Early RUPERT NEVE Consoles and their stories | PART SIX: 1969-1970 | ’16-Track Comes To London’ 

2022-10-13 4 By David Taylor


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

Assisted with information from BLAKE DEVITT

Thanks to the considerable help of John and Blake, this series of articles is trying to give an accurate account of the history of the early Rupert Neve mixing consoles up to 1975, when Rupert left the company.
I will also continue using this series of articles to also explain some of the background of the studios and broadcasters, their staff and the music or the broadcast programmes they made, and detail how some of the technology of the time was used.
Do read on a decent sized display if possible as I take a lot of care to make the photos as good as I can!

George Martin at the Studio 1 Neve ‘A29’ in 1970.
Photo: via Mark Simms

George Martin sitting at AIR’s 16-track Neve ‘A29’ in Studio 1 with Malcolm Aitkin in the background in front of a Studer A80 8-track. The 16-track behind George is a 3M M23, with beside it two bays of A301 Dolbys on casters. George is obviously in the middle of a ‘filmed interview’.


If you’re interested in just the ‘techy bits”, these can be accessed via the ‘jump’ facility using the following numbered section ‘IDs’, and then the browser’s ‘Back’ button’ to come back here again:
40| 1969: ‘Bond Scores In Bayswater’ | Cine-Tele Sound’s 26-channel 11 output Neve –
41| 1969: ‘The Golden Shot’ | ATV Birmingham’s 36-channel 4 group Neve.
42| 1969: ‘A Neve For Norway’ Arne Beniksen Studio’s 24-channel 8 group Neve‘A24’.
43| 1970: ‘Bloomsbury Re-mix’ | CBS Records Theobalds Road 24-channel 4 group Neve – ‘A27’.
44| 1970: ’28 Silver Faders’ | CBS Records New Bond Street Studio’s 24-channel 16 group Neve – ‘A69’.
45| 1970: ‘George’s 16-Tracks’ | AIR Studio’s 24-channel 16 group Neves for Studios 1 and 2 – 
‘A29 & A45’.
46| 1970: ‘AIR’s Two Other Neves’ | Studio 3’s 20-channel 8 group Neve – ‘A46’ and the AIR Film Dubbing Theatre’s 12-channel 4 group Neve – ‘A47’.
47| 1970: ‘First Neves For Paris’ | Studio Acousti’s 20-channel 8 group and 16-channel 4 group Neves – ‘A62 and A63’ and the 24-channel 8 group – ‘A130’
48| 1970: ‘Neve In Sections’ | The Pye Mobile’s ‘transportable’ Neves – ‘A72 and A129‘.
49| 1970: ‘A Couple Of Small Ones’ | London Weekend TV’s 6-channel ‘Pres Mixer’ and 6-channel ‘Grams Mixer’ for Wembley Studios.
50| 1970: The ‘Standard Broadcast Console‘ | Neve BCM10/2.
50a| 1970: The Neve 1068 Mic-Amp Module.
50b| The Neve 1895 Routing Module.
51| 1970: The Neve 1069 Mono Grams-Amp Module.

1970: Neve – still growing

The end of 1969 into 1970 saw a big increase in the output of Neves from Melbourn as the UK’s ITV companies re-equipped their studios with the coming of colour, and inevitably London finally got recording studios equipping with 16-track desks.

The Melbourn factory

“Due to the expansion of the business, the company applied for permission to extend the facilities on the Melbourn site, but planning permission was refused. It was suggested that the company should take advantage of development grants available in the North, and so the Kelso factory was opened in June 1970 to build sub-assemblies and modules for Melbourn. The new unit operated under the name of Neve Electronic Production Ltd. The authorities relented, and planning permission was granted for Melbourn, and the present test and stores building was erected.
Increased sales triggered activity in the Americas. Rupert Neve (Canada) was registered on the 10th September, to be followed by a new office 60 miles from New York trading as Rupert Neve Inc. This office in Bethel, Connecticut started with four staff, including one person on loan from Melbourn. Both of these operations were strictly sales orientated.”

(From: ‘The History Of Neve’ written in 1986, possibly by Rupert) [1]

Bigger consoles now being constructed in the Melbourn metalworking shop

More consoles, and more staff needed.

Neve Ad in Wireless World February 1970
Neve News 1970


16-Track comes to London

When 1-inch 8-Track recorders were becoming common, it was assumed that 12-Track was the next step up, and both Stevens and Scully built 12-Tracks. The heads on a Scully 284 could easily be swopped for 4, 8 or 12-track. However, the arrival of 16-Track undermined 12-Track, and the increase to 2-inch tape width of the 16-Track maintained the same track signal-to-noise as the 1-inch 8-Track.
The first 16-Track recorder went to New York’s Mirasound:

“In 1967, Mirasound recently moved to its new enlarged quarters on 57th Street. Five studios, four for audio, one for video, made up the complex. Always considered a leader in innovation, it was the first studio to put in 16-channel recording with the new Ampex two-inch multichannel recorders. Since receiving the recorder, it operated 10 to 12 hours each day. According to Robert Goldman, President of Mirasound, “When recording today’s modern sounds, the Ampex 16-track recorder produces higher quality recordings. We find the new Ampex machine provides the maximum recording versatility and economy.” In 1968 Mirasound will increase its multichannel capability even further with the delivery of two new MM-1000 multichannel recorders, one a 16 channel version, the other a 24 channel. “The new Ampex Master-Maker will offer us even more opportunity for creativity,” Goldman said. The AG-1000 is a custom version of the new MM-1000 series, built especially for Mirasound. Both use Ampex videotape transports for two-inch tape, combined with electronics from Ampex’s top-of-the-line AG-440 recorder.” [2]

Mirasound’s 16-track was still effectively a prototype and the first production Ampex MM-1000 came in 1968.
The first 16-Track machine in the UK was at Trident, where it was used to record some of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ album in October 1969. [3]

The first Neve desk with 16 Groups went to Vanguard in New York in 1968 (see Part Four) and in London Neve built 16 Group desks for both CBS London’s New Bond Street Studio and AIR’s Studio 1 and 2 in 1970.
However, let’s continue the ‘Neve timeline’:


40| 1970: ‘Bond Scores In Bayswater’ | Cine-Tele Sound‘s 26-channel 11 output Neve – ‘96001’.

Cine-Tele Sound Studios, 49-53 Kensington Gardens Square, Baywater, London W8 5ED

CTS 26 input Neve 1969
The 26-channel 11 output Neve in the C.T.S Bayswater control room

In 1966 Eric Tomlinson left Cine-Tele Sound in Bayswater for Anvil at Denham, and his place was taken by John Richards, who had started at CTS at the age of 19, working under Eric Tomlinson and progressed to mixing major film scores when Tomlinson departed.
Therefore Richards and the CTS Chief Engineer Peter Harris would have been involved in the design of this 26-channel Neve in the Bayswater studio. On the design drawings, this desk has the Neve serial ‘96001’; another of the numbers that don’t really seem to fall into a logical sequence, something that we still haven’t been able to explain.
The Neve, like the CTS Telefunken mixer before it, was positioned in the studio with the window looking down on the studio below to the left in the above photo. The monitor speakers in this photo look rather ‘home built’ and obviously have Tannoy drivers in smaller than expected cabinets, and there are at least five speakers visiblewhich would explain why there appear to be five or six speaker selector buttons on the central monitoring panel.

Rupert Neve, Tony Cornwell and I did an overnight installation to get that console up and running for a full orchestral session the following morning.”           

closer view of the CTS Neve
A closer view

The 26 mic channels, which are split into two sections of 13 on this CTS Neve are fitted with 1064 mic ampsThese 1064s are 12-inch modules, but on the left side are 6 of the smaller 8.75-inch modules, without the ‘mic/line gain’ control, so they are ‘2000 series’ high-level EQ modules, this time fitted with the recently introduced dual-concentric mid and LF controls, most probably 2069s. The shorter length also allows each to have a VU meter underneath.
This console was built mainly for film-scoring and CTS kept just to their specialist requirements for film scoring and went for a total of 11 Output Groups, for which Neve designed a new switching module, the 1893, with 8 Multitrack Group buttons, and 3 separate Film Group buttons, plus 6 Echos and 2 FBs. There are 8 Echo Return channels on the left side, which have another new module, the 1894 with the same 8 plus 3 Group routing buttons as the desk channels, along with the 2 FBs, but lacking any Echos.

Beneath these are the 6 Echo Return rotary level pots and beside the fader surface are the Producer’s TB keys.

EMT faders had now been dropped by Neve and the faders seen in both this and the last part of these articles have all been Penny & Giles, and here the Group faders are in the middle section of the desk, and are split into the 8 Multitrack Groups and then the additional 3 Mag-Film Group outputs. It is the latter which were the primary recording outputs for the film music work in which CTS majored.
This centre section also has more of the 1894 Routing modules, so groups can also be re-assigned. Beneath them are ‘Group to Echo’ selectors and under them the monitor speaker/meter selection switches plus their associated large gain pots. Additional TB and switching for working with the Film Projection room are also in this central panel.

On the far right are two rows, each of 7 red knobs which I can’t explain, but beneath them are four 2254 Comp/Lims, with a further set of switching ‘isostat’ push-buttons buttons and more TB keys.

The wider photo shows the comprehensive-looking jackfield bay at the side of the console, and on the left side of the jackfield is the panel described in the Neve records as “dimmer and remotes facilities panel” dated 6/11/1969, and obviously, they were under a time pressure to get it finished as it was the last drawing listed.
The bottom section of the jackfield is taken up with a pair of big Dolby 301 noise reduction processors. These were the first of the Dolby A models and were able to record or playback a pair of tape tracks in each unit, so would have fed the two visible multitracks seen in the studio, which at this stage were a pair of 4-track Ampex AG-440s, which recorded on 1/2 inch tape.
 The days of requiring bigger multitracks in film-scoring weren’t yet obvious to CTS in 1970.

Music and Film Scores from the CTS Studio

The CTS Studios building was a converted banqueting hall, which had previously had the magnificent name of ‘Whitey’s Gentleman’s Dining Club’, and had been a studio since 1956. It was smaller than usual for a film scoring studio, taking an orchestra of about 65 players but using just a 12-channel Telefunken mixer, they had gained a great reputation for recording film soundtracks. These included the Bond films, starting with ‘Dr. No’, in 1962, in which the theme written by composer Monty Norman was then superbly orchestrated by the young John Barry, who was mainly known at the time as the trumpeter leading ‘The John Barry Seven’, an instrumental ‘pop’ group.
Barry was thrilled to get the ‘Dr. No’ score:

“He was thrilled to pieces. He called me up straight away and said, “I’ve got the Bond film, Sid! I can’t believe it”.

John Barry-You Only Live twice
John Barry conducting the ‘You Only Live Twice’ score in 1967.

Is anybody able to name any of the session musicians in this photo? I can see Jack Brymer, the great LSO clarinet player on the left, immediately behind John Barry. He’s obviously ‘tacit’ in this cue, as he seems to have his notebook out. Perhaps he’s getting his next booking from ‘the fixer’ Sid Margo, who is standing on the left of picture, with a cigarette.
It’s 1967, and the players are a formal-looking lot, with most of them in jackets and ties.

After his success with the ‘Dr. No’ score, Barry then became the favoured Bond composer doing ‘From Russia With Love’ in 1963, then ‘GoldFinger’ in 1964 and ‘Thunderball’ in 1965, and the ‘You Only Live Twice’ score pictured above in 1967, all of them at CTS.

Sid Margo became Barry’s favoured ‘fixer’ for musicians, and I remember that he often joined in as one of the string players on smaller sessions.
It was advantageous for the producer or composer, as it only took one phone call to the fixer, who was then able to organise a complete orchestra of freelance players.
The fixer also paid the musicians in cash at the end of each recording session, usually discreetly near the door as they exited.
The accepted chat went something like this:
Fixer: “Here’s your money for today”.
Session musician: “Oh, I think you’ve overpaid me,”…… he then hands back 10% to the fixer, to make sure he gets booked again next time!

“Charlie Katz, Sid Sax, Harry Benson, Sid Margo and Alec Firman had a grip on the greater majority of the recording, television and radio work that was going on in London, and to a lesser extent, in the provinces. Very often I would arrive home after several days of continuous session work and tell Judy to put a line in the diary through the next weekend. I just had to have the time off. Usually, within a few hours, Charlie would call and book in 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both days. If you started turning down work for people like Charlie they would assume you didn’t want it and would stop calling. It was a kind of ‘arm up the back’ situation, but you learned to live with it.”

If you were an artist from abroad but wanted a large British band behind you, CTS was a good place to come and record it, so Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Sammy Davis all made records in the studio in the ’60s.
It was Eric Tomlinson who recorded the only LP Sinatra made away from the US called ‘Great Songs From Great Britain’, because Sinatra wanted to do an album specifically with the British arranger Robert Farnon.

Sinatra and Farnon at CTS
Sinatra and Farnon at CTS in June 1962. The control room window is seen behind Farnon.

These were all before the new Neve mixer arrived, replacing the Telefunken and after Eric Tomlinson left in 1966it was John Richards who took over and continued with recording yet more of the John Barry ‘Bond’ scores, firstly with ‘You Only Live Twice’ in 1967. Then came ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ recorded in 1969, and although we can’t confirm if that was done on the new Neve, it was certainly in place for the sessions for ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ in October of 1971.

John Barry – ‘The Last Valley’ – 1970 (Engineer: John Richards)

John Barry produced a great number of wonderful film scores, and unless forced to go to the US, he stayed at CTS with John Richards, who had become his favourite mixer and who always provided Barry with a sumptuous sound.
Although John Barry did more ‘Bond’ scores than anyone else, and they certainly made his name, he was the most versatile of film composers and two of his best were for historical movies that required him to produce a powerful score that also referenced some suitable Mediaeval music.
His superb music for ‘The Lion In Winter’ would just have been before the new Neve arrived, but his following film ‘The Last Valley’ set in the 1600s during The 30 Years War, is similar to the that preceding score, in using choral as well as orchestral music.
However, I won’t get you to rush to view a film copy of ‘The Last Valley’, as the quality of the music completely transcends that of the film’s unexciting story, acting and direction. In fact, it wasn’t the only one of the films that Barry wrote where the music was the best part of the film.
Here’s the Title Music for ‘The Last Valley’ done on the Neve in the CTS Bayswater studio:


John Barry – The Main Title from ‘The Last Valley’ -1970

The LP and CD cover image.

Like some other John Barry’s films, the original score recording used on the actual film soundtrack is lost. Luckily an LP of the score had been produced, although the tracks on it were re-sequenced by producer Phil Ramone. Ramone had produced the John Barry recording of the score for ‘Midnight Cowboy’ at Ramone’s own A&R Studios in New York, and he then became involved in other Barry work.

In 2016 ‘The Last Valley’ score was restored from the original stereo tapes for a limited edition re-issue by Chris MaloneWhen I was writing an earlier section on Anvil Studios, it was Chris who had provided me with so much information on Eric Tomlinson; John Richards’ mentor earlier in the ’60s at CTS.
That thrilling vocal chorus in ‘The Last Valley’by the way, was from The Accademia Monteverdiana, a group of Baroque vocal and instrumental specialists in the ’70s, founded and usually conducted by Dennis Stevens, a Brit who was at the time a music professor at Columbia University.

Henry Mancini – ‘Frenzy’ 1971 (Engineer: John Richards):

In December 1971 Henry Mancini came to CTS to record the score for Hitchcock’s ‘Frenzy’.
Mancini had been coming to the studio for his UK scoring projects, starting in 1964 with ‘Charade’ and continuing with the remainder of the Stanley Donen trilogy, ‘Arabesque’ and ‘Two for the Road’ and he had recently completed Laslo Benedek’s ‘The Night Visitor‘.

He was obviously happy enough with CTS and John Richards, who was now chief recording engineer, that he added an endorsement to the company’s 1969 advertising brochure:

“After scoring four films at CTS, I feel qualified to highly recommend the facilities. They combine the commercial recording sound with the requisites of film scoring – a great combination not too often found.” [6]

The music required for the changing audience tastes of the new ‘pop’ era though gave directors and composers some new problems, and as long ago as 1965, Bernard Herrmann was told:

“This audience is very different from the one to which we used to cater. It is young, vigorous and demanding. It is this fact that has been recognised by almost all of the European filmmakers where they have sought to introduce a beat and a rhythm that is more in tune with the requirements of the aforesaid audience. This is why I am asking you to approach this problem with a receptive and if possible, an enthusiastic mind.” [6]

Mancini and Hitchcock ‘don’t enjoy’ a playback. In the background are 4-track and mono Ampex’s plus a stereo Studer.
Photo: via thehitchcockzone website.

Hitchcock had three fairly unsuccessful films prior to ‘Frenzy’ and he left Bernard Herrmann and approached Mancini to score it, presuming he would get a more modern-sounding score.
For the Main Titles for ‘Frenzy’, Mancini used an orchestra of four flutes, with alto and bass flute doubling, four clarinet/bass clarinets, four bassoons, and four French horns. The strings were 16 violins, 10 violas and celli, and six double basses, along with two harps, a piano, timps and percussion. After the Titles though, the strings were then greatly reduced with the violins removed and the violas and celli cut down to eight in each section, to make the sound more ‘sombre’. On a couple of cues, two flugelhorns and a guitarist were used. [7]

The film would be split into Reels of 1,000ft and in order to help the composer hit specific ‘cue points’, the film editor would produce a ‘streamer’, by scratching off some film emulsion to produce a visual sloped line running moving from left to right as the film was projected. The organising for the scoring and recording for a film requires considerable care, and Mancini’s music cues labelling followed the usual pattern; the first instance of score heard after the Main Title is labelled ‘M-102’, indicating ‘Music, Reel 1, Cue 2‘, which is how the recording engineer also verbally ‘slates’ the start of each take of music.
Carrying out another take of a piece though was hardly an instant affair when recording to the film picture, as the projectionist either had to run the film backwards again through the projector to return to the start, or take the whole reel off and then hand-wind it back. Likewise to do a ‘sync-playback’ of a take, required the sound Mag-Recorder to be returned to its beginning, so they both could be accurately re-started.
I assume playback checks were therefore often just off the multitrack tape, or a 1/4″ copy, but it was at this time studios were developing methods to both run in sync and accurately start their multitracks to the ‘film playback’, as we’ve already seen from the earlier section on Anvil Studios.

