Early Rupert Neve Consoles and their stories | PART EIGHT: 1970 -1971 | ‘Neves for Prague, Moscow and for Decca. Ireland gets the biggest Neve order and wrap-around desks for Elstree.’

2023-12-10 Off By David Taylor
The Czech Record label Supraphon’s Neve ‘A164’ in 1970.

Researched and written by DAVID TAYLOR
With information and photographs by JOHN TURNER

And further assistance from BLAKE DEVITT

With enormous amounts of help from John Turner, and by also delving into the Neve files that Blake Devitt has been carefully looking after, this is the eighth part of the articles aiming to give the history of the early Neve mixing consoles as accurately as possible. Along with a technical look at the Neve consoles, I’m keen on trying to give some information on the people, places and their ‘results’ that were produced by these consoles.

THE ‘TECHNICAL’ CONTENTS:

If you’re interested in just the ‘techy bits”, these can be accessed via the ‘jump’ facility using the following section ‘IDs’, and then the browser ‘return button’ to come back here again:

61| 1970: ‘Another for Pye’ | Studio Two’s 16-channel 16 Group Neve – ‘A138’
62| 1970: ‘The House Of Artist’s’ in Prague | Supraphon Record’s 20-channel 8 Group Neve – ‘A164’
63| 1970: ‘100 channels for the US Networks’ | ATV Elstree’s two 28-channel 8 Group Neves – ‘A177’ and ‘A258’, and the 6-mic sub-mixers -‘A248
63a| The Neve 1070 and 1070L Mic-amp Modules
63b| The Neve 6-channel B002 Sub-mixers – ‘A248’
64| 1970: ‘The biggest contract of 1970’ | The Irish Donnybrook Neves ‘A184’ to ‘A194’
65| 1972: ‘The Self-Op DJ consoles…that never got used‘A373’ to ‘A379’
66| 1970/71: ‘Neve break into Decca’ | Decca Record’s Neve 24-Channel 16 Group consoles –‘A199’ and ‘A325’
66a| The Neve 1077 Mic-amp Module
66b| The Neve 1922 Auxiliary Switching Module
66c| The Neve 1923 Group Monitor Module
66d| The Decca Peak Meter
67| 1971: “The Anglican Church with a Neve ….in Moscow” | Melodiya’s 24-Channel 16 Group Neve – ‘A203/S16’
68| 1971: ‘Radio Luxembourg gets a bigger studio’ | Audio International’s Neve ‘A210’
68a| The Neve 1078 Mic-amp Module
68b| The Neve 1911/B and 1903/B Routing Modules

61| 1970: ‘Another for Pye’ | Studio Two’s 16-channel 16 Group Neve – ‘A138’

Pye Studios, ATV House, Great Cumberland Place, London W1

Under Chief Engineer Ray Prickett Pye Studios continued its allegence to using Neve when it bought the 16-Channel 16 Output Mixer ‘A138’ that was installed in Studio 2 in mid-1970. Since 1968 Pye had been using Studio One’s 24-channel 8 Group Neve for both its bigger orchestral sessions and many of its pop groups recordings, and in 1970, since groups were demanding 16 Track, Neve quoted under reference Q2357 for a new Studio 2 desk and unlike the quirky design of the previous Studio 1 mixer, ‘A138’ was a much more typical Neve.

Pye Studios Neve for studio 2
A138′ – The 16-Channel, 16 Group Neve for Pye Studio 2.

The Studio 2 Neve has 1066 mic modules and 1903 16 group switching modules. A further six 1903 are fitted to the first 6 groups, allowing sub-grouping.

Beside them, are a row of 4 switches to allow ‘Record/Playback’ selection for a 4-track tape deck, with a monitor pot for each of the 4 tape tracks and to the right of the 4-track switches are two rows of switches for the 16-track.
These are labelled ‘Record/Playback/Bypass’ and also ‘On’ for the row of indicator lights. Because there is a ‘Bypass’ switch, it’s likely that these switched the Dolby A301 units for the 16-track. A further four 1903 switching modules are above the last 4 monitors, and as they have black caps, they would be for four Echo Returns onto the groups.

The 16 group and multitrack playback controls are next down, using 1907 monitor modules, with 4 selectors for ‘PB to FB’ with a pot, and an ‘Echo on Monitor’ switch and pot. The 4 monitor speaker selectors have a pan-pot for odds/evens and the usual large rotary monitor pot.
A standard set of Main Monitor and Meter controls are on the lower left side above the first eight group faders, and to their right are ‘Echo on Monitor’ controls: a master ‘Send’ pot, selector for the four ‘Returns’ and a similar four selectors for ‘Return to Foldbacks’.

Beside these are the ‘Studio Playback’ selectors with a four-way selector for both ‘1 and 2’, each with a switch labelled ‘Mon/Off/FB’ and with a master gain pot. A ‘Console LS’ pot with a selector is labelled ‘CLS/CLS+SLS/SLS’, a ‘Monitor’ selector labelled ‘ANC/4T/Mono’ , with a pot labelled ‘Mono’ and a ‘Tone to Groups’ switch.
Far right are four 2254/A Limiter/Comps and four 2068 EQ units for the ‘Echo Returns’ with VU and gain pot for each.


Dave Hunt ponders his next move in Studio 2.
Photo via Beat Instrumental.

With the arrival of the new Studio 2 console, Pye Studios plus the Mobile, were now totally Neve equipped.

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62| 1970: ‘The House Of Artist’s’ in Prague | Supraphon Record’s 20-channel 8 Group Neve – ‘A164’

Supraphon Recording Studios, 1 Palackeho, Prague 11299

The Czech record label Supraphon had a long history of locally produced records, many of them with the famous Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 1970 they upgraded their main classical recording venue, the concert hall within the ‘Rudolfinum’ building, also known as the ‘House Of Artists’, and ordered a console from Neve via quote no. Q2270, for the hall’s permanent control room. This would be the first console Neve had built that was put into a concert hall/studio for use making classical recordings, and of course most classical work everywhere was still usually being mixed ‘straight to stereo’.

The Neve photo of ‘A164’ before delivery. It is still awaiting the main output metering, a stereo lightbeam meter which probably was to be installed in Prague.

The drawings for ‘A164’ were started at the beginning of February 1970 and here is the Neve ‘GA’ layout drawing number M/1177:

The layout drawing for ‘A164’ dated 2nd February 1970.

The channel amplifiers are 1064s with 1900 routing modules for the channels and groups. The console has four 2254 Limiter/Compressors, four 1801 Echo Return modules, plus a pair of 2065 HP/LP filters. In addition to the group VU’s, it has an ancilliary VU and a Phase Meter, plus the stereo output lightbeam Meter.

With the score spread over the Supraphon Neve, left to right: Eduard Herzog (recording director), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (conductor) and Joseph Suk (viola soloist ) during the recording of the Berlioz ‘Harold in Italy’ at the House of Artists, Prague, from 2 to 4 February 1976.

Although now known as the Dvorak Hall, the name ‘House of Artist’s’ was given to the Rudolfinum Concert Hall in a Studio Sound magazine article of June 1976:

The concert hall in Prague’s House of Artists (for classical music) accommodates 140 instrumentalists and 120 choral singers. The control room there has a Neve console with 20 inputs and eight outputs, four track Studer tape recorders, four Lockwood monitor speakers, Quad amplifiers and Dolby equipment”

The Rudolfinum today.
Photo Wikipedia
It is still a beautiful-looking hall to record in. The Dvorak Hall today.

The Czech Phil played their first concert in this hall in January 1896 with the great composer Dvorak conducting his own compositions – ‘Slavonic Rhapsody No.3’, the world premiere of ‘Biblical Songs Nos. 1-5’, the overture ‘Othello’ and his ‘9th Symphony From the New World’, which by then was already world famous.

Recordings from the Supraphon Neve

Supraphon produced a large amount of classical music and their ‘House Of Artists’ was home to the Czech Philharmonic who recorded there with a number of different conductors in the early ’70s. Chiefly amongst these were Karel Ančerl and Václav Neumann.
Neumann carried out a complete cycle of the Dvorak Symphonies with the Czech Phil using the Supraphon Neve and the recordings are still available today. The highest regard in the cycle now seems to be for Neumann’s Dvorak 7th, which many also view as Dvorak’s best symphony.

From a 1976 Studio Sound article

By the time the Studio Sound article was written in 1976, it seems that Supraphon were recording with Quad releases in mind. In the previous year, they also had teamed up with Nippon Columbia (Denon) to start making digital orchestral recordings out on location.

Front cover of the ‘Harold In Italy’ LP from 1976.

I remember getting the Czech Phil record of Shostakovitch’s 7th ‘Leningrad Symphony’ with Vaclav Neumann conducting back in 1974 and it’s still a performance I enjoy, although I don’t think I had the LP copy with this cover. It was recorded in the ‘Artist House’ in 1974:

Supraphon’s Shostakovitch 7th with Vaclav Neumann.

Afterlife: Did Supraphon’s ‘A164’ go to Singapore?

The files that Blake Devitt inherited from Shep’s Derek Stoddard appear to show that the Supraphon Neve ‘A164’ was restored by Shep Associates and sold on to Kintex Studios in Singapore, as the ‘Kintex Studios’ stamp appears on one of the ‘A164’ 2-wire drawings. Is anybody able to confirm that Kintex got a restored Neve console? I’d like to have its ‘afterlife’ confirmed.

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63| 1970: ‘100 channels for the US Networks’ | ATV Elstree’s two 28-channel 8 Group Neves – ‘A177’ and ‘A258’, and the 6-mic sub-mixers – ‘A248

ATV Studios, Eldon Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, Herts.

The Elstree ATV Studios in 1961.
Drawing via TVstudiohistory.co.uk

We have already looked at Lew Grade’s Associated Television studios in Birmingham, but his biggest production centre was just to the north of London, at Elstree. Grade had taken over the National Films site, owned by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in 1958 and built 3 large TV studios during 1960 and their existing 34-channel Pye sound consoles now needed replacing.

ATV opted for refitting two of the studios with Neve consoles and presumably because of space constraints they order 24-channel consoles, but followed a similar ‘wrap-around’ style to that previously employed by ATV’s Pye consoles.

One of the Pye 34 Channel consoles in ATV Studio B at Elstree, that the 1970 Neves were to replace.
Photo: From an EMT catalogue in 1968.

The undated Neve layout drawing shows how the three sections would become a ‘wrap-around’ design.

The first of the two ATV Elstree Neve consoles was ‘A177’, and a Neve ‘General Assembly’ drawing showing its basic layout was dated 17th June 1970 and with another Neve ‘2-wire’ drawing dated just a month later, it appears although it was an innovative ‘wrap-around’ console, the initial design work was fairly quick. The first drawings show that the desk was designed to be split into three main sections and the plan-view above showed how it would be assembled with it the two infill panels:

The ’24-channel’ Neve in one of the two ATV studios, showing its final high channel count – 104 inputs!.

Below is the Neve block diagram which shows us the facilities ATV had designed into their two consoles:

ATV Neves had two outside sections with twelve channels in each and a centre section with the eight Groups, the Main Ops and it also four additional channels designated ‘independent channels’ This was an idea directly imported from their previous Pye consoles, which had most channels feeding only to their dedicated groups, and the extra ‘independent channels’ going straight to the Main Op. In the implementation that Neve gave ATV, the four independent channels routed to the two Stereo Groups and thence to the Mono Main Op.
So the ATV Neves were actually 28-channel desks, although as we’ll see this channel-count was soon considerably augmented.

