Early RUPERT NEVE consoles and their stories | PART THREE: 1967 – 1968 | ‘More Little Shelford Neves’

2022-09-09 3 By David Taylor

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

And further assistance from BLAKE DEVITT

Continuing the story of the early Neve consoles, with more of the ‘shiny black finish’ germanium transistors mixers that Rupert Neve constructed in his converted stable block at ‘Priesthaus’ in Little Shelford.
These articles were made possible because of the help of John Turner, the longest serving employee of ‘Neve’ – in its various guises, subsequently with the availability of ‘the surviving Neve files’ that Neve restoration expert Blake Devitt has carefully looked after.
We will try in this series to give an accurate of the history of the early Rupert Neve mixing consoles, up until say 1975, which was when Rupert himself left Neve.

I am keen to put in some names of the people who built them; those that used them, and some the work they produced, but that makes for long articles though, so do use the ‘jump’ facility below if you only want techy info!

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

Rediffusion's first Neve
Rediffusion Singapore’s 8-channel Neve of 1967

In 1967 Rediffusion in Singapore bought this 8-channel desk.
In 2001 Rupert Neve visited Singapore and was pleased to report that the desk was still in use.
In 2012 Rediffusion was forced to close…..but the desk was still there, in daily use 45 years later!


If you’re only interested in the ‘technical’, then use the highlighted numbered section links in this list to jump there, and your browser’s ‘Back’ button to return to this list.
13| 1966/7: ‘Studio over a Shop’ – The Chappell Studios 20-channel Neve.
13a| The Neve 1057 Mic-amp Modules.
14| 1966/7: ‘Reduced’ – Chappells 5-channel Remixing Neve.

14a| The Neve 2053 EQ Modules.
15| 1967: The 16-channel Neve of ‘Televisión Española.
15a| The Neve 1058 Mic-amp and 1858 Switching Modules.
16| 1967: ‘Worldwide Christian Radio’ –Trans World Radio’s 8-channel Neve.
16a| The Neve 1859 Switching Module.
17| 1967: ‘Four down to 2 down to 1’ – The Estudio Regson ‘Reduction’ Mixer.
18| 1967/8: Estudio Regson – gets a ‘main console’.
19| 1967: ‘Radio, but not Wireless’ – The 8 channel Neve of Rediffusion Singapore (丽的呼声).
20*| 1968: Granville TV Theatre’s 16-channel Neve – ‘6781’

13| 1967: ‘Studio over a Shop’ – The Chappell Studios 20-channel Neve

The music publishing company Chappells had a recording studio at 50 New Bond Street in London, W1 since the 1950’s, but in 1965 it was destroyed in a fire. The company started to build a new studio above their large shop at 52 Maddox Street and two engineers, John Timperley and John Iles, who both had worked at the small Ryemuse Studio were recruited and they brought in Sandy Brown to do the acoustics and construct the 75ft x 45ft studio along with a small remix room. A studio above a shop in the centre of London required serious acoustic isolation and he used triple wall construction and floated floors and because of the low ceiling heights filled the acoustic voids above the ceiling with Rockwool. Sandy Brown had been the chief acoustic architect for the BBC, and then founded ‘Sandy Brown Assosciates’. He was probably the first proper acoustic consultant in the UK and was the person to go to for a superior sound studio at that time.
The new Neve was being built in 1966 and the completed Chappell’s studio opened at the beginning of 1967, with the 20-channel console installed in the 17ft x 15ft control room.

 1967 advertisement.
Chappell’s Bond Street building is shown in this 1967 advertisement.

Although the new Chappell’s studio was now at 52 Maddox Street, this 1967 advertisement still shows 50 New Bond Street as the address.

Chappell Ad
‘toutes les possibliitiés’–John Timperley tries out his new Neve
Chappell 20 channel Neve- colour picture
And then the photographer took another shot in colour.

Chappell’s Neve was produced with ‘drawing no. C/10013’, during the autumn of 1966A 4 group desk with 4-track monitoring; well at that time that needed four loudspeakers, so a line of large Tannoy/Lockwood’s were mounted, tightly squashed next to each other against the wooden acoustic slats that Sandy Brown used extensively.
The Chappell control room had a pair of rather different-looking 4-tracks, both Ampex AG-440s, plus another stereo pair. John Timperley had become the senior mixer and John Iles, the technical engineer, although Iles certainly did some mixing as well.

John Timperley at the Chappell's Neve
John Timperley again at his big Neve, with the tape decks along the wall.
Photo: From Howard Massey’s book ‘The Great British Recording

The console was also fitted with four Astronic 8-band graphic equalisers, seen on the left side here, plus four Pye 4060 compressors underneath them. Timperley and Iles would have specified those and engineers inevitably favoured the equipment that they knew would produce results for them, hence the Pyes and perhaps the Astronics were there because they hadn’t come across Neve channel EQ before.

13a| The Neve 1057 Mic-amp Modules

Neve 1057
Neve 1057

With the 1057, Neve produced a comprehensive ‘narrow’ 1.8 inch wide module design that lasted for quite a while and would be recognisable to users today. The gain control, at the top, does the switching from ‘Mic’ to ‘Line’ at the -20 dBm point, next down is the fixed HF boost and cut control, followed by a High Pass Filter with ’20/45/70/160/ 360c/s’ choices. The Presence has ‘.7K/1.2k/2.4k/3.8k/7k’ choices and once gain boost or cut. The bottom LF control also boosts and cuts at ’35/60/100/220c/s’.