Mancini must have been unhappy about what had happened to his mixes on previous work when it was in the final film dubbing stage, as John Richards said in an interview that Mancini was insistent on having his motion picture scores mixed only in ‘mono’, and not therefore delivered as ‘three-tracks’ in order to ensure the orchestral balance could not be altered later by the film dubbing crew.

In his opening Main Title theme, Mancini chose to ‘highlight London’, for the film included a shot of the City Of London ‘Coat Of Arms’ in the opening visuals. Mancini included the sound of a large organ, which starts the cue and continues throughout.

“For Mancini, the unmistakable sound of this venue’s organ served to locate the film in London and contribute to the stately, dignified aura which Hitchcock wanted to convey regarding the city of his birth, as British composer Leighton Lucas had done with the ‘Stage Fright’ score of 1950.” [7]

In fact, it is the large Royal Albert Hall organ played by session musician Leslie Pearson, and it had to be previously recorded by John Richards, with portable equipment, with Mancini present. This was then laid onto the multitrack tape, so the orchestra could be added playing ‘in-sync’ back at CTS, with a ‘click-track’ to assist this.
This Hitchcock film was planned to only use a low quota of music and although scheduled for four sessions each of 3 hours, from December 14th to 16th 1971, Mancini decided beforehand that he only needed three sessions in total on those days.

“The sessions I recall were all evening sessions, to accommodate Mr. Hitchcock’s schedule – maybe they were still shooting or maybe they were cutting – I think there were only three or four that were planned. The very first evening, Hitchcock arrives in a wheelchair with his film editor, who’s name was Johnny Jympson. They went into the control room, up to the booth where the board was, and Hitchcock nods, makes no comment to anybody, and sits there in the booth – he’s not in the best of health. Johnny Jympson takes his place and suggests we start the session, and Henry goes out, puts up the first cue – it might have been the Main Title, it might not have been – records the first cue and comes in for the playback. It’s all very quiet in the control room, nothing really is a giveaway as far as how Mr. Hitchcock feels about what he is hearing, so, we play the cue back, and there’s this dreadful pause where nothing’s said!

Hitchcock indicates to Johnny Jympson, who’s standing behind him at his right-hand side, that he wants to speak with him. Johnny Jympson bends down and Hitchcock whispers something in his ear, and Johnny Jympson stands up straight and turns around to Hank (Mancini) and says, “Can we try the next cue please, Hank?”
Off goes Hank, no concept of what’s happening here. We put up the next cue, he comes back in for playback, it’s the same indication. Jympson bends down, whisper whisper, comes up, “Hank, can we try the next cue please?” And so the evening progresses in that very strange, tense, very uncomfortable atmosphere. We have two giants here, we have Hitchcock, we have Mancini at a very important point in his career, and there’s no dialogue between them. Obviously, Hitchcock felt very uncomfortable about Hank’s approach to the score. It was not what he wanted, and I seem to remember we didn’t get beyond the two evenings before it became apparent there was no point in going any further.
Hank in his usual style was exceptionally gracious, never let on that he was troubled in the least, consummate professional that he always was, and in his professional way, would be set up to record, next cue, run it down, record it, play it back, next, next.”

Hitchcock takes in the view.
Photo: via thehitchcockzone website.

“It was not so much a matter of his being there as that [Hitchcock] didn’t say much when we were doing [the recordings]. He sat through every piece and nodded approval, and finally, when he was alone in the dubbing room, he decided that it didn’t work. His reason for thinking so, I was told, was that the score was ‘macabre’, which puzzled me because it was a film with many macabre things in it. It wasn’t an easy decision to accept, and it was crushing when it happened…”

“Hitchcock said to me, “You can’t always communicate with composers. I had this composer in London; it was a film about a murder, and I wanted something whimsical. I gave him some instructions on the way the score should be. I went to the recording session, and the composer had every double bassoon and timpani in the City of London capable of making a lugubrious, ominous sound playing the music.”
I said to him, “Mr. Hitchcock, for a film about a murder, this sounds very appropriate,” to which Hitchcock replied, “Well, Mr. Williams, you don’t understand; murder can be fun.” [7]

Hitchcock decided to reject the Mancini score and went to British composer Ron Goodwin for a replacement, and Ron Goodwin therefore opted for his favourite studio, Anvil where he used Eric Tomlinson.
This time Hitchcock seems to have been somewhat more informative to the new composer about what he wanted:

“First of all I was asked to go to Pinewood Studios to meet him and I was a bit nervous about meeting him. But he was very relaxed, very humorous and told me some funny stories. He was very, very friendly and made me feel welcome and relaxed, but he was very, very meticulous about what kind of music he wanted. I mean, I left to rewind the film and his secretary transcribed all the notes of our conversation – she spent some paper with all the suggestions he made with the current scenes. He went back to Hollywood before we recorded the music, having said that he would like the first stage recording sent by courier to him so that he could run it with the picture and see how it went. To my great surprise – it was quite late on the evening of the first recording – and my first ring was a call from Hollywood just to say that he’d run the first reel and he was very pleased with it, so I thought it was very kind and nice thing to do.”
“Hitchcock’s reassuring call to Goodwin did not come before pre-emptive consultation with engineer Tomlinson, who later revealed he was able to keep him informed of events taking place within the Anvil recording studio by holding a telephone receiver in the vicinity of his control-room speakers and playing each day’s work to the director overseas. Hitchcock’s response to each Goodwin cue was, simply, “fine”
. [7]

There’s no original copy of John Richard’s Mancini Titles Theme recording, but there is a YouTube video with a more modern ‘Silva Screen’ re-make of the music, superimposed over the ‘Frenzy’ Titles. This can then be compared with the equivalent from Ron Goodwin in another YouTube video.

The ‘other’ film scoring engineer at CTS in Bayswater was Jack Clegg, who like so many of the UK’s best engineers had started at IBC, and he then went to Decca. As we’ll later see, Jack was ‘head-hunted’ to join AIR studios, but at CTS he had already recorded George Martin’s music for ‘Yellow Submarine’, and Burt Bacharach’s score for “Casino Royale” with Phil Ramone again, who now worked regularly in the role of music producer on Bond films.

1972: CTS are forced to move

CTS in Kensington Gardens Square had occasionally been plagued with noises from the furniture company’s premises beneath them, but although the studio worked really well after they had re-equipped with their Neve and were still regarded as a premier film scoring studio, they were forced to move from the building. 

“In 1972 a property development company acquired the building of the then furniture store Frederick Lawrence and Co. in Westbourne Grove, for redevelopment. CTS Studios, situated around the corner in Kensington Gardens Square happened to be part of the same building and ownership of this occupied space came as part of the deal. The outlook for the studios was bleak and new premises had to be sought immediately for what was a very successful studio.” [8]

To be able to continue, CTS needed ‘a large room’ and joined up with the pop studio De Lane Lea, who had now moved to large purpose-built studios, ‘The Music Centre’, out of Central London near Wembley Stadium.
De Lane Lea’s move hadn’t worked out well and John Richards and Peter Harris then had to take on and overcome the many problems that came with the poor equipment decisions that De Lane Lea previously made for their new studios.
However, the CTS 26-channel Neve had already been sold off and the eventual return to installing new Neve consoles at ‘The Music Centre’ will be detailed later in these articles.


1969: The new ‘ATV Centre’ in Birmingham

The ATV Centre Television Studios, 150 Edmund Street, Birmingham

Associated Television (ATV) had been running since 1955, servicing the London ITV contract at the weekends and shortly afterwards also the ITV weekday contract in the Midlands. To do this it joined with ABC, the Midands ITV company servicing the weekdays, and they operated a joint studio centre labelled as ‘Alpha Television’, in Aston, Birmingham.
ATV also ran the big 4-studio production centre at Elstree, just to the north of London and it transmitted its programmes from Central London premises in Foley Street, but ATV was criticised by the IBA for failing to put enough emphasis on its ‘Midlands roots’ and the Alpha Studios were regarded as below par. Therefore ATV set about developing new studios and acquired a new central Birmingham site in June 1966 and they started the planning in October 1968.
In the 1968 ITV licence changes ATV were given the Midlands contract and set about building their new studio centre off Broad Street in Birmingham. Like the other ITV companies, they had to allow for the new colour 625-line service that ITV had now been granted.

The ‘ATV Centre’ Studios and Technical Block.
Photo: via ATVLand Productions

Three studios were to be built, and the proximity to railway lines meant that they were elevated on ‘acoustic floors’ on the 2nd floor of the studio centre. The phased construction allowed for the necessary ‘Central Apparatus Room’ with the Tele-Cine and VTRs, along with Master Control and the tiny Presentation Studio 4 being completed first and then the smallest TV studio, Studio 3 of 2000 sq. ft. was followed by the biggest, Studio 1 of 5,600 sq. ft. by November 1969. The medium-sized 3000 sq. ft. Studio 2 finally followed in February 1970. [9]

The ATV Centre Studio layout.
Photo: via ATVLand Productions

The control rooms were on the 3rd floor, the level above the studio floor level, but by now looking down into the studios had gone out of fashion, and the control rooms faced the other way.

ATV Birmingham Studio 1.
Photo: via ATVLand Productions

41| 1970: ‘The Golden Shot’ | ATV Birmingham’s 36-channel 4 group Neve

Neve ad in the Birmingham Post August 1970.

The 36-channel Neve had already been installed into the biggest Studio 1 when it started colour productions in November 1969, and is a fairly standard-looking console. Shortly afterwards the existing larger ATV studios at Elstree near London designed two much more radical ‘wrap-around’ styled Neve consoles that we will explore in a later article.

ATV Birmingham’s 36-channel Neve ‘2095’

Like a few other Neves at this time, the 36-channel has some aluminium panels in the upstand and it has the faders recessed further away than on any previous Neves we have seen. It is fitted with 1066 mic-amps and uses the same style switching modules with lever selectors, first used on the Thames TV 1878 modules.
Unlike the Thames desks, this is not a ‘free-grouping’ design and has four dedicated groups with the faders centrally above the script area. The four Comp/Lims are the original 2254 model, with the ‘De-ess’ switch but no ‘Compress Threshold’ control.
A jackfield is under the left side.

The 36-channel Neve in ATV Birmingham’s Studio 1.
Photo: via ATVLand Productions

The proximity of the back wall in this photo of the Studio 1 Sound Control Room shows how architects hadn’t appreciated the increase in the size of broadcasting consoles and so rather cramped Control Rooms were still being built in even new studio buildings.

Testing the ATV console before delivery

The Neve test department at Melbourne.

Before delivery Neve equipment went through the Melbourne Test Department, at this time run by Ian Cook. This photo taken in late 1969, shows John Turner in the centre on the left and John Copsey testing the ATV 36-channel Neve, whilst Ray Clark tests modules in the foreground using a Radford test set on a 2254 compressor and Phil Thomas on the right tests printed circuit boards. The desk is filled with switching modules but still has no mic-amps.

Other Neves for Birmingham

The ‘ATV Centre’ in Birmingham was built very rapidly, but it was still done in phases. The CAR/Master Control area finished first would have received a new audio mixer for the small Studio 4 Presentation, followed by the smallest Studio 3, for the local news programme. After Studio 1 got the biggest Neve, it was followed by the Studio 2 needing less channels, and below is a photo from a Birmingham Post feature at the time of the official opening of the studios on the 19th March 1970. This could be either Studio 2 or Studio 3’s Production Galleries and beyond it in the Sound Control Room is a 24-channel Neve of similar design to the Studio 1 desk.

A smaller 24-channel Neve seen beyond the Production Control Room at Birmingham.
Photo: via Birmingham Post

The Grams area is visible beyond the Neve mixer, and a pair of floor-mounted BBC LS5/1A monitor speakers are positioned in front of it; also illustrating how bad we were at designing rooms for actual ‘sound monitoring’ in TV, as the near speaker is close to that nicely reflective glass window. The architects always triumphed over the acoustic consultants alas!

Programmes from ATV Centre’s Neves in the ’70s

Although not then nicknamed a soap-opera, but a drama serial, the already very well-established ‘Crossroads’ moved from the ageing ATV/ABC run Alpha Studios to the new ATV Centre and was the first ITA serial to air a full episode in colour, when in November the ITV Companies started their new 625-lines colour service.
In the UK TV companies never kept a single programmes ‘sets’ up continuously in a studio, and an overnight ‘set and light’ was part of every TV studio’s normal working routines. Although it had been initially broadcast live on five days by videotaping, even ‘as live’ programmes could be recorded in ‘blocks’, so that the Crossroad’s Motel sets could be completely removed and allow one of the other ATV Birmingham programmes like ‘The Golden Shot’ to take their place.

“Crossroads was the first programme to use Studio One at the new ATV Centre, and so I carried my female assistant through the doors of the control room to christen the new building rather like a newly married couple.” 

ATV made all their major programmes, such as the music shows that were mainly made for the US market, along with their big dramas at their Elstree studios, so ATV Birmingham got the less exciting ‘soaps and game shows’.

‘The Golden Shot’.
Photo via David Barrie

From Crossroads to a Crossbow. ‘The Golden Shot’ will be remembered as a game show that used a ‘viewer-controlled’ EMI 2001 studio video camera in a novel way:

A viewer talks on the phone to Bob and simultaneously tells a blind-folded bloke who is operating a camera with a weapon attached to it to fire a crossbow bolt at a big target, whilst millions of other people watch it at home.

“The show was broadcast live and used a crossbow attached to a TV camera to shoot a bolt at a target, using the camera as the crossbow’s viewfinder. The person who loaded the crossbows was referred to by the nickname “Bernie”, giving rise to the catchphrase “Bernie, the bolt”.

‘New Faces’.
Photo via ATVLand Productions

The Talent Show ‘New Faces’ came from Birmingham starting in September 1973 and it ran until 1978. [9]


42| 1970: ‘A Neve for Norway’ | The Arne Beniksen Studio’s 26-channel 8 group Neve‘A24’.

Arne Bendiksen Studio, Østerdalsgaten 1, Vålerengen, Oslo, Norway.

Arne Bendiksen was a successful Norwegian singer/songwriter who ran his own record company and recording studio. In 1969 he ordered a 26-channel 8 group Neve, and his young engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug soon established a reputation that began to extend well beyond Oslo.

“He eventually took up the guitar as his main instrument. He played for a year on a cruise ship; it docked repeatedly in New York City, and he often went to jazz clubs to hear greats like John Coltrane perform.
After returning home in 1964, he became well known on the Trondheim scene. The Norwegian magazine Jazznytt awarded him first place (in a tie) as best guitarist in its 1967 poll.

After studying electrical engineering for two years, Mr. Kongshaug moved to Oslo and took a position at Arne Bendiksen Studio, where he filled a dual role as a studio musician and sound engineer. It was there that his collaboration with Mr. Eicher began. “
(New York Times obituary for Jan Erik Kongshaug in Nov 2019.)

Jan at the Arne Bendiksen Neve.
Photo: Discogs

Metalwork drawings for the Neve for Oslo were being done during November and December 1969 and it would have been delivered in early 1970. The photo above shows the Neve with only 18-channels fitted, with blanking plates on the left. The two tape decks behind are stereo and 4-track Ampex’s and the studio’s 8-track was a Lyrec, with Quad powered Tannoy speakers. The studio was described in the Billboard Directory as ’33ft x 33ft’. and ‘accommodates 35’.
There’s a photo below of Jan with the Ralph Towner Quartet in 1974, and we can see in it that there are 26-channels on the Neve.

‘The most beautiful sound next to silence’ – The early days of ECM Records

1971: Keith Jarrett – ‘Facing You’

ECM Records became a notable outlet for specialist jazz and later classical recordings that always were highly regarded for the quality of the sound, and the first ECM recording at the Arne Bendiksen Studio was ‘Afric Pepperbird’ with the Jan Garbarek Quartet on September 22nd & 23rd, 1970, and four more ECM discs including a solo Chick Corea recording were made at the studio during 1971, and then once again on November 10th 1971 the same two young men sat at the Neve to this time record Keith Jarrett playing solo piano pieces on the studio’s Steinway A. Along with engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug was Manfred Eicher the producer, and this was to be Jarrett’s debut album on ECM, ‘Facing You’.

“I was on tour with Miles Davis and had met Manfred around this time,” Jarrett recalled. “He had written me about a proposed collaboration with Chick Corea but I was set on recording solo. I thought it would be a novel idea to not prepare and was totally comfortable with my decision despite a tight afternoon schedule while strictly playing electric piano on the tour.
Prior to the recording, Manfred and I went to a classical concert at the university in Heidelberg in which I performed solo. I improvised between a couple of standards and was encouraged by the positive reaction.”