ROGER KNIGHT – ATV SOUND DIRECTOR:
“One important thing to note was that the console ran at -4dBm, as it was deemed that the standard Neve headroom was insufficient. This meant that the 8 limiter/compressor scales were incorrect and anything inserted mid channel was a -4dBm.”

JOHN TURNER:
“Headroom was always a problem for live broadcast consoles where there was no second chance as in music recording and mix engineers needed to be able to have a much larger dynamic range available on the input faders. It was explained to me that however careful they were with setting rehearsal levels when it came to the “live” situation everyone spoke, sang or played louder and so the mix engineer needed to be able to pull back (or BBC push up!) the fader more than you would need on a music recording console.
From the drawings of the ATV console it looks to me as though they had 30dB of headroom through the console as opposed to the more normal 26dB. This would explain the 2254 Lim/Comp meter comments. The maximum drive before clipping was quoted as being +26dBm but actually achieved typically +27.5dBm. i.e. 26dB’s above PPM “4”.
i.e With the channel amp input sensitivity switch set to “0”, with a 1kHz sine wave input of “0dBm”, the channel output insert point would normally be at “0dBm”. The Channel maximum output is +26dBm and so you have 26dB headroom.”

Here is the final test results for the 2nd ATV console, ‘A258’, which show peak levels through the combined mic/line input when set at -20dBm gain, which are +27dBm or above on the ‘Clean Feeds’ (ie Groups), the Auxes and the Outputs.

Neve’s test results for ‘A258’.

63a| The Neve 1070 and 1070L Mic-amp Modules

‘A177’ and ‘A258’ had Neve 1070L Mic-amps, which was a revised version of an existing 1070 module, and the ‘L’ was because it was a ‘long version’ (ie 12″ and not 8.75″) of that existing 1070.
Here’s a page from the 1066 Channel Amplifier Brochure of 1970, with the 1070 mic-amp along with its sibblings, shown down on the bottom right……as an 8.75″ module with dual concentric controls:

Note that the 1070 had no ‘Line’ on the Gain knob, showing it was a ‘TV module’ with a single Mic/Line input and was to superceed the 1063, but with 1066 module’s EQs.

Neve 1070L Mic-amps.
Photo: Brendan Lynch

Like the 8.75 inch 1070, the 12 inch 1070L also lacks any ‘Line’ gain position. The LF frequencies here have a change of 220Hz, instead of the 210Hz shown on the 1070 drawing above; almost certainly a drawing mistake.

JOHN TURNER:
“The 1070/L number was first recorded in the handwritten original module register on 07/05/1969 the 1070/L circuit was initially drawn on 15/07/1970 just about 1 year after the 1063 it replaced.

NEVE 1070L:
Drawing No: EH/10020/L
Date: First drawing 01/04/69
Front Panel: ML60608
Special Features: TV module with no separate Line input / transformer. Supercedes 1063.
Length: 12″

Circuit boards: BA183/BA184 later BA284/283AV, B181, B182,B205
Rear Connector: 1 x 18 Amphenol
HF – Continuously variable 10k
MF – Left to right- KHz 0.7, 1.2, 2.4, 3.8, 7.0, OFF
LF – Left to right- Hz 220, 100, 60, 35, OFF
HpF – Left to right- Hz 360, 160, 70, 45, OFF


The 1070L has the same frequencies as the 1066, but obviously didn’t need dual-concentric pots and no ‘Line’ position on the Main Gain knob. Although TV used lots of line-input sources, these were brought into the same input as the mics and relied on the input transformer and circuitry being able to cope with line-level inputs.
The 15-way Amphenol of the 1063 had been replaced by an 18-way with the 1064 module and the 1070 and 1070L had the bigger connector as well.

Neve 1070L Mic-amp circuit
The left-hand 12-channel unit in close-up, showing the 1070L and the 1934 switching module.

The Channel Switching Units here are a specialist TV module,the 1934, which have 8 Group switches, 3 ‘Echos’, 1 ‘FB’ and 1 ‘PA’, with a ‘Solo’ key switch. At the bottom is a fine gain control giving +/- 5dB.
This additional fine gain control was favoured by some TV mixers as it helped with the frequent gain changing that can occur in broadcasting, particularly with ‘chat mics’. It was first seen on the Granada Neve ‘67111’ console back in 1968.

JOHN TURNER:
“On the 1934, the level control also has switch, I think in the minimum level anti-clockwise position. The level control directly feeds main output 1&2 mix busses, bypassing the groups giving a very simple stereo feed.”

Neves ‘A177’ and ‘A258’ Groups and Monitoring Centre Section

The ATV consoles also had a very ‘bespoke’ centre section, as this layout diagram shows:

Undoubtably a preliminary Neve drawing from June 1970, it has the channel mic amps labelled ‘1070’ with no ‘L’, and the four independent channels with amps labelled ‘1063L’. Someone spotted this at some later time and circled the ‘1063L’ with a query against it, and had also highlighted the ‘1070L’ on those channels in the Neve 2-wire drawing.

The centre Groups, Ops and Monitor section. Note the banks of small sub-mixers which we will look at later.


Looking at the upstand of the centre section; on the left are the PPMs for the 8 Groups. These can be switched to also show the 8-track tape returns. The large Ernest Turner PPMs are for ‘Monitor/ Stereo 1/ Stereo 2 and Mono’. The latter is mounted on a white panel to differentiate it.
On the right are PPMs for ‘Echo 1, 2 and 3 and FB and PA’.
The 8 Groups have at the top, a selector for either ‘Stereo OP 1 or 2’ and a pan-pot. Therefore the channels can not be panned across the Stereo OPs, but the Groups can be.
TV in the UK was not stereo at this time and it was assumed that there was limited need for full stereo selection. Each Group does have a ‘Clean Feed OP‘ and it is fitted with a gain pot at the bottom of the unit, corresponding to the Fine Trim on the Channels, and interestingly a fixed low pass filter, which would limit the HF in some way.
Beneath the Op selectors are meters for each of the 2254/A Limiter/compressors, which are ‘normalled’ post-fader to the Groups. As the 2254/As are mounted in the two 12-channel sections, these give a direct visual display for them and Limiter ‘In/Out’ keys are fitted beneath the meters.
Next down are the Switching Units for the Groups, which are the same 1920s as on the channels
, with selection to the other Groups and the 3 ‘Echos’, the single ‘FB’ and single ‘PA’.

To the right of the Groups come the four ‘Independent Channels’ and these have the same Output Switching selectors as the Groups, along with the pan-pot and these ‘Independents’ also have 1070L Mic Modules. So they could cope with both Mic or Line inputs directly feeding to the Stereo Outputs. A new Group Selection Unit, the 1921 was fitted to the four ‘Independents’ that allowed switching to the 3 ‘Echos’, ‘PA’ and ‘FB’ and the ‘Solo’ output and a ‘Clean Feed Op’ with the gain pot and LF Filter again.

The ‘Stereo Op 1’ and ‘Op 2’ faders are on the far side of the Monitor Panel, and are fitted with two more 1921 Switching Units, and therefore can also feed to the 3 ‘Echos’, the ‘FB’ and ‘PA’, plus a gain pot and LF Filter.

The ‘Solo’ function on the desk wasn’t logic or relay switched to the Monitor Speakers but had to be manually selected, making ‘Solo‘ a two-button operation.

Between the Independent Faders and the Stereo Group Faders are a pair of large panels. The upper one is the ‘ATV Comm Unit and Picture Monitor Selector’ shown in the desk layout drawing which was obviously designed by ATV, although it seems to have incorporated some Neve Switching including the camera selection for the two ‘Telephone Distort Units’ that were fitted to slave ‘telephone type EQ’, via a pair of 2067 EQs, to the camera cuts during studio dramas programmes.
Beneath it is the console Monitor Selection Panel, shown in detail in this drawing:

The Monitor Selection Panel.

The usual broadcast safety interlocking was provided by the ‘Reh/Studio On Air/Line Up’ switching at top left. This stopped any inadvertent switching of Tone to Line, or TB across the Ops during ‘TX’.
The ‘Band Room’ was a sound-only studio for music pre-recording or live bands during TV shows.
The other facilities on this are obvious, but note the ‘C/F’ or ‘Tape’ selector on the right for toggling between the Group Ops (Clean Feed) or the 8-Track Tape Returns.
TV sound control rooms always have lots of separate TB inputs and here we see the studio floor sound (‘Boom’), and the Musical Director (‘MD’), who was either on the floor below with a live band or in the Band Room. Also here are the very important Directors TB in the Production Gallery (‘Prod’), and the studio Floor Manager (‘FM’) controlling the studio below.
The TV Sound Mixer; called the ‘Sound Director’ by ATV, could likewise talk to all these plus loudspeakers in the ‘Band Room’ and ‘Studio’.

63b| The Neve 6-channel B002 Sub-mixers – ‘A248’

The ATV Neves weren’t just 24 channels, plus the 4 ‘independents’, but in the large photo I showed at the beginning you can see six further little 6-channel sub-mixers on either side, stacked up on each of the infill sections, giving a total of twelve of the 6 channel units for each console.
That’s seventy-two additional mic channels per mixer. These desks could accept 104 mic inputs!
You might ask why in 1970 anybody would want 104 inputs; perhaps it was just to have ‘the biggest’? ATV’s boss Lew Grade made big shows for the US Networks and perhaps he thought the shows would get ‘that big’!

The 6-channel mixers were given Neve project number ‘A248’ and since the drawings for them are dated 19/05/71 it looks like they came after the first ATV console ‘A177’ was designed, and despite their ‘A’ number they also followed the second console ‘A258’ which has drawings dated 19/03/71.

Close-up one of the 6-channel mixers
The simple circuit of the B002 mic amp

ROGER KNIGHT – ATV Sound Director:
“Each ‘brick’ sub-mixer had 6 mic/line inputs, 2 groups, rotary faders, a solo key and headphone monitoring, I can’t recall a time when more than 6 sub-mixers were used.”

These sub-mixers only have a ‘single-stage’ mic amp giving 50dB gain, but would be fine for sub-mixing strings, or a woodwind or brass section, and of course the audience mics. You’d then bring them up on to a main channel to have access to overall EQ etc.

TED SCOTT-ATV Sound Director on a Liberace TV Special:
“After the very first concert spot, Lee (Liberace) was invited up to the sound control for a replay. the brocade suits were heavy and even the walk up the sound stairs was arduous. My sound console was a hundred-channel Rupert Neve desk. To reach both ends of the desk, a sliding chair had been installed on a six-foot track. When playing back the first concert spot, Lee sat in this chair and after joyfully sliding himself from side to side, greatly admired the desk, likening it to a Boeing 747 flight deck. I remarked that there were only two 100 channel desks in the whole world, and he quickly interrupted saying, ‘I know, and you’ve got both of them’. He beat me to it.”