Chappell's Neve

Initially supplied with only 18 of the 1057 mic modules, Chappell’s Neve also has new routing modules 1854 and 1855. The big white switch at the top of each channel was the rotary group selector and the modules have switches and pots for 4 Rev Sends and 2 FBs. Neve has come up with a more comprehensive monitoring panel than on previous desks and this is the first time we’ve seen a remote control for an EMT140 echo-plate on one of their desks.


14| 1967: ‘Reduced’ – Chappell’s 5-channel Remixing Neve

At the same time as equipping their new studio with the main 20-channel, a smaller desk was bought for their ‘re-mix room’. Rupert Neve called these ‘reduction mixers’, as they were for reducing the previously recorded material from the multitrack for its final output to the finished master tapes.

Chappell’s ‘reduction mixer’
Chappell’s ‘reduction mixer’

The Neve for the ‘re-mix room’ was designed to output both stereo and mono mixes simultaneously, although in practice some studios did a separate mix for each one.

Once again Neve made new items for this desk; the 1856 Switching module and the 1857 Direct I/P module. There are two types of EQ modules and only 5 have EAB faders associated with them. The studio was recording on 4-track tape as we have seen, and these EQ modules are only for ‘high-level’ tape inputs and were from the 2050 series, but we can’t tell which.
However, the 3 that don’t have faders are 2053 EQ modules, most probably for the Echo Returns:

14a| The Neve 2053 EQ Modules

Here’s a rather poor photo of those 2053 EQ modules:

Neve 2053's
Neve 2053’s

These 2053 modules provide EQ for ‘high-level’ inputs, and has similar frequencies to the 1057 mic amp that’s on the main desk.
The upper pot gives boost and cut at a fixed ’10k’. Next down is the High Pass Filter with switched ’10/45/70/160/360 c/s‘. Then an MF pot, with boost and cut at ‘.7/1.2/2.4/3.8/7.0 k/cs‘, the LF control has boost and cut at ‘35/60/100/220 c/s‘. Finally, there’s a ‘Level’ pot, which would be + or – 10dB I think.
The ‘reduction’ mixer is fitted with 3 of the Astronic Graphic EQ’s and 3 more Pye 4060 compressors.

Records made on the Chappell’s Neve

Chappell Recording Studios, 52 Maddox Street, London, W1S 1AY.

The two young engineers that Chappell’s had put their faith in, rewarded the company with a well-received new studio and certainly John Timperley went on to become an outstanding recording engineer. In future years he started Mountain Studios in Montreux that ‘Queen’ not only used but then bought, and later he built Angel, yet another superb Neve studio, back again in London.

From Beat Instrumental

In July 1967 Paul McCartney came to Chappells and he brought a ‘trad jazz’ band with him.
“During the Quarry Men days, Paul McCartney had written a jazz-style instrumental titled Catswalk, which was never properly recorded by The Beatles. A rehearsal from late 1962 at the Cavern Club had been recorded, however.
McCartney knew band leader Chris Barber, who played trombone with his trad jazz group, The Chris Barber Band, and decided to offer him the song. The band recorded a version at London’s Marquee Club in July 1967, but McCartney felt it could be done better.
The session took place at Chappell Recording Studios at 52 Maddox Street, London. The retitled track was recorded as Catcall. The tune was given an over-the-top arrangement complete with a chorus of catcalls: McCartney and Jane Asher were among the people taking part in what was evidently a fun session.” 

Call Call session
‘Cat Calling’ on the STC 4038 brass mics.
Photo: Beatles Bible website

Being ‘figure-of-eights those STC4038s would pick up the guys shouting and the brass of course. Lots of Sandy Brown’s acoustic dividers are visible, and the low Chappell studios ceiling.

AUDIO: Chris Barber ‘Cat Call’

“Catcall was released as a single in the UK on 20 October 1967, with McCartney given a composer credit. Despite its impeccable pedigree, it failed to chart.” [33]

Call Call session
John Timpereley (in suit) directing during the Chris Barber session for Cat Call at Chappell’s studio, with Paul McCartney.

The Beatles themselves had made their first recording away from Abbey Road when they went into Regent Sound in Tottenham Court Road in February to start work on ‘Fixing A Hole’ for the ‘Sgt Pepper’ album but in August when Abbey Road wasn’t available, George Martin booked a Beatles session at Chappell’s, as they needed to get on with recording material for ‘The Magical Mystery Tour’:

The Beatles authority Mark Lewisohn gives us the details:
“22nd August 1967 –The Beatles worked on ‘Your Mother Should Know’ a Paul McCartney composition written for The Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack. They recorded eight takes of the backing track, with McCartney on piano and Ringo Starr on drums. McCartney then added two vocal overdubs onto the eighth take, and a rough mix was made. An acetate disc was pressed of this mix and was used during the production of the Magical Mystery Tour film.
23rd August 1967 – This was the second recording session for the Magical Mystery tour song ‘Your Mother Should Know’.
A reduction mix was firstly created to allow for more overdubs. This mix
numbered take nine, combined both of Paul McCartney’s vocal tracks into one, and piano and drums onto another. Two more tracks of backing vocals were then recorded, and rhythm guitar added to the choruses. The song was then left until 16 September 1967.
This was The Beatles final recording session prior to the death of their manager Brian Epstein on 27 August 1967. Epstein was actually present during this session, although his involvement was minimal.” 

