Early RUPERT NEVE consoles and their stories | PART ONE: 1959-1962 | The valve mixers

2022-01-04 0 By David Taylor

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

Much of the information available on the internet concerning Rupert Neve and his mixing consoles isn’t wholly accurate, so with the help of John Turner, the longest serving employee of ‘Neve’ – in its various guises, we will try in this series of articles to give a more accurate account of the history of the early Rupert Neve consoles; with an historical timeline from his first mixer, up until 1975, which was when Rupert himself left his own Neve company.

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

I haven’t individually credited the many images that John Turner has contributed, but hopefully the other photos are correctly credited.

Part One Contents:
1: 1959 – ‘Making the music concrete’ – Rupert Neve’s first console for Desmond Leslie
The Desmond Leslie mixer controls
Desmond Leslie’s ‘Sci-Fi’ music
2: 1961 – ‘Inside and Outside’ – Two valve mixers for Recorded Sound, London
The Recorded Sound studio 10 channel valve mixer
Recordings on Leo Pollini’s mixer
Recorded Sound’s location recording 10 channel valve mixer
Rupert takes Neve to a Rectory
To Come in Part Two

This part only covers the earliest known Neve valve (tube) mixers. We will follow with another covering the earliest ‘shiny black’ finished germanium transistors mixers, to be followed by parts covering many of the more interesting of the subsequent mixers up to 1975.

Rupert Neve outside The Priesthaus in Little Shelford in 1968.
Photo: Rupert Neve Designs

RUPERT NEVE:
“Just after WWII, I was running a little recording/public address system. We used to record brass bands, male voice choirs and choral society during the Winter, and we used to do public address for shows in Summer.
Doing recording was great fun. There were about four recording studios in the whole of the United Kingdom at that time. I didn’t have a studio, we had a room which we used to rent over a music shop. Of course we recorded straight to disc. There was no second chance, so you had wasted your blank if you didn’t get it right. So I went and got a job in London with a company that ran cable-radio. I found myself designing amplifiers, pre-amps, and making it sound good, doing equalizing on the lines and so forth. I found myself more or less in charge of the audio of the group and learning electronics. But the sound always interested me”
 [1]

Rupert moved into transformer design within Rediffusion, the company which had developed and ran a cable- distributed radio system and he became a real specialist in the design of audio transformers; which became particularly important in the later development of his consoles.

” It all added together when, finally, I left that company and started on my own. The first thing I did was design a bookcase-style speaker. It was one of the very earliest high-quality, small size speakers. High- quality in those days meant huge, great big corner cabinets with sand-filled baffles and goodness knows what. They sounded terrific but were not very practical. Anyway, it was the first of these and we got good reviews on it, and it sounded nice, but again, there wasn’t any money in it.” [1]

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1: 1959 – ‘Making the music concrete’ – Rupert Neve’s first console for Desmond Leslie

An ‘avantgarde’ composer, Desmond Leslie asked Rupert to build a mixer for Leslie’s ‘musique-concrete’ compositions, and Rupert had to ask for one third of the cost in advance, as he hadn’t the capital behind him to buy the parts. Rupert must have already built mixing equipment for his PA and recording work and we can probably assume that there wasn’t too much original design work in the Leslie console circuitry employing published designs such as from Mullard.

This first commercial Neve mixer, a valve (tube) design, was simple and consisted basically of four hi-level inputs, to which echo could be added and it gave both stereo and mono outputs.
It still exists at Desmond Leslie’s home, Castle Leslie in Ireland and in 2015 it was displayed for a while at the Armagh County Museum. [2]

On display at Armagh County Museum in 2015, the four channel valve control panel built for mixing Desmond Leslie’s ‘musique-concrete’ compositions.
Photo: Patrick Delany

The presence of a valve Quad 22 pre-amp in the upstand possibly dates this to 1959, when Quad released the control unit, although the upstand part, being cruder looking and mounted on formica, was most likely added by Leslie afterwards.