[1]

Mixing a music show on the ATV Neves

Setting up for mixing a typical ‘Light Entertainment’ music show at Elstree was typically like this:
ROGER KNIGHT:
“The desk was used in the following way for music.
Strings were spread across 2 sub-mixers of violins and viola/cellos, and then returned onto 2 channels – selected onto Group 1.
5 Saxes submixed to a channel – selected to Group 2.
4 Trumpets on 2 mics, and 4 Trombones on 2 mics, sub-mixed onto 2 channels – selected to Group 3.
Guitar and Piano on desk channels – selected to Group 4.
Percussion to a sub-mixer, onto a channel – also selected to Group 4.
Bass to a desk channel – selected to Group 5.
Snare drum to a desk channel – selected to Group 6.
Toms and Overheads submixed and onto a desk channel – also selected to Group 6.
Backing Vocals to desk channels – selected to Group 7.
Main vocals to desk channels – selected to Group 8.
Orchestra Echo (EMT plate) – returned to Independent Channel 1.
Vocal Echo (EMT plate) – returned to Independent Channel 2.
Audience on 6 mics, submixed and returned to Independent 4.
The Studer A80 8-track was fed from the Group outputs for recording.
When 16-track arrived a way was devised to get a form of ‘in-line monitoring’ by feeding from the Pre-fader Outputs of the channels and returning the tape output back to the fader. It was tricky to get the levels right, but it worked.
Monitoring was originally on the floor mounted Lockwoods, but before long these were replaced by Radford amped KEF LS5 speakers (the BBC and ITV preferred speakers), which were wall mounted.”

ROGER KNIGHT:
“One very strange thing about ATV was that the decision was made, I presume by common consent, that there would be only one microphone type used, the AKG C-451. We had hundreds, all the different versions, even ones for use in the Fisher Booms.
I feel sorry for the snare drum mic on session drummer Ronnie Verrall’s kit – it didn’t even have a pad on it!
We still had the usual mics that predated the 451 era; C-28’s, C-12s, C-414s, D-20s, D-25s, D-24s, D-202s, KM-54s, Philips etc. But they gathered dust on the shelf whilst the C-451 ruled.”

Some shows mixed on the ATV Elstree Neves

In addition to the programmes he made for the UK ITV Network at Elstree, Lew Grade had been producing shows for the major US Networks since the early 60’s, and many major American artists passed through his studios. Prior to the ITV introducing PAL colour cameras, Lew had made the US shows in NTSC and his two new Neve sound desks in Studios C and D were the ones working on both his US programmes and the UK ones.
Ted Scott certainly recalled a series that used the ‘full desk’:

TED SCOTT – ATV SOUND DIRECTOR:
“Val Doonican boarded the ATV ship after a successful period at the BBC. He was extremely easy to work with and took a surprisingly great interest in the sound control room; apparently, this did not happen at the beeb. All the shows went out ‘live’ with The Jack Parnell Orchestra being under the direction of Val’s own MD Kenny Woodman. One particular programme I remember used the entire facilities of the Rupert Neve 100 channel sound desk. The band took up some 35 channels, the audience reaction microphones another 12, floor microphones and booms another half dozen. Acker Bilk and his band were guest stars using another 15 channels. On this show the Jack Parnell Orchestra would have to dash out from the band room during the commercial break and appear on stage for the finale, so another 35 channels used up, and probably quite a few pounds lost among the orchestral members in the race to Studio D from C band room, some fifty yards, many carrying their instruments.”


“The Julie Andrews Christmas Show 1973 starred Peter Ustinov as Father Christmas. It featured a 60-piece orchestra playing arrangements by Andre Previn. For this show, Julie’s new musical director was Ian Fraser, replacing the famed Nelson Riddle.
We finished the show with Peggy Lee singing ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ in an aeroplane set. After the wrap, we started the sound-mix ready to layback to VTR, working through the night for next day’s transmission. At well past midnight, the door to our control room opened and Julie appeared with a huge tray of sandwiches and flasks of coffee.”


“Other American producers came to ATV and many of these shows were never transmitted in Britain.
Two guys who kept the talent perpetually happy, and the crews, was the remarkable team of Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion responsible for many great shows emanating from Elstree between 1969 and 1977.
They included:
The Copycats Series, starring Frank Gorshin and Richard Little. Probably two of the finest impressionists ever.
The Herb Alpert Specials.
Burt Bacharach Specials.
Barbra Streisand and Other Musical Instruments.
Ann-Margaret Olsen Special and the Ann-Margaret Smith Special.
Sammy Davis Special.
Julie Andrews and Jackie Gleason Special.
Julie and Dick (Van Dyke) in Covent Garden.
Julie’s Favourite Things with Peter Ustinov.
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme – Gershwin and Cole Porter Specials.”
[1]

Ted Scott at one of the ATV Neves.

Ted hard at work. In the background on the left is a ‘PEG’ (Programme Effects Generator) machine. These were adaptions of the Mellotron that used short duration pre-recorded cartridges for fast triggering of sound FX.

In 1975 Ted was sound mixer on Peter Pan, in which Mia Farrow starred. Here’s the front of the script with the amazing cast list:

TED SCOTT:
“J.M. Barrie’s classic tale Peter Pan had been a regular Christmas Special diet in the US. Starring Mary Martin and originally made in the 1950s, the production was considered good enough to continually repeat year after year. Gary and Dwight decided to break with tradition and update the show sponsored by Hallmark Cards. It would star Mia Farrow as Peter Pan, Danny Kaye as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, Paula Kelly as Tiger Lily, Virginia McKenna as Mrs. Darling and Briony McRoberts as Wendy. John Gielgud would narrate the two-hour production. Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse would write an original composition of songs”.

“A challenge for me was that for the first time ever, we would be involved in a stereo production. This entailed a large orchestra recorded onto multi-track with sufficient tracks left to add artistes’ voices later. The show went out in the States with the option for viewers to tune in to their local radio stations to hear the stereo mix whilst watching their mono televisions. Apparently this was a great success. This was 1975, long before television transmission could handle stereo sound.”[X]

There’s the full ‘long version’ of this Peter Pan on YouTube, but the VHS copy is very ‘lo-fi’. It’s worth a look by skipping through it to see Mia and Danny Kaye though. (Alas we can’t avoid Ads on YouTube any longer it seems!)

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TED SCOTT:
” ‘The 1977 Bing Crosby Merrie Olde Christmas’ was a different kettle of fish. The Gary Smith/Dwight Hemion well-oiled production machine took over. Starring David Bowie, Stanley Baxter, Ron Moody, Twiggy, the Crosby Family and the Trinity Boys Choir”.

Halfway through the show, David Bowie popped in to sing ‘Little Drummer Boy’ with Bing at the piano. Several months later, a record company enquired whether the master tape could be used to release a record in time for Christmas. I went to the sound store where the master tapes were kept to discover that the sound 16-tracks and quarter-inch tapes had been erased. As a result of this the record company decided to use my on-line mix with Bing and David Bowie’s voices picked up via the boom. The record had to be transcribed from a quarter inch tape recording that I had saved. It got to number one that Christmas, number two the following Christmas and still in the charts years later. Where is my Gold disc EMI?” [1]

There was more to the meeting of Bowie and Bing than is obvious from the above clip. It’s worth looking it up on ‘Google’, as Bowie arrived but had initially decided he didn’t want to do the song. Bing infact was pretty ill and only lived another 5 weeks.

In an interview with Billboard in 1978, the producers admitted that the pairing of Crosby and Bowie was more about looking for demographics than anything else, as was the decision to shoehorn-in Bowie’s solo performance of his new single, “Heroes”. [2]

THE MUPPETT SHOW:
“The series originated as two pilot episodes produced by Henson for ABC in 1974 and 1975. While neither episode was moved forward as a series and other networks in the United States rejected Henson’s proposals, British producer Lew Grade expressed enthusiasm for the project and agreed to co-produce The Muppet Show for the British channel ATV. Five seasons, totalling 120 episodes, were broadcast on ATV and other ITV franchises in the United Kingdom and in first-run syndication in the United States from 1976 to 1981.”
(Wikipedia)

ROGER KNIGHT:
“The Muppet Show  was always recorded in Studio D as the Muppet workshop was in a disused bandroom under the audience seating.
The band and any vocal pre recording was done using the main band room which was connectable to all the studio control rooms, in this case Studio D’s.

Typical fortnightly Muppet Schedule:
MONDAY- Band record 1000-1300 Monday PM any vocal pre records required, (there always were and generally ran from 1400-1900).
TUESDAY- Guest star studio recording 1000-1900.
WEDNESDAY – Any guest star items still left, and major show numbers from the Muppets 1000-1900.
THURSDAY – Remainder of the show, links, generic items (like Swedish Chef, Pigs in Space, At the Dance, Statler and Waldorf) 1000-1900.
FRIDAY, SATURDAY and SUNDAY- off mostly.
MONDAY – Dub the edited US version 1000-2000.
THURSDAY – Lunch meeting for the next show.
FRIDAY – Dub UK version and compile M&E for foreign sales.”

Roger Knight at the desk in Studio D.
Photo: via Roger Knight

“Ted and I alternated, I worked generally with Phil Casson and Ted with Peter Harris. The shows were produced weekly so Ted would be in the studio whilst I was dubbing and visa versa. Other productions were often thrown in mid week during dub week. We recorded 26 episodes each year for 5 years, Jim Henson always said it would run 5 years – 2 to get known – 2 at the top and 1 tailing off – then finish!
Up to the point I left ATV/Central there were no shows produced in stereo for broadcast. But there were several spinoff record albums, Barbra Streisand, Sammy Davis and three Muppet Albums all remixed to stereo from the original tapes.”

There was music in every Muppett Show and a ‘special guest’ of course. Here’s an excerpt that Roger Knight pointed out to me, from 16th September, 1978 with Helen Reddy, in which ‘Roger the Engineer’ was wonderfully portrayed in typical Henson fashion!

There’s an apperance of a sound mixing console there, but it wasn’t a Neve, just a ‘side-car’ from one of the earlier Pye desks, now redundant that had been used in the ATV OB Units 7 & 8, which usually did the Palladium Show. The mics are indeed all AKG C-451’s as Roger Knight has mentioned.

The Beeb take over Elstree, but the Neves stay put – for a while

ATV was effectively booted out of Elstree as the IBA administrators wanted the company to concentrate on their Midlands contract, and morphed them into a new identity as Central TV in 1982.
Elstree studios closed in July 1983 and remained mothballed for awhile until the BBC took them over. Here’s a BBC photo of the Neve in Studio ‘C’, as it was when BBC Projects surveyed the studios in 1984. The dark panels at the side must be to blankout the windows.
Note the presence now of 16 PPM’s across the centre upstand.


The BBC decided to recommission Studio C’s for Eastenders, but without investing in major equipment purchases and brought some very old EMI 2001 cameras and some vision gear from Television Centre, and the original ATV Neve was given a good clean by BBC Project Engineer Dave Proctor and pressed back into service. Studio D remained in a ‘training role’.

A BBC Sound Supervisor remembers:
“The BBC inherited early Neve desks when they moved into the ex-ATV studios at Elstree in 1985. We used them for Eastenders in Studios C & D.  I remember Studio D had 16 track feeds with Limiter/Compressors in each!

A very comprehensive history of the Elstree TV Studios can be found at Martin Kempton’s great website tvstudiohistory.co.uk. There is by the way, also a large completely seperate film studio complex at Elstree.

Afterlife: A new home for Neve ‘A258’

BRENDAN LYNCH – LYNCHMOB STUDIO, SCRUBBS LANE, LONDON:
My Neve is A258 made for ATV in 1970. It came from Elstree and it was renovated by a company called Phoenix Audio in 1997. It was a wrap around desk when I took it from Elstree. I asked Phoenix to keep the wrap around sections but somehow they misplaced  them.

The Neve in the Lynchmob Studio.
Photo: Brendan Lynch.

Brendan’s restored ‘A258’ with the two 12-channel sections joined, with some additional channels at the end along with a new monitoring section.
Here’s how Phoenix described the ex-ATV Neve when threy worked on it:

Blake Devitt now looks after this console when Brendan has the need.