Even a well-equipped studio like Chappell’s could be asked to do a very simple voice and guitar demo and George Martin and Paul came back to the studio again on the 21st November to record a demo of Cilla Black singing another of Paul’s songs ‘Step Inside Love’, with a tuneful guitar accompaniment that McCartney plays. At the end you hear George Martin call them on talkback to come and listen to a playback:

AUDIO: Cilla Black and Paul McCartney’s demo of ‘Step Inside Love’

Cilla plays up to George
Cilla plays up to George

In August 1965, George Martin had left EMI and started Associated Independent Recordings and by 1969 he and his partner John Burgess were setting up their new Oxford Street studios. So these Chappell sessions would have been the first time George had sat behind a Neve console and surely discovered how more advanced it was compared with the old EMI Redd.37 and 51 consoles at Abbey Road, and despite the complicated transistorised EMI TG12345 arriving late in 1968, Martin bought Neve consoles for his new AIR studios and then of course for many years to come.

Here’s a track by the organ player in the ‘Cat Call’ track, Brian Auger who recorded a lot at Chappell’s with John Timperley, often with singer Julie Driscoll. This is a piece that I’ve always liked, ‘In and Out’ by the great American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, which Auger and his group recorded in 1968:

AUDIO: Brian Auger and The Trinity -In and Out

From the album ‘Open’ with instrumental tracks on one side and Julie Driscoll vocals on the other. ‘In and Out’ is based on a simple riff throughout, and Gary Boyle has done a great copy of Wes Montgomery’s guitar sound, played with a thumb and not a pick.
The problem with recording on ‘4-track’ is so often the lack of a ‘real stereo spread’. Whilst it would be fine in the mono version, the stereo image on ‘In and Out’ there consists of four individual sounds. All the brass is on the left, the guitar centre and organ, bass and drums on the right. The organ solo is then put centre, although the spill of the drums throughout gives a slight feel of ‘stereo kit’ as well.
Roll on the arrival of 8-track!


Nuevo Neve mezclador de sonido’ – The first Spanish Neves

Spain was the first market for Neve mixers out of the UK, and was to remain an important user of Neve’s for some years to come This was certainly helped by the fact that Rupert, having grown up in Argentina, was fluent in Spanish. Also, the agent who sold Neve consoles there, Maldonado, must have been good at placing them in the growing Spanish recording industry.

15| 1967: The 16-channel Neve of ‘Televisión Española

However, the first Spanish Neve was this one for the state-owned Spanish TV company, TVE – Televisión Española in Madrid.

Here’s the 16-channel Neve that TVE received in 1967:

The TVE 16 channel Neve – front
and rear

15a| The Neve 1058 Mic-amp and 1858 Switching Modules

The channels have 1058 mic modules and 1858 switching modules, which were both new, although I’ve already shown the 1058, as it was used shortly afterwards on the second of the Intertel desks, but here are the two Spanish TV modules together:

Neve 1058 and 1858
Neve 1058 and 1858

The TVE Neve is 16 channels into 2 outputs, and as the 1858 shows, the ‘Output’ keyswitches select ‘Pan/Gr1’ and ‘Pan/Gr2’ with the stereo pan-pot at the bottom of the module. Above them are the selectors for ‘Rev1/2′ and ‘Foldback 1/2’, with a pair giving ‘Pre/Post’ selection.

And here are a bunch of the black 1058s. Along with the 1057s, the 1058 mic-amps were also later produced in the new Neve ‘RAF blue-grey’ redesigned finish with Marconi knobs.

The TVE Neve monitoring panel

The monitor section
The monitor section

At the top are the line amps, with more in the next row down; these being for ‘Rev 1 and 2’‘FB 1 and 2’ and the ‘Oscillator‘, plus two more. So far it looks very much like a normal stereo recording console, but there are some ‘broadcast’ facilities. There’s a selection panel with keyswitches labelled ‘Line/Group Selectors’, of which there are six, labelled for ‘Group1/Mono/Group 2’. So either Group or the Mono mix of them could be routed out to six outgoing lines. The ‘Monitor’ loudspeaker selector can route to three further selectors: ‘Record Returns’, with a choice of 3, or ‘Outputs’ with the choice of ‘GR1/GR2/Line 1/Line 2/Line 3/Line 4/Line 5/Line 6’. Finally there are ‘Ancilliaries’ which are ‘FB1/FB2/Rev1/Rev2 /PFL’, and obviously there a big speaker ‘Level’ knob.
To the right are selectors for ‘Rev Ret 1’ and ‘Rev Ret 2’ which have the same keyswitches as on the 1858 module; ‘Pan/GR1’
 and ‘Pan/GR2’, with both ‘Level’ and ‘Pan’ pots. Beneath these are the VU meter selector switches. ‘VU1’ having ‘Rec Rtn1/GR1/Lines’ choices, with all six ‘Lines’ available and ‘VU2’ has ‘Rec Rtn 1/Gr2/Lines’ in the same way.

We can assume ‘Lines’ were for outgoing feeds to an ‘Apparatus Room’ or ‘VTR machines’. The 2 ‘Rec Rtns’ would be local tape decks.

The provision of a pan-pots is interesting as nobody envisaged ‘stereo TV’ transmissions for many years to come, but the two TVE channels were partly ‘commercial’ channels, with advertisements, which of course meant ‘jingles’ back then, so perhaps they were fitted to allow a stereo recording to made at some stage, as after all, it was an easy facility to just leave on the desk.