The Desmond Leslie mixer controls

The controls for the four channels of the mixer have labels that don’t conform to what we’d later use:
At the top, four pots labelled ‘send gains’, with basic ‘treble’ and ‘bass’  controls under each of them. They would be the ‘echo sends’ and obviously a simple Baxandall channel EQ .
The next four down are just labelled ‘mono‘, with beneath them four more labelled  ‘balance‘. I’ll leave it to you therefore to decide which are ‘pan-pots’, ‘faders’ and ‘echo send’ controls!
In the bottom left there are ‘remote start’ toggle switches for the separate tape decks that Leslie used, with indicator neons.
The top right large knob is labelled ‘master echo’ and it has two ‘treble’ and two ‘bass’ controls, with beneath them a pair of the big faders, each labelled ‘stereo’. The worn red knob is ‘echo balance’ with an ‘echo on’ neon beside it and centre bottom is ‘master balance’. There are two ‘power’ neons with matching fuses and finally in the bottom right is the ‘master gain’.

Mentioning ‘Echo’, back in the days when echo ‘chambers’ still very much existed, makes me conjure up the idea of a dungeon in Castle Leslie being used, but the as the building dates from 1878, that alas doesn’t seem likely. Perhaps a ‘bed-chamber’ then?

Close-up of the ‘Rupert Neve & Co., Harlow, Essex’ label on the mixer.
Photo: Patrick Delany

The name ‘Rupert Neve & Co., Harlow, Essex’ was already being used by Rupert, as the labelling on the front of the mixer shows. The 1961 date usually credited as when Rupert Neve started his company in Harlow, would therefore be the date he made it into a limited company.

RUPERT NEVE:
“The first mixing console, per se, was made for Desmond Leslie, this amazing musique-concrete composer, and the disadvantages of a tube mixer were the high voltages and the cumbersome nature of the whole thing. And customers were starting to ask me for features that could not be accommodated in a tube mixer, just because you needed an awful lot of circuits, and you couldn’t fit those circuits into a reasonable space. Not to mention the fact that these high voltages of the tubes were lethal. There was the occasion when I was working in the middle of the night with Desmond Leslie and I’d switched everything off and I was reaching inside the cabinet to do something or other. He came into the room and switched it on again without my realising it; and nearly killed me! And all he did was say:

“Sorry, did you get a shock?”
 “Yeah, not only a shock but….”.
So that was one of the disadvantages, if you like, with tube mixers.”
 [3]

Desmond Leslie’s ‘Sci-Fi’ music

There is a lot of the fascinating history of Desmond Leslie available elsewhere, so I keep it to a minimum here, however to give you a flavour: 
“When a guidebook to Ireland described his family as being ‘mildly eccentric’, Desmond Leslie took offence and wrote to the publishers informing them that, on the contrary, the Leslie’s were very eccentric.” [4]
Leslie wrote books, directed films and produced music for his own films and those of others.
In 1953, he wrote a book called ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed’ which consisted of two parts; the first being Leslie’s reasonings for the existence of visiting aliens and he gave the second part over to American George Adamski describing his sightings of the same. It sold remarkably well during that period of high interest in UFO’s.

Leslie and Adamski
Desmond Leslie on the left during his 3 month visit to meet George Adamski, on the right in 1954. This was after the book had been published.
Photo: Castle Leslie Archive

Therefore it’s not hard to understand then that when Leslie turned to composing, it wasn’t the usual music of the 1950’s, but ‘musique-concrete’, and after writing pieces for radio and films he produced the compilation LP pictured below in 1959:

Leslie’s LP containing “Music Of the Voids Of Outer Space, The Day The Sky Fell In, Death Of Satan and Sacrifice B.C. 5,000”.

Andrew May wrote about another Leslie LP in his book ’The Science of Sci-Fi Music’:
“Produced between 1955 and 1959 for various films and TV and radio dramas, he later compiled the pieces into an album called ‘Music of the Future’, which was re-issued on CD in 2005. Here is a quote from Leslie taken from the back cover of the CD: “As I see it, musique-concrete is the arrangement and selection of sound patterns into an intelligent, evocative and potent new musical form. Its basic instrument is the magnetic tape recorder so that the composer has the advantage of becoming orchestra and conductor as well…….The tape recorder, coupled with other devices, can produce an almost unlimited variety of sound spectra. Hence the first problem is not the creation of new sounds but to select and organise.”
While the use of a tape recorder may have been high-tech for its time, the production of raw sounds to go on the tape was often distinctly low tech – as Leslie makes clear in his description of another section of the same work depicting the planet Mercury: “I have only used two sound sources, a humming top  and a motor horn employing a single rhythmic pattern throughout”. As for another piece on the CD – music for the film ‘The Day The Sky Fell In’, which Leslie says “caused a near riot at the Venice Film Festival in 1959” – he writes that: “the opening blasts of the play-in started life as a fast electric fan chucked into the strings of a grand piano”.[5]


There were no rules with regard to musique-concrete and it appears that the some of the first sounds being mixed on a Rupert Neve mixing console were Desmond Leslie’s recordings of him rather abusing bits of his domestic equipment.