“The first time I worked with Keith [Jarrett], on the solo album ‘Facing You’ (1972). That was very early days and it blew my mind when he played this solo concert, because he recorded the whole album in three or four hours. Also, all the Jan Garbarek groups, different groups with Jan Garbarek, at the time they were just fantastic. And then when Jan and Keith played together on ‘Belonging’.” [11]

Jan Erik continued giving Manfred Eicher some truly wonderful ECM jazz and classical albums right through his working life and was certainly instrumental in creating the sound that caused ECM’s motto to become “the most beautiful sound next to silence”. [12]

Ralph Towner Quartet during the recording of ‘Solstice’.
Photo: Terje Mosnes

Above, celebrating their recording of the Ralph Towner album ‘Solstice’ in the studio are left to right: Jan Garbarek (tenor, soprano sax, flute), Eberhard Weber (bass, cello), Manfred Eicher (producer), Jan Erik Kongshaug (engineer), Ralph Towner (12-string guitar, classical guitar, piano), Jon Christensen (drums, percussion).

As I mentioned earlier, this photo from 1974 shows that the Neve is a 26-channel console, with the previously missing channels now fitted with 1081 Mic-Amp Modules. It has 8 VUs with a vertical phase meter and an NTP bargraph meter. In 1973 the studio purchased an MCI 16-track.


1970: ‘Silver Faders’ – The first two Neves for CBS Records, London

As a major US recording company, CBS decided to ‘buy into’ the UK record markets in 1964, by purchasing the Levy brothers; Morris and Jacques’ company ‘Oriole Records’. Although this was mainly to get their disc pressing plant near Aylesbury, they also got Levy’s Studio at 73 New Bond Street.

“They didn’t really want Oriole records, but what they did have was a state-of-the­ art pressing plant and distribution network. The building’s still there as the Sony distribution centre, although it’s been enlarged greatly since those days. They weren’t interested in the studio, either, but they suddenly found that they had one. It was one room, one control room and a little reception area. People literally walked in off the street and saw me. We had a little EMI console, custom-built. It was fourteen channels in, three channels out, straight into the three-track Ampex. It was an old ballroom and it used to be a dancing school in the twenties.

It had a huge domed ceiling and it still had the spindle for the glitterball. When I first went there, they had a false ceiling across the studio, to stop sound going up into the dome and bouncing back down again and everything was very dry, because that was the sound of the day. Very controlled. A lot of screens, a lot of curtains. As the studio progressed, we took the ceiling down, because everything became more open. Once we took that ceiling down, the sound improved 100 per cent and I think it put the studio on the map. From the point that we took the ceiling down, we started getting really good work.” [13]

CBS promised to keep the Oriole staff, however, some Americans did come over and Ken Clancy arrived to run the UK business and Morris Levy then became Vice-Chairman. Reg Wharburton remained Head of A&R, as he had in Oriole, but a good move was to bring in pop producer Mike Smith and he started getting hits, and also brought ‘Brian Poole and The Tremoloes’ with him from his previous company, Decca.

The converted ballroom studio in New Bond Street was above a shop and it was soon unable to accommodate the growing CBS UK business, so in 1967, whilst keeping the studio, they moved the offices for the CBS operation to a large terraced Georgian town-house in Theobalds Road in Bloomsbury and also set up a re-mix suite and disc cutting and tape copying rooms in the new building. Reg Wharburton changed roles to become the studio manager. [10]

43| 1970: ‘Bloomsbury Remix’ | CBS Records, Theobalds Road 20-channel 4 group remix Neve – ‘A27

CBS Records 28-30 Theobalds Road, Bloomsbury, London WC1X 8NX

28-30 Theobalds Road hasn’t changed too much

A new Neve ‘A27’ was ordered for the re-mix suite and the design was begun with drawings for a new 1905 switching module for it on 3rd October 1969, and the desk details started being drawn that same month and continued through to December.

A 16-channel mixing desk, the first of several systems ordered from Rupert Neve, has been installed at the Theobalds Road, WC1, head office of CBS Records. An unusual feature is its light-beam level meters, manufactured in Switzerland. The desk was hauled into the studio through a fourth-floor window and one of its first tasks was the mixing and reduction of Debussy’s ‘Pelleas el Melisande’, a Royal Opera House production conducted by Pierre Boulez.”
(From Studio Sound April 1970.)

The Neve factory photo of Neve ‘A27’

“A27′ was the first CBS / George Balla console that Neve produced, with the mechanical drawings being done October to December 1969.”

The Theobald’s Road Neve was operational early in 1970 and is seen above in the Neve Melbourn factory, still awaiting the vertically mounted light-beam meters, and with additional 19″ panels in the upstand that accommodated Universal Audio compressors after delivery.
Neve ‘A27’ has 20 fully equipped channels, all with 1066 mic amp modules, and it’s most likely that the standard black P&G faders in the photo above were just there for the picture until the new silver-faced faders arrived. Although these were the first faders to have such silver top plates, they became a familiar sight in later years on many Neve consoles, and all the subsequent London CBS Neves had similar silver fader faceplates.

A closer look at ‘A27’

Here’s a closer look at the console. On the far left, at the top, are four EMT140 Echo Plate remotes, with the Echo Send VU’s above them. Under those are four of the 2000 series ‘EQ’ modules which provided just Hpf/Lpf but included mix amps.

“These are the Echo Sends & contain the echo mix bus amplifiers, in place of the usual 1272 mix amps, and include the echo send level control and high pass and low pass filters.”

Below the EQ ‘correction units’ are four vertically mounted Studer tape machine remotes, with their large buttons. Mike Ross recalls Studer C-37s, J-37s and eventually A80 8-tracks in the CBS studios prior to Whitfield Street.

“As shown in the CBS drawings from the registers, the 1905 was being designed in late 1969 for CBS and the description says:
4GR + pan  CBS, 1903 but 4 GR only.

The blank panels at the top of those new 1905 Routing Modules at the top of the channel strips, are the giveaway that the 1905 is based on the 16 group 1903, but as John mentions, they had now become just ‘4 group plus pan-pot’ routing modules. The channels also each have a 1904 Switching Module for 2 ‘FBs’ and 4 ‘Echos’. Above the four groups are the modules with the ‘Speaker’ selector switches, plus ‘FB1′ and ‘FB2’ switching, although it’s a ‘remix’ desk, there might also be a ‘Monitor Echo’ selector.
In addition to the silver faders, the vertical ‘light beam meters’ above the group faders were also a ‘first’ on a Neve and that also came from the CBS Technical Manager George Balla and once again went into the other CBS London consoles.
The new remix Neve ‘A27’ was initially used at Theobald’s Road mixing mainly classical tapes from a Studer 8-track, although it may have been joined by a 16-track prior to the move to the new Whitfield Street studios.

Here’s a film ‘screen-grab’ that shows ‘A27’ in the Theobalds Road remix room in 1971, and we’ll see some more on this further down:

Mike Fitzhenry on the right with guitarist John Williams and producer Paul Myers using Neve ‘A27’

All the fader face plates are certainly silver now and the photo shows a total of 24 faders, but the 4 with red knobs on the furthest away are the Group faders. Although there are 20 channels equipped with 1066 mic-amps, the nearest 4 faders have green knobs, and these were worked as ‘Echo Return’ channels, leaving the next 16 channel faders which have black knobs, thus indicating their normal use in a 16 input console. The next three CBS Neves continued being fitted with the Echo Return faders on the left like this.
Surely for the first time on this CBS desk, you could have HpF and LpF EQ on the ‘Echo Sends’, and then have the full EQ of a 1066 module on the ‘Echo Returns’.

Neve ‘A27’ moved when Theobalds Road closed and went into the remix room at the new Whitfield Street Studios in 1972, and here’s a photo of it a few years later.

Steve Shin at the original Neve ‘A27’still working in the Whitfield St. remix-copy room in December 1980.
Photo: via Andy Dacosta.

The studio monitor speakers seen above are the Altec 9844s that CBS originally used at both New Bond Street and Theobalds Road, and they were also initially in Whitfield Street Studio 1. 

CBS Records New Bond Street Studio

CBS Recording Studio 73 New Bond Street, London W1S 1RS

73 New Bond Street today

The original ‘Levy’s Studio’ at New Bond Street continued under the CBS management and when the two senior engineers John Wood and Geoff Frost left to start their own Sound Techniques Studio, the youngest engineer Mike Ross-Trevor took over and he started making many successful records, including continuing with some Fleetwood Mac work, such as recording Peter Greene’s famous ‘Albatross’ track.
In December 1966 Jimi Hendrix came in to do three tracks during the making of his first LP ‘Are You Experienced’, and Mike Ross obviously did the right things as Jimi preferred the studio to De Lane Lea where he’d been, but Producer Chas Chandler failed to pay his bill, and that caused Jacques Levy to refuse to give him any more sessions. Jimi went off to Olympic and into Eddie Kramer’s hands.

“Once the hits started to come in, CBS did pour a lot of money into the New Bond Street Studio; they bought 4-track Studers, then an 8-track, and we got a lot of new microphones and they spent a little bit of money on the acoustics.” [13]

44| 1970: ’28 Silver Faders’ | CBS Records, New Bond Street 24-channel 16 group Neve – ‘A69

The studio’s original EMI valve desk was in need of replacement, so the design of a second Neve was soon begun for New Bond Street.

“The second, larger recording console was ‘A69’, and the second studio console was pretty certainly the same actual design as consoles 3 & 4 delivered later, as only a couple of additional drawings were required for these, ‘A314’ & ‘A346’. The considerable design work for the second console for New Bond Street was done between February and April 1970.”

Although this had a similar appearance to the first remix desk, ‘A69’ was a 24-channel 16 group desk, but once again 4 extra faders for ‘Echo Returns’ were fitted on the left-hand end of the console giving a total of 28. Along with its larger monitoring requirements, it was fitted with new TB panels at each end and a revised upstand. As John says it all took some time as the circuit diagram was drawn up at the beginning of October 1969 but mechanical drawings were still being made in April 1970. Delivery therefore must have been later in 1970. Mike Ross, at least initially though, would still have been using it with an 8 Track, so I asked him about that:

“We did have a Studer A80 16 track at New Bond Street during the last few months; the idea was to get us used to it before moving to Whitfield Street.”

Neve ‘A69’ with 2 UREI 1176 and 4 2254 com/lims. in the upstand and the full set of ‘light beam’ meters.
Neve ‘A69’ in Studio 3 Whitfield Street in 1974, with a Studer 16 and an MCI 24-track.
Both photos: Steve Taylor

The couple of photos above of ‘A69’, are after it had moved into the new Whitfield Street Studio 3, and although it’s hard to tell, those are still ‘silver’ P&G faders, although now two channels have been replaced with blanking panels.

The Neve circuit drawings show that when built for New Bond Street, the console was equipped with 1066/A mic-amps, which were 1066s with click-stops fitted to the MF and LF boost and cut controls. These were normally seen on the Neve Film Dubbing consoles at this time.
The Switching Modules on the channels were now back to the 16-channel 1903s, and with the same 1904s for the selecting the 2 ‘FBs’ and 4 ‘Echos’, as ‘A27’ had. The Group-to-Group switching also uses those same 1903s.
Separate ‘PB’ and ‘Selsync’ inputs are brought back from the 16-track machine, with a ‘Selsync’ to ‘FB1’ and ‘FB2’ switch. The 2 ‘FBs’ are also fed to ‘LS1’ and ‘LS2’ amps to drive dedicated Studio FB speakers, as these were the days when the ‘non-rhythm’ session musicians, and particularly the classical string players, expected the foldback to be on loudspeakers and certainly not on headphones, ” Mind my Stradivarius”!
There are a total of 4 ‘Studio Loudspeakers’, able to be fed from the 4 Output Groups when in ‘PB’ from the 16-track, to give the tape playback to the floor.

Also fitted is a 1278 Amp of 50dB gain for a ‘Return TB’ feed from a floor talk-back mic, presumably usually from the orchestra’s ‘Musical Director’ on the bigger sessions.
The 16 ‘lightbeam meters’ that CBS Chief Engineer George Balla specified can be switched to ‘Output’ or ‘Playback’ for the 16 Groups or the 16-track and the 17th ‘Anc’ meter has a 24-way selector to read all 16-track ‘PBs’ or the 2 ‘FBs’ and 4 ‘Echos’. 4 EMT140 Echo Plate Remotes are fitted and 4 Studer Tape Machine controls.

CBS have bigger plans for London

As we have already shown, CBS though had even bigger plans for its London operation and in 1970 they started a new studio complex of 4 stories in a very central location at 31-37 Whitfield Street, just off Tottenham Court Road. This consisted of one large and two smaller studios, two re-mix rooms, three disc-mastering rooms and two tape copying rooms. The offices moved and even 4 echo chambers were built, although Mike Ross says they preferred relying on their EMT plates.
Neve supplied two more desks, which matched the New Bond Street’s ‘A69’ by also being 24-channel 16-track, and the new Whitfield Street Studios which was operational in 1972.

Keeping to our ‘historical timeline’, we will look at the Whitfield Street Studio’s two new Neve consoles later.

Output from the Neves at New Bond Street and Theobalds Road

CBS still used the New Bond Street Studio during this period and it was busy successfully producing hits. Mike Ross-Trevor had become the engineer at the studio and Mike Fitzhenry mainly stayed at Theobalds Road doing the classical remixes. Roy Emerson was engineering at this time as well, and he then became a classical producer, finally taking over the ‘Masterworks Europe’ Producing role from Paul Myers in 1977.

“New Bond Street was not considered by the American guys to be a serious studio. The fact that we were churning out loads of hits was by the way. It wasn’t considered a great orchestral room. So a lot of the American producers who came over and wanted to do orchestral projects would go to Olympic in Barnes, Abbey Road and CTS.” [14]


The Byrds – “Lazy Waters” from the album “Further Along”- 1971 (Engineer: Mike Ross-Trevor, mixed by Eric Prestidge, at Columbia, Hollywood)

The Byrds were very unhappy with the strings, horns and choir that producer Terry Melcher had added to their previous album ‘Byrdmaniax’, so during a tour of the UK, they hurriedly recorded a new album at New Bond Street, which they produced themselves with Mike Ross engineering for five busy days in July 1971. The Byrds weren’t the most original band but had a following for their ‘laid back country style’ rock but they had great vocal harmonies….like this:

AUDIO: The Byrds-Lazy Waters from 1971

Many of CBS’s UK recorded classical recordings went through the Neve re-mix room whilst it was at Theobalds Road, like this one:


Patrick Gowers “Chamber Concerto for Guitar” – with John Williams – 1971 (Engineers: Recording-John Richards (CTS) or John Moseley (Command), Remix -Mike Fitzhenry CBS.)

In 1971 the classical guitarist John Williams accepted an invitation to play at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Williams wanted to get away from playing the same classical guitar repertoire and was investigating new areas for his instrument, and at the time of his dates at ‘Ronnie’s’ he was recording a new concerto written for him by Patrick Gowers.
Christopher Nupen made a film of John Williams at Ronnie Scott’s and it included this sequence shot in the re-mix room at Theobalds Road during the mixing of the Gower’s concerto, with some interesting ‘micro-managing’ of the balance taking place. [15]

VIDEO CLIP: (Press ‘Play’ button in bottom left corner)

Many engineers will recognise the dilemma that engineer Mike Fitzhenry faces here – ‘mixing by committee’, with of course everyone having conflicting views!
Apart from John Williams, Herbie Flowers is on bass, and Tristan Try on drums; both of whom were to become part of the group ‘Sky’ with Williams later. The others were John Scott – sax and flute, Pat Halling – violin, Stephen Shingles – viola, and Dennis Vigay – cello. So a mix of talented classical, jazz and pop musicians.

It was conducted by Godfrey Salmon and normally at this time CBS would record classical music in EMI Studio 1 at Abbey Road with EMI engineer Bob Gooch, or if ‘on location’ with Bob Auger, but on this LP both engineers John Richards (CTS) and John Moseley (Command) are listed. We don’t know which one did the Gower’s recording though as there are also some Scarlatti Sonatas on the disc.

I find it off-putting to see that amount of ‘fader-twiddling’ in the mixdown, although it is the composer doing it and Patrick Gowers’ concept was that the music was specifically for ‘the recording medium’:

“From the beginning, John and I made no attempt to create a natural balance either between guitar and accompaniment, or within the accompanying group. This is of course, immaterial in recording, and it has overriding advantages. It allows you to combine instruments that cannot go together otherwise. And as a result, it frees you from the formal restriction of having to alternate between passages where the orchestra plays and the guitar rests, and those where the guitar plays and practically all the orchestra rests. In addition, the extra power adds greatly to the expressive range of the guitar, allowing it to become forceful and energetic – even, if you wish, aggressive.”

Few are the sound engineers who get a piece of music named after them, but the group ‘Andwella’s Dream’ recorded a track with the title ‘Michael Fitzhenry’. It was an instrumental and was issued as B-side single, but alas although Mike had recorded some of Andwella’s 1969 album ‘Love and Poetry’, the ‘Michael Fitzhenry’ track was actually done by Robin Cable at Trident.


Debussy – ‘Pelléas and Mélisande’ – Boulez and the Covent Garden Orchestra -1969 / 1970 (Engineers: Recording – Bob Gooch EMI and Remix – Mike Fitzhenry CBS)

This is the recording mentioned earlier as the first re-mix carried out on the new Neve in Theobalds Road. The recording was made at EMI’s Studio 1, produced by Paul Myers and engineered by Bob Gooch in December ’69 and January ’70 and it was Mike Fitzhenry who re-mixed on the new Neve ‘A27’.
In 1970, recording a 3-hour long opera in a studio was still commercially viable and this recording with Elisabeth Söderström as Mélisande, George Shirley as Pelléas and Donald McIntyre as Golaud is still in the catalogue, and later in 2009 it had a 20-bit remastering by Mike Ross-Trevor.
In the opening Scene 1, ‘Golaud’, finds ‘Melisande’ wandering alone in the forest, but she just can’t explain why she’s there …. so a little later he marries her (operas are like that)!

