ switch, so the send out to the ‘insert’ had to be selected.
Some Neve’s of this period had ‘PFL’ buttons above the EMT fader, but the ‘PFL’ buttons here are on the 1054 modules and on this desk there are indicator neons on the scribble strips, and they look like they are different colours, possibly for each separate group. That makes me wonder if each section of 6 faders went to a ‘fixed group’, as was common on earlier broadcast desks, like the Marconi B1103 desks in their previous colour scanner. 

10| 1967: ‘The same but bigger’ The Intertel 30 channel Neve

Then another vehicle and the second Intertel Neve, delivered in 1967:

Intertel's 2nd desk
The Neve factory photo of Intertel’s 1967 desk

Intertel’s second desk was an even bigger 30 channel, still with 4 groups but with the adjacent 2 output faders now spaced slightly apart. The frame can be seen to have 4 Neve 2252 compressors above the jackfield, which now follows the ‘Mosses & Mitchell’ jackstrip style. The frame on the other side is pre-drilled ready to receive Intertel’s audio DA’s and other ancilliary equipment.

This 2nd console uses 1058 mic modules, which were first fitted to a Spanish TV desk delivered just before this one in 1967 (see Section 12):

10a| The Neve 1058 mic-amp module

Neve 1058
Neve 1058

The more comprehensive 1058 module was still a narrow 1.8 inch model but was longer than the 1054 on the previous desk. It now had a 10k HF control, followed by the presence with  ‘1.75k/2.5k/3.5k/5k/7k’  frequencies. The selector switch now works in a different direction as well. Finally there is a fixed frequency LF control.

10b| The Neve 1862 switching module

Intertel centre section
The 1862 is the module at the top of the channel strip.

We don’t have a photo of the new 1862 Routing module, but looking at the centre section of the desk, we can see that this module, at the top of the channel strip again, has more keyswitches than the previous 1853 version, but it’s likely though these keyswitches now just replace the old style ‘PFL’ button and ‘Direct/Insert’ toggle switch previously used:

Programmes from the Intertel OB Neve’s

Intertel (VTR) Services Ltd., Plant House, Longfield Avenue, Ealing, London, W5.

Colour cameras were still a rarity and the BBC didn’t start colour until July 1967, and so the Intertel units unit did every type of production, such as this hour TV Special with Bing Crosby that they did in Dublin in 1966:

Terry Heath's Bing item
Photos and text taken from an ‘Intertel history’ document by Terry Heath, an Intertel rigger who became a cameraman at the time of the Bing Crosby TV special in Dublin. [28]
Bing in Dublin
TV always stops the crowds passing. Bing Crosby….and a camera on a Mole crane.

VIDEO: Press ‘Play’ in bottom left corner:

As already mentioned the US Networks used Intertel a great deal, and the biggest customer was ABC who spent vast sums on their sports coverage and in 1968 Intertel provided the first colour TV coverage of the Winter Olympics in Grenoble for ABC’s ‘The Wide World Of Sports’:

“1968 brought us both the Winter and Summer Olympics being broadcast by ABC. The rights fee for Grenoble was $2,500,000, with the network airing 27 hours of coverage from France.  By this point in time, the entire broadcast was in full color and satellite enabled, providing live coverage for select events.  ABC’s extensive coverage of France’s Jean-Claude Killy during the alpine events (he won 3 gold medals) and America’s own Peggy Fleming in skating (winning the only gold for the U.S.) helped to popularize the Winter version of the Olympics in the States.” [29]

Afterlife: Intertel’s 1st desk moves owners

The first Intertel OB scanner, complete with the Neve desk was operated for a few years at the end of the ’70’s by TREC Video:

The Trec Video OB with a pair of EMI2008 cameras.
Photo:Derek Smith

“One of the owners, Alan English, who was an ex Intertel man, heard that their old OB2 was on the market. After Intertel it had become part of the LWT fleet, until passing on to Laurie Marsh (I think) who thought they could use it in association with one project or another. Unfortunately this never came to pass and when TREC acquired it in 1978/9 it had much the look of a ‘barn find’ with bits of the once glorious Neve desk scattered all over the floor. It took us three days with brooms and mops before the boss’s wife would step aboard.  It was fitted out with racks for three EMI 2008s, and two BCN 50 VTRs and a Canadian vision mixer. The desk was restored by Neve, and it worked very well and we used the CMCR on several occasions, including a shoot in Athens, before Alan decided we needed a London studio base. This was the near derelict Boundary Row premises in Southwark, and the CMCR, which up to now had been parked in the local football ground in Welling, was driven in to the loading bay, and I don’t think it ever came out again until the company went bust in about 1984.” 