The photo of the rear of the desk shows that it had both mic and line inputs for all the channels on XLRs. The Outputs on XLRs are the 6 ‘Lines’, the ‘Main Out’ and ‘FB1 and FB2’ . There are ‘Recorder Returns 1 and 2’ and ‘Rev Sends 1 and 2’, both with ‘Rev Returns 1 and 2’.
The jacks
allow ‘Pre Fader’ insertion’s for all the channels plus there are ‘Send and Returns’ for insertions on the 2 ‘Group Outputs ‘, the ‘Foldbacks’ and the ‘Revs‘. Finally an ‘Osc’ output.

A year after this desk was delivered, ‘panic’ must have ensued at TVE, as Spain won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1968. That meant that the 1969 contest would have to come from Spain, with all the planning and work that would entail. We will see some details of that in a future section.


16| 1967: ‘Worldwide Christian Radio’ –Trans World Radio‘s 8-channel Neve

In 1967 Neve constructed another ‘radio mixer’, this one for Trans World Radio, a Christian Radio station that eventually covered the globe.
The website ‘TES’ tells us something about the beginnings of TWR, which is still broadcasting today:

“On February 22, 1954 the Voice of Tangier began broadcasting the gospel on air.
Paul E. Reed was at the helm. Paul had travelled reluctantly to Spain having received a burden to reach the Spaniards with the Gospel.
After 5 years he learnt that all radio stations were to be nationalised in Morocco.
In 1960 TWR was formed and on October 16th TWR began broadcasting from Adolf Hitler’s former bomb-proof radio building in Monte Carlo. With his mother’s encouragement and prayers and the miraculous intervention of Radio Monte Carlo who were willing to discuss entering into a contract with the newly named TWR.“

So Trans World Radio moved and I love the thought of this Neve broadcasting from an ‘ex-Nazi radio bunker’ in Monte Carlo.
Rupert, with his strong Christian beliefs, would have been pleased to see one his consoles being used to spread the gospel.

Trans World Radio’s 8 channel Neve

16a| The Neve 1859 Switching Module

This desk once again used the 1058 mic amp module, but the Trans World Radio Neve had another new Switching Module, the 1859:

Neve 1859
Neve 1859

Looking similar to the previous 1858, this though has two ‘Revs’, but no ‘Foldback’ on the module, which may seem strange for any mixer, but it shows it is a ‘self-op’ radio desk, so there’s no reason to feed ‘foldback’ to a presenter, if they were on headphones, they’d listen to the output. The switch labelled ‘Level Pre-set’  is a ‘radio thing’ to help less technical users set a standard gain. It is also interesting that a ‘worldwide’ radio station on Shortwave and Medium wave should have a desk with a ‘stereo pan-pot’ – but Neve happily put those on their ‘mono’ output desks like the Spanish TV and a Rediffusion Singapore ones as well.

Here’s a close-up of the centre section controls:

The Trans World Neve monitoring panel

The monitor panel
The monitor panel

Up top there are the usual ‘line amps’, with ‘Rev 1’ and ‘Rev 2’ master sends, and for the groups and for the ‘PFL’ gain, with another unlabelled.
On the left side are the ‘Rev 1 Return’ and ‘Rev 2 Return’, with pan-pots under each, and similar keyswitches for ‘Pan/GR1’ and ‘Pan/GR2’  plus a ‘Level’ pot.
The centre has a loudspeaker for the pre-fader listen, with the right, the keyswitches for the ‘PFL’ for ‘GR1’ and ‘GR2’.
The toggle switches beneath are labelled for the VUs and the choices on ‘Meter 1’ are ‘Rec Ret 1/Group 1/Rev 1/Level Preset/Off’, and on ‘Meter 2 ‘ selecting ‘Rec Ret 2/Group 2/Rev 2/Level Preset/Off’.
The EMT faders have ‘channel on’ neons above each one, the channel ‘PFL’ buttons being on the 1859 modules. Of course, ‘PFL’ was a very important facility on any ‘radio’ desk, as it was required to cue up the next turntable when doing a show with discs. I can imagine though that there’d be a large mic on a stand or slung suspension over the centre section of this desk for the Presenter.

A colour photo of the simple monitor controls.
Photo: via Rick O’Neill


17| 1967: ‘Four down to 2 down to 1’ – The Estudio Regson ‘Reduction’ Mixer

Spanish recording studios also started to buy Neve consoles very early on, but there is little information as to exactly when that first happened probably because it was handled by the Spanish distributor. One studio that did get an early germanium Neve was Estudios Regson, in Madrid, which was established in 1966 and in 1967 it received a ‘Reduction’ mixer. The photo below is only labelled ‘Spanish Reduction Mixer’ by Neve, but it must be the Regson desk:

The Regson reduction mixer
The Regson reduction mixer

Designed to mix-down the output of a 4-track tape deck into both stereo and mono recorders, the four ‘line-level’ channel input EQ modules were from the 2050 series, but lack the ‘level’ pot at the bottom that is on the 2053 EQs. Beneath them are the new 1860 switching modules, obviously tailored to this 3 output ‘reduction’ console. These have the facility of sending to ‘Rev1’ and ‘Rev2’ in either ‘Pre/Post’ and also routing to the stereo ‘L’, ‘R’ or the ‘M’ outputs.
On the right-hand side is the built-in jackfield, which has at the top the four channel  ‘Send’  and ‘Return’ insertions, another four labelled as ‘Direct Inputs’ that have ‘Rev Sends’ and four have ‘Rev Returns’. Finally, the three ‘L/R/M’ outputs also have ‘Send’ and ‘Return’ insertion points.

The blank panels on the left side indicate that this 4 into 3 ‘reduction’ mixer might have been pre-wired for later extending its inputs.