AUDIO: Scene 1 from ‘Pelleas and Melisande’ by Debussy – Boulez and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.


1970: Rupert Neve and Geoff Watts at the BKSTS

“Studio mixers, faders and their ancillaries were the subjects of a BKSTS symposium held during the afternoon and evening of January 28 at the 1TA Conference Suite, Brompton Road, London, SW3. attended by nearly 100 members and visitors.
In the afternoon, under the chairmanship of A. W. Lumkin (Head of Engineering, Associated British Picture Corp.) general design principles were covered by A. R. Neve and G. Watts of Rupert Neve & Co. Ltd.
Mr Neve began by outlining the conflicting requirements demanded by modern studio working and referred to the simpler desks of a decade ago, when the number of channels was relatively low, passive networks and balanced lines were used, and valves were the only choice for really high quality systems.
Turning to the present day, he said that transistors now allow a system performance that would have been unobtainable with conventional valves, because of noise and hum problems, although even now it was necessary to exercise extreme care in design, due to the number of stages of control now required and the number of channels which could be grouped and mixed. Specifications were often very tight, with distortion figures usually the most difficult to meet, and circuit simplicity was usually an advantage if the optimum path between noise and overload levels was to be maintained.
On faders, Mr Neve demonstrated that even high quality stepped models gave audible discontinuities when varying the level of test tones. Continuously variable types were therefore normally preferred. He then went on to discuss the broad requirements for the amplification, tonal control and matrixing of signals, with examples of reduction from eight channels to stereo or mono. He was emphatic that only the highest quality monitoring loudspeakers should be used if both effective and consistent programme control was to be maintained.”
(From Studio Sound April 1970)

The ‘high quality stepped’ faders that Rupert mentioned were the quadrant Painton faders with ‘studs’ that the BBC still favoured for many years, and Rupert disliked that they ‘clicked’ noticeably when changing level during any continuous tones, although to be honest this only really showed on ‘tone’ or perhaps a held note on an organ.
BBC TV later went on to fit Painton quadrant faders on Neves, Calrecs and even SSLs, although by then continuous tracks were fitted to them, similar to his ‘P&G’ faders.


1970: ‘The AIR Above Oxford Circus’ | Four Neves for AIR Studios

Associated Independent Recording Studios, 214 Oxford Street, London W1C 1DA

From 1970 brochure

“In the early days of AIR, we had no studios of our own. We had to rent whatever studio was available and suitable for the particular recording. So it made sense for us to keep our belts tightened, not pay ourselves very high salaries, and plough back the money into our own company, quite legitimately, to finance the building of our own studios.
The most difficult job was to find a suitable site. London is a very expensive place, and none of the major studios was actually in the centre, such facilities as existed being confined to poky little places.

The choice was greatly affected by the fact that I wanted a multi-purpose studio, one that could be used for dubbing films as well as making records. To make that pay we would have to attract the American trade. I wanted the best American film and record producers to use the studios. That indicated somewhere within easy reach of Claridges and the Connaught.
Finally, I heard about the top of the Peter Robinson building at Oxford Circus. You certainly couldn’t get more central than that.”

“I recruited Keith Slaughter as studio manager, and later Dave Harries who had worked with Keith at EMI. As our acoustics expert, we employed Kenneth Shearer, a real sound boffin, who can tell you more about acoustics than anyone else in this country. He is the man who designed all those ‘flying saucers’ in the Albert Hall.
The answer to the rumble up through the building from the underground was drastic and dramatic. The whole works – studios and control rooms – would be made completely independent of the main building. Essentially, a huge box was to be built inside the banqueting-hall, and mounted on acoustic mounts.” [17]

AIR got a pair of 16-track Neves and the other big London studios were also seeing the need to move up from 8-track. In the autumn of 1969 Trident Studios put in 16-track, and in the US 24-track was now a reality, but the move to 24-track was still one step that many in London seemed to think wouldn’t happen anytime soon ….. but as Mike Ross has said, they should have planned for it anyway.

Billboard May 1970

As AIR Studios were a bit late to make it as an ‘entry’ into the Billboard Recording Studio Directory in early May 1970, AIR placed an advertisement to say that ‘they were coming’, and it shows that the plan was for three studios and a ‘film dubbing theatre’, although the latter was to be a small room, not a Shepperton or Pinewood style ‘big theatre’.

The initial drawing number details for the AIR consoles are
M/11,343 Layout drawing – 24-channel 16 group console A29 & A45 19/11/1969
M/11,345 General assembly – 24-channel 16 group console A29 & A45 19/11/1969
M/11,376 Layout drawing – 16-channel 8 track console A46 29/11/1969
M/11,403 Layout drawing – 12-channel Dubbing console A47 02/12/1969

We will cover each of these consoles in separate sections, starting with the matching Studio 1 and 2 ‘A29’ and ‘A45’ first.

45| 1970: ‘George’s 16-Tracks’ | AIR Studio’s 24-channel 16 group Neves for Studios 1 and 2 – ‘A29 & A45’.

George Martin and his partners wanted the best for their new studios and the Neve 24 into 16 was considered to be ‘the state of the art’ in sound desks in the UK in 1969/70. Their two new consoles were undoubtedly designed by AIR’s Chief Engineer Keith Slaughter, but hopefully also with input from the newly recruited senior mixer Bill Price.

‘A29’ – the 24-channel 16 group Neve for AIR for Studio 1

The photo above shows Neve ‘A29’, the first console for AIR Studio 1, with the identical console ‘A45’ for Studio 2.
The Producer’s desk on the left has a film footage counter showing the intention for AIR Studio 1 to be a film scoring studio, along with his TB and cue light keys.
There’s an unprecedented total of eight 2254 Comp/Lims fitted in the upstand beside the 16 VU’s.

The groups and monitor section of AIR’s ‘A29

Neve ‘A29’ is equipped with 1066 Mic-Amps, and the Neve ‘2-wire’ circuit drawing shows the usual studio mic inputs have a ‘phantom power’ feed for the 48v condenser mics, something not usually seen on Neve drawings at this time. It also has the 8-track playback wired back to the line input for channels 1-8 and the 16-track playback returning to channels 9-24.
The Channel Switching modules are 1903s, which are also used for the Group-to-Group switching and 1903s, fitted with black switch caps, are also used for the Echo Returns. Beneath these Echo Return 1903s are four smaller VUs, along with the separate‘ Echo Return’ gain pots.
The Channel Echo and FB Sends, consisting of 4 Echos and 4 FBs, are on 1906 modules and the Echo Sends themselves have line input 2069 EQs, which have similar equalisers to the 1066s, and each of those comes with a gain pot at the top as part of the module.

Above the Echo Return 1903s are the 1272 Line Amps for each of the FBs, and above them a pair of Remotes for the EMT140 plates, and another 1272 labelled ‘Mono’.
There is a 1275 Distribution Amp above the EQs, in a double-width panel. The Oscillator is a 1463 with ’60Hz/500Hz/1kHz/5kHz and 12kHz’ frequencies, and with a fixed 1458 30Hz oscillator giving that helpful ‘slate bleep’ to the tape when identing takes.

The Group Monitor controls are 1907 modules and not the single large Monitor Panel as was usual. It has Echo on Monitor and switching to route to the 4 FBs, plus the switches for the four Monitor Speakers which includes a ‘pan-pot’ between pairs of speakers, and this allowed rear speakers for Quad, which can be seen in the AIR photos.
The usual monitor controls from left to right, are a ‘Main Speaker’ level and selector for ‘Output/Playback/Anc’; the ancillaries being the 4 Echos, 4 FBs and a ‘Patch’.

A Master ‘Playback’ select-switch chooses between a ’16T/8T’ machine and the ‘Meter’ selector duplicates the same Monitor LS choices.
On the right side, above the Groups 9-16 faders, is a PB selector for 1/4″ tapes giving ‘2T/4T/Mono’ to the choice of the 4 speakers. Then comes an ‘Echo on Monitor’ send pot with indicator, and an ‘Echo Rtn’ pot to the 4 speakers.

The lower right-hand panel has talkback keys for just ‘Studio’ and ‘Tape’ and to the four ‘FBs’ in pairs, plus 2 studio cue lights.

Photo: AIR feature article in Beat Instrumental July 1972

“Our first console at AIR, built by Rupert Neve who makes the Rolls-Royce of recording desks, was a sixteen track, and cost $35,000. At the time, we thought that was a lot of money.”

Photos from an article in Recording Engineer/Producer magazine of January 1971

In the pictures above Bill Price engineers whilst George Martin thinks and listens …. I think it’s Studio Two.

“The control rooms for Studio One and Studio Two were at opposite ends of the building, on the outside corners of the building; the former overlooked Oxford Circus, while the latter looked out over Upper Regent Street. Directly across the corridor from Studio Two was Studio Three, a small remix (“reduction”) room with a good-sized isolation booth suitable for overdubs. [18]

The AIR Neve ‘A45’ in Studio 4 sometime after 1973.
Photo: via Mark Simms

The Film Dubbing Theatre didn’t last very long at AIR, probably operational in the latter half of 1971 and the Billboard Directory mentions it first in 1972 and then it isn’t present in the next year’s edition in 1973. The studio was rebuilt as ‘Studio 4’ and in the photo above it is equipped with an obviously updated ‘A45’ after it had been moved from Studio 2 with the arrival of a newer console ‘A725’. Silver now faders no longer being unusual of course.

46| 1970: ‘AIR’s Two Other Neves’ | Studio 3’s 20-channel 8 group Neve – ‘A46’ 
and the Film Dubbing Theatre’s 12-channel 4 group Neve – ‘A47’.

Neve ‘A46’ went into Studio 3, which was the smallest studio and also served as the remix room. Neve records show it was planned as a 16-channel, but ‘A46’ in Studio 3 became a 20-channel input console and is detailed as that in the Billboard listing of mid-1971. This would have made sense if it was to be used for 16-track remixes.

George Martin’s desire to get film work meant he equipped Studio 1 for film-scoring with full film projection equipment and this also extended to his providing a small film dubbing theatre that required similar.

“Studio Four was a long narrow room directly across from Studio One. Commonly referred to as the “dubbing theatre” and built primarily for film applications, it included a screen and a tiny isolation booth at the rear and a raised projection room above the console.” [18]

The 12-channel AIR Film Dubbing Neve ‘A47’ used the wider 60mm modules, that we’ve seen on the Pathé Film console.
Here’s a small photo of it towards the end of 1970 in the AIR Dubbing Studio:

Photo from Beat Instrumental magazine

It was later purchased by Edwyn Collins from Goldcrest Films in Soho and initially used in his Alexandra Palace studio and later moved to West Heath Studio in West Hampstead. The photo below is of ‘A47’ as it was in 2011, after quite a lot of modifications, but it still shows the similarities to the Pathé desk in its layout and like the Thames TV ‘A1’ Film Dubbing Neve it has a Neve 2067 ‘Telephone Distort’ unit and a pair of 2065 Hpf/Lpf EQ’s, and a 2072 ‘Sliding Notch filter. The modifications to Edwyn’s desk included ‘roughly inserting’ modules from a Neve 53 series console though and there’s more on it in the ‘Afterlife’ section later.

Closer view of the modified AIR ‘A47’ at West Heath Studio as it was in 2011.
Photo: Sound-on-Sound magazine

AIR Studios – ‘Acoustically Floating‘ Above Oxford Circus

From AIR’s first brochure of 1970

George Martin had left EMI back in August 1965 to set up ‘Associated Independent Recording’, taking his assistant Ron Richards, along with another from EMI; Norma Newell’s assistant John Burgess, and Peter Sullivan came from Decca to become partners in the AIR Studios venture.
Bill Price from Decca became the Senior Mixer with Jack Clegg joining from CTS later in 1970, to bring his film scoring experience. Bill Price recruited John Punter from Decca and Chris Thomas also joined as a Producer. AIR was set to ‘takeoff’ above Oxford Circus.

“The opening party was on 7 October (1970). And on the 9 October, I made the first recording at AIR Studios; the artist – Cilla Black.”

“I recall thinking it somewhat unwise to go in at the deep end with a large orchestra when there would almost invariably be some teething problems in the early days of AIR’s operation.”
To his considerable relief, the first take went off without a hitch, but when he played the track back to the singer, Black’s response was, “That sounds nice, but could you take some of the echo off? It’s too much.”
With a laugh, Clegg says, “I had to tell her that there was no echo added at all, and what she was hearing was the natural acoustic of the studio!” The days that followed were busy ones indeed for Dave Harries and his maintenance crew as they scrambled to deaden up the acoustic response of the studio accordingly.”

By the 1971 Billboard Directory, their entry showed the 2 studios with their 24-16 Neves (‘A29’ and ‘A45’). Studio 3 (‘A46’) is listed as a 20 into 8 and there is no entry shown for the Film Dubbing Theatre.

The June 1971 AIR listing in the Billboard Recording Studios Directory

Made on AIR’s new Neve’s

A multi-room studios like AIR with a big reputation produced an enormous amount of great recordings, so I can only pick a few examples at random.

“Fashions in mics came and went. Bill Price and John Punter had trained at Decca Records’ West Hampstead studios, so tended to follow the techniques they’d developed there. AIR was well-equipped with Neumann and AKG condenser mics and when Geoff Emerick came over from Apple he used the STC 4038 ribbon mics he’d been using on Beatles records. American producers would show up and be stunned at the number of Neumann U87s we had in stock, but they’d also ask for things we didn’t have and be surprised we didn’t all use Shure SM57s on snare. There was an AKG dynamic mic called the D202 that some people used on toms and bass and brass instruments, and an AKG 224 dynamic pencil mic that Tony Ashton insisted on as a vocal mic for a particularly disastrous (for me) Ashton, Gardner & Dyke session that I engineered for Gus Dudgeon.” [19]

Pink Floyd – “Meddle” – 1971 (Engineers: Peter Bown and John Leckie, (EMI) with Rob Black and Roger Quested )

Pink Floyd started “Meddle” at EMI Abbey Road, but came to AIR for the new 16-track facility.

The Pink Floyd and Neve at AIR.

“AIR was at the technical forefront in 1971 with 16-track recording. Pink Floyd came to AIR to finish the “Meddle” album on 16-track because Abbey Road was still only 8-track.

“Abbey Road had just invested in an eight-track, but were ready to go 16-track. So we went to Air studios, which was great. A very different atmosphere to EMI. EMI was very established, had the big canteen… there was already a lot of change, though. The Beatles did that a few years before. But AIR was state-of-the-art.
It was the possibilities offered by 16-track that changed everything. “Yes, by definition, though unfortunately, it made the process of recording slower. There were almost too many options,” says Mason. “Mixing took a hell of a lot longer.” [20]
(They also recorded at a third studio that was also
16-track , Morgan in Willesden.


Procol Harum – “Broken Barricades” – 1971 (Engineer: John Punter)

“My guess is that Procul Harum’s “Broken Barricades” was recorded with the then-fairly-new Dolby A “signal stretcher” devices. 16 channels took up two full racks, each about four feet high. Eventually, the switching was automated, but for a significant period you had to manually switch each channel back and forth between record and play modes. This was, of course, a job for the tape op, and a damn tedious one it was.

I distinctly remember that the remix session for The Paul Winter Consort’s “Icarus” album was a nightmare. George Martin had produced this in America around the same time as the second Capitol Seatrain album, but Paul Winter had done a bunch of recording himself and wanted various tracks to be compiled from different performances – recorded at different studios with different musicians and different track layouts. Once the multi-track tapes were assembled, as each edit passed the playback head the bass would suddenly switch from track 1 to track 11 and the whole tape would go from Dolby to non-Dolby. Bill Price did the mix, sometimes a few bars at a time, exactly the kind of mind-boggling technical problem-solving that he could do in his sleep, while I tried manfully to keep up with the Dolby switching.” [19]

For those of us toiling away in 8-track studios in 1971, ‘Broken Barricades’ was an album that showed how a good band with a superb drummer (B.J. Wilson), paired up with a great producer (Chris Thomas) and engineer (John Punter) and with a 16-track desk (Neve), could make something sound really impressive.

AUDIO: Procol Harum – “Power Failure” from the album “Broken Barricades” – 1971 (Engineer: John Punter)

I wasn’t the only one listening and hopefully learning. Chris Michie, quoted above was John Punter’s tape-op, and here’s another of AIR’s young tape ops:


Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now” – 1972 (Engineer: Jack Clegg )

“This song, as a part of the original album, was recorded at AIR studios (Studio 1), Oxford Street London W1 and mixed (Studio 3), by Jack Clegg (the very best engineer I ever worked with) with some involvement by John Middleton (ELO). I was the sometime tape-op ( referred to as ‘second engineer’ these days). I sat up many nights playing the master tapes wondering how on earth Jack got such clarity and depth into the sound. Great day.” [21]

AUDIO: Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now”


The Third Ear Band – Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth” score –1971 (Engineers: Dave Harries and Bill Barringer)

Some very different music occurred when that little Film Dubbing Theatre at AIR with the 12-channel ‘A47’ was turned into a full recording studio when film director Roman Polanski came in to record an ‘improvised score’ for his film version of “Macbeth” using ‘The Third Ear Band’.
AIR’s ‘film scoring’ mixer Jack Clegg lost interest in the inevitable slow pace and tedious ‘multitracking’ that was required and the job fell to AIR’s young maintenance engineer Dave Harries.
The Third Ear Band for these sessions consisted of Denim Bridges – guitar, Glen Sweeney – drums and percussion, Paul Minns – oboe and recorder, Simon House – violin and VCS3 synth, and Paul Buckmaster – cello and bass guitar.