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64| 1970: ‘The biggest contract of 1970’ | The Irish RTÉ Neves -‘A184’ to ‘A194’

Radio Telefis Éireann, Donnybrook 4, Dublin, Eire

The national broadcaster in Ireland, Radio Telefis Éireann ordered a whole group of consoles from Neve in 1970, to equip the new Radio and TV broadcast centre being built on a new site outside Dublin at Donnybrook. The news clip mentions a total of 25 consoles, and we only are here able to give details of some of them, but Neve certainly got going on these fairly complicated desks soon enough however constant delays meant the Donnybrook centre was still a few years away from final completion.

The Radio Telefis Éireann Donnybrook Radio Centre in the early 1970s

WIKIPEDIA:
“The largest, Studio 1, is 340sq metres and at 10m high it reaches to the top of building. This studio was designed for live orchestral performances and other large productions, and incorporates an elevated audience seating area. The other twelve studios are grouped around Studio 1 and a small courtyard which extends up through the building giving daylight to the below ground corridors and control rooms.”

From Studio Sound April 1974

The first RTÉ Neve consoles

The RTÉ Neves were fairly similar in layout and incorporated a complicated talk-back system that Neve built for them, along with a 10-way ‘Outside Broadcast’ phone panel, plus remote controls for tape-decks. Here’s a look at each of these desks in the initial order:

Neve ‘A184’ and ‘A186’ – 24-Channel 4 Group – for Studios 9 and 10:

Neves ‘A184’ and ‘A186’ were 24-channel 4 Group consoles for the Donnybrook Studios 9 and 10 and were designated by RTÉ as ‘Type B1’ and ‘Type C1’.

Neve ‘A185’ – 24-Channel 8 Group ‘Music Console’ – for Studio 1:

‘A185’ was a 24-channel 8 group, but fitted with 20-channels when supplied as in the Neve factory photo below and almost certainly went to the Light Entertainment and Classical Music Studio 1 and another similar desk to the other music studio, Studio 8 doing pop work. There are more details on these two studios further down this article.

Neve ‘A185’

Neve ‘A185’, pictured at the Neve Melbourn factory before delivery. Here’s a closer look at the centre section of ‘A185’:

Centre section of the ‘music console’ ‘A185’

‘A185’ and its sister console in Studio 8 were 8-track music desks, but still fitted with most of the RTÉ ‘radio studio’ equipment panels.

Extreme left is the extensive Talkback selection panel along with some remote controls. The four Echo Returns have 2068 EQs and Switching Units above the 4 white Echo channel faders. There are then 8 channels with 1066 Mic-amps, plus blank panels for 4 more channels, along with all their 1934 Switching Units, which have the 8 ‘Groups’, 2 ‘Echos’, 2 ‘FB’ and 2 ‘PAs’ plus ‘PFL’ and ‘Cut’ buttons at the bottom.
As these are ‘broadcast’ consoles that wouldn’t require just mic inputs, as they’d need to accomodate additional ‘disc’, ‘tape’ and ‘OB’ sources, so the channels all have ‘input selection switches’ above each one, which allow a choice of 2 Mics or 2 Line inputs feeding into the 1066s.

Here’s a more detailed view:
The upstand has blanks for a further pair of 2254/As and on the right of the TB loudspeaker is one of a pair of 1766 Stereo Width Controls, the other being on the left beyond the PPMs. The 1766s allowed a stereo pair of mics to be panned both together and to have a wider or narrower image operated by a pair of controls labelled ‘Offset’ and ‘Width’
. I think this is the first time we’ve seen a Neve console fitted with them.
The 8 Group PPMs are small Ernest Turner’s, with 3 bigger recessed dual-movement Stereo PPMs labelled ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘Aux’.
Beyond the ‘PFL’ loudspeaker is an illuminated ‘Line-Up’ push button operating relay switching, and then the two 2254/A Comp/Lims initially supplied with the desk.
The next set of 1066 Mic-amps have the additional ‘Input Switches’ mentioned above and Channels 23 and 24 on the right each also have a further push-button labelled ‘Duplex A’ and ‘Duplex B’. This appears to be a way of routing the ‘PFL’ bus through the inputs for a pair of channels and then out to a ‘Studio Loudspeaker’. Perhaps to enable conversations between Presenters and an ‘OB’.
Under the 8 small PPMs are individual selectors for ‘Group’ or ‘Tape Out’. Radio Studio consoles usually had a method of muting the ‘Studio Loudspeaker’ feed as the Presenters mic fader was lift off ‘the bottom stop’. This enabled the studio to hear the outgoing programme on a speaker without everyone having the wear ‘cans’.
4 green and 4 red indicator lights are on the panel under the ‘Meter’ selectors and the small square white panel appears to be a pair controls for an AKG C-24 stereo mic, giving switchable pattern of ‘omni’ through to ‘fig-of eight’, via ‘cardioid’ of course. I’ve never seen such a panel mounted remote on a mixer like this before, but it certainly would make changing the pattern on your C-24 a great deal easier than having to do it out on the mics power-supply unit!
The 8 green Group faders have the same 1934 Switching Units above each one. Like the 1917 Switching Units on the other RTÉ desks, it’s interesting to note that beneath the 8 group switches on these 1934 is a ‘Pan’ control, plus another rotary gain pot that directly feeds to channel or groups out to ‘Stereo OP1’ and ‘OP2’. The gain pot is fitted with an ‘on’ switch as you turn it from the bottom position.

RTÉ Music Studios 1 and 8:

An article in Studio Sound in April 1974, when the Radio Centre was nearing completion, gave us the following information on the Donnybrook Studio 1 and its Neve ‘A185’:

And Studio 8 was given this description:

From Studio Sound April 1974.

Neves ‘A188’, ‘A189’ and ‘A192’ – 18-channel 2 Group – for Studios 5, 6 and 7:

These three consoles for Studios 5, 6 and 7 and were designated ‘Type D’.

An RTE ‘Type D’.
Photo: Studio Sound April 1974.

The photo above shows an 18-4 in an RTE ‘multipurpose studio’ with a row of EMT 930 turntables in the background.

The first 2 inside pages of the Neve 18-channel 2 Gp.’Type D’ Manual

The Neve Manual above shows the modules used and these had 1066s and a pair of Switching Modules, the 1918 and 1927 and the Echo’s had 2068 EQs and the outputs were finally sent via 1276 DA’s.

Neve ‘A187’ – 18-channel 4 Group – ‘Type C2’:

‘A187’ was an 18-channel 4 Group and designated the ‘Type C2’.
Here’s how the desk was laid out.

The ‘General Assembly’ drawing for ‘A187’ – drawn on the last day of 1970.

The RTÉ Neves were for a variety of radio studios, and this drawing showing the layout of ‘A187’ illustrates some of the features that RTÉ had incorporated into their Neves.
The mic input channels are split into two sections, with 10 on the left and a further 8 more centrally, and again all have the ‘input selection switches’ for choice of 2 mics and 2 line inputs, and Channels 17 and 18 both have the additional input labelled ‘Duplex’.
In the upstand above Channels 11 and 12 is a 1766 Stereo Width Control, giving widening or narrowing of the stereo image and also there’s a patchable 1276 Telephone Hybrid for ‘On Air Phone’ contributions.
The mic-amps are again 1066s and the Switching Units are 1917s. This switching unit provides routing to the ‘Groups 1, 2 3 and 4’, ‘Echo Sends 1 and 2’, each with a gain pot, and ‘PA Sends 1 and 2’, also with separate gain pots, plus a ‘PFL‘ OP and a jackfield Channel Output.
Beside the first 10 channels are the four Group faders, with the same 1917 switching units above them. The Group 1917s also route to ‘Main OP1’ and ‘OP2’. These Main OPs have a master change-over relay to switch each to a ‘Standby Main OP 1 & 2’ with the same Main Faders still in circuit. Above the Groups are a bank of ‘Grams’ indicator lights and a panel of labelled on the drawing as ‘Polar Controls’.
The Main OPs each have a pair of 1276 Sound Distribution Amps giving a feed to ‘Transmission’, 3 to ‘Recording’ and 3 to ‘Monitoring’ destinations.
The centre unit is taken up with a custom made 24-way Monitoring selector.
PPM 1 on the desk is a Twin-Stereo PPM, PPM2 is a Twin M&S PPM and PPM3 is an ‘Auxiliary PPM’ reading the output of the 24-way Monitoring selector bank.

Perhaps this console was for the radio centre’s ‘Drama Studio’:

From Studio Sound April 1974

Radio drama was still popular in the ’70s and was produced ‘BBC Style’ in a medium sized studio with some different acoustic treatments, so that a fairly dead sounding ‘living room’ could be contrasted to say a more lively ‘kitchen’ or ‘bathroom’ area, without resorting to using reverberation devices unless absolutely necessary. There would also a ‘very dead’ zone (if possible) to simulate exteriors.

The actors ‘worked’ to fixed mics, typically a stereo-pair of fig-of-8s, and the actors moved into and out of the mics to simulate the desired movements. As many ‘live’ sound effects were added at the time as possible, and a nearby cupboard housed a wide variety of practical Fx items, such as dummy doors with locks and handles etc and crockery, cutlery ….all the equipment required to build a realistic background as the actors were reading their lines into the main mics.
Hey, ‘The Archers’ on Radio 4 is still being done this way today, as it has been since 1951!

The Radio and TV control circuits:

Radio operations are complicated by the frequent additional requirements to integrate with Outside Broadcasts, news or topical inserts from elsewhere inserts or including contributions from phone calls. ‘Studio Sound’s’ article of April 1974 contained the following detailed explanation of the control circuits in Donnybrook :

And some more on the Outside Broadcast circuits incorporated into the desks:

From Studio Sound April 1974

RTÉ Donnybrook in the 70s

“In September 1973 RTÉ Radio began live broadcasts from Montrose in Donnybrook, Dublin. The first scheduled programmes were ‘Rogha Ceoil’, ‘Music on the Move’ and ‘Morning Airs’.
The new Radio Centre had been completed in April 1971, when the move began from the GPO in O’Connell Street, which had been the home of radio since 1929. The first programmes were broadcast from the new radio centre in September 1973. Apart from continuity announcements, transmissions from Henry Street had ceased by May 1974. At that stage, all but three of the thirteen new studios in Montrose were operational.”

RTÉ Archives website

“During the 1970s RTÉ would launch two new radio stations Raidió na Gaeltachta and Radio 2 and a second television channel RTÉ 2.
Technological developments saw the introduction of FM and stereo services in radio and the advent of colour television. During the 1970s RTÉ would launch two new radio stations Raidió na Gaeltachta and Radio 2 and a second television channel RTÉ 2. Technological developments saw the introduction of FM and stereo services in radio and the advent of colour television.
As violence increased in Northern Ireland and the political situation became more complex Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act was invoked. 
Ireland won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in 1970 with Dana singing ‘All Kinds of Everything’. While RTÉ radio and television gave comprehensive coverage of the Papal visit in 1979.” 

RTÉ Archives website

65| 1972: ‘The Self-Op DJ consoles…that never got used‘A373 to A379’

The news item at the very beginning of this RTÉ section mentions these DJ self-op consoles.

“The installation at Donnybrook will also include five compere operating desks.
The main feature of these are pre-set controls located under lift-off panels, giving maximum script space for the operator.
A compere-operated console is already in operation in Connemara, the first local radio station in Southern Ireland.”