18| 1967/8: Estudio Regson – gets a ‘main console’

I believe that the ‘main console’ that Estudios Regson got was a 16-4, but there’s no photo we’ve found so far for this item, that was detailed in the Drawing Schedule like this‘Drawing S/10013’ ‘Regson’. This would be a bigger ‘studio’ console for Regson in Madrid, after that first ‘reduction’ mixer. It was the console that had the 1863 Switching modules designed for it.

The Regson listing in the 1971 Billboard Directory
The Regson listing in the 1971 Billboard Directory

So Regson got a Neve for their studio in 1967/8, but lack of any other information means we have wait 4 years after they got the ‘reduction desk’, to see in the 1971 Billboard Directory that Regson’s Studio ‘1’ now has a Neve 24-channel 8 output, with a Studer 8-track; Studio ‘2’ has a Neve 6-channel 3 output but with only stereo decks, and a mobile unit was now listed as having a Neve 16+10 working with a Studer 4-track. That I believe tells us that the first Studio 1 Neve desk, almost certainly a 16-channel console, had at least by 1971 most probably gone into the mobile, and another 24-channel console had been bought for Studio 1.

18a| The Neve 1863 Switching Module

Neve 1863
From the Blake Devitt workshop collection

First used on the Regson mixer, here’s a Neve 1863 module, which Blake Devitt has. It allows selection to either, or both of the two ‘Revs’ and the two ‘FBs’ on the upper keyswitches, each with a level pot, which are missing the control knobs in this unit of course and with the toggle ‘Pre/Off/Post’ keys under them. The ‘Output Groups’ selectors allow either Groups ‘1’ and ‘2’ in the upper position, or panning between either ‘1-3’ or ‘2-4’, with the pan-pot at the bottom. So we know the Estudios Regson Neve certainly was a 4 Group console.

Records from Regson’s Neves

Regson Esudios, c/ Gustavo Fernandez Balbuena 24, Madrid 2

‘Recorded at Estudio Regson’ is still to be seen on the back covers of many of the discs listed by the Discogs website for the studio. It obviously was a very successful recording studio and covered everything from the strong Spanish musical culture including folk, flamenco and pop and classical, with lots of choirs and stage shows. These were often recorded at the Madrid ‘Teatro de Formento de las Artes’ by the mobile Neve equipped unit.

‘La Revoltosa’ by Ruperto Chapi- recorded in 1968.
‘La Revoltosa’ by Ruperto Chapi- recorded in 1968.

Part of a film series co-production between Regson and TVE – 35mm colour and in stereo, made in 1968:
Lyrical farce in one act: Recording made for Televisión Española by Estudios Regson de Madrid, in the room of the Teatro de Fomento de las Artes (Madrid). Original soundtrack of the production made by Televisión Española for its series Teatro Lírico Español, filmed in 35 mm in Eastman color, with stereophonic sound.” [34]
Wiki tells us: “La Revoltosa (The Troublemaker) is a Spanish zarzuela with a libretto by Jose Lopez Silva and Carlos Fernandez Shaw and music by Ruperto Chapi. It premiered on 25 November 1897 at the Apollo Theatre in Madrid.”

VIDEO: Press ‘PLAY’ button (might be in lower left corner):

Excerpt from the 1968/9 film of La Revoltosa by Chapi.
From Juan Carlos Elvira Mate

This would have been pre-recorded in the big studio at Estudio Regson first, as it’s obviously being done to playback during the Teatro de Formento filming.

Here’s a studio track, a very ‘up-front” vocal group called ‘The Nanettes’ with a backing band. The happy little ‘Europop’ track is called ‘Isabel Cascabel’….and it sounds as though they really liked their tracks very ‘toppy’ in Spain back then; the HF of the snare and hi-hat almost hurts!

AUDIO: The ‘bright sound’…literally of The Nanettes ‘Isabel Cascabel’

The Nanettes ‘Isabel Cascabel’

The studio was obviously closely associated with a record distributor S.E.D.M., which had a ‘Dim’ record label and that was one of their records which all seem to have come out of Regson. Confusingly there was a Studio Regson in Milan, Italy; no relation.


19| 1967: ‘Radio, but not Wireless’ – The 8-channel Neve of Rediffusion Singapore (丽的呼声)

Rupert had worked on electronics and transformer design for Rediffusion, a company providing a ‘cable’ radio system, which it also operated in some other countries. This was radio distributed along a wired system directly to loudspeakers in subscribers’ homes and workplaces. Singapore was ideal for a system like Rediffusion because reception of the major state broadcaster, Radio Singapore was often difficult for many on its Medium Wave transmitter and the very low subscription method that Rediffusion used to market on the island, appealed to the poorer Chinese and Malaya’s who lived predominately in ‘kampongs’; villages still with ‘attap huts’, as there was no electricity required or ‘radio set’ to purchase. Rediffusion Singapore also appealed by broadcasting in multiple languages and in all the local dialects, whereas Radio Singapore remained firmly in English and Mandarin.
So although it operated as a full-time
radio station, there was no ‘radio transmitter’ and it was indeed ‘wireless fed by wires’!