Trec were one of the few users of the EMI2008 lightweight video camera which was a ‘rebadged’ American camera by CEI from about 1977. Derek Smith described them to me as ‘horrid’.

Trec Sound Supervisor Dave Hawker and the original Intertel Neve.
Photo: Derek Smith

Afterlife: Intertel’s 2nd desk goes to Oz

Rick O’Neil spotted the photo of the bigger Intertel desk and told me:

“The big black 30 channel mono board was originally installed at TV Channel 9 in Melbourne,  but I have no details of the dates it arrived or was decommissioned. 
It was bought from an ex-employee who seemingly pulled it from the dumpster and sold it to a middle buyer, who sold it on to Fletcher (Mercenary Audio). 
The black one had 1058 modules but the frame with the output transformers never came up to me in Sydney.

I collected all 30 black modules and decommissioned another Neve, and took the lot to a crate maker for shipping to the US. This is about 1992.” 


11| 1966 – ‘The really small Neve’ – The Portable Sound Mixer

The first of the Intertel Neve consoles was their largest to date in mid-1966 with 24 channels, and the next console on the ‘Drawing Register’ listings for ‘Channel Amplifiers’ was the PSM6. It was the first ‘stock’ mixer design and one that was to remain Rupert Neve’s smallest console for a while.

Neve Ad of Jan 1966
IBE magazine

If you got a copy of ‘International Broadcast Engineer’ magazine in January 1966, you’d have found the Neve advertisement above, featuring the ‘PSM6’. Perhaps not Neve’s finest Ad with that crude sketch. The ‘PSM’ stood for ‘Portable Sound Mixer’ and here is the the fully realised mixer:

Neve PSM6
The first of what became a long running range of Neve ‘Portable Sound Mixers’, the PSM6

11a| The Neve 1055 mic-amp module

Neve 1055
Neve 1055

The PSM6 had a new 1055 mic module:

The 1055 has three fixed frequency controls; an ‘HF’, a ‘Presence’ and an ‘LF’, so is the least comprehensive mic module for EQ so far, but then it’s to fit a very small mixer. It looks to have a module width between the wide 2.8 inch and the narrow 1.8 inch ones that we’ve seen so far.
There are separate panels for each channel for the ‘routing’, but they don’t appear to carry module serial numbers, but each has ‘FB’ pot with selector keyswitch for ‘Pre/Post’ and as the Ad said it’s a 2 output desk, with the lower keyswitch selecting ‘Group 1/Off/Group 2’, and there’s a push-button for ‘PFL’. EMT faders are fitted.
That large VU has a selector to choose ‘FB/Gr1/Gr2 ‘ , as also does the monitor selector, plus a ‘PB’ input, and monitor level control. There is however, beneath the VU selector, an pre-set level oscillator with 3 frequencies.

The 6 channel was soon joined by another really nice small Neve, the 10 channel ‘PSM’:

PSM 10 channel
The 10 channel PSM of 1966 or ’67

Using the same 1055 module, the 10 channel is now stereo, with a pan-pot at the bottom of each channel strip and has both ‘Rev’ and ‘FB’ gain pots, with ‘Pre/Post’ keyswitches. The ‘PFL’ push buttons are now on the fader scribble strip.

I haven’t found the names of any users for these little fellows, although by 1970/71, the Billboard Directories had Audiofilm in Madrid with a ‘Neve 6 input 2 output’ plus a ‘Neve 6 input 4 output’ listed.

The name ‘PSM’ was later used again on a range of small Neve mixers in the mid ’70’s.