September 1972 news item, Beat Instrumental Magazine.

GEOFF TANNER:
“One of the ‘Compere Operated’ consoles for RTE Eire, A373 – 379.
W.G.Undrills usually made furniture for court houses, like witness box, judge benches, etc.
They also made the woodwork for Neve but it was mainly composite with a veneer on top… to keep cost down.
This beautiful piece of woodwork though was never put to use…unfortunately the unions objected to comperes putting sound engineers out of work so the consoles were put into storage and never used.


Two of the panels are removed to show the modules that the compere doesn’t touch. He just has turntables, cart machines and the faders.
The preamplifiers were 1290s, tucked away under under covers away from tampering fingers, and used 2258 ducker units to attenuate the music until the DJ stopped talking, then faded back up automatically. Pulling the the fader against the back stop sent the signal to his headphone for cueing the record.”

The completed Radio DJ installation for RTÉ

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66| 1970/71: ‘Neve break into Decca’ | Decca Record’s Neve 24-Channel 16 Group consoles –‘A199’ and ‘A325’

Decca Studios, 165 Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, London NW6 3AX and 106 Tollington Park, London N4 3RB.

The two major record companies in the UK during the ’50s and 60s were EMI and Decca and both had in-house engineering teams that built the mixing consoles used throughout their companies. It was therefore a breakthrough for an ‘outsider’ like Neve to get into these ‘big two’ recording organisations and this first came when Decca ordered a Neve console for the ‘outpost’ pop studio, Studio 4 at Tollington Park that Decca equipped in 1970. This console was a 24-channel 16 group Neve ‘A199’, and it was then followed in 1971 with a similar desk ‘A325’, for Studio 2 at Decca’s main base at Broadhurst Gardens.

Since the second desk ‘A325’ came 11 months after the first, let’s start with ‘A199‘:

1970: Neve 24-Channel 16 Group ‘A199’ for Decca Studio 4 – Tollington Park

JOHN TURNER:
“In 1970, Decca who up until this time had designed and built their own mixing consoles, placed an order with Neve for their first custom multitrack console, ‘A199’. One of the distinguishing features specified by Bob Goodman, Decca’s chief engineer, was the Decca designed Peak Programme Meters.”

The factory photo of Neve ‘A199’ before delivery to Decca at the Tollington Park studio.
The Groups and Monitor section of ‘A199’.

Decca’s ‘A199’ was being drawn up by Neve during July 1970 and it had the first Neve 1077 Mic-amps, along with the now standard 1903 Routing Modules for the 16 Groups and new 1922 Auxiliary Modules giving 6 ‘Echo’s’ plus 2 ‘FB, which I’ll detail below.
In the above close-up of the Group and Monitor section, we can see that the first 8 Groups also had the 1903 Routing Modules to all the 16 Groups and all 16 had a 1923 Monitor Module. These had selectors for 2 ‘FB’s’, 2 ‘Echo’s’ and a separate ‘Group Output’ gain pot with an unlabelled ‘Cut‘ button. Beneath these are 4 Speaker selectors with pan-pot between ‘odds and evens’ and the monitor gain control, as the Decca pop studios had Quad monitoring fitted.

We’ll look at the very specific Decca Peak Meters a bit later, and ‘A199’s’ groups had these large Decca PPMs in two rows of 8, and there was a standard switchable Aux VU meter mounted in the upstand between pairs of 2254/A Comp/Lims.

Beneath the TB Mic and the Console Loudspeaker are 3 stereo linking switches for the Comp/Lims and these include one labelled 5-6 for a unit currently left blank in the upstand. 4 EMT140 Echo Plate remote controls and an ‘Oscillator’ plus 3 1272’s for ‘Talkback’ and the 2 ‘FB’s’ are on the same panel.

The Monitor speaker gain pot above the first 8 Group Faders has a selector for ‘2T/4T’ or ’16T’ with ‘Line In/Line Out / Aux’ push-buttons. The ‘Aux’ choices are the 6 ‘Echo’s’, the 2 ‘FB’s’ and a pair of ‘Patch’ inputs. These choices are also duplicated for ‘Auxiliary Meter’, which is the central VU one with main ‘Meter’ push button selectors for ‘Line In / Line Out / Mon’.

Above the 2nd set of Group Faders are selectors for ‘Tone To Groups’, and ‘PFL / TB / Mono’ to the Console LS. Next along are the Monitor Echo Return controls with a pot and selector for ‘Return to FB’ (1 and 2). A pair of separate selectors for the 4 ‘Echo’s’ ‘1 /2/ 3/ 4’ with a ‘Send’ and the ‘Return’ plus a pan-pot is available labelled ‘Echo On Mon 1’ and ‘Echo On Mon 2’.
Finally the monitoring section has selectors for the Studio Loudspeakers in two banks, each with 4 speakers buttons and toggle switches for ‘Mon / Off / FB’ and a master ‘On’ button and big gain pot.

Many studios had individual preferences over their ‘Echo’s’ and the far right panel has the 6 Master Echo controls for both Sends and Returns, with a Group Routing Module for adding Echo to any of the 16 Groups, and a simple LF EQ switch labelled ‘OFF/40/80/160/300’ for each of the 6 Echo Returns. In addition there is a 2076 EQ Module beneath a row of Echo Send VU’s. The 2076 was a 2073 with a mix-amp fitted for the Echo Send, and therefore full EQ was fitted to the 6 Sends and a separate LF EQ to the Returns. The lower panel, beneath the 2076 EQs has six main gain pots for the master Echo sends.

66a| The Neve 1077 Mic-amp Module

NEVE 1077:
Drawing No: EH/10027
Date: First drawings 03/08/70
Front Panel: ML60692
Special Features: Mic gain -55dBm to 0dBm
Length: 8.75″ Dual Contentric controls

Circuit boards: BA283AM, BA284, BA182C, BA211, BA205, BA182C
Rear Connector: 1 x 18 Amphenol
HF – 12k stepped control
MF – Left to right- KHz 7.2k, 4.8k, 3.2k, 1.6k, 0.7k, 0.36, OFF
LF – Left to right- Hz 220, 110, 60, 35, OFF

LF -Boost and cut stepped control
HpF – Left to right- Hz 300, 160, 80, 50, OFF

JOHN TURNER:
“The 1077 was specifically for Decca and the cut and boost controls were 30 degree indexed switches. The Mic input gain stage was re-arranged to have 20dB lower than usual maximum gain. The fully clockwise setting being -55dB not the usual -80dB. The minimum mic gain setting being 0dB. I guess this was to allow them to use the high output capacitor mics without needing to pad them at the input.”

The 1077 Mic-Amp created for Decca had that change of the mic-amp gain, now going from -55dBm to 0dBm, instead of the usual -80dBm to -20dBm and omitting the intermediate ‘Off’ position.
This seems to be a very sensible gain structure for a recording studio mic-amp, as gains above about -50dBm are very rarely, if ever, required in close miking and I can remember that even C-414s or U-87s being used fairly high over a string sections would usually be set to gains of only about -40dBm.
The 1077 EQ was similar to the existing Neve 1073/1076 modules consisting of 12kHz HF, dual concentric MF of ‘0.35/0.7/1.6/3.2/7.2KHz‘, a dual concentric LF of ’35/60/110/220Hz’ and an HpF of ’50/80/160/300Hz’. The silkscreening has the ‘KHz’ and ‘Hz’ lettering repositioned incomparison with the 1073, but this differed fairly often with Neve mic-amps..
The controls for MF and LF were ‘stepped’ like the 1076, but as John points out the Neve 1077 circuit diagram states that the gain pots fitted to the HF and LF boost and cut controls were each a ’30 Deg Stepped Potentiometer’, so these used resistors to provide the click stops. More on these below.

Neve 1077 and 1073.
The Neve front panel layout drawing for the 1077

JOHN TURNER:
“According to the front panel drawing, ML60692, the screening of the graduations around the switched eq cut and boost controls are exactly the same as the graduations around the smooth potentiometer 1073 eq cut and boost controls, even though there are five switch positions for cut and five switch positions for boost.”

Neve 1077 circuit

JOHN TURNER:
“I agree that 30 degree seems very coarse, I wonder if this was to simulate an earlier Decca switched equaliser ? The only reference I have to the 30 degree indexing is whats on that circuit diagram.”

The 1077 circuit above just indicates that the HF and LF boost and cut pots are ‘stepped’, here are the Neve sketches for those 10k and 47k stepped switching used. Note that the drawings state that these are for the earlier 1066/A Mic-amps:

Neve sketches for the stepped pots in the 1077 circuits

66b| The Neve 1922 Auxiliary Switching Module

The complete channel strip of Decca ‘A199’, comprising 1903, 1077 and 1922 modules.

The other new unit is the 1922 Auxiliary Switching Module which has 2 ‘Foldbacks’ and the single Stereo ‘Echo’ selector labelled ‘1/2’ with a pan-pot along with 4 Monos ‘3-6’ with a single ‘Pre/Post’ switch and pot. There’s a ‘PFL’, but no ‘Cut’ button.

66c| The Neve 1923 Group Monitor Module

The first 8 of the 16 Neve 1923 Monitor Modules also have 1903 Routing Modules above.

At the top of the the new 1923 Monitor Module are selectors for 2 ‘FBs’ and 2 ‘Echo’s’ with their respective gain pots and beneath them an additional pair of gain pots that I’ve not seen before I think. Firstly a separate ‘Group Output’ gain pot with ‘Cut’ button and as the Monitor speakers in the Decca control rooms were configured as front and rear ‘surround’ speakers requiring two sets of speaker switches there’s then another separate gain pot and indicator, positioned above the usual monitor ‘Pan’ and the ‘Main Monitor’ gain controls.

66d| The Decca Peak Meter

The BBC weren’t the only organisation to prefer ‘peak’ reading metering and I imagine Decca must have developed their version back in the 1950’s. It was fitted to all the Decca built mixing desks, such as those fitted in the studios at Broadhurst Gardens, and to the range of ‘STORM 64’ location mixers used by the Decca Classical teams.

Decca Peak Meter in the typical ‘Ernest Turner’ form

There were certainly other styles seen on some later consoles, but this ‘Ernest Turner’ is the model fitted to both Neve ‘A199’ and ‘A325’. However some photographs do show VU’s fitted to restored Decca consoles, such as a STORM that remained at UCLA’s Royce Hall in the US.
Here’s the circuit board:

We can see that it has set level controls for the ‘0’, ‘+8’ and ‘+14’ markings and gain pot to set the input and the ‘-10’ setting. This is therefore rather similar to the logarithmic ‘tweaks’ on a typical BBC type PPM and would have had similar fast attack and slow decay time to aid reading the peak levels reached.

SIMON EADON:
“The Decca PPMs certainly had electronics that slowed the decay time of the needle. +8dBs was meant to be ‘peak’ level.  When I worked in the back rooms producing copy masters, for export to licencees, this had to be adhered to, but levels on sessions went up to +14 or even +16 -, so the HF would have been well and truly saturated.”

Decca Studio 4, Tollington Park

Neve ‘A199’ in the Studio 4 control room probably a couple of years after delivery.