Rediffusion loudspeaker
A Rediffusion loudspeaker- fed by cable from the nearest distribution centre.
Photo: Rediffusion website

“For a generation of Singaporeans, the name Rediffusion brings back warm memories of a little nondescript brown, rectangular box blaring music and entertainment in homes and coffee shops across Singapore in the 1960s and 1970s. This iconic radio station – known as 丽的呼声 in Mandarin (Li Di Hu Sheng) – provided countless hours of enjoyment to its listeners with the latest American pop music, dramatic stories told in Chinese dialects like Hokkien and Cantonese, and the friendly chatter of DJs at a time when home entertainment options were in short supply.” [36]

A large number of languages and dialects had to be catered for. Amongst those used by different communities were six dialects of Chinese, two of Malay and many Indian, besides English. As the Chinese areas were the most beneficial to develop initially, the Chinese initially formed the greater proportion of the subscribers.
Local talent was mainly limited to Singapore town which provided a large number of musical groups, and the Chinese, always industrious, built up many excellent and varied orchestras. To help in adding variety to the programmes, one of the first permanent O.B. lines linked up to two Chinese theatres and these proved to be very popular.
A total of thirty-two programme hours per day were provided, and it had been rather more easy to arrange material for the English programmes, because of the large resources of recorded American, English, Australian and European talent which could be drawn on. Requests, however, indicated that the most popular records were limited to those made by a small number of artists.
The most noticeable difference between subscribers in Singapore and at the UK  was the constant demand made for more and more volume. In order to get this, some subscribers tried to tap the service wiring to feed their radiograms and amplifiers. The usual procedure was to stick two pins into the wiring. When a Rediffusion van was seen to enter the street to which a fault has been traced, it would be at once spotted and the offender would smartly withdraw the pins and hide the wire. The offender would then come out to watch the wiremen looking for the fault and amiably converse with them, offering encouragement and advice.” 

Rediffusion House, 182 Clemenceau Avenue in the 1960’s.
Photo: Photo Carl Gibson-Hill-The Collection of The National Museum of Singapore

“Commercial and Programme Staff occupied the first floor and the second was given over completely to programme origination.  Located here was the Central Control Room, three Studios, each with a separate Balance and Control Cubicles, a Record Library, Filing Office, two Record Rehearsal Rooms and a Record Cutting Room. Other recording facilities available included a mobile console containing a dual tape recorder made up locally which could be wheeled into any cubicle to record or play from tape as required and a third portable tape recorder.” [37]

Rediffusion operated a recording studio that was often used by the local bands as there was a growing market for local talent in all the different languages. The Rediffusion studio recordings got issued on the European and local record labels, often proudly declaring that they were recorded by ‘Rediffusion Singapore’.

So it would be for the Rediffusion music recording studio that this 8-channel 2 output Neve was purchased in 1967. The desk would have only fed a 2-track or stereo tape deck, although by mid-1971 the studio had moved up to a 12-channel 4-track Neve desk and an Ampex 4T recorder. [38]

Shown in the photo at the beginning of Part Two, another view of Rediffusion Singapore’s 8 channel Neve

The Rediffusion Singapore mixer is fitted with the same 1058 mic amp modules and 1858 switching modules as the Spanish TV desk, of which it is really just an 8-channel version.

The Music of Singapore – Chinese, Malay, English – through the Rediffusion Neve

Rediffusion (Singapore) Pte. Ltd, 182 Clemenceau Avenue, Singapore 9.

As I mentioned above, Rediffusion Singapore recording studio did many discs with local singers and bands in all the Singaporean languages:

The Trailers EP ‘The Big 4’ of 1967. (English)
Photo: Discogs.
Ling Yin’s 1969 EP –凌鶯* – 可愛的丹拉美娜(Chinese)
Photo: Discogs

The most famous band in Singapore was ‘The Quests’ who produced big hits with their guitar instrumental style recording, particularly ‘Shanty’ which they recorded in 1964 in Singapore’s EMI studio. They added a singer, Vernon Cornelious who later became a very popular DJ on Rediffusion.

The Quests’ really seemed to be of a standard similar to the British group ‘The Shadows’, but they didn’t ever record at Rediffusion.
Here though is a band, probably typical of the lesser standard of local bands ‘knocking off’ the sounds they heard around that time. It’s a Malayan group, the ‘Impianbateks’:

AUDIO: Impianbateks ‘Gadis Sekolah’ (School Girl).

Their EP of 1967. (Malay)
Their EP of 1967. (Malay)
Photo: Discogs

It’s easy to underestimate the significance that hearing pop music being sung in your own language or dialect was for teenagers in a place like Singapore and the records by the local groups were always the most popular on Rediffusion’s request programmes. The Rediffusion Manager Mike Ellery, whose name appears on so many of these records sleeves must have been pleased with his little studio’s output.

Ellery, came up from being a DJ, which he also continued doing. It was a blow to Rediffusion’s pop programming when in later years the independent Singapore under Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew took a very hard stance towards anything they regarded as ‘decadent’:
“Ellery also witnessed the government’s crackdown on the social ills – perceived and real – of the time: Rock ‘n’ roll music, long hair and drugs. Considering most of what Rediffusion’s was playing was rock ‘n’ roll music, it was a concern for Ellery.”
“With that sort of output, perhaps you can imagine the total panic that set in when The Ministry of Culture decided to ban from broadcasting ‘the type of music known as ‘rock and roll’,” wrote Ellery. “I can remember frantically digging through the record library pulling out anything with a beat. It didn’t help that Elvis and Chubby Checker were reigning at that time.” [39]

Still ‘On Air’ 45 years later….the first Singapore Neve!