From his ‘Music Of The Future’ compilation, here is part of the sound-track used for the sci-fi film ‘The Day the Sky Fell In” which Leslie worked on in 1958:

AUDIO : Desmond Leslie – Destruction Of The Flies


There’s obvious use of his grand piano, rather like a ‘prepared piano’ used by John Cage and I think that the ‘swotting’ of the flies, at 01.43 minutes, shows some of Desmond Leslie’s humour! He said:
“The Day The Sky Fell In – When producer Barry Shawzin brought me the cutting copy of this brilliant pithy filmed comment on the absurdity of super-weapons, I felt that here was the perfect film on which to graft my sounds. I was right. It was a composers answer to prayer, and the finished film caused a near riot at the Venice Film Festival in 1959.” [6]

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2: 1961/1962– ‘Inside and Outside’ – Two valve mixers for Recorded Sound, London

Desmond Leslie’s mixer was only required to mix his tape-recorder ouputs, so the first professional recording studio mixer that Rupert made that was complete with microphone amplifiers would therefore be in 1961; one of the two consoles that he made for Recorded Sound Studio in Bryanston St. London W1.

JOHN TURNER:
One of Rupert’s very early clients was Leo Pollini of Recorded Sound in London, for whom he designed and built two valve consoles. The first was for the studio, a 10 into 2. The design was based on the successful equipment Rupert had built in the Plymouth days and included features that were innovative for that period. The other was an outside broadcast console. Recorded Sound had a contract with Radio Luxembourg to broadcast a series of live Sunday afternoon concerts for which they needed a high quality, reliable, transportable console with all the features of studio equipment and the capability of feeding music landlines. This console was based on the earlier studio console that had been working successfully at the Bryanston Street Studio.”

RUPERT NEVE:
 “My first two or three sound control consoles for London studios were actually tube consoles, simple by today’s standards, but I think, the one that comes to mind was the one I designed and built for a studio called Recorded Sound in Bryanston Street, and Leo Pollini was the engineer and he specified a whole lot of features for this console that I had never heard of. He talked about  ‘SFB’; well ‘SFB’ I had to discover, meant ‘studio foldback’, and then there was ‘Rev’. What was ‘Rev’ – ‘Reverberation’.  I was totally unfamiliar, in those days with the pro-audio scene. But I realized that these were ‘auxiliary circuits’, which the console had to feed; had to provide. So I built a 10-channel console, which had 2 outputs and we could switch between the two outputs, therefore it qualified as a ‘stereo console’. And the essence of the console was not only high-quality – and all my previous attempts at high-quality now came into play – became invaluable because I could apply them in this professional field. And I was able to not only make the circuits sound good, but I was able to make them reliable, so people would have little fear of breakdown during sessions.
[7]

1961: The Recorded Sound studios 10 channel valve mixer

First Recorded Sound mixer
The first valve studio mixer for Recorded Sound.

The desk Rupert built for the studio at Recorded Sound has 10 channels, into 2 outputs, which as Rupert says above, ‘ therefore it qualified as a stereo console’. Above each of the the big rotary faders are similar Baxandall bass and treble controls, like the Leslie desk had. There’s a Group fader beside each set of 5 faders and the 10 ‘echo send’ pots are moved off onto the upper right, along with an ‘echo master’. The two different coloured cover plate panels may been added to facilitate modifications which were inevitable in the rapidly changing recording studio world.
Here’s a look inside:

The tag-blocks used for input and output connections inside the Recorded Sound Studio mixer.

The visible tag-blocks show that this was connected to an external jackfield. On one of the input transformer cans, the writing is almost certainly that of Rupert himself, giving the details of his hand built transformer and although Rupert says he was building in his garage, the story that Leo Pollini told was that Rupert assembled this mixer on his kitchen table.