12| 1966: ‘The Station Of The Stars’ – Radio Luxembourg’s 8 channel Neve

As mentioned earlier, Radio Luxembourg broadcast across to the UK in the evenings on a very powerful medium wave transmitter. They had a London studio at 38 Hertford Street, in Mayfair which taped programmes that were sent to ‘The Grand Duchy’ where they were played out, and for many years the record shows were ‘sponsored’ by the large UK record companies and DJ’s only played the records from which ever of the record companies was sponsoring their programme. This limited choice in programming really showed up when in 1964, the first of the off-shore ‘pirate’ radio stations, Radio Caroline appeared off the UK coast and Luxembourg rapidly lost it’s teenage audience. The government finally managed to ban the pirates in 1967, but with the BBC starting Radio 1, which ran all day, the evening audience still needed to be recovered. In 1968 there was a big shake-up at Luxembourg under Geoffrey Everett and the British DJ’s were moved out to the Grand Duchy buildings in Luxembourg to introduce the style of DJ presentation that was normal and successful elsewhere.

38 Hertford Street
Radio Luxembourg’s building at 38 Hertford Street, London W1.
Photo: tonybarrell.com

A keen pop music listener to Luxembourg would however remember that the most regular advertiser on Luxembourg during this time seemed to be ‘Horace Batchelor’ with his ‘Infra-draw’ method of doing the Football Pools.
Ted Scott was the Chief Engineer at Hertford Street until 1959 and recalled:

“John (Witty), as handsome as any film star, did the Horace Batchelor voice-overs. Although Horace did his own blurb, it always ended with John saying: ‘Keynsham, spelt K.E.Y.N.S.H.A.M, Keynsham, Bristol”

AUDIO: Horace Batchelor advertisment.

Listening to Luxy at night, ‘under the bed-covers’ was the norm for teenagers as the BBC pop music programming was so poor for so many years. The ‘Ovaltineys’ and ‘Horace Batchelor’ ads could become rather wearing though!

“38 Hertford Street contained two studios; four edit suites and four floors of office space. On the lower ground floor were several edit suites. These were four times larger than a telephone kiosk, no windows and walls covered in sound proofing material. Also, on this level was the sound store and office. A capacious cupboard herein served as an echo chamber. Selected sound from either of the two studios would be fed into a loudspeaker at one end of this cupboard and picked up by a microphone at the other. Crude, but effective. It was difficult to make a telephone call from the sound office when a studio was in use, with Cliff Richard echoing around or when Pete Murray in Studio B wanted a ghost effect for his record programme.” [30]

It was into one of these two studios that Neve supplied a new transistor mixer:

Neve at Radio Luxembourg
The woodwork on these early Neve desks always looked good.

An EMI TR90 tape deck awaits beyond the 8 channel, mono output Neve. The Talkback mic is an STC4037 which, being an omni was more usually used as an interview hand mic. Like most ’50’s era studios there’s ‘peg board’ acoustic treatment, which was only good for absorbing the MF and probably left you with a rather bass heavy room.

Here’s the front view:

The 8 channel Luxembourg Neve
The 8 channel Luxembourg Neve

How delightful to see the single Quad ESL57 Electrostatic being used as the monitor loudspeaker on the left in this shot, and the old style GEC Bakelite phone dates it nicely as well.

12a| The Neve 1056 mic-amp module

Neve 1056
Neve 1056

These were the days when every new mixer out of Neve seemed to demand a new module, and in this case it was the 1056 channel amp.

This new 1056 has an ‘HF’ with three frequencies of ‘6k/3k/1.5k’; so a ‘Mid’ control really. Then there’s a three frequency ‘LF’ of ‘.8k/.4k/.2k’, that’s 800, 400 and 200Hz of course. There were no fixed frequency HF or LF’s , as on previous modules. ‘Mic/Line’ is on a separate switch and there’s a choice of ‘Hi/Lo’ mic input impedances. The ‘Lo’ would be to match the 30 ohm mics, which were still around.

The Luxembourg Neve monitoring panel

The monitor panel with 1056 and the switching modules in close-up
The monitor panel with 1056 and the switching modules in close-up

In addition to the 1056, if we take a closer look at the desk we can see what else was provided. The ‘switching module’ has controls for ‘foldback’ and ‘rev’, with gain pots and ‘pre/post’ switches for both. At the bottom is a keyswitch for ‘PFL‘.
The monitor panel, from top down lets you select the ‘VU’ to ‘Recorder/Console/Foldback/Rev/Off’. To the right of that is a pot for ‘PFL’. Next down is the master pot for ‘Foldback’ with beside it a ‘Foldback select’ labelled ‘Talkback/Channel B/Recorder’. A master pot for ‘Rev Level’ has beside it a ‘Talkback’ selector with ‘Studio & Tape/Off/Studio’ choices. At the bottom right is the ‘Monitor Level’ and ‘Monitor select’  for ‘PFL/Rev/Foldback/Cubicle/Off’. On the opposite side of the desk were a couple of studio cue lights….well you have to give the Producer something to ‘play with’.