“We originally were going to use a small dubbing theatre at Air and we thought we would rehearse the film score, but on the first few clips – they only sent the movie on a clip at the time, you see – things went so well that we eventually set the dubbing theatre up and plugged it into an eight-track and it became the original film soundtrack, apart from overdubbing…
The way we did it mainly was by viewing the clip that they needed music for and then
 maybe somebody would have a musical idea which we would try out, and if nobody had any ideas, then we would hope for the best and try again.” [22]

“Yes, they did view the clip and then compose the music on the spot to go with each scene. We did it one clip at a time so at times to me the music can seem a bit disjointed. Roman Polanski used to come in and review the work. We sent the music mixes to Shepperton Studios to lay them up with the film as we completed them. Often Shepperton would label them wrongly so would sometimes show scenes with the wrong music as a result. Very confusing. Roman Polanski used to get annoyed about this! We worked in Studio 4 which was designed as a dubbing theatre with film projection facilities. This notably was one of the first movies to use Dolby on the soundtrack.

I recorded the band to multitrack locked to the picture and mixed the music down to two-track magnetic (film). Also, I mixed and edited the soundtrack album”.
“I was speaking with Bill Barringer yesterday about the equipment. We think we used a Studer A80 8-track machine with a 50Hz pulse on track 8 to synchronise with the film.
We mixed down to stereo or maybe three-track to an Albrecht film recorder.”

AUDIO: “Inverness Suite”, consisting of ‘Macbeth’s Return’, ‘The Preparation’, ‘Fanfare’ and ‘Duncan’s Arrival’.

An example of The Third Ear’s improvised pieces for ‘Macbeth’. The second piece there sounds like something Steve Reich and the other minimalist composers would have been at home with.

“Glen, Paul, Richard and Denny trusting me with my suggestions. For example, I actually wrote the dreary “Witches Song”, which we played, and sang. The singing was done by the five of us; Roman wanted it to be “kind of disgusting”… We did a certain amount of overdubbing, to create a more dense texture in places, with me and Richard making clustery string harmonies… I think the ‘End Titles’ is one of the better pieces in the score; Denny contributed a lot to that, and a great driving pulse from Glen!
I believe Denny composed “Fleance’s Song” with Paul… but we’re all credited as co-writers, which was Glen’s democratic, egalitarian virtue”. [22]

‘Fleance’s Song‘ was a nice ‘mediaeval song’ sung by a very young Keith Chegwin:

AUDIO: The Third Ear Band “Fleance” – sung by Keith Chegwin.

The lyrics are based on a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer entitled “Merciless Beaute”. Yes, that is the same Keith Chegwin, who was later on BBC Children’s TV.

“Fleance’s Song was recorded by Jack Clegg and Bill in Studio 2 at Oxford Circus. I mixed it with Bill Barringer in Studio 4 along with everything else. It was so good and very commercial that at the time we all agreed that it should be released by EMI as a single, but the record company didn’t agree”.

Afterlife: The AIR Studios Neves ‘A29’, ‘A45’, ‘A46’ and ‘A47’

Neve ‘A29’ – First installed in AIR Studio 1:

The AIR Studio 1 Neve ‘A29’ was returned to Neve at Melbourne at the end of 1976 for a ‘full make-over’ as project ‘A3896’, which converted it to the newer Neve ‘NAD’ finish and included a conversion of the original 1066 mic-amps to new 1104’s.

The parts list document for converting the 1066s to 1104s, first dated 21/8/76.

The new 1104s, or 31104s in the NAD finish, are described in the Neve documents as “1066s with the 1084 Hp/Lp switch”.
It also was the first console to receive NECAM automation, after the Neve demonstration 8014 console was shown to George Martin and once he’d mixed some tapes George was convinced that he wanted NECAM right away. The result was to re-build ‘A29’ with the new mix computer, seen on the right end of the monitor section below.

“In late 1976, Neve NECAM mix automation was added to the console in Studio 3. As it initially contained just 8k of memory (8 kilobytes), Neve soon informed AIR that an additional 8-kilobyte chip was required to carry out advanced operations. The cost of the tiny chip? A very substantial £5,000 – some £25,000 (or $42,000) in today’s money!” (2015 prices)
(From Howard Massey’s ‘Great British Recording Studios’). [23]

The rebuild didn’t just stop at fitting NECAM though:

Neve ‘A3896’, the rebuilt ‘A29’ with NECAM.

“This console was refurbished and fitted with the very first NECAM moving fader system AND ultraviolet reflective silk screening (didn’t last long) which made the console appear to be illuminated via IR lamps in the ceiling – looked great! It was installed in a refurbished AIR Studio 3 (Mixdown) room at 314 Oxford Circus which previously had been a Film Dubbing suite. I was Chief Engineer there at the time.”

Yes…..it certainly looked great!

John Turner’s store of Neve documents continues to amaze me……like this photo of the ‘new A3896‘ under UV lighting….thus proving that both AIR and Neve engineers had a truly wonderful sense of the absurd!

“The ultraviolet fluorescent silk screening was, as Martin (Jones R&D Director) recalls, very difficult to get right as the early attempts failed to produce a robust enough finish. The result was that the screening just rubbed off. Eventually Susan, at screens and graphics, managed to find a solution. If memory serves me correctly Neve only produced two consoles using this process, the other console being for the Who’s Ramport studio (now in New Zealand).”

Neve ‘A45’ – First installed in AIR Studio 2:

In 1973, when a new Neve ‘A725’ came for Studio 2, the Film Dubbing 12-channel ‘A47’ was removed and in the rebuilt Studio 4 came a refurbished ‘A45’. I’ve already shown one photo of it there earlier. Here’s Geoff Emerick in Studio 4 with the console in 1975:

Geoff Emerick mixing Nektar’s 1975 album ‘Recycled’.
Photo; via Larry Fast
Geoff Emerick with Gallagher and Lyle, probably mixing the ‘Breakaway’ album in 1976

Neve ‘A45’ then went to the Swedish studio Gothenburg Sound, where it was used in Studio 1 from 1987 to 1997.

Ex-AIR Neve A45, in an already modified form, as it was in the Gothenburg Sound Studio 1 between 1987 and 1997.
Photo: GSAB

It then moved to ‘The Boat Studio’ in LA’s Silver Lake, set up by John King and Mike Simpson, known as ‘The Dust Brothers’.

A big bit of London AIR comes to LA.
Photo: The Boat Studio

Lots more faders than when it was in AIR Studio 1:

“The desk had already been partially customised as the 1906 Aux Routing Modules had been fitted with large illuminated buttons instead of the Isostat and Secme push buttons plus lamp. To the right of the channel section, the monitor modules were drastically modified. Linear faders with Solo and Cut lighted buttons were added to the monitor path working with new PCBs in the module.
Also added was a simple two-band equaliser plus Groups 15 and 16 were switchable to the 2T busses from the Monitor, so the console had 26+16 = 40 paths to the 2T busses, all with EQ.”

There’s a vintage Neve in this ‘boat’.
Photo: dwell.com

Previously used as a radio station building, that’s an arresting-looking imitation ‘static boat’, and its even got portholes.

Neve ‘A47’ – First installed in the AIR Film Dubbing Theatre:

As I mentioned earlier, ‘A47’, the AIR 12-channel Film Dubbing Neve, was re-built for Edwyn Collin’s West Heath Studio in West Hampstead. Here are a couple of photos of it there:

Edwyn Collin’s Neve, originally AIR’s A47 Film Dubbing mixer as it was in 2010.
Photo: Richard Ecclestone/Redferns/Getty

Despite looking a bit of a mess, the original 1064A Mic-Amps and 1879 Switching Modules show the console’s similarity with the Pathe 12-channel Film Dubbing desk (see Part Five) however, it has here been mated with parts from a 53 Series desk and 33726a mic-amp modules have been ‘plonked’ into panels on both sides.

Producer Ger McDonnell at the West Heath’s Neve ‘A47 hybrid’.
Photo: Helen L. Collen

The photo above makes me wonder if Ger McDonnell is wondering if all that ‘recording studio junk’ on top of the mixer is the reason the sound on his ‘cans’ is different from when he listens to the big Tannoys or the smaller AR18 speakers.
We never used to pile stuff up on consoles
like that, well not before ‘nearfields’ like NS10s started living on the upstands. Here’s what the studio designer Phil Newell has to say about the error of putting nearfield speakers ‘sideways’ on the mixer:

“so a flat frequency response would not be possible due to the phase shifts involved, unless….etc”
The drawings above are from Phil’s great book ‘Recording Studio Design’. [25]

‘Meanwhile…back to ‘A47’:
Blake Devitt later brought his skill to sort out what had become a ‘confused looking’ console and by putting it into another frame, and reducing the modules down to 45mm width, he gained the space to insert two more Neve 1064As into each ‘bucket’ and added 6 further modules on the right. With Blake’s careful work it became the superb-looking 22-channel desk seen below, that I’m sure Rupert and all at Neve in the 1970s would have been proud of.

The 2018 rebuild by Blake

Phil Newell also thinks we should put our nearfields on stands just behind the desk, to help cut down the reflections off the mixer surface, although in the photo above they are still sideways-mounted. Good monitoring in the studio is just understanding the ‘science’ after all.

Edwyn, along with Sebastian Redgrove and Martin Perry wrote a TV Sitcom for Channel 4 in 1999, which made great fun of the music and recording studio business, and it was shot at his West Heath Studio and featured Neve ‘A47’ quite heavily in the 7-part series. The episodes can still be found on YouTube, with each episode broken up into 2 parts, and it’s called appropriately ‘West Heath Yard’.

In 2005 Edwyn suffered from a stroke, and his remarkable but slow recovery right through to recording again was detailed in a BBC Scotland documentary in 2007, available on YouTube. He was assisted throughout by his wife Grace, who wrote a book about Edwyn’s recovery that is an inspirational read. Sound-on-Sound magazine also wrote an article on the recording of Edwyn’s song ‘Losing Sleep’ in 2011. Do look all of these up. [26]

Neve ‘A46’ – First installed in AIR Studio 3 : (fate unknown)

Does anyone know what happened to AIR Studio’s 20-channel 8 group ‘A46’?


47| 1970: ‘Neves in St. Germain’ | Studio Acousti’s 20-channel 8 group and 16-channel 4 group Neves – ‘A62 and A63’ and the 24-channel 8 group – ‘A130’

Studio Acousti, 54, Rue de Seine, 75006 Paris 6, France

“In love with Paris, the rich American music lover Niels Groen had bought several buildings there, including the one located at the back of the courtyard at 54, Rue de Seine in 1959. Upstairs he set up a jazz-oriented recording area, around a superb Steinway grand piano. The L-shaped room, measures more than 100 m 2 with a 4m high ceiling, receives daylight and has good acoustics. The studio started in 1963: American jazz musicians, often then present in Paris where the atmosphere was better than at home, spread the word, and Acousti was very active for many years, also welcoming a number of French singers. (Gréco, Mouloudji etc), who were often recorded by Bruno Menny. [27]

The first two Neves for Paris, a 20-channel 8 group and a 16-channel 4 group went to Studio Acousti in the artistic Left Bank district of St. Germain-des-Prés in mid-1970, and were installed by John Turner. Monsieur Grün from the studio was sufficiently pleased to write to Sales Manager Victor Perks at Neve to thank him and hint at buying a third Neve.

Billboard Recording Studio Directory May 1970

Both Neves were listed in Billboard for May 1970 and the studio did proceed to buy a third. This was the 24-channel 8 group ‘A130’ listed in the Billboard Directory in 1972, and shown in this photo:

Engineer Jean-Bernard Pié at Studio Acousti’s 24-channel 8 Group Neve.
Photo: via Discogs

I’m jumping ahead a bit in my ‘timeline’ with the photo of the Neve above, as it’s the 24-channel 8 Group ‘A130’, installed in Studio A probably during 1971, working with an Ampex 16-Track.
With 1064 Mic-amps and 1900 Switching Modules, and four 2254/A Comp/Lims, it’s a standard 24/8 of the time.

Studio Acousti ad from the ’70s.
Photo: via Discogs
Billboard news item from April 1973

By early 1973 Studio Acousti followed the lead of other French studios and ‘head-hunted’ a British engineer, Colin Caldwell who had been at the Marquee and freelanced at Trident, and the ‘King Harvest’ mentioned were four American ex-pats who started the group in Paris in 1970.

Back in late 1968 and early 1969, The contemporary classical composer Iannis Xenakis came to Studio Acousti when he was in the middle of composing ‘Kraanerg’, a work for dances that had been commissioned by the National Ballet of Canada. The piece used 23 instruments and a pre-recorded four-channel tape and Xenakis produced a ‘four-channel surround’ tape at Studio Acousti for the Canadian performance, probably helped by Acousti engineer Bruno Menny who was also personally working with electroacoustic music. Xenakis returned to Acousti until his own electronic workshop studio was finished in Paris in 1972, so he would have used one of the Neves. [28]

Much of the music out of Acousti in the early ’70s was by French folk groups, like the albums by Malicorne, who formed in 1973 and played a mix of medieval and modern instruments. Most of their albums were recorded by established folk specialist Nic Kinsey, assisted by Acousti’s house engineers.


48| 1970: ‘Neve In Sections‘ | The Pye Mobile’s Neves – ‘A72 and A129’

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

Apart from the ‘classical recording companies’ Decca and EMI, during the ’60s a number of London commercial studios had some equipment for location recording, and Pye Studios had been operating a ‘de-rig mobile’ for many years and used it for both their own classical Pye labels and for pop work. Just prior to the arrival of the new Neve, the ‘Pye Mobile’ was using a combination of home-built mixers.
Here’s their set-up that recorded the famous ‘The Who Live At Leeds’ LP in February 1970:

The Pye Mobile’s ‘Live At Leeds’ setup at the Leeds University .
Photo: John Rettie

The two mixers in the photograph show that the Pye location recording equipment was a mixture of the fairly comprehensive, like Pye’s 16-channel into 4 seen here; but do note the rotary faders, and also the fairly primitive, like the mixer on the left based on valve Vortexions, which had obtained an interesting nickname:

“The ‘Smellotron’ was made from three, mono, 4 input Vortexion, valve, microphone mixers bolted together, with added echo sends and returns, metering, and a very crude monitoring arrangement. It was initially made for use with half-inch, three-track tape recorders. There was no equalisation, but up to four microphones could be mixed to each of the three tracks, and the monitoring sent the left mixer output (buffered from the main out) to the left monitor loudspeaker, the right output to the right loudspeaker and the centre output split between both.”
The nuvistor mixer was built at Pye studios, with the circuitry based around the Ampex MR70 tape recorder electronics. Pye had an MR70, which used nuvistors instead of vacuum tubes (valves) and it sounded great. So Ken Attwood, the head of maintenance at Pye, decided to build a 16/4 mixer for the mobile, using similar circuitry. In 1971, Jimmy Page bought it off Pye, after hearing the recordings made with it of the Royal Albert Hall concerts of Led Zeppelin. Everybody loved that mixer, but a few months after Leeds, Pye bought a 24/8 Neve Series 80 for the mobile.” (29)

Bob Auger already had been operating his standard looking 16-4 Neve as ‘Granada Recordings’ for location recording for a few months, but Ray Prickett, who had taken over the position as the Pye Chief Engineer, took a different approach in what he specified for the Pye Mobile’s new desk. It was a console split into three separate sections. Here are two parts of that:

The separate channel and groups/monitoring section of ‘A72’

Ray Prickett’s design for the 24-channel Neve made it more portable, so it could more easily be wheeled through doorways at the recording locations and initially, three sections were manufactured consisting of two sets of 12-channel mic amps sections and a third for the 8-group and monitoring controls. Yet another 8-group/monitoring section was later made, and it’s most likely that this fourth unit produced was the part that became  ‘A129’.
Above is the Neve factory photo of one of the twin 12-channel mic-amp units alongside the first of the ‘group/monitoring’ units. As can be seen, this had eight groups with metering on small VUs and the usual monitoring for working with an 8-track recorder.

A closer view

The mic-amps on the left unit are 1064s and the switching modules 1900s, with 8-group selection and 4 ‘Echos’ and 2 ‘FBs’. There is a 1272 Line Amp above each channel.
The right-hand desk has the 8-group 1272 line amps under the VUs with four ‘Echo Rtn’ gain pots, which have the Echo Return switch modules under them. The ‘Oscillator’ and ‘Talkback’ amps, with both of the ‘FB’ 1272s are on the left side.
The monitoring selectors for speakers and metering are in the centre, alongside four ‘Echo Rtn’ VUs and gain pots.
The 8 Groups all have a keyswitch and a send pot for ‘Echo on Monitor’ and also 2 Isostat switches and a pot for selecting to the 2 ‘FBs’.
Each can be selected to four loudspeakers – which would be fun trying to house them all in the average make-shift control room ‘on location’! The 9th of the monitor switching and level controls are for ‘Ancillaries’.
The extreme right unit selects the ‘Tone’ destinations and 2 stereo ‘PB1’ and ‘PB2’ tape decks to the speakers, with a pot. Beside the faders are the ‘TB’ and the ‘Cue’ lights, which were still commonly used in classical recording sessions of course to cue a ‘take’.

The side view of one of the two 12-channel portable units.