Undoubtedly Rupert Neve’s writing on a transformer housing in the Recorded Sound Studio mixer.

A young Ric Holland joined the Recorded Sound studio in May 1969 as a trainee ‘tape op’ and by then the studio had gone through a rebuild with a new transistor Neve 20 channel installed (see Part Three for that one). However the original old valve Neve was still in use in ‘Studio B’ in the basement of a townhouse over the road in Bryanston Street which also housed the studio tape store. [8] Studio B was a ‘voice only’ studio and when I queried Ric on the valve desk, he replied:
“I must admit I don’t recall it being as sophisticated as in the photo nor it having 10 channels but it *has* to be the one. Particular characteristics are the green Formica backplate, round pots and the wooden cabinet. It originally had a gooseneck talkback mic and a fairly deep desktop in the front which matched the length of the console. This desktop featured a black Formica top.” [9]
Studio B was gone by mid 1971 and at some stage the valve mixer ended up back in Rupert Neve’s hands and was displayed in the reception of his Melbourn factory for many years and is now at the AMS-Neve factory in Burnley. A significant historical item indeed.

Recorded Sound’s valve mixer recordings

Recorded Sound at 27-31 Bryanston Street, London W1 was a studio originally established in the 1950’s. [10] Leo Pollini must have been the studio manager and main mixer and Recorded Sound is the studio where the 28 year old Bob Auger first started in audio. [11] Bob went on to have a distinguished career running Pye Studios, at ATV House, just up the same road, before switching to location work, mainly in classical recording.

Modern engineers would be appalled at the idea of mixing music on a desk like Recorded Sound’s 10 channel, with its rotary faders, and most desks of the period still weren’t fitted with any equalisers, but Neve gave his valve mixing desks some basic bass and treble EQ. Engineers brought up on old equipment like this used their skills with microphone choice and placement and didn’t expect to dive to an equaliser control as soon as they’d brought the channel fader up!

So what was the new Neve 10 into 2 being used for in the 1960’s? The studio would have done plenty of band work with London session musicians but it’s hard to find any evidence of Leo Pollini’s work nowadays. There’s an album he recorded of jazz ballads in 1967 that has survived, with four session players who also worked as The Tommy Whittle Quartet, called ‘Sax for Dreamers’….just so it could be sold with a blatantly sexy girl on the front!

The LP cover of ‘Sax For Dreamers’ by The Tommy Whittle quartet

AUDIO: The Tommy Whittle Quartet – Moonlight In Vermont

Certainly nobody was likely to get ‘stressed’ in the making of the album as all the tracks are ballads like that, so I imagine the old valve Neve didn’t get too near overload either.
The quartet was Tommy, playing that breathy Coleman Hawkins like tenor, Kenny Powell on piano, Lennie Bush on bass and keeping very quiet there, Jackie Dougan on drums. The producer was Gus Stephens who I think was a regular at Recorded Sound for the Masquerade label.

1962: Recorded Sound’s location 10 channel valve mixer

The other valve mixer built for Recorded Sound by Rupert was for location recordings to fulfil the contract with Radio Luxembourg which broadcast to the UK in the evenings on a very powerful medium wave transmitter located in the ‘Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’.
Radio Luxembourg was however limited by the UK Musicians Union in its ‘needle time’; the amount of commercial discs it could play. It therefore recorded many shows for broadcast and a number of the UK recording studios vied to provide facilities to cover these location jobs during the ’50’s and 60’s. They were often comedy and game shows in front of audiences and as Luxembourg did lots of music they also often recorded the big bands and singers of the day.

The Third Valve Mixer?
Photo: Rupert Neve Designs

The above photo is from Rupert Neve’s last website, that of his ‘Rupert Neve Designs’ (RND) company, where it is labelled ‘The First Mixer’, and credited as the Desmond Leslie console. We can however show that the above console is the second of the Recorded Sound mixers, the location one. It’s most likely the third Rupert built.