Hertford Street’s Records and Jingles

Radio Luxembourg, 38 Hertford Street, London, W1J 7SG

The Hertford Street studios had for many years been recording the famous British pop artists like Marty Wild, Billy Fury and Cliff Richard, shown below with Alan Bailey: [31]

Alan Bailey and Cliff
Alan Bailey doing a playback for Cliff in 1962.
Photo: Alan Bailey

“The station’s Mayfair studios could be hired privately by people wanting to make recordings cheaply, on equipment that was far from state-of-the-art. David Bowie came here in 1971 to make basic demos of tracks that later appeared on his breakthrough album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’. The Hertford Street version of the song ‘Ziggy Stardust’ features Bowie singing to his own roughly strummed, slightly out-of-tune 12-string guitar.

AUDIO: David Bowie-‘Ziggy Stardust’ acoustic demo.

“During the same period, Bowie’s short-lived band Arnold Corns recorded their flop single ‘Moonage Daydream’ at Luxembourg Studios, along with its B-side, ‘Hang onto Yourself’. Both songs would also appear on the Ziggy Stardust album, recorded much more impressively at Trident Studios in St Anne’s Court, Soho.
The Monty Python team came to Luxembourg Studios in October 1972 to record their third album, ‘Monty Python’s Previous Record‘, which included Eric Idle’s hilarious critique of Australian wines, the ‘Fish Licence’ sketch and their philosophical single ‘Eric the Half-a-Bee’, co-written by Idle and John Cleese. Part of their subsequent LP, ‘The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief’, was also taped here.” 

Alan Bailey joined Radio Luxembourg in 1958 and worked as a studio engineer and then became a producer:

“Monty Python’s Previous Record was the team’s third album, recorded at the Radio Luxembourg studios (38 Hertford Street, London W1) on 12 and 13 October 1972. It was released by Charisma records on 8 December and reached number 39 in the UK charts the following month.
“The sound engineer was Alan Bailey, who – along with Michael Palin and Terry Jones – shared a production credit with André Jacquemin. Bailey recorded the album onto a Studer four-track using Neumann microphones. He was also responsible for voicing many of the sound effects, including the sneezing ant, the prince falling out of the tower, and chemist who’s invaded by a herd of zebras“.
“About half of the album consisted of re-performances of material from the third Flying Circus TV series, although it’s worth remembering that sketches like ‘Argument’ and ‘Dennis Moore’ weren’t necessarily the crowd-pleasing classics they later became – the album was not only released midway through the series (Python fans could purchase it the day after ‘The Cycling Tour’ went out), but was also recorded a full week before the series even started”.

“The follow-up LP, Matching Tie and Handkerchief (1973), is famous for having a double-groove on its second side – two grooves, each containing different material, run parallel with each other, meaning the listener experiences a different set of sketches depending on where the stylus is dropped. One little-known fact, however, is that the stunt originated in an even more ambitious form on Previous Record – the team’s intention was for the flipside to boast a triple-groove, presenting the listener with three separate sketch-suites; each beginning with the phrase “And now a massage from the Swedish Prime Minister” followed by brisk slapping sounds (once again c/o Bailey)“.

“The trick was not a new one. Both Bailey (who suggested the idea) and Eric Idle knew of the technique being used in an old party game, where half a dozen grooves on a 78rpm gramophone record would each reveal a different winner to a fictitious horse race. Sustaining decent sound quality on something with the sonic complexity of Previous Record, however, was a challenge. In the October 2006 issue of Mojo magazine, Terry Jones remembers the technological headaches which eventually caused the idea to be dropped, while a contemporary record of the team’s frustration is captured in Michael Palin’s diaries:

Saturday November 4, 1972:
Spent three hours with André [Jacquemin], editing and tightening the B side of the new album until it was in a very strong and satisfying shape, then, with Terry [Jones] and André, walked across Regent Street and into Savile Row, where the Apple Studios are situated in a well-preserved row of Georgian town houses. They seem to be the only place that has the technology to cut our multiple B side. Finally left about 8pm – the cutter, John, promised to have more attempts at the cut over the weekend, but the chances of producing this highly original B side don’t seem too rosy.
Tuesday November 7:

Heard during the afternoon that Apple were unable to cut the three-track B side. Terry took the tapes round to EMI for them to have a go, so we can only cross our fingers.
Wednesday November 8:

All is quiet for a bit – the sun shines in onto my desk, and I feel all’s well with the world. But the phone soon starts ringing – EMI cannot do the cut, what shall we do? Almost an hour is spent ringing round the Pythons to get them to a meeting on Thursday to listen to the record. We decide to cut the B side in mono, which apparently will allow the three-track cut to work. So Apple now have the job again”.

Michael Palin Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years – Phoenix Books, 2006 [33]

The original recording script and notes for ‘A Minute Passed’.
The original recording script and notes for ‘A Minute Passed’.
From: sotcaa.org

The above is either Alan Bailey’s or the ‘Python’s’ producer André Jacquemin’s script and recording notes, with Take 4 chosen.


To Come in Part Three

In Part Three we will continue with the Neve’s from 1967, with more of the Neve ‘factory’ photos detailing these early ‘shiny black’ Neve’s consoles made during the late ’60’s period.

From the ‘internal’ Neve Spring 1971 Newsletter
From the ‘internal’ Neve Spring 1971 Newsletter

A major change in the finish of the consoles occurred and in further parts we will see how at the beginning of the ’70’s, the expansion of Neve took off and both recording and broadcasting desks spread around the world, and like the cartoon above shows, they just kept getting get bigger.


Credits and references:

[1] Rupert Neve interview with Steve McAllister in TapeOp magazine Nov/Dec 2001.
[2] Confirmation that Desmond Leslie’s Rupert Neve mixer is still at Castle Leslie, came from the Castle Leslie archivist in September 2021.
[3] From Rupert Neve Designs video series ‘The Shefford Interviews’ 2013 via www.the rupertneve.com This series of videos available on YouTube, is a great resource and it 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.
[4] to [6] are references in Part One only