The side view shows that each of the sections had two handles each side, as Phil Newell explains:

“It took four people to lift each section, which meant that you needed a crew of at least four people. Sometimes, we had to set up in theatres either upstairs or in basements, so at the end of a long day, it would be a slog to have to carry them up or down the stairs and back into the van. Getting four people around them on a narrow staircase was also not easy, and carrying the Lockwood loudspeakers was also a task because they were so cumbersome.”

Here’s the back of the 8-group and monitoring section:

The reduced width is the only concession to ‘portability’.

The rear of the 8-group and monitoring section shows the connections made available:
Working down from the top left, the jackfield has:
Top row: 8 Group post-fade insertions; 4 spares; 4 Echo Sends; 2 FBs.
Bottom row: 4 Lim/Comps; 8 Playback to FB Insertions; 4 Echo Rtns; 2 FB Ops. 1272
The Line-amps are for:
4 Monitor OP; 2 Loudspeakers (SLS) OP; Echo on Mon; Mono OP; and a TB.
The XLRs are:
Top row: 8 PB I/ps; 4 Echo Rtns; 1 Ret TB; 2 SLS;
Bottom row: 8 Group Ops; 4 Echo Sends; 2 FB Ops; 4 Mon OPs; 1 TB OP.
The Bottom Panel is fitted with:
5 Pin F&E 24v DC IP; 5 pin XLR Cue; Amphenol multis for ‘Limiter/Compressors’ and 2 more for Echo Returns, a large Hypertac multipin connector for joining the sections of the desk together, and there’s a 5 pin F&E 24v DC OP for linking the power.

November 1971 | The Pye Mobile – feature in ‘Beat Instrumental’ magazine

Records from the Pye Mobile in its early years

The Isle Of Wight Festival- August 1970

Like Bob Auger the year before, one of the first jobs for the new Neve in 1970 was the Isle Of Wight Festival. They almost certainly would have been there anyway, but it helped being booked by CBS Records to record the CBS acts that were appearing.  American CBS, had a strict Union rule at that time which stipulated that their engineers should carry out all the company’s mixing work, sent Miles Davis’s Producer Teo Macero, along with the engineer then recording Miles, Stan Tonkel, and the engineer working with Chicago, Don Puluse. The completed Festival was being filmed in 1970, so Vic Mailes and his crew were in for a busy time.

CBS engineer Don Puluse gets used to the Neve, whilst engineer Stan Tonkel and producer Teo Macero hydrate themselves, whilst Pye engineers Vic Maile and Neville Crozier catch up on sleep.

“The recording boards were made for us by Neve, they were later built into the next Pye mobile more permanently, along with the 2 x 3M portable 8-tracks that were used on the event. Mics used were Neuman U67 valve mics, AKG D224E and Sennheiser MD421. As you can see the only time we could get some sleep was in the morning, on the ground! That’s me in the purple T-shirt asleep near Vic, by the way, you can just see Kenny (Denton) in the back of the truck, behind the engineer.”

The Pye Mobile’s brand new Neve console was designed to be wheeled into temporary control rooms at each venue, but ‘outdoor gigs’ like the Isle Of Wight, don’t come with suitable ‘rooms’, so the Neve had to stay in the little Transit van ….. along with the large Tannoy monitors and the 3M 8-tracks.
Kenny Denton recalled that 108 reels of tape were used on the IoW recordings, with at one stage additional boxes being flown in.

Makeshift mixing at the IoW. That’s the new Neve’s ‘manual’ resting under the cardboard box on the left-hand desk section.
Photos: The Estate of Stan Tonkel
Magazine ad for the 1970 IoW Festival

The Isle Of Wight Festival in the two preceding years had pulled in some surprises, particularly Bob Dylan in 1969, which had a crowd of 150,000 and in 1970 it looked like the UK had many star acts coming, but it’s still a wonder that somehow 600,000 people managed to get across the little Isle of Wight to hear them.
Certainly, at this time many of the artists were growing in stature. For instance, Chicago released their second album ‘Chicago’ in 1970, The Doors released ‘Morrison Hotel’, Jimi Hendrix – ‘Band Of Gypsy’s’, Joni Mitchell – ‘Ladies Of The Canyon‘, Miles Davis – ‘Bitches Brew’, Jethro Tull – ‘Benefit’, and Free released ‘Highway’ that year. Leonard Cohen’s ‘Songs from a Room’ had come out the previous year, as had ‘The Who – Live at Leeds’, which the Pye crew had recorded, with Vic Maile mixing at the desk I pictured earlier.

The American director Murray Lerner started to shoot a documentary about the Festival and filmed the organisational build-up to the event and then shot the bands throughout, despite ‘Chicago’ not wishing to be filmed and only using ‘red light’ which they thought would make it too dim to film them … which it didn’t.
Licensing problems for the music persisted over the years though, but videos and DVDs from the Isle Of Wight 1970 did finally come out and there are quite a few I could choose from. I’ll settle for an excerpt from the star act Jimi Hendrix and also the fairly short set of Miles Davis, and some details of Chicago, as a way of illustrating some ‘mobile recordings’ in 1970.
Vic Maile was Pye’s recording engineer, but when some ‘heavies from CBS’ arrived, he handed the Neve over to Don Puluse for ‘Chicago’ and Stan Tonkel for ‘Miles Davis’. Stuck in the back of that little Transit van though, Vic recorded everything else including Hendrix, whilst Murray Lerner and his crew of 16mm cameramen carried on shooting.


Miles Davis Band (Keith Jarrett, Gary Bartz, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira, Chick Corea)

Miles Davis and Band at IoW.
Photo: Laurens van Houten

Left to right: Keith Jarrett – forced to play a strange RMI Electric Piano, Gary Bartz – Soprano and Alto, Jack DeJohnette, – Drums, Dave Holland, Electric Bass, Airto Moreira on a variety of Latin American percussion, Davis – playing a stylish black Trumpet and Chick Corea – not on a Fender Rhodes, but a Hohner Electra piano, which like the keyboard Jarrett was playing, was an instrument he’d never even seen before.

“In August 1970 I played the Isle Of Wight concert in England. They were trying to do a Woodstock-like thing over there and so they invited all these rock and funk groups like Jimi Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone, and a whole bunch of white rock groups to play on this big farm off the southern coast of England. People came from all over the world to that concert; they said they had over 350,000 people. I had never seen that many people in front of me before. By that time music was really into percussions and rhythms. The people seemed to like what was happening, especially when we got into the real rhythmic things. Some of the critics were talking about how aloof I was, but that didn’t bother me; I had been this way all of my life.”

In 1970 there were no commercial ‘mic-splitters’, although occasionally two mics were ‘Y-corded’, so the PA guys went and put out their mics …. and then the mobile put theirs up alongside them. Vocals, hand-held or not were always a problem and received the special treatment of ‘gaffer tape’ joining the two mics together.
This was onto 8-tracks, so there was often going to be some pre-mixing of mics together – even if it was only the drums.
There was no video camera feed yet to see the stage and no radio talkback, so the recording assistant had to sit on a cabled ‘cans’ feed. ID’ing mics was then a case of a few seconds of scratching a mic, and hoping the mixer back in the van had found the one you were scratching!
By the way, the phrase ‘tracking’ wasn’t heard of yet, this was just referred to as ‘recording’.

The PA mics were always dynamics, whereas the recording crew wanted condensers for most instruments. For the Pye Mobile that was Neumann U-67s, with all the risks that having separate power supply units, with their multipin connectors and mains cables required. They were not yet using the new phantom-powered U-87s.
Keith Jarratt’s electric piano went into a HiWatt guitar amp and speaker in the stack behind him, and was miked with a U-67, and a pair of U-67s were set at the same height on the front of stage for Gary Bartz’s sax and Miles Davis’ trumpet. Bartz worked the left one but Miles started on the right ’67, but wandered off frequently and since there were also two pairs of taped-together mics, a Shure 585 for PA and D-224 for the mobile, left from previous vocalists, Miles seemed to work closer to these at times. Dave Holland’s bass was into another amp stack and but it’s probable he was also DI’d.
Airto sat down and worked (most of the time) into another pair of taped-together Shure 585/D-224 mics on a lowish stand. Chick Corea got a U-67 on his WEM stack as well.
That left DeJohnette’s drums. He was given four mics: a pair of U-67s left and right, loosely positioned
 to cover the floor tom, the twin rack toms, snare and hi-hat, plus a Sennheiser MD-421 dynamic as overhead and another MD-421 on the kick-drum, which had the front skin left on.

For most engineers, ‘7 players onto 8-tracks’ equals drums pre-mixed onto two tracks. With Miles wandering somewhat, you had to catch him on whichever of the two front U-67s or fade up the ‘vocal D-224’ if he was working that, difficult with o video camera showing the stage though. The full recording of the IoW set took decades to arrive, so I don’t know if Teo Macero’s mix is being heard here, but there’s added echo on both of the ‘horns’. Macero, who took his scissors to Miles’ music quite ruthlessly, had made a 17min edited version of this set originally.

There were PA speakers; totally inadequate I imagine for a crowd estimated by Wikipedia at 600,000 and it looks like there were no stage monitor speakers at all. No wonder then that the two keyboard players complained they could hear what the other was playing!
Here is the end of Miles’ 37-minute set and notice how Miles only has to play the first few notes of a new tune, for the band to again fall in beautifully behind him.

VIDEO: (Press ‘PLAY BUTTON’ in bottom left corner)

Miles Davis and Band – ‘Spanish Key’ and ‘Theme’ from Isle Of Wight Festival – 29th August 1970 (Engineer: Stan Tonkel Producer: Teo Macero Film Director: Murray Lerner)

The other band of interest to CBS played on the Friday night, and had previously been the ‘Chicago Transit Authority’, but now with a shortened name had a very successful album out, also named ‘Chicago’.
This time it was CBS engineer responsible for their CBS studio work, Don Puluse, who had the job of recording the band.


Chicago(Robert Lamm, Terry Kath, Peter Cetera, Danny Seraphine, James Pankow, Lee Loughnane, and Walt Parazaider )

“They all had their own ideas as to the best way to record Chicago’s performance or perhaps they were justifying the cost of them being there.
Disagreements, arguments, ego clashes, it was truly wonderful to watch. Vic and I tried to help in any way possible but it was hard to find out exactly whose instructions we should follow.
Vic was trying to set the desk as per their engineer’s instructions and I was relaying the mic requirements to our crew on the stage.

Finally, the tape was rolling and Chicago were performing. All seemed to be going well, when suddenly the 8-track machine stopped recording and the recording truck plunged into total darkness.
The super tight sound of Chicago thundering through our speakers suddenly died to leave just an ambient echo of them emanating from the stage.
This was the first and only time a power failure occurred in the mobile during the recording of this festival. With the band still performing and the tape not running, absolute pandemonium broke out in the truck. Someone had kicked out the mains plug which connected our truck extension boards to the power socket. The power was soon restored and the recording resumed.”

Chicago on stage at the IoW

Recording Chicago onto 8-track however, wasn’t an easy job and the 8 tracks consisted of three tracks for drums and two for the three vocalists, leaving one track for the three brass, one for Robert Lamm’s Hammond B3 mixed with the Hohner Electric piano, and the final one for Terry Kath’s guitar.
This Isle Of Wight performance was not released at the time, but in 2017 the band’s engineer Tim Jessup set about restoring the set and had to overcome the missing material caused by the loss of power. This he did by grafting in material from a 1971 Kennedy Centre live performance. He extensively rebuilt the 8-tracks with tools like Isotope RX, to make 50 tracks to blend in Pro Tools. Ahh, the joys of digital software. [33]


Jimi Hendrix: (Jimi Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox)

The headline act was Jimi Hendrix who’d been away from the UK for 3 years and spent much of the time recording at his Electric Ladyland Studios in New York. Jimi finally made it to the stage at 2 am on Sunday night…well Monday morning.

Recording Jimi:
Vic Maile distributed his mikes differently for Jimi’s 3-piece group, so Jimi got one of the U-67s on his Marshall stack, and his vocals were on one of the D-224s strapped to the Shure PA mic, and Mitch had a U-67 loosely on snare and hat, a Senny MD-421 on the two rack toms, a U-67 on the two floor toms and a U-67 on one kick drum and an MD-421 on the other. Vic used no ‘overhead and the PA mic is the one visible so Vic left the cymbals to be pickup up by the other mics, which of course often works fine. I think the bass was just DI’d as it sounds ‘clean’, but both the bass and the guitar would have ‘all over’ the drum mics and the arrival of ‘noise gates’ was still a few years away.
The vocals in ‘Red House’ come through fine, but Jimi then doesn’t ‘wind his guitar up’ when singing that. The fun starts on the louder tracks where in the remix Eddie Kramer can’t seem to lift the vocal quite enough, which is what happens when the vocal mic pickups up too much guitar, because the guitarist is very loud!

Jimi didn’t want to keep playing his 1960s hits and wanted the set to introduce some of his newer music he’d been doing at Electric Lady, however it’s never easy to get away from your old material and this is his classic 12-bar Blues track ‘Red House’ from his first album, and it shows that Jimi was good but perhaps frustrated a bit with his playing that night.

VIDEO: (Press ‘Play button’ in bottom left corner)

Jimi Hendrix – ‘Red House’ from Isle Of Wight Festival – 30th August 1970 (Engineer: Vic Maile. Remix: Eddie Kramer. Film Director: Murray Lerner.)


More ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ for Pye

And so onto another day’s work – and with little competition in the multitrack mobile world in 1970, the Pye Mobile was soon heading out of the UK.

Nicely posed photo of loading the van outside Pye Studios.
From Studio Sound October 1970

1971: The Pye Mobile gets even more mobile

After about a year of using the new Neve as a de-riggable mixer, Ray Prickett decided to put the gear permanently into a ‘mobile control room’, a small truck:

“Pye Records, whose mobile unit without a control room in a vehicle had two Neve Series 80 consoles,
each of which could be split in half for transport, or the two complete units could be joined together. It took four people to lift each section, and two people to lift each of the three sections of the ‘portable’ 3M M56 8-track tape recorders. All this, together with the large Lockwood/Tannoy monitors would be set up in the best available space for each recording: dressing rooms, offices, hallways and the like. Obviously, this meant that the monitoring conditions varied wildly, so apart from listening for noises or distortions, and perhaps assessing the relative musical balance of a section of instruments, not too much could be done in the way of judging the timbre of an instrument, especially at the lower frequencies.
Together with the monitoring variability, the great loss of time for rigging and de-rigging led Pye to build their first dedicated mobile vehicle in 1971, which went on the road just after the Rolling Stones Mobile. It was immediately appreciated that this gave a new consistency in monitoring conditions, which, even if they were wrong, at least they were always the same. The crews could learn how to come to terms with their ‘wrongness’ which was something which was very difficult when portable equipment was set up in a different room for each recording venue.”

As Phil remarks above, it would be the arrival of the big ‘Rolling Stones Mobile’ truck in the middle of 1970, which must have been the impetus for Ray Prickett deciding to fit the Neve into a truck.
He chose a ‘semi-articulated’ vehicle, based on just a Ford Transit. The thinking behind this must have been to avoid the crew needing truck-driver’s HGV licences, but what they got was a grossly underpowered vehicle, and they still required a second Transit Van carrying the additional gear.

Maintenance engineer Peter Duncan along with Phil Newell and recording engineer Vic Maile set about re-housing the gear and as can be seen from the advertisement below, it was originally still 8-track, using the two 12-channel Neve sections, with one group/monitor unit.

September 1971 Ad for the Pye Mobile vehicle

“We’ll just drive it up, plug it in, and we’re ready to go.” it says, the advertising copywriter’s view of mobile recording.
I’m intrigued to see that the monitoring section in the advertisement above has the original small Simpson VUs, whereas the 1970 Isle of Wight photos show the Group/Monitor section fitted with ‘edgewise meters’. There’s only a pair of Lockwood speakers in the Ad above; it being impossible to get four in that width anyway!

Having helped build it, here’s Phil Newell planning his future career in ‘studio design’:

Phil Newell, deep in thought looking at ‘The Oval’

Obviously built ‘for a price’, the rear of the new Pye Mobile vehicle still looks rather temporary looking, but under the make-shift table top that supports the three parts of the 3M M-23 machine, is the rack case with the Neve 2254s, and another with the jackfield and Dolby 361’s.

“This photo of me was taken in the Pye mobile during the recording of the Oval concerts. The cans of Pepsi, Coke and packet of biscuits were all that we had to sustain us all day. Nobody could get out to get us any ‘real’ food. Such were festivals! The photo shows me alongside the ‘portable’ 3M, 8-track tape recorder. I was assisting Glyn Johns, the main recording engineer of that day.” [34]

Parked up against the PA rig – the Pye at The Oval ‘Concert For Bangladesh’ – Sept 18th 1971.
Photo via Phil Newell.

But ‘mobile recording’ was crying out for 16-track like the Stones truck already had, so Pye went and put one in.

“The problem was the permanent mobile had a 16-track machine, which meant we needed to monitor 16-tracks, but the Neve wasn’t set up for that. It turned out that the truck wasn’t wide enough to have all four sections side-by-side, so what we ended up doing was placing three of the units in a row, the two input sections and one of the output sections, and we had the other output section to the right of the first one, making the whole console L-shaped. It was far from ideal, but it was workable.”

The Pye Mobile recording Genesis at the De Montford Hall, Leicester.
Photo: via Philsbook.com

Alan Perkins makes it ‘workable’, as he leans back avoiding that second 8-Group monitor unit jammed in on his right, inside the Pye Mobile vehicle recording ‘Genesis’ at the De Montfort Hall, Leicester, on 25 February 1973.
The recordings were originally made for the wonderfully named US radio show ‘The King Biscuit Flower Hour’ sponsored by the King Biscuit Flour Co., which began
starting in February ’73 sending out to US radio stations their remixed tapes of weekly rock concerts usually recorded in a mobile. This one was never broadcast. The show however ran for 20 years.