The Tollington Park studio was just one of the typical Victorian Houses of this area of Hornsea. This photo from a Decca Studio brochure shows the Studio 4 Neve with a modified Producer’s TB panel and the control room has rear fitted JBL 4320 monitors, a 3M M-56 16-Track, and Scully 8 and 4-Tracks and Philips 2-Track machines. I don’t suppose the tall Dolby rack on the left would normally be pulled around quite as much as that, blocking out the rear JBL. [3]

Interior of Studio 4, with ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ areas and curtains to reduce spill between them.
Photo from Decca brochure circa 1973

1971: Neve 24-Channel 16 Group ‘A325’ for Decca Studio 2 – Broadhurst Gardens

Decca were obviously happy with their Studio 4 Neve and when Studio 2 at the main Broadhurst Gardens building required a new console, they repeated the order which became Neve ‘A325‘. There was one known modification undertaken shown in Neve drawing MM20,120 dated 09/06/71 of a revised ‘L/S and VU Meter Panel’. This allowed the fitting of two more 2254/A Comp/Lims in the upstand and the Auxiliary VU and console TB speaker were now placed on the left side:

The new panel is in the upstand above the 6 ‘Echo Send’ controls and 2076 EQs, all now mounted on the left side.

Decca Studio 2, Broadhurst Gardens

The Decca Studios in West Hampstead in 1970 comprised 3 studios and a couple of re-mix rooms plus some editing rooms. The classical and pop elements at Decca were as strongly separated as they were over at the EMI Studios, but Decca had failed to build as successful a large studio as EMI’s Studio 1 and the Decca classical crews didn’t use the biggest Studio 3 at Broadhurst Gardens preferring venue’s in London like the Kingsway Hall or out at Walthamstow Town Hall. The classical guys however still carried much of the engineering clout within the company and to get a 16-Track Neve into the Decca studios must have pleased the younger pop engineers.

Neve ‘A325’ in the Studio 2 control room
Photos from Decca Brochure from circa 1975.

Above is the original Studio 2 control room with its wooden panelling and Lockwood Major speakers.

The rack full of Dolby 361’s and the 3M M-56 and a Scully
Neve ‘A325’ in the Studio 2 control room.
Photo: via Blake Devitt

After Decca allowed ‘The Moody Blues’ to rebuild the Broadhurst Gardens Studio 1 as the ‘Threshold Studio’ with the first UK Tom Hidley Westlake stone wall finish, it was later similarly added to Studio 2. The presence of an AMS 15-80S Digital Delay in the FX rack on the far-side, dates this photo to sometime after 1978, and of course the Auratones that began to appear on console desktops as the 70’s progressed. [3]

Music from Decca’s Neves

Decca competed for with EMI, Pye and the indepandants for UK pop record sales and most of Decca’s own solo and group discs came out of Studios 2 and 4, with the big Studio 1 producing the ‘Phase 4’ hyped-up stereo discs of orchestral music.

1972- Peter Skellern “You’re A Lady” – Studio 4 Tollington Park

Despite studios moving to 16-Track in the early ’70s, many recordings were still booked in to use 8-Track, as the higher cost of 16 wasn’t seen as justified by may record companies. Here are two recordings made on the Neves at Decca that were almost certainly done on 8-track. The arrangement on Peter Skellern’s ‘You’re a Lady’ would require some recording in multiple passes and the overdubbed ‘choir’ is most likely a smaller number of singers than it sounds. They are also a bit ‘woolly’, probably from the loss of top whilst bouncing off those ‘sync heads’ on the Scully adding the additional tracks. I love the song though.

Peter Skellern’s ‘You’re A Lady’ of 1972 was memorable because of its unusual orchestration involving a brass-band and choir and Peter’s appealing rather delicate vocal.

WIKIPEDIA:
“The recording of the album commenced at Decca’s Studio 4 based in Tollington Park, London on 3 July 1972. Skellern was joined by handpicked session musicians, arranger Andrew Pryce Jackman and a choir consisting of members of The Congregation, a British pop ensemble formed by Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. The session produced three tracks: the rock and roll-flavoured “Roll On Rhoda”, “Manifesto” (recorded with the working title “Let the Tiger Roar”) and “Apollo 11”.

The following day, the Hanwell Band was added to the lineup and “You’re A Lady” was recorded in six takes. Skellern sought to recapture the “speechless amazement” he felt playing in the National Youth Brass Band in his youth by using the brass band on the record. He also wanted the song to evoke the North of England, saying “I wanted people to see the wet cobblestones and the Lowry paintings when they heard “You’re a Lady”. 
Recording continued on 7 August, this time at Decca Studio 2 in West Hampstead. This session produced “Every Home Should Have One”, and “Our Jackie’s Getting Married”. The latter song’s lyrics are written from the perspective of the titular Jackie, addressing his lover and telling her of the commotion he anticipates there will be when he tells his family about his plans to marry her. One verse has Jackie mimicking his mother’s excited reaction to the news. Musically, the song incorporates an off-key piano and a brass-band, which Skellern said nostalgically reminded him of a Northern wedding. Towards the end, a brief excerpt from Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March”played on the Guildford Cathedral organ momentarily interrupts all other instrumentation. Another feature is a ‘wound-up choir’, a favourite studio effect of Skellern’s. This effect was achieved by recording the choir at a slower speed making it sound higher and faster on normal speed playback.”

I can imagine the brass band in that ‘hard area’ of Studio 4 with Andrew Jackman conducting.

Peter Skellern “You’re A Lady”– Decca 1972
Album credits-Engineers: Dave Grinstead/John Burns/Martin Smith/Dave Baker (Asst) Producer: Peter Sames Arranger: Andrew Pyrce Jackman

Peter had progressed from playing in the National Youth Brass Band to studying at piano The Guildhall School of Music. He wrote “You’re A Lady” in Dorset whilst living in Shaftesbury and working as a hotel porter.

1973 – Thin Lizzy “Whiskey In the Jar” – Studio 2 Broadhurst Gardens

Here’s another as yet unsuccessful band that was done on 8-track. The credits for the album list Alan Harris who was at AIR Studios, as being involved but the final mix was by Derek Varnals at Decca.

CHAS De WHALLEY INTERVIEWING PRODUCER NICK TAUBER
INTERNATIONAL MUSICIAN AND RECORDING WORLD – MARCH 1986:
Strangely enough, Thin Lizzy’s first blockbuster “Whiskey In The Jar”, was never on an album. As a single, of course, it cracked the Top Ten in 1973 and has remained a classic ever since, still sounding as good on the radio today as it did all those years ago. Tauber produced it on eight track at the Decca West Hampstead studio in Broadhurst Gardens. He remembered it had taken them little more than two days to record and mix.

AUDIO:

Thin Lizzy –“Whiskey In The Jar” – Decca 1973
Studio 2 Broadhurst Gardens. Producer: Nick Tauber Engineers on the album “Vagabonds Of the Western World”: Kevin Fuller (Decca), Alan Harris (AIR) and Remix by Derek Varnals (Decca).

NICK TAUBER :
“We did Vagabonds Of The Western World” at Decca in Tollington Park. I reckon that was their best first album. It was at that point I feel they began to turn into a very fine band. They went on from strength to strength. Phil’s death came as a shock. I know some people say it didn’t really surprise them but it did me because last time I saw him he was in brilliant shape.”

Afterlife: Decca’s ‘A199’ in Lisbon

In September 2023 Miguel Peixoto Baptista in Lisbon told me that he’s involved in working on the Neve ‘A199’ for studio owner Joaquim Monte and which is being restored:

Subsequently Miguel has pointed me to an article which gave some details of how the first Decca Neve had arrived in Portugal and ended up at Namouche Studios in Lisbon:

PHIL NEWELL – STUDIO SOUND DECEMBER 1994:
“Serious attention to equipping the studio seems to have begun in the mid-1970s, with a new Neve 16:4 8014 console. Around 1978, a Neve Series 80 console was purchased from Decca in London. This had been extended at some point to a 30-input 24-output format, though it is unclear whether Decca did the modification, or Console Electronics prior to shipment. Subsequently, the Neve console found its way to Polysom, another studio owned by Jose Serafim and Arnoldo Trindade. In 1982, Polysom bought Radio Triunfo, complete with all its equipment.”

Phil Newell became involved in sorting out the equipment that had accumulated from a number of previous studio amalgamations when he undertook the acoustic renovation for the Namouche Studio where the Neve had ended up.

“We began with the Neve console, which was little over half functioning. Under the watchful and interested gaze of Namouche staff, we rectified fault after fault, and it soon became obvious to all that there was life in the console.”

Utilising another old console to keep continuing the studios existing ‘jingle work’ enabled  Phil to continue with restoration work on both the Neves:

“This made it possible to combine the two Neves, yielding a 46-channel mixer with 18 additional effects returns channels. I had few worries about this, as I had done a similar job when the Manor Mobile bought the Pye Recording Studios Mobile in 1974. “ (see Part Six of my Neve articles for details on this)
“The composite console was fitted with 48 channels of Necam 96 automation.”

Photo of the combined Neve 48-channel console at Namouche after Phil and Joules Newell’s rebuild in 1994.

The Broadhurst Gardens Studio 2 console moved later to the US in a new role and then back to Europe, to Rome.

‘A325’ as a film dubbing console at Sound One.
Photo via Dominick Costanzo

Dominick Costanzo:
“Sound One purchased A325 in 1983 through Malcolm Jackson. It came out of a UK Decca studio. We had it modified for film post mixing by Peter Self. Our configuration was 36 input, 16 monitor input, 16 main groups, & 8 aux groups. It was installed in Lee Dichter’s Studio D, & served us well for 5 years. “Ishtar”, “Peggy Sue Got Married”, “Working Girl”, & all of Woody Allen’s films during those years were among the films mixed on that console. It was replaced with a custom 60 + 24 input custom 51 series. A325 was sold to a film post facility in Rome, Italy in 1989.”

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67| 1971: “The Anglican Church with a Neve ….in Moscow” | Melodiya’s 24-Channel 16 Group Neve – ‘A203/S16’

A 1971 Neve console, that was for many years in Moscow, has returned to the UK and hopefully will help restore one of the most famous London studio names back to being a working recording studio location.
The story of Neve ‘A203/S16’ has been put together by John Turner, so I’ll let him tell its fascinating story
:

1971: Neve ‘A203/S16’ – to Russia and back!

JOHN TURNER:
“The story starts back in November 2017 with an email from a Sydney Sheldon in Russia to Geoff Tanner, who forwarded the email to me, together with some pictures of a mystery Neve console, from Sidney Sheldon, who I believe resided in Russia.
I contacted Sidney again and received the following details.”

SIDNEY SHELDON:
“Here are the pics. We talk this console with Geoff. He told me this one is from AIR Studios, and these photos, they are from 80s, USSR, Moscow, “Melody” studio (that was the main soviet studio back then). So I was wondering, what is the story behind this desk, how it moved from London to Moscow?
These photos are from the Melody Studio (USSR) 70-80s. It was the biggest studio in the country back then, situated in a big Anglican church. Most of the Soviet music was recorded and mixed on that console, and it sounded absolutely amazing. Interesting, how this AIR console appeared in the USSR?”

(Note from DT: The pictures Sidney forwarded seem to be some of the few available still on Russian websites showing the Melodiya Neve.)

Polish singer Anna German (centre) at the Melodiya Record Company
Anna German signs an autograph for Boris Metalnikov at the Melodiya studio
“Soloist of the Bolshoi Theater of the USSR, People’s Artist of the USSR, laureate of the State Prize of the RSFSR Vladimir Atlantov and editor Irina Orlova listening to a recording.”
– Tenor Vladimir Atlantov with Producer Irina Orlova. [4]

JOHN TURNER:
“A couple of things bothered me about Geoff Tanner’s answer and I’d come to the conclusion this was definitely NOT one of the AIR London consoles, but might have been the custom console supplied to Richard Millard at Audio International for their studio re-design in 1971. The key points for me being the table mounted sloping patch on the right hand side, the shape of the console loudspeaker panel, most often this would have been round and not oblong.”