” About 3 years ago I was in Singapore and they showed me a console which I had sold them in 1967, this was a semi-conductor console, one of the very early ones. And they had it all polished and clean and so on. I remember selling them that console and I sort of put out my hand and was stroking it and they told me not to touch it. I asked, “Well why not?” They said, “It’s on air.” [1]

Being ‘On Air’ shows that the original 8-channel desk had moved out of the music studio, into another of the ‘radio studios’. After re-reading Rupert’s remark about seeing his old desk I went digging some more and discovered that it continued on much longer and enjoyed an extremely long and very productive life, having given 45 years of continuous ‘service’ when this photo was taken, eleven years later:

The Neve 8 into 2 mixer supplied in 1967, still in use in a Rediffusion Singapore studio in 2012.
Photo: Alvin Lim

Amazingly here it is in April 2012, when Alvin Lim visited and reported on the studios just days before it closed.  
It’s the same desk, though with replaced VUs at the top and a matching jackfield beside it. 
Sadly Rediffusion Singapore had finally been ‘overtaken’ by the other stations in Singapore, and of course by the internet. [40]
The station was by then broadcasting as a DAB station….and look, in the photo above they’re still using 1970s-era Garrard 401 turntables! It closed on 30th April 2012, operating from its final studio building in Harper Road that they had moved to in 1988. In 2014 new owners re-started Rediffusion Singapore with a new ‘business model’, although last I heard this was struggling somewhat.
In 2012 it was surely the longest surviving working Neve and still with its original owner, and I wonder where that wonderful old germanium transistor Neve 1967 desk is now?


20*| 1968: Granville TV Theatre’s 16-channel Neve – ‘6781’

Another for which we have little detail is ‘Drawing S/10014: ‘Granville’  
In the UK’s ‘1968 Kemps Directory’, a ’16-channel, 2 track mixing console’ is listed for the equipment at The Granville; so that’s the Neve.

It’s the first console to have a serial number listed – ‘6781’. Early Neve’s had a variety of serial numbers until it settled down when Derek Stoddart introduced the first ‘A’ number.
It also was the first console with 1864 Switching modules, but we have no information on that module.

The Granville Theatre, Fulham Broadway, London SW6 had been used as a TV studio during the early days of ITV, operated by Associated-Rediffusion as ‘Studio 6’, starting in August 1955. In 1957 it was run as a TV studio by Pye and Mole-Richardson and fitted out with their equipment for demonstration purposes.
Bill Stewart and Peter Lloyd, both ex-ATV were the next owners, probably in 1964 and it was fitted out with Marconi cameras, which The Central Office Of Information used for a weekly series by then working as a ‘Gemini’ system with a dual Mitchell film camera attached to each one. Granville closed when the lease ran out and it was demolished in 1971. The Gemini cameras went to Keith Ewart’s Studios in Wandsworth. [41]

Granville Theatre studio in the Mole Richardson period.
Granville Theatre studio in the Mole Richardson period.
Photo: via David Petrie

Here’s The Granville a few years before the Neve arrived, it’s in 1960. Bob Davis tracking the Mole boom with Sam Cartmer operating. Slim McDonnell on the fixed ‘Lazy Arm’ boom, who went on to become a famous underwater cameraman!


Neve grows and grows

Derek Stoddart joined Neve in 1967:

“I applied to an advert in Cambridge News for an Audio Engineer, or a person who had an interest in audio, and went for an interview at The Priesthaus.
I had difficulty in finding it as It did not have Rupert Neve on the gate, so I walked nervously up the long drive, and there was the gardener sweeping leaves on the front lawn so I asked him if this was Neve Electronics, but he did not speak English, only Spanish – he pointed to the large front door.

I pressed the bell and there was the distant sound of footsteps (like you hear on the old movies!) and a short lady opened the door, so I asked again “Is this Neve Electronics”, but she only spoke Spanish. She was the housekeeper, the wife of the gardener. I thought that this is a very strange place!
She closed the door and went inside and another lady who spoke English came to the door, I do not remember her name and she took me inside and I met John Vertue, who told me a little about the company, and told me that they designed mixing consoles, which of course I knew very little about.”

He recalled the others at that time:

“Colin Morton; Tony Cornwell – Chief Engineer; Ian Cook I believe was there – but not sure if he joined later?
Manolo – the Spanish guy who did the metalwork.
Working in the office in the house were:
John Vertue – Purchasing etc, an older lady who mainly did Bookkeeping.
A younger lady who was the Secretary and of course Evelyn Neve (Rupert’s wife) did the Accounts.
Reg Bentick was often there doing console styling (BCM 10 etc).
The stable building was very small and confined with 4-5 people working in it, so Rupert got planning
permission for the wooden building in his back garden.

I saw an advert in Practical Wireless for jobs at Pye of Cambridge, I knew the Pye made records, their name was on the label, as well as radio equipment, so I applied, went for an interview in Cambridge and got a job at Pye’s Haig Road site.  So in September 1966 I left home in Yorkshire and headed for Cambridge.
Some 18 months later I joined Rupert Neve after seeing a Cambridge Evening News ad for a test engineer. I had an interview at Priesthaus, Rupert’s home in Little Shelford with Ian Cook the chief test engineer at the time.”

John joined as ‘Assistant Test Engineer’ at a salary of £900 per annum.

“When I joined in Autumn 1968, there were already these members of staff I can remember in addition to Colin Morton.
Tony Cornwell; Derek Stoddart; Ian Cook – who interviewed me; Linda Cook – tracer; John Copsey; Victor Perks; Pat Wythe; David Rees and Betty Harmer-Smith

When John joined, the nucleus of staff was being built up to cope with the increasing orders and very soon Rupert Neve & Co. Ltd was to become a big name in professional audio.

The Little Shelford workshop interior.
The Little Shelford workshop interior.