1974: Neve ‘A72’ moves to the Manor Mobile Two

The first ‘Manor Mobile’ built was designed and fitted out by Phil Newell after he had become the Chief Engineer for Richard Branston’s Virgin Records Manor Studio. Phil had the great idea of using a freight container unit, which gave a 20ft x 8ft x 8ft space for the recording equipment and being a standard sea-borne type ‘shipping container’, it had the advantage of being easily demountable for shipping abroad if necessary, and it was sealable which reduced customs problems across borders.

Like the Stones truck, the first ‘Manor Mobile’ was fitted with a Helios console, and when Pye were looking to sell their mobile vehicle Phil, knowing the unit and its Neve very well, got Richard Branson to buy it, thus giving them a new ‘Manor Mobile Two’.

“When The Manor Mobile bought the Pye mobile in 1974, not only was it updated and expanded, but it was refitted into a new vehicle, very similar to the first Manor Mobile. This was specifically done to try to ensure the closest match of monitoring conditions between the two. The crews therefore, did not have to remember which truck they were in and which mental compensation to make.”

“The two mobile consoles, were made into one 24 into 24 after Virgin bought the Pye mobile in 1974.
When I permanently joined them together, I got Helios to make a 24-track monitor panel which mimicked the one in the first Manor Mobile. However, the monitor panel only consisted of switches and pots. All of the electronics were still in the 1272 modules.”

The rebuilt Neve in the Manor Mobile Two – photo taken in 1980.
Photo via Phil Newell

Visibly still the ex-Pye Neve, when modified by Phil Newell it became a very tidy looking ‘single desk’ which all fitted into the width of the second Manor Mobile’s ‘container unit’, and now had 24-track monitoring.

Recordings from The Manor Mobile Two Neve

1975: Mike Oldfield – “Ommadawn” LP (recorded and mixed by Mike Oldfield)

Very soon after Manor Mobile Two arrived with the modified Neve, the desk was whipped out again for Mike Oldfield’s use, as he set about repeating the successes he’d had with ‘Tubular Bells’ and ‘Hergest Ridge’.

Mike Oldfield’s not-so-tidy looking set-up for ‘Ommadawn’ recording between January and September 1975.
Photo via Phil Newell

Phil Newell’s re-built Pye 24-channel Neve, installed at Mike Oldfield’s house ‘The Beacon’. In addition to the 24-track monitoring centre section built using Helios parts, there is also a 10-channel Helios sub-mixer on the right, matching the one wall mounted in the original Manor One unit.

An early ‘home studio’ at Mike Oldfield’s

The enormous Altec speakers and an Ampex MM-1100 24-track, along with the Neve, added the professional edge to Oldfield’s ‘Ommadawn’ very basic recording room. His continual overdubbing wore out the multi-track tapes though, and he even started it again because of this!

For the most part, Oldfield’s music was ‘scored’ and written down by him. He then built up what he’d written until all the layers were complete. The African drummers and a few others had to be recorded at The Manor Studio because of the space they required. The rest he did by himself, onto the MM1100.

Channel 4 made a documentary ‘The Making of Ommadawn’ with both Mike Oldfield and Richard Branston ….and lots of shots of the Neve in use.


1978: The Grateful Dead – “Rocking The Cradle; Egypt 1978” – Live recording of the concert at ‘The Pyramids’. (Engineers: John Kahn, Betty Cantor-Jackson and Bob Matthews) [36]

The Manor Mobile 2 at The Pyramids.
Photo: Phil Newell

The Grateful Dead; Jerry Garcia Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzman, performed 3 nights of concerts in front of the Pyramids at Giza, starting on the 14th September 1978 and the Manor Two truck drove out to record them. The poor mains supply on-site made it a difficult recording though.

“The show would go down in history, but nearly got derailed after a truck was trapped in the sand and was rescued by camels. Later drummer Bill Kreutzman suffered an injury which forced him into drumming one-handed throughout their three-night run at the landmark.
Perhaps going down as one of The Grateful Dead’s greatest moments for its surroundings rather than expert playing, the shows were still a spectacle to behold. As well as spellbinding performances of ‘Shakedown Street’, which was given its debut, and ‘Stella Blue’, the group also welcomed local musician Hamza El Din for a performance of his song ‘Ollin Arageed’.
If seeing the Dead perform in such an illustrious setting wasn’t enough, lucky fans who made it for the final show on September 16th were treated to a lunar eclipse in the middle of the gig.
All three nights of music were recorded and intended for live album release but the first night’s tapes were ruined, as were much of the second. But the group did put out a CD/DVD boxset in 2008 which captured the performance, ‘Rocking the Cradle: Egypt 1978’.

12 separate exposures produced this great photo by Adrian Boot showing the Moon’s eclipse at The Great Pyramids during The Grateful Dead’s last concert. [38]


1980: Stephen Sondheim – “Sweeney Todd – Scenes From The Making Of A Musical” -The South Bank Show (Engineer: Dave Taylor)

Here’s a job that I did, during which I used three different Neves starting with the ex-Pye desk when it was in Manor Two, and I’ll include it so I can explain the recording of a Theatre Show for TV in 1980.
Having been a sound assistant on recordings using either the Stones or The Manor trucks for TV concerts on a variety of LWT programmes, when I started to mix myself I then favoured the ‘Manor Two’ because of its Neve. I’d worked as tape-op for Vic Finch’s broadcasts of the 1974 and ’75 ‘Filmharmonic’ concerts, and I then used ‘Manor Two’ for the next ‘Filmharmonic ’76’ concert with the RPO at the Albert Hall.
The 10-year old Neve was also my choice for recording sections of the musical ‘Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street’ for a ‘South Bank Show Special’ in July 1980.
It was not the usual way to prepare for a programme, but LWT sent me over to New York to see the show on Broadway, because we were to record it without much rehearsal during one of the preliminary performances in London at the Drury Lane Theatre.

The Theatre Sound Designer for the Broadway show, Jack Mann was using radio mics on the ‘principals’ and 6 ‘float’ mics along the front of stage for the chorus/crowd.
His float mic technique was new to me but made great sense. The six C-451’s were fitted with the little ‘knuckle’ adaptors so that their capsules could be angled down at about 45 degrees making them very close to, and picking up the sound from the floor directly in front of them. This reduced the inevitable risk of acoustic phase problems that can occur if the mics were just mounted at say 6 inches off the floor but looking more normally up.
The London theatre sound was handled by the specialist company ‘Autograph’, and the radio mics in 1980 were VHF Microns, but assembling 12 in the UK at that time was a difficult task so it was handled by the Micron specialists Better Sound. They erected a yagi diversity aerial receiver system that made the reception work well, despite the strict UK frequency licensing limits then in place.
I had a free hand with miking the orchestra as Autograph used minimal mics, just letting the acoustic sound work for them.

Recording a ‘West End Musical’ for TV:
Having a 24-track to record on is a great help compared with the earlier years, but with 12 radio mics on the ‘principals’, it’s necessary to have seen the show and worked out how many of those are singing at the same time to avoid too much pre-mixing. I might have got it down to probably 4 tracks. The 6 float mics weren’t in use all the time, as sometimes there was just a solo voice that wasn’t covered with a radio mic however, there are times when all the float mics needed to be up on big chorus numbers, so unused mics were faded out. So perhaps I got these down to a couple of tracks, although I can’t remember how some additional voices on the stage ‘gantry’ were miked.
The orchestral strings might have been mixed into just two tracks, but there are sections requiring the cellos and basses to be more prominent. Brass and woods can usually go to pairs of tracks but the rhythm section is all important and can take up a fair number. There’s also a big percussion element that can be ‘fun’ if much pre-mixing of them is required.

I can’t remember, but it still looks like the Neve only had 8-groups, although separate channel outputs were also available to the 24-track.
I always brought a pair of PPMs to monitor the guide mix going to the OB Scanner. This mix was always important as it was used by the TV Director right through the editing stages, and an OB video feed was provided to the Mobile, although the later mixdown certainly wasn’t ‘to picture’ at that time.
In 1980 Sony ECM50 ‘personal mics’ were still used into the VHF Micron radio mics. ECM50s were bigger than later mics like the ECM77s or Trams, and weren’t so easy to hide. One can be seen sticking out of Dennis Quilley’s (Sweeney) shirt in some shots. The problem on both speech and vocals with a mic pinned to someone’s chest is the considerable changes in level and also frequency response that can occur with ‘head turning’, and it was around the time that the theatre sound people taught the rest of us that mics ‘in the hair’ were the way to overcome this problem as the mic stays a constant distance from the mouth. You just need time and the co-operation of wardrobe and make-up!

The Neve desk in ‘Manor Mobile Two’ was exactly as the 1980 photo of it shows, and with Charles Fearnley as my tape-op, we then immediately took our 24-track tapes off for our re-mix session at most probably CTS Wembley, because I felt at home operating their Studio 2 Neve.
We ‘layed-back’ our mixes into the video master at a final dubbing session, using another Neve, the BCM10/2 in the LWT Sound Dubbing Suite, and with the delights of an Audio Kinetics Q-Lock timecode synchroniser.
The Q-Lock was still new and LWT had one of the first, since it was developed by two ex-LWT guys , Tim Whiffin and Ian Southern. It was still at the ‘2-10’ version, which allowed a ‘Master’ and just one ‘Slave’ to lock together. It is probable that on ‘Sweeney’ a 50Hz ‘video reference’ was still recorded onto the 24-track and that was carried through to the mixdown tape used at the sound dub, because of the need to keep the tape speed accurate throughout. LWT had modified Studer A80 twin tracks fitted with the ‘Nagra 50Hz pilot-tone’ system for this. The 50Hz controlled the tape-speed throughout, but cueing each playback to start accurately was ‘hit and miss’, and was done by comparing it with a guide track listened to on ‘split headphones’. A varispeed control on the playback machine was used to bring it into sync with the ‘master’. The LWT house rule was that when the tape-op achieved accurate ‘sync’ as heard in his ‘cans’, then he would notify the mixer by shouting “PISS OFF” – ‘Programme In Sound Sync Operation Fully Functional’!

This particular ‘South Bank Show’ programme was a film documentary sub-titled ‘Scenes From The Making Of A Musical’, which also included the video excerpts that we’d recorded of the live show performance.
Here below is a short section from the programme, starting with the opening followed by an edited montage sequence used at the end:

VIDEO: (Press ‘Play button’ in bottom left corner)

Some short excerpts from ‘Sweeney’.

That’s the ‘VT Clock’ that I’ve put at the head of those video excerpts. Each programme had a clock like this recorded on the tape before the actual programme started, as a visual and aural reference of what was on that tape. Line-up tone at PPM4 and ‘colour bars’ were added from -45 to -30 seconds and a verbal ident at -25. The tape ‘went to black’ at -3, to give a short period to fade up when transmitted.

The consoles in ‘mobiles’ get used mainly for covering concerts given by high-profile artists and the unassuming Pye Mobile 24-channel Neve certainly recorded an amazing number of ‘great’s’ during its working life. I knew only the basics of its history when I used it in the late ’70s, so I’ve enjoyed discovering more about it for these articles. I wonder how many of its 1064s are still ‘at work’ today?


‘Two small ones‘ | Neves for LWT Wembley Studios

In 1969 and 1970, Neve also built many smaller custom-designed mixers and I thought I’d illustrate the diverse nature of these small consoles with a couple from my own employer during this period.

49| 1970: ‘A Couple Of Small Ones’ | LWT’s 6-channel ‘Pres Mixer’ and 6-channel ‘Grams Mixer’ for Wembley Studios.

London Weekend Television, 128 Wembley Park Drive, Wembley, Middlesex

The Neve in the new Presentation Suite at Wembley along with the caption and camera controls, the vision mixing panel and then the ‘comms’ on the far left.
From the IBA-produced booklet ‘ITV-Engineering For Colour’ of 1970

‘Presentation’ is the department in a TV company that transmits the programmes that come from a range of local input sources such as the studios (live), the Telecines (films), the VTRs (pre-recorded), as well as the Network feeds from the other ITV companies including the ITV News, and passes them on to the London Transmitter at Crystal Palace. There was an adjacent small studio for the local ‘Presentation Announcer’ who could either be in-vision or just as a ‘voice-over’.

London Weekend took over from Thames TV at 7 pm on Friday nights, and as there was an ‘on-screen’ hand-over, the LWT announcer in ‘Pres’ was the first to welcome viewers to LWT for the weekend and lead into the first programme. Until close-down on Sunday, all the London ITV programmes would then route through this Presentation Suite and most would be distributed from it to the rest of the ITV Network. ‘Links’ between programmes were often just in voice only, with a caption.
With the video mixer beside it switching the vision, the new Neve had all the audio input sources, plus the mic channel for the announcer’s mic, along with a turntable loaded with a suitable bit of ‘mood music’ for filling in if a programme was lost.

It is fitted with 6 channels with 1066s on the right, and since there is no identifiable group selection, they are possibly 3 more ‘direct inputs’ on the left. One Neve 2254 Comp/Limiter is fitted, for the Announcer, and being a mono output, it has a single output fader and both a Main and Ancilliary PPM are fitted. Sound monitoring is a BBC-designed Kef LS5/1A loudspeaker, regarded at that time as a ‘grade one’ sound monitor in both the BBC and ITV companies.

Neve had arrived at just the right time when the new TV companies needed sound equipment and similar small Neve mixers also went to the Presentation Depts at Thames and Southern at this time.

LWT started to buy some of the new equipment they needed in 1969 whilst still at the ex-Rediffusion Studios in Wembley. Another small Neve desk they purchased was this very simple 6-channel ‘grams mixer’ for tape preparation work by the studio Gram Operators. It was used in a smallish sound room with just a BBC KEF LS5/1A speaker and some EMT930 turntables and twin-track Studer A80s. The mixer’s channel amps were 1066s and each channel had a remote-start switch wired out to one of the turntables or tape-decks. It was mono, but with 2 groups for ‘split-track’ recording when required, and was fitted with a tone oscillator and a locking ‘kellog key’ for slating the tapes.

The ‘grams mixer’ pressed into service for recording at the Albert Hall.

The ‘gram operators’ used this mixer to prepare their tapes for the dramas, such as ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ and the situation-comedies such ‘On The Buses‘ or ‘Please Sir!’, that were part of the staple output for this weekend ITV broadcaster.
Around 1970, the ‘Title’ and ‘Incidental’ music for LWT programmes was all recorded by their own sound staff, using a newly converted ‘band room/recording studio’, which we will hear more about in a later section. The master tapes were then used to produce 1/4-inch ‘Programme Tapes’ for each production. In addition, during the making of each programme the gram op had to find or manufacture any sound-effects required, which were played in ‘live’….. sound-dubbing of video programmes afterwards was still not undertaken! This was before CD libraries of sound FX, and they were sourced from existing 78rpm discs or sound effects tapes that had been recorded by the Redifussion/LWT staff. 
The prepared 15ips tapes and any LPs or 78 discs were manually cued at the appropriate times, in what was still ‘as live’ TV recording, often in front of studio audiences.
With the ageing equipment inherited from Redifussion this little Neve had, for a while at least, the best ‘mic-amps’ in the LWT sound department. It therefore also saw service occasionally out on OBs, providing extra facilities. One such was the Bernstein ‘Verdi Requiem’ concert at St. Paul’s in early 1970 that I have detailed in an earlier article, and I also show it being used on an awards show at the London Palladium around the same time.
In the above photo,
I myself have purloined it for a ‘private recording’ at the Royal Albert Hall in 1972. I’d heard that we were recording another concert with Leonard Bernstein, a ‘Stravinsky Memorial Concert’ with ‘his’ visiting New York Philharmonic, but I was appalled to discover that it was not to be recorded in stereo, and so managed to wrangle that I could make a stereo recording, but unfortunately this was only onto 15ips Revox’s. It was ‘private’ because when our ACTT Union got wind of my doing it, I was told it was ‘strictly not for broadcast’, as I was not an official ‘Sound Supervisor’ allowed to mix such things.
The BBC Radio guys in the Albert Hall kindly let me use an ‘upstairs room’ and that’s an AKG control box for one of their C-24 stereo mics on the desk, with a second PPM strapped on for metering ‘the other side’; there being only a single PPM on the Neve. I also used a borrowed stereo mini-mixer (from a new company called Calrec!) for the additional ‘spot’ mic inputs. It was a great experience to mix Bernstein and the NYPO playing ‘The Rite Of Spring’‘Capriccio’ and ‘The Symphony Of Psalms’, but I’ve no idea if I did them justice, as the recordings were later lost.


50| 1970: ‘ Standard Broadcast Console‘ | The Neve BCM10/2

With broadcasters asking for some fairly simple desks like the two above, it was inevitable that Neve would need to produce some ‘off-the-shelf’ consoles to standard specifications for customers who didn’t need the individually tailored desks that Neve made. The first of these was the small PSM range of ‘Portable Small Mixers’ that Rupert had designed, as we saw in Part Two.
In 1970 Neve came out with another small desk, the BCM10/2, designed aimed primarily at the broadcast market and suitable for broadcast organisations that didn’t need more than 10-channels with 2 groups and with either stereo or mono final outputs.

Neve factory photo of a BCM10/2, with VU metering.

50a| The Neve 1068 Mic-Amp Module

A new Neve mic-amp, the 1068, is listed as being designed for the BCM10/2 mixer, but the 1068 in fact remains a strangely elusive module.