Screen grab from a YouTube video in the Melodiya studio
The Audio International studio with Neve ‘A210’

From the days of its original installation, John knew the Neve ‘A210’ in the Audio International studio in Rodmarton Street, London, and could see that the Melodiya Neve was similar from the photographs he’d been sent by Sidney Sheldon.

JOHN TURNER:
“Then, almost by accident, I came across this picture on the newly re-born Lockwood Monitor loudspeaker site: https://www.lockwoodloudspeakers.co.uk/

JOHN TURNER:
“This picture again shows the table mounted sloping patch on the right hand side and the oblong shape of the console loudspeaker, and this picture, showing the Lockwood founder Stanley Timms, was taken in the old Melbourn Factory Studio. The label in the bottom left corner was an important key.”

The caption on the photo, long hung at Lockwood’s office

JOHN TURNER:
“I remembered that not long after the first factory extension at Melbourn was completed there was an exhibition in Russia of a complete multitrack recording studio. All the equipment was pre-assembled and tested at the Neve factory before being shipped by road to Moscow.  It included a Neve Mixing console, Lockwood Monitors, Ampex Multitrack Tape Machine and a complete set of Dolby’s plus lots of other ancillaries.
This was organised by the Neve Eastern European agent, Denis Tyler. This complete studio set up was shipped to Russia on spec without a definite sale but Dennis Tyler was certain he would get a sale.”

This was confirmed by a Neve colleague:

BETTY WATTS:
“There was a complete studio that went to Moscow thanks to Denis Tyler. No order or payment till they got it all there so risk for everyone, but he usually knew what he was doing. All loaded onto a fabric sided lorry.
Tony Cornwell went to Moscow. After they had struggled to get an Ampex machine up the stairs the Russians downed tools and refused to take the desk until well lubricated with the whisky Denis had taken with him!”

Neve News number 7 – Christmas 1971 edition:

Another publication also covered the Moscow delivery:

JOHN TURNER:
“I suspected that this console was made to the all same documentation as Richard Millard’s Audio International custom console “A210”, the two being manufactured one after the other.
My conclusion was that the console in Sidney Sheldon’s question was shipped to Moscow for this exhibition and there it remained at Melodia Studios. Sidney was at the time interested in purchasing this console. The original “A” number was almost certainly “A203”.

Further digging for information in the old Neve documentation reveals this important detail from the drawing registers:
In the original Silkscreen Register there is the following reference:

“This proves that the Neve “A” number is in fact “A203” and gives the time when this console was being manufactured. As the multitrack music business was booming in 1971, Neve decided to build limited number of consoles “on spec” and give them “S” numbers, this being one of them.
Then at this point all went quiet for a while until I received a question from my friend Blake in October 2019.”

BLAKE DEVITT:
“I have a frame coming in from Japan, but it’s missing two of its docs – The Two-Wire  EC10234 sheets 1 and 2.
Is there anything on file somewhere?”

EC10234 two-wire circuit diagram shows this is the two-wire circuit for project ‘S16’!

John’s Further investigation of the Neve drawing office records revealed the following:

The pencilled entries at the bottom relate to Neve ‘S16’ and also show Tony Cornwell did a drawing of a ‘Peak Indicator Unit’ for it. The NTP light spot PPM’s must have been another of the products Dennis Tyler represented.

1989/90: The Melodiya Neve goes travelling

Neve ‘A203/S16’ had moved from Moscow to Japan and after many more years was put on sale in 2020.

Now sporting some modifications and including an API add on on the left.
Photo via Reverb

Like ‘A210’, Neve‘A203’ had been equipped with the newly designed 1078 mic-amps, and some of these were also seen on Reverb in 2020…priced at £11k for a pair.

JOHN TURNER:
“These 1078 modules had been designed specifically for ‘A210’, the Audio International console. These had an additional frequency of 10K added to the mid-equaliser as specified by Richard Millard. At that selling price no wonder all 24 had been stripped, together with the 1272 line amps from the frame by the time it reached the UK.”

John Turner was able to locate the original Neve Manual via a contact in Russia and was subsequently able to obtain a copy of the original ‘S16’ manual and so Blake ended up with an electronic copy of the original manual, and John made inquiries with one of his Russian contacts regarding any Moscow console dealings in the late 1980s:

MARTIN SAULESPURENS (BLUE MICROPHONES):
“It was not possible for a normal people to get out from USSR and to take the Neve out from Moscow. The relatively free movement to West started from 1988. My first trip to US was in December of 1988.”

JOHN TURNER:
“I contacted the dealer who had sold the console, to see if they could tell me what had happened in those intervening years.

LINUS KARLSSON (BAKU PRO AUDIO, JAPAN):
“Neve ‘S16’ was imported for installation in a record maker’s studio Polystar in Ebisu, Tokyo sometime during the late 1980’s to the 1990’s via an American broker.
When installing the console some specifications were changed. The B-Gauge patch bay was changed to a bantam patch and moved from the right side of the console to the left. A custom-made mini API console with 12 inputs and 4 outputs was made using parts from an older 3324 API console. It was then added under this patch bay in order to have a complete console where one could use both API and Neve at the same time.
The studio became very popular in Tokyo as a valuable studio where one could utilize an amazing sounding vintage Neve/API console. However around 2006, due to deterioration of the business situation of Polystar Records, the studio was closed down and the console moved on to its next chapter and it was later purchased by Mr. Okuda, music producer as well as a member of the famous Japanese band ‘’The Brilliant Green’’who installed ‘S16 ‘in his private recording studio where it was thoroughly used until 2019.
We purchased the console from Mr. Okuda in 2019”

John had discovered that the original 1078’s were stripped from the console and they then also re-appeared:

MÅRTEN FREDHOLM -via Facebook ‘Vintage Neve’:
“1078s? I’ve never heard of those except the set I have here. These are 18 modules 1078s. As you say, 10k as an extra frequency to the 1073.
I remember that the frame had already been sold when found the modules. They were sold to me by Baku Japan in Tokyo.”

2019/20: Blake Devitt restores Neve ‘A203/S16’, and christens her ‘Olga’

JOHN TURNER – DECEMBER 2019:
“The console which had been shipped to Moscow back at the end of 1971 was now almost 50 years later, coming back here to the UK and now in a Blake’s workshop!”

Neve ‘A203’/S16″, which Blake had named ‘Olga’, seen in his workshop in December 2019.

JOHN TURNER:
“Blake reported that many of the original console panels on his console had “S16” stamped on their rear.”

By the time it got to Blake it had been gutted of those lovely 1078’s, with their unique extra 10k MF frequency, and so after some ‘magic dust’ was sprinkled on it by both Blake and wiring partner Erika, ‘Olga’ was ready:

‘Olga’ – beautifully re-stored by Blake and with new AMS-Neve 1073’s via John Turner, and 1272’s from BAE, seen in July 2020.

BLAKE DEVITT:
“The top left, in the meter bridge, had been totally removed, so I had to put it all back. This left a hole for modules….then I decided that 24 channels and 16 monitor may be great, but for teaching 24 and 24 would be better, so I made the modules to fit that hole, and wired them to the monitor section.
She also has a separate stereo monitoring system, so you can listen to different pairs of busses, and externals, so that now the 4 track can be used to sum to, so effectively you have two mixers in one.
She sounds lovely!”

‘Olga’s’ next home

Neve ‘A203/S16’ is heading for one of the iconic British recording studio sites; Olympic Studios in Barnes.
Keith Grant’s Olympic was sold back in 2008 by the last owner Virgin, and became a ‘luxury cinema’, but two veteran record producer’s Chris Kimsey and Robin Millar are putting in a new studio in the ‘attic space’ above the cinema, for the purposes of teaching the recording techniques used in the days of analogue recording. A Neve was never previously installed at Olympic and Keith Grant had desks built by Richard Swettenham of course, but the Neves seems to have the benefit of a ‘longer life span’ than most of Dick’s Helios consoles, and of course the shear number of Neves still available has helped ‘the species’ survive.
John Turner was given an update during October.

CHRIS KIMSEY:
“We aim to have the Neve switched on by Christmas”

Melodiya’s ‘St. Andrews Church’ Recording Studio in Moscow

Let’s go back a bit, and look at the Melodiya studio that was home to ‘A203/S16’.

The complete studio equipment that was demonstrated in Moscow was immediately purchased by Melodia, which was the only permitted recording company in the USSR at that time and it was installed in the Anglican church, St. Andrews that Melodiya had been using for a few years as their Moscow studio.

“Melodia has recording studios in Moscow, Leningrad, Vilnius, Riga, Alma-Ata, Taschkend and Tbilisi. The Moscow studio is located in a former Anglican Church on Stankovicha Street. A.I.Arehinow is chief of the sound recording division.”
Billboard Magazine November 27, 1965

Looking remarkably like something from Neve’s homeland in the UK:

St. Andrews Church, Moscow in 1979

AUDIO MAGAZINE OCTOBER 1968:
“Last June, Dr. Ray Dolby visited the Moscow studios of Melodiya Records. Here are his impressions, as told to Bert Whyte:
About a half mile leisurely stroll from the Kremlin and Red Square is an imposing Pre-Revolutionary red -brick edifice set back from the main street about a hundred feet. In the days of the Czars it was an English Protestant Church. Now it is the Moscow headquarters and studios of Melodiya Records, the official Russian state agency for recording. On June 5th of this year Dr. Ray Dolby was a guest of Melodiya, visiting this unusual recording studio. I asked him what had occasioned his trip to Moscow. “Some time ago I received a letter from Archinov, the chief engineer of Melodiya, requesting information on time constants in my audio noise reduction system. He told me that he had first encountered the system at an English Decca recording session in Vienna.
I was at the AES Convention in Los Angeles when my office informed me that Melodiya had purchased several of my A301 units. As I was returning to England via Hong Kong and Singapore, I decided to stop off in Moscow since I was curious about their facilities and how they were going to handle my A301.”

Recording the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra in 1978.
Photo: Roman Denisov ITAR-TASS
“The Great Recording Hall of the All-Union Record Company Melodiya”

The above two photos show the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra recording in the St. Andrews Church, but although this would undoubtably have had the potential to have once been a good acoustic for the purpose of recording classical music, the presence of so much acoustic treatment on the walls in these pictures indicates that it was converted by Melodiya as an ‘all-purpose studio’ which included jazz-rock groups, like George Garanian and the Melodiya Ensemble seen below.

1974 LP from the the Melodiya Ensemble – a Soviet Jazz-Funk group in the Melodiya studio.

Some idea of the significance of Melodia Studios and hence this Neve console can be gleaned from these quotes:-

THE MOSCOW TIMES:
“In 1920 the church was closed by the Bolshevik government and the property expropriated. During the Civil War years, a machine gun post was situated in the tower to put down any signs of rebellion.
The now empty church was first used as communal housing and then as part of the Finnish Embassy. But in 1957, it got a new tenant and a new lease on life.
With acoustics the best in the city after the Conservatory, the church was the perfect place for a recording studio. Melodiya Records moved in. They shored up the roof trusses, probably preventing its collapse, and rebuilt some of the buttresses. Here thousands of recordings were made by hundreds of musicians, including such luminaries as Dmitry Shostakovich and Mstislav Rostropovich. They all called the studio the ‘kirche.’