With rooms of his house taken up, and with the production of mixers now expanding, Rupert had a small wooden 1,200 sq. ft. workshop erected in the grounds at ‘The Priesthaus’. It housed the ‘Production’, ‘R&D’ and ‘Test’ departments.
In the above photo, the Sales Director at that time Victor Perks is discussing a Neve console with a colleague in the centre of the room and Linda Cook is tracing a drawing in the foreground.

Ian Cook at his desk in the workshop
Ian Cook at his desk in the workshop

And here’s the Senior Test Engineer Ian Cook testing modules in the Priesthaus workshop.

“The standard colour for the company’s products was black enamel, as supplied to Philips Studios and to Chappell &Co., but in this year the colour changed to grey, eventually known as Neve grey.
In 1968, turnover again doubled with the previous year. Against this background, Mr Neve was casting around for more professional premises for the company, premises that would allow further expansion of the number of staff employed at the time. He found a caravan site in a field at Melbourn with two caravans on it. The site was purchased, and on the 19th November building work started on what is now the metalshop and drawing office building.
1968 saw the dawning of the new age of independent broadcasting in the UK, and Granada Television of Manchester were the first company of this new breed to specify Neve equipment.”

(From ‘The History Of Neve’ document written in 1986.) [42]


To Come in Part Four

Many more of these early consoles were made during the late ’60s period when these ‘shiny black’ Neve’s were being produced, but sadly we don’t have details of all of these, but the appearance of Neve’s was about to make a big change. This brought about the classic-looking Neve consoles that most will readers will recognise.

In Part Four we will continue with the Neves from 1968 in this series of articles looking at the consoles made until Rupert left the company in 1975. As that’s a lot of Neves, we’ll try and find ‘the interesting ones’ in future articles.


Can you help with ‘The History of Neve’?

The RND website has given us excellent videos of Rupert relating stories from his early days. Now that Rupert has gone, the ‘history of Neve’ is going to be disappearing fairly fast and amazingly, lots of it hasn’t been written.
There are some Ex-Neve engineers like Derek StoddartGeoff Tanner and Ian Thompson-Bell amongst others, who have greatly added to our knowledge of old Neves in recent years, via their writings on forums and websites.
Other engineers such as talented ‘Neve techs’ like Blake Devitt and Nat Priest, along with many more, have worked on many of the old desks, bringing them both back to life and re-fitting them to suit modern studios.
And there are studio owners and mixers who had, or used the older Neve’s.

I’d like to appeal to all able to add to our knowledge of the history Neve consoles. Do please contribute to this Neve history, and send me what you know about the consoles you’ve been involved with – their histories and their uniqueness.

Use this website’s contact form below or just direct to David Taylor: david at postfade.co.uk.
Just change that ‘at’ to a well-known equivalent (@) …….You can see that I’m trying to avoid those unwanted offers of impossibly large sums of money from Nigeria – thanks!


Credits and References:

[1] Rupert Neve interview with Steve McAllister in TapeOp magazine Nov/Dec 2001.
The remaining references [2] to [32] are in Part Two.

[33] From https://www.beatlesbible.com/1967/07/20/chris-barber-band-records-catcall/
[34] From: ‘The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions’, by Mark Lewisohn.

[35] Director:  Juan de OrduñaCredits: Photography, Federico G. Larraya ; executive producer, Javier Perez Pellon ; director de produccio/n, Fortunato Bernal ; editor, Magdalena Pulido ; choreography, Dimitri Constantinow. With the Orquesta Lirica Española ; Cantores de Madrid ; Federico Moreno Torroba, conductor.
Cast: Jose Sacristan (Tiberio) ; Antonio Duran (Atenedoro) ; Elisa Ramirez (Mari Pepa) ; Antonio Casal (Candido) ; Maria Luisa Ponte (Gorgonia) ; Jose Moreno (Felipe) ; Marisa Paredes (Soledad) ; Manolo F. Aranda, Antonio Martelo, Monica Randal, additional cast members.
[36] From the National Museum of Singapore website: https://biblioasia.nlb.gov.sg/vol-15/issue-4/jan-mar-2020/rdifs-gden-yrs/

[37] From the Rediffusion Singapore website: http://www.rediffusion.info/Singapore/
[38] In 1971 Rediffusion was listed in the Billboard Recording Studio Directory:
“Manager: Mike Ellery; Studio Manager: Ong Su Tow; Chief  Engineer N.V. Symonds. No of Engineers: 3 Remote Equip – 14 input 2 output mixer, Ampex 2T, PA facilities.

Studio 1 – 23x18x11h. Control room 18×9.  Neve console – 12 input 2 output; mikes – AKG, Neumann; Ampex 4T, 1T, Studer 2T. Echo chambers – 1 Binson & 1 EMT. Monitor speakers Wharfedale with Koss Acoustech amps. Instruments available – Fender guitar amps, Premier drums, Schimmel piano, Yamaha Electrone organ. Hourly studio rate -$50 (Singapore) per hr, minimum 4 hrs.
Studio 2: (voice) 20x15x9h; control room 10×8; Rediffusion console – 12 input 2 output; Studer 2T, Ampex 1T”
[39] From RIP Mr Ellery: https://www.todayonline.com/blogs/poparazzi/rip-mr-ellery
[40] From the website: https://alvinology.com/2012/04/18/a-peek-into-rediffusion-
[41] Information from: Martin Kempson’s great website: https://www.tvstudiohistory.co.uk/itv-studios-in-london/the-granville-theatre/
[42] ‘The History Of Neve’ document, written by an unkown person in 1986, was found in Blake Devitt’s original Neve files.

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