“The BCM10 used a very simple signal path, the 1895 switching unit utilising a single emitter follower buffer amplifier the Neve B106 pcb.
There were no channel insertion points and no channel direct outputs and hence there was no need for a balanced output transformer stage. So to save cost the 1068 Channel Module was initially proposed as a cut-down version of the existing 1066 but minus the final balanced output stage. The 1068 channel module would have required a special version of the B183, with just the mic amp needed just for this one module.
I can’t find any record of a front panel silk screen ever being created and so I wonder if the 1068 was ever actually produced.

The downside of the BCM10 not using the channel balanced output was that there couldn’t be a phase invert switch. On other console channel modules, this was always done on the channel balanced output which provided the pre-fader insert point.
I suspect that in order to standardise on the different modules being manufactured, the 1066s were initially used on the BCM10 and later replaced by the 1073s, the only difference for modules fitted to a BCM10 was the blank button more usually marked ‘Phase’ “.

The Neve 1068 circuit diagram

The 1068 certainly existed for the Neve design department, as the first drawing for the 1068 was dated 7/5/1969 and despite the lack of details about its use, the drawing above was last revised on 17/5/74.
The first BCM10/2 mixer ‘2-wire’ circuit drawing is dated November 1969 and the BCM10/2 was shown at the APRS Exhibition in London on June 12th 1970, along with a 16-4 Neve.
I pictured the circuit for the 1066 back in Part Five, and the above drawing for the Neve 1068 shows that not only was the balanced output section of the BA183 omitted, and that the final 1066 drawings used the BA205 instead of the BA180 in the 1068 drawing above.
John explained his reasoning behind this:

“The 1066 started off using the BA180 pcb but there was a problem with some frequency response aberrations with just using a single gang 5 way switch. In order to improve this, a new switching arrangement using a new pcb (BA205) and a 2 pole 5 way switch was designed.
This change was not required on the 1068 as it would have had fixed turnover frequencies for LF as well as HF, hence no switching required.
Almost all the changes done on the 1066 were implemented on the 1068 drawing, so it’s just possible that the change was done to all the circuits irrespective of whether they were actually being manufactured or not”.

So we don’t know if the very first BCM10/2s actually used this new 1068 mic-amp, but from what John says it looks unlikely.
The 1073 mic-amp came out a bit later in 1970 and as the mixer was in production for quite a few years, the BCM10/2 certainly is usually seen with the 1073.

51b| The Neve 1895 Routing Module

Neve 1895

The new 1895 module for the BCM10/2 provided an input switch to enable the choice of either of the two Mics or the Line input, all from the rear XLRs. This fed off to the mic-amp module before returning to the 1895’s selection to the two individual Groups or via the Pan-pot. The channels ‘Echo Send’ could be ‘Pre’ or ‘Post’ via a keyswitch, but the ‘Foldback’ was just ‘Post’, switched-on via one of the lower isostat buttons.
The ‘PFL’ facility was labelled ‘Cue’, and could be accessed via the fader back-stop ‘over-press’ or via the other lever keyswitch on the 1895. The channels though did require toggling ‘On with the keyswitch pressed down, and the centre of the keyswitch being the unlabelled ‘Off’ setting. The up position was another way to ‘Cue’, and to access ‘PFL’ with a latching mode. Obviously, if you used the ‘Cue’ with this keyswitch in a radio studio to ‘pre-hear’ a turntable whilst cueing it up, then you had to remember to go back to ‘Ch.On’ again before finally fading the turntable up.

The bottom left isostat button labelled ‘REMT’ was another useful broadcast facility, allowing the triggering of a suitable connected external turntable, tape or cart-deck.

The BCM10/2 block diagram and the Monitor panel

The block diagram for the BCM10/2 isn’t enormous, so I’ve trimmed it into two parts to view here and it reveals what facilities are on the desk:

The top section of the BCM10/2 Block diagram

Two mic inputs and a Line input arrive at the 1895, before going into the input of the 1066 or 1073 mic-amp. Fader switch contacts are wired out to a large D-type to allow for external switching when ‘lifting a fader’. These are typically used to mute the local presenter’s speaker or trigger a cue light in a radio studio.
The two ‘Direct Inputs’ are also labelled ‘Rev Returns’ on the diagram, pointing out their alternate function. The AKG D-58 TB mic goes via the ‘TB’ key, labelled ‘Slate /Studio’ which latches in the up position as a ‘Slate’ key, but is non-latching in the ‘Studio’ down position, when it routes to ‘FB’. In the standard broadcast way, the ‘TX/Reh’ key blocks the TB key from routing to the outputs (ie ‘slate’) when in ‘TX’ mode as you don’t want the ‘world’ hearing any chatter by accident.

Also, the oscillator’s ‘Tone to Line’ send to the outputs via relays, is disabled when in ‘TX’.
The Group outputs become labelled ‘Line Outputs’, in a typical broadcast manner and to cater for totally mono working; the standard for many years in TV, the ‘Mono’ keyswitch feeds ‘Group 1’, and feeds out of the ‘Line Op 2’ as well, instead of that being fed by ‘Group 2’.
The ‘Foldback’ output also is fed to a ‘Studio Loudspeaker’ (SLS) output on an XLR.

Here’s the other part of the block diagram, showing the monitoring:

Loudspeaker monitoring selection, the metering is shown in top diagram

The ‘playback’ options allow the selection of either the stereo ‘2T’ and the 2 mono tape decks, and also a mono output from the just ‘right’ track of the stereo deck can be monitored. The ‘Foldback’ controls on the bottom right of the monitor panel are a FB Gain pot, and a keyswitch giving ‘On/Off/PB’ choices. The ‘PB’ here follows the ‘Meter 1’ PB selector.
With the BCM10/2, Neve tried hard to appeal to every likely user!

Here’s the panel in a closer view:

Monitor panel

The Line Amps are all 1272’s, with a pair for the Groups, an Echo Send, Foldback and Talkback, plus a 1278 Cue LS Amp and a 1460 Oscillator giving ‘100Hz, 1KHz, 4KHz and 10kHz’. These frequencies were standard for ‘TV’, but were changed to ’50Hz, IkHz, 10KHz and 15KHz’ on the ‘recording version’, the 1461 oscillator.

The rear jackfield

The integral jackfield shows the ‘Line’ inputs have insertions, which was required for ‘mix-downs’, and with other insertions for the ‘Direct Inputs (Rev Rtn) ‘, and the ‘Group Post Fade’, ‘Rev Send’, and ‘FB’. There are also insertions for the tape ‘2T’, ‘Mono 1’ and ‘Mono 2’ PB inputs. ‘FB’ and ‘Osc’ have patchable outputs.

BCM10/2s in use

Geoff Watts demonstrates a BCM10/2 to a potential client

“Geoff Watts had been with Rupert from the early days and was a brilliant engineer, and he pioneered the US Neve operation in Bethel.”

Free standing ‘broadcast’ BCM10/2

The simplicity of BCM10/2 soon proved to be useful for small voice recording studios in radio and TV, and also in location vehicles and dubbing suites, as is shown by these two examples:

LWT OB2: Gram Op Bob Hooke prepares for ‘playback’

This is the small London Weekend TV OB ‘scanner’, Unit 2 with a BCM10/2 fitted with 1073s seen in the late ’70s. It has a pair of Pye Comp/Lims hidden out of sight, with a couple of ‘compression meters’, plus a row of TB keys added on the upstand.
Bob Hooke is marking up a ‘pulsed’ playback tape on a Stereo Nagra, for a location musical dance sequence. LWT guys always mixed the original music recording sessions, which they did in London recording studios like CBS, CTS or Audio International (often because they had Neve desks that we knew). We would, usually at the mix-down, have added a 50Hz pulse to the ‘centre track’ of a Nagra IV-L or IV-S tape using a Nagra ‘SLO’ unit.
This, like here, was then played back on a Nagra using a smaller QSLS device to ‘lock’ the playback stability during the multiple takes the video sequence might require. The QSLS is just to the right of the Nagra here, with yellow tape on it.
The second channel on the BCM10 here is labelled ‘Radio Mic’, which in fact was being worn by the TV Director, outside with the dancers and the small IVC 7000p video camera, so the crew in the truck can overhear his instructions.

Here’s another BCM10/2 that I frequently sat at, in another obviously simple ‘working situation’:

The Sound Dubbing Suite at LWT with BCM10/2

It’s the first sound dubbing suite at London Weekend TV, as it was by the mid to late 1970s. Equipment comprised the Neve BCM10/2 mixer with side-car containing a pair of Neve 2254/C Comp/Lims, plus vision routing and a TB unit. A Studer A80 8-Track is just visible on the right. This worked with the with Q-Lock 3-10 synchroniser seen on the left of the mixer linking with an IVC Helical Scan VT ‘viewing copy’ in an adjacent cubicle. The speakers are the BBC-designed LS5/1AC monitors, which were much improved on the earlier LS5/1As by delivering more level from the big H&H amps and now having nice wooden cabinets. On the left side is the PEG mini-cartridge Sound FX machine, and a couple more Studer twin track A80s and cart players are out of view on the right, where ‘all the real dubbing work was done’ by the Gram Op. Through the window ahead was the ‘Voice Over Cubicle’After the dubbing was complete, the mix on the 8-track was relayed with the Q-Lock to the master 2″ VTR tape.


51| The Neve 1069 Grams-Amp Module

If the Neve 1068 mic-amp is rather elusive, then the 1069 module is even more so. It was produced as a mono amplifier for a turntable unit built for Marconi, who were building broadcast installations of all types, from OB ‘scanners’ to complete studios. It presumably would have been supplied to one of their clients.

Alas, that’s not the 1069 Module in there!

This Thorens turntable unit was supplied to Marconi and designated serial ‘7001’, fitted with a newly designed Neve 1069 module.
The photo however shows it with a 1066 Mic-Amp Module, which must have been inserted just for the photograph. The documentation states that mono only 1069 Grams-Amp was provided with a ‘PFL’ output, which most probably therefore was on the module itself. It must have been engineered to be of a similar size to that 1066, whereas the later 1072 Grams-Amp Module was certainly larger than this.
Why though did they want a ‘mono’ only output from a turntable ….. it must have been for a mono radio or TV station’?



Many thanks to those who talked to John and me about Neves:
It was really pleasing to talk again with Mike Ross of CBS, as he’s long been a hero of mine. I loved CBS Studio 1 at Whitfield Street and was really saddened when the Neve got changed for an MCI.
Blake Devitt put me in contact with Mark Simms because of his knowledge of AIR Studio’s consoles, and he also provided a couple of good photos.
And I like to thank all those whose written words and photos I’ve been able to use.
Any more information on the Neves mentioned here would be appreciated.
Does anybody know any more about the first Neves in Paris at Acousti, ATV in Birmingham or the desk in Oslo?

[1] From: ‘The History Of Neve’ document written in 1986 by a ‘person unknown’ but possibly Rupert, and found in Blake Devitt’s Neve files.
[2] The Mirasound 16-track details came from scans made by Rik Goldman of some Mirasound press cuttings which he uploaded to Flikr: /www.flickr.com/photos/ghoulmann/282780824/in/album-72157594350648115/
Thanks to Luke Pacholski for uncovering those details. Luke is a great researcher of audio history and posts as Lukpac on the Steve Hoffman forum, see [26] below.
[3] Barry and Norman Sheffield ran Trident Studios and Norman’s biography giving the story of the studio “Life On Two Legs” was published in 2013 by Trident.
[4] From the book “John Barry – A Sixties Theme” by Eddi Fiegel (Boxtree 2001).
[5] From: “Vic Flick – Guitarman : From James Bond, The Beatles and Beyond”
[6] Details of the ‘Frenzy’ sessions at CTS from ‘thehitchcockzone.com’ website.
The images of Alfred Hitchcock at CTS, were found in the archives by film historian Morris Bright when researching and writing a book on Pinewood Studios, published back in 2007. I think though that the photos are all being frequently reproduced left-right reversed. 
[7] I’ve quoted extensively from the extremely detailed PhD dissertation “A score complete without themes: Henry Mancini and the frenzy experience” by Patricia Wheeler-Condon available as a .pdf from https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/.
This compares the Mancini and Goodwin scores for ‘Frenzy’, along with much background informationand she was allowed to see the completed Mancini score, for her comparisons. Also interviewed was John Richards, along with Eric Tomlinson for quotes used in the piece.
There is a YouTube video of the film opening with Mancini’s music laid over it, and although the recording is from a 1990 disc that Mancini made and not the CTS original, it is interesting to see what Mancini offered up.
[8] From the Philsbook website, currently accessible via the ‘Wayback Machine’ website archive.
[9] Information and some ‘frame grabs’ taken from the DVD called ‘ATVLand in Colour – The History of ATV Centre Birmingham’, available from MACE (The Media Archive For Central England). A comprehensive look at both ATV and Central’s programmes from Birmingham and Nottingham with interviews and excerpts from programmes.
[10] Keith Jarrett quote from: https://dlmediamusic.com/press-releases/keith-jarrett-facing-you-50th-anniversary-ecm/
[11] Quote from: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/norwegian-road-trip-part-4-oslo-and-an-interview-with-jan-erik-kongshaug
[12] ECM’s motto “the most beautiful sound next to silence”, was taken from a 1971 review of ECM releases in the Canadian jazz magazine Coda.
[13] From the author’s conversation with Mike Ross in August 2022.
[14] From Louis Barfe’s book “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” (Atlantic Books, 2005)
[15] Christopher Nupen’s film: “John William’s At Ronnie Scott’s”(Allegro Films) is well worth searching for as it details John William’s virtuosity and has a revealing interview when Williams was developing his ‘non-classical’ interests. He of course was later part of the group’ Sky’.
Christopher Nupen’s film had an interesting history, as it was initially commissioned by Humphrey Burton for LWT’s arts programme ‘Aquarius’, but Burton rejected it as it only featured William’s performances at Ronnie Scott’s. Nupen took it to the BBC, who paid for some extra sequences such as the CBS studio item, and showed it on their arts programme ‘Omnibus’. The engineering credits for the Gowers Concerto, which was on an LP with six Scarlatti sonatas, come from the website plum.crea.org/williams/records/023.htm
[16] From Mark Marrington’s book “Recording The Classical Guitar”.
[17] From George Martin’s biography, written with Jeremy Hornsby “All You Need Is Ears” (St. Martins Press 1979).
[18] An outstanding book for anyone interested in the history of recording studios, Howard Massey’s ‘The Great British Recording Studios’ has lots of information on AIR, its equipment, personnel and acoustic changes over the years, including the layout of the studios themselves, complete with a plan. The Neve consoles are given incorrect ‘A’ numbers though.
[19] From Chris Michie quoted on the ‘procolharum.com’ website.
[20] Nick Mason quotes from: www.loudersound.com/features/how-pink-floyd-made-meddle.
[21] From the Songfacts website: https://www.songfacts.com/facts/johnny-nash/i-can-see-clearly-now
[22] Quotes from the band and interview with Dave Harries about the Polanski Macbeth recording in the dubbing suite: From https://ghettoraga.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-short-interview-with-dave-harries.html)
[23] From Howard Massey’s book “The Great British Recording Studios”. The best all-round summary of the 60’s and 70’s UK studios and it tells us more about CTS, CBS and AIR. If you haven’t got a copy, you must get it.
[24] From the ‘Facebook Vintage Neve’ website.
[25] From Phillip Newell’s definitive book on building recording studios “Recording Studio Design”, published by Focal Press 2003, and reprinted frequently since. It is a ‘must-read book’ and Phil writes extremely intelligently about the whole subject of control room acoustics bringing his wide experience that started as a young recording engineer in the late ’60s.
[26] The BBC Documentary on YouTube is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2CxIxce5m4
and Grace Maxwell’s book ‘Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins’ is published by Ebury Press.
[27] From an article on the rebuilt Acousti studios, now called ‘Les Studios Saint Germain’, by Franck Ernould in the French Sono Magazine Jan-Feb 2017
[28] The details of Xenakis at Studio Acousti is an extract from James Harley book: “Iannis Xenakis: Kraanerg” published in 2015 by Routledge.
[29] From an extremely comprehensive description of the recording of ‘The Who-Live At Leeds’ by Luke Pacholski on the Steve Hoffman forums: https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/the-who-live-at-leeds-microphones.840650/page-6#post-21779347
[30] Neville Crozier’s quote is from: https://www.ukrockfestivals.com/isle%20of%20wight-1970-pye.html
The photos of Teo Macero and Stan Tonkel were passed on to the above website by Stan’s son Ray. Many thanks for these historic photos and visit the ukrockfestivals.com website to see more of them.
[31] From “Miles-The Autobiography”, written with Quincy Troupe. Published by Simon and Schuster, 1989.
[32] Details of the Pye mobile at the Isle Of Wight from: kenneydenton.com
[33] Details of Tim Jessop’s restored ‘Chicago’ set from the 1970 Isle of Wight from a Sound On Sound magazine article: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/restoring-mixing-chicago-isle-wight
[34] Correspondence from Phil Newell with John Turner.
[35] Alan Perkins’s quote is yet another from Howard Massey’s Great British Recording Studios‘ book.
[36] Wikipedia states the engineers were John Kahn, Betty Cantor-Jackson, and Bob Matthews. Betty Cantor-Jackson certainly engineered many of The Grateful Dead’s live recordings.
[37] Quote from the website: https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/the-grateful-dead-egypt-pyramids-video-1978/
[38] Adrian Boot’s photo and more on The Grateful Dead at Giza from: https://egyptianstreets.com/2021/10/22/harnessing-ancient-energy-the-grateful-deads-1978-concert-in-giza/


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