[7 Video interview with Rupert Neve-October 25/26th 2013 – At the SAE Institute, Paris.
[8] From Ric Holland’s book ‘As I Heard It-In the music industry 1969-1979. Pt.1 ‘In the Recording Studio’. (Kindle)
[9 Correspondence with Ric Holland Nov 2021
[10] From www.philsbook.com archived and retrieved from ‘the Wayback machine’. We await an new look Philsbook website as it’s a great resource now missing from the web.
[11] The wife of pianist John McCabe, who was recorded often by Bob Auger, Monica McCabe writing in 1999: http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/1999/04/auger2.htm
DT Comments: I think Monica must have got the 1956 date wrong, because Bob moved to Pye and in 1956 was working under the American engineer Bob Fine doing classical location recordings and was soon recording them for Pye himself. Bob was ‘Head-Of-Sound’ at Granada TV in Manchester between 1960 and ’62, when he returned to Pye as Technical Manager. Auger certainly retained a good relationship with Granada, as they funded his ‘Granada Recordings’ location recording venture in 1968.
[12] Doug Williams on the Gearspace.com forum.
[13] Doug Williams correspondence September 2020
[14] James Baring remembers: ”The weak spot was the Vortexion mixer, mismatched into the system. It took me some time to replace it with London’s first transistorised studio mixer, designed by Eddie Baldwin. that’s why some of the early Stones stuff is pretty dodgy. But Andrew Oldham liked it. “Sounds nutty, James. That’s what I want!” From P101 ‘Please, Please Me – Sixties British Pop, Inside Out’ by Gordon Thompson. Oxford University Press.
[15] Gerry Bron’s memories of Philips and Manfred Mann from page 108, ‘Good Vibrations’ by Mark Cunningham, published by Castle Communications.
[16] From: “Vic Flick, Guitarman – From James Bond to The Beatles and Beyond” – BearManor Media. Kindle Edition.
[17] From the website http://sladestory.blogspot.com/2012/03/phillips-studio.html
[18] from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Don’t_Have_to_Say_You_Love_Me
[19] From Penny Valentine and Vicki Wickham’s book ‘Dancing With Demons  The authorised biography of Dusty Springfield’. Hodder and Staughton 2000.
Simon Napier Bell also later said:
 “There, standing on the staircase at Philips studio, singing into the stairwell, Dusty gave her greatest ever performance  perfection from first breath to last, as great as anything by Aretha Franklin or Sinatra or Pavarotti. Great singers can take mundane lyrics and fill them with their own meaning. This can help a listener’s own ill-defined feelings come clearly into focus. Vicki [Wickham] and I had thought our lyric was about avoiding emotional commitment. Dusty stood it on its head and made it a passionate lament of loneliness and love.”—  From: Simon Napier-Bell, “Flashback: Dusty Springfield”, The Observer 19 October 2003.
[20] As told by session guitarist Vic Flick in Gordon Thompson’s book ‘Please Please Me’. Page 262.
[21] Information from Roger Ginsley came in 2012 in conversation with John Turner and with me in 2022. Roger Ginsley’s book is available from his website: https://www.tekxelectronics.net/
“When I decided to write my audio book “The Bottomless Money Pit” I wanted to acknowledge what I regarded were the pioneers of our industry those being Rupert Neve, Ray Dolby, George Neumann, Willi Studer and possibly less known but nevertheless a master, Colin Saunders of Solid State Logic -with whom I had a friendship for many years. My audio book is still available and I sell it at $80US plus shipping. (I have to explain…… the reason I have several copies still in hand is because none of the audio schools here in the Toronto area would pick it up; they complained that with my book, their students could learn their courses in about six months rather than the three or so years for which they get milked !)”
[22] From a very comprehensive article about King Crimson’s first album ‘In the Court Of The Crimson King’ at https://www.loudersound.com/features/king-crimson-how-we-made-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king
[23] DGM are issuing flak audio files from Robert Fripp masters, including King Crimson, which allow you to hear the fascinating raw multitracks: DGMLive com
[24] From Paul Stumps book: ‘The Music’s All That Matters: History Of Progressive Rock’ published in 1997 by Quartet Books.
[25] Wikipedia also tells us: “The original score and songs of the film were composed and conducted by Quincy Jones and the soundtrack album was released on the RCA Victor label in 1969.The opening song, “Old Turkey Buzzard”, is a recurring background theme. It was sung by José Feliciano and was composed by Quincy Jones with lyrics by Freddie Douglas. ‘Freddie Douglas’ was a pseudonym for writer/producer Carl Foreman. Jose Feliciano also plays guitar and add vocals in many parts of the soundtrack and Spanish version of the theme song “Viejo Butre” for the Spanish-language edition of the movie.”
[26] Dan Alexander published a book in 2021 called ‘A Vintage Odyssey’, (Rowman & Littlefield). It’s a fascinating look at his ability to spot and make money from the vintage audio equipment that the rest of us thought had become ‘worthless’. He also saved many Neve’s – both complete mixers and individual modules along the way.
[27] The quotes by Steve Beamish about Intertel are from an account of NTSC colour TV in the UK appeared in the the journal of the Society of Television Directors, ‘Television Lighting‘, Autumn 2003, by John Burgess.
[28] Terry Heath’s document about the history of two companies, Intertel and TVR has been privately circulating amongst ‘interested parties’ for some years: ‘The Birth and Pioneering Days of the Television Industry Facilities Companies’.
[29] Information from : https://www.steveandamysly.com/olympic-broadcaster-logos/1968-grenoble-winter-olympics-abc-logo/
[30] From ‘Cue Tape Please Ted’ by Ted Scott, who describes his years at Luxembourg, followed by ATV Elstree and then his freelance years. It’s the only book by a TV Sound Supervisor I’ve found (paperback from Amazon).
 Although Ted died in February 2020, his website is still up: http://tedscott.co.uk/
[31] Alan Bailey’s book about his years as a Radio Luxembourg engineer and then producer is called ‘208 It Was Great’. Alas it is now out of print.
[32] From an interesting article on Radio Luxembourg on Tony Barrell’s website: tonybarrell.com/airwaves-of-joy
[33] From an article about the Python’s records at: http://sotcaa.org/editnews/previousrecord.html
[34] From recent correspondence with Rick O’Neill, who now runs Turtle Rock Mastering in Sydney.
[35] Philip Begley’s website is: http://www.philipbegley.com/