It was also the place where the country’s first rock music was put on vinyl. One of the groups was headed by musician and music impresario Stas Namin, who recalled, “The first project in my life was the group ‘Flowers,’ which became popular nationwide thanks to Melodiya. Almost all our songs for the first 20 years of our existence were recorded in the Melodiya studio, in that ‘kirche’…”

It would be wonderful to think of the great Dimitri Shostakovitch sitting with his conductor son Maxim in the Melodiya Studio control room, listening back to their premier recording of the 15th Symphony. Alas, I think that like most of the symphony orchestra recordings on Melodiya this was actually made in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.

1974: Ray Conniff In Moscow

One highly successful Western musician was lured to Moscow to record at the Melodiya studio shortly after the Neve arrived.

Conniff Goes to Moscow to Cut a Russian Album:
What is it that the Soviet workers’ paradise lacks that the capitalist proletariat has? At least in the mind of Melodiya—the Soviet state recording agency—it apparently is the sing-along quality of US pop music with its big beat, heavy brass arrangements and massed singers “do-doing” and “boo-booing” in the universal language of choral accompaniment.
Corny? Maybe. But the Russians have nothing like it. And so Melodiya went to the fountainhead, 58-year-old American composer-arranger Ray Conniff, nine of whose 55 albums, beginning with ‘S’Wonderful’ back in 1956, have been best-sellers.
As Conniff tells it, the Russians sent him two dozen popular Soviet songs and asked him to choose 11—and then to come over and record them. “I didn’t know which were most popular, so I had to go by instinct,” he says. “There were ballads, up-tempo stuff—what I would call contemporary music—and a couple kazaki songs, you know, the down-on-the-floor, kick-the-heels kind of thing.” He graded them A+ to E-, took three weeks to arrange his choices—and then in a burst of enthusiasm wrote a twelfth song himself.
Melodiya wanted Conniff, but not his orchestra or chorus, although they did invite his 30-year-old Swiss-born third wife, Vera, and their daughter, Tamara, 2½ “Normally I wouldn’t do this without my orchestra and singers. But, since this is special, I agreed.”
The Russians provided him with 16 singers and 18 musicians, plus a swarm of recording technicians. “In the beginning,” Conniff recalls, “I was reminded of my first recording session in 1956. No one understood what I was trying to do.” Not the least of his problems was the recording studio—a former Protestant church where resident pigeons cooed during breaks.
But the Russian engineers quickly caught on to Conniff’s echo-chamber techniques, and the singers responded to his (translated) exhortation: “More life—more rhythm!” Says Conniff, “I don’t think they ever worked so hard before.” He is obviously pleased with the results, which will be issued this month as an LP album selling in Soviet department and music stores for $3.50. “My engineer, Viktor, came closer to duplicating the rhythm sound I got on my old records,” Conniff  brags, “than some of the guys I’m working with in the U.S.”

People Magazine January 20th 1975.

Ray Conniff in the Melodiya studio in December 1973

The credits for Ray Conniff’s Moscow album are:
Arrangements by RAY CONNIFF
MOSCOW CHAMBER CHORUS
Artistic Director Vladimir M’nin
VOCAL QUARTET “ULYBKA”
“MELODIYA” ENSEMBLE
Artistic Director Georgi Garanian
CONDUCTOR RAY CONNIFF
Recording engineers: Ray Conniff, Victor Babushkin
Operator: Stepan Bogdanov
Sound producers: Tamara Chernova, Igor Vagin
Editor Vladimir Ryzhikov

Ray Conniff’s large vocal group with pop rythmn section and brass were perhaps an natural extension of the sort of popular vocal group music that Mitch Miller had made so successful in the US in the ’50s and ’60s. The Russian tracks are almost all wordless ‘Da,da,da’ vocals and I find them pretty unlistenable….however tastes change and the the LP sold extremely well in Russia, but it was never released in the US at the time.

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68| 1971: ‘Radio Luxembourg gets a bigger studio’ | Audio International’s Neve ‘A210’

Audio International , 18 Rodmarton Street, London, W1U 8BJ

Audio International’s building shortly after it was re-opened in 1970. Still operating as a studio by Air-Edel, it still looks remarkably like this.

Radio Luxembourg had outgrown its existing small recording studio at their Hertford Street base and in August 1970 the company joined up with record company M.A.M and they both purchased the existing studios of Star Sound in Rodmarton Street and extensively refurbished it as Audio International. The Chief Engineer of Radio Luxembourg, Richard Millard was certainly used to Neve consoles, as they had been using an early germanium Neve since 1966 and then a later console for 4-Track. He ordered a 24-channel 16 group desk for Audio International which was to become ‘A210’ and as we have seen in the previous section, it was this design that was duplicated for the desk Neve speculatively built as ‘S16’ console; the Neve ‘A203’ that ended up in Moscow.

Richard Millard with his new Neve ‘A210’

We’ve already seen a colour photo of the Audio International ‘A210’ in the ‘Melodiya section’, and here’s Richard Millard at the desk in another 1971 Neve promotional photo. The Melodiya images had reminded John Turner of this desk which he was familiar with, having dealt with Richard Millard at the time of its manufacture.
I was also pretty familiar with the console, as I mixed on it quite often recording music for light entertainment shows conducted by Harry Rabinowitz or Alyn Ainsworth for my company London Weekend TV. Audio International was one of my favourite London studios to book a session in and was great for a small to medium bands of brass, saxes and rhythm and sometimes strings; typical ‘TV orchestras’ of the 70s.

The Neve factory photo of ‘A210’ before delivery.

68a| The Neve 1078 Mic-amp Module

NEVE 1078:
Drawing No: EH/10028
Date: First drawings 15/10/70
Front Panel: ML60065
Special Features: A 1073 with additional 10k Mid frequency.
Length: 8.75″ with dual concentric controls
Circuit boards: BA283AV, BA284, 211, 205, 182C
Rear Connector: 1 x 18 Amphenol
HF – Continuously variable 10k
MF – Left to right- KHz 10k, 7.2k, 4.8k, 3.2k,1.6k, 0.7k, 0.36k, OFF
LF – Left to right- Hz 220, 110, 60, 35, OFF
HpF – Left to right- Hz 300, 160, 110, 80, 50, OFF

Both Neve ‘A210’ for Audio International and the duplicate ‘A203’ for Melodiya have the new 1078 mic-amp modules. As both Blake and I mentioned earlier, the 1078 was a version 1073 but with the addition of a new 10k frequency added to the MF section. This had been as the request of Richard Millard.

Neve 1078s
Close-up of the 10k MF addition

BLAKE DEVITT:
“On the 1078 the 10k position on the MF is just an extra ‘way’ on the switch – the 10k position exists on all 211 boards- it just wasn’t used.

Here are 16 of the 18 Neve 1078’s that Marten Fredholm has that were originally in the Melodiya Neve ‘A203

68b| The Neve 1903/B and 1911/B Routing Modules

Page 18 of the Melodiya ‘A203/S16’ Manual shows the Switching Modules fitted.

Designed for Neve ‘A210’ and also incorporated in the identical ‘A203/S16’, were the 1903/B 16-track Routing Module and the 1911/B Aux Module. The 1903 module was the current 16 Group Routing Module originally designed for the CBS London and we’ve seen it on consoles like Decca’s ‘A199’, but the 1903/B differed by having ‘PFL’ instead of ‘AFL’ facilities. The 1911 was used on the Wessex ‘A88’ and the 1911/A on the Pye ‘A138’, both of which we’ve also already documented.
However the use of stepped pots extended beyond just the 1078 Mic-amp on the ‘A210’ and ‘A203/S16’ consoles and both the 1903/B and 1911/B Modules on them also had ‘Stepped Pan-Pots’. Here’s the Neve sketch giving the details:

The ‘stepped pan-pot’ fitted to 1903/B and 1911/B’s on the Neve ‘A210’ and ‘A203/S16’ consoles
Neve 1903/B

The Audio International Studio another great Sandy Brown design

The Audio International Control Room…
and the Studio …..showing the typical ‘Sandy Brown’ look, in 1971.
Photo: via Richard Millard

Audio International was just one of the many interior studio designs that were being carried out by Sandy Brown during the early 70’s. Sandy had left the BBC in 1969 to set up his own acoustic consultancy Sandy Brown Associates, and everywhere you went in London in the 70s, you came across his typical wood slatted interiors finishes in both control rooms and studio interiors. I think even the portable acoustic screens here were designed and built by his new company.
Sandy was also well known as a jazz clarinetist and here’s an excellent summing up of his early professional acoustic days on thesandybrownjazz.com website:

“Prior to founding Sandy Brown Associates, Sandy was chief acoustic architect at the BBC for 14 years. During his years with BBC he was involved with all the major BBC radio and television studio projects throughout the UK. His empirical and musical approach to the design of studios led to a series of innovative collaborations with the BBC Research Department amongst these being the first modular acoustic absorbers and a mobile, stacking acoustic screen that became standard furniture for all BBC and commercial recording studios, and the innovative use of refrigerator magnetic seals in acoustic doors.
Sandy Brown Associates was founded in 1969 by Sandy Brown and  David Binns. In his six years of independent practice Sandy Brown raised the acoustic design of commercial sound recording studios to an internationally known product and built studios in London for Pye, Chappells, Trident, Recorded Sound, Audio International and Maison Rouge for Ian Anderson; around the UK, Strawberry Studios in Manchester for Eric Stewart of 10CC, The Rolling Stones mobile studio for Mick Jagger, and Hurtwood Edge studio in Surrey for Eric Clapton. Overseas studios included: Arc Studios in Lagos for Ginger Baker, Hansa Tonstudio in Berlin for the Meisel Brothers and Musicland Studios in Munich for Giorgio Moroder.”

Sadly Sandy himself didn’t live long enough to see the continuing growth in recording studios worldwide. He died in 1975 at only 46 years old, but with a glass of whiskey in his hand, watching Rugby on TV! His company continued under his ‘associate’, David Binns and today is one of the biggest acoustic architecture firms worldwide.

Music from Audio International’s Neve

Audio International got a lot of use from the RAK Records artists, produced by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. These were engineered by Pete Coleman and included Suzi Quatro, Mud and Smokey.
Here’s the screaming vocal and Len Tuckey’s thrashing guitars that typified a Suzi Quatro record:

AUDIO CLIP:

Suzi Quatro “Can The Can” from the 1973 LP ‘Suzi Quatro’.

Pete Coleman must have gone to the States with Suzi and Co because he was engineering her records on the Whitney Studios Neve in 1978.

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CREDITS and REFERENCES:

[1] Quotes from Ted Scott’s Book “Cue Tape Please Ted” – available on Amazon. It’s great to have a book written by a TV Sound Supervisor at last. I knew Ted after ATV Elstree had folded and he had a very outgoing personality and was a fund of stories, as the book shows. He enjoyed every working day but alas he died in 2008.
[2] Quote from a short article on Bowie’s appearance via the CBC website cbc.ca.
[3] Howard Massey’s book “The Great British Recording Studios” has loads of detail on the Decca studios including Studios 2 and 4. Published by Hal Leonard in 2015.
[4] The outstanding Russian tenor Vladimir Atlantov became a “People’s Artist of the USSR” in 1976, which dates this photo to after that at least. From 1977 he also sang baritone and left Russia in 1988.
Thanks also to the users of the Vintage Neve Facebook page, who also provide regular input to these articles, often with photos.