In 2007, in an internet audio forum, an American sound engineer, Doug Williams wrote the following:
“I’ve reverse-engineered one of the pair from Recorded Sound Ltd; I assume the remote broadcast console. The one pictured on Rupert’s site. I’ve had it laying around on and off several times over the last 3 years. Belongs to a client of mine. Sounded pretty nice during brief tests. It had panning added at some point, among other various mods. This one appears to have the same construction and general styling of the slightly later Recorded Sound Ltd pair. I’ve always heard Rupert farmed out the actual construction to someone, and if so, I’d assume the same person(s) did all three.” [12]
This mixer was in fact the later of the two built and it would be strange for Rupert not to also have built it himself at the time as he later remembered:

RUPERT NEVE:
“I already had some contacts, and one studio owner in London commissioned a mixing console, which was tube. And he liked that, and then we built him another one, and he liked that. In fact, at NAB the other day, a gentleman who collects these things came back and showed me a photograph of Number 2 — he’d bought it. Well, we sold for £450, and he paid $27,000 the other day.” (Note that was in 2001) [1]

I subsequently corresponded with Doug Williams regarding this console. He runs the wonderfully titled ‘Electromagnetic Radiation Recorders’, a recording studio and a vintage audio repair facility in Winston-Salem in North Carolina, and he told me:
“It fell to me to do reverse engineering on it at one point, and I had it around about a year. It was modified for stereo use sometime in the late ’60’s, originally it was 4×1 3×1> 1. It had various update/mods done to it at later times by someone.” [13]

Here’s the front view in one of Doug’s photos taken when he was investigating the circuitry of the 10 channel valve desk, and you can see the modifications he mentioned:

Removed from its metal case it matches the console pictured immediately above, with the later modifications being obvious.
Photos: Doug Williams

Pictured then in the early 2000’s and both externally and internally there are many similarities with the Recorded Sound studio mixer.

Here’s some more detail starting with the left side:

The modifications here are the additional blue ‘pan-pots’

The mixer’s 10 channels route into 3 Groups. The 4 channels to ‘Group I’  have ‘mic/hi-z’ select switches and ‘echo send’ pots, with an ‘master echo’ which also has an added pan-pot (so mono echo then). All channels have ‘PA on’ select switches and basic ‘treble’ and ‘bass’ controls. The blue collett knobs are the later added ‘pan-pots’, with new labelling on a couple of them. Upper right is a locking ‘talkback’ switch of the type we used to call a ‘kellogg switch’.
And over on the right side of the mixer:

There are more changes on this side of the mixer

The mixer has four channels fixed to ‘Group I’, three channels to ‘Group II’ and another three to ‘Group III’, and initially this mixer was certainly only ‘mono out’ and the later addition of the pan-pots shows it went on to be a stereo mixer. A further indication of that is the removal of the ‘Group III Fader’ and here there is just a blank hole in the panel in the photo above. In the first picture of it (from the RND website) it has an added plate at that same place; hence two more additional holes above. The 3 channels of ‘Group III’ would have been rewired to the other, now ‘stereo’ groups.
The two output VU meters are on a replacement blanking plate, though they are different ones from the older photo.
In this right side detail photo, we can see that there are kellogg keys for talkback to two ‘Cue’ circuits, a Monitor switch labelled ‘console/tape’ along with a ‘monitor gain’ fader. There’s a ‘power’ switch with fuse and a ‘mixer on’ neon at the top with ‘PA gain’ fader beneath it.

The label on the front of this mixer says ‘Rupert Neve and Co., Cambridge, England’ however the label on the first Recorded Sound mixer, the studio one, says ‘Rupert Neve and Co., Harlow, Essex’. John Turner explains this difference in the next section.

Here’s a couple more of Doug Williams photos:

Separate mic amps using standard ‘pre-amp’ valves, EF86’s and 12AX7’s.

Looking at these photos, we don’t know how much work Doug Williams or someone before him might have done on the old console though:

JOHN TURNER: 
“The transformers match the ones in the earlier Recorded Sound Studio mixer. But I think the shiny individual chassis with rivets are all revamped from the original. Its too clean and felt tip writing looks too new.”

The rear panel.

Compare this rear panel shot with the one below of it in its early guise, an old picture that John Turner had in his archive:

John’s photo shows it is the same console before ‘modernisation’.

John Turner’s picture shows that it originally had mic inputs on big old Cannon EP3 connectors which are now replaced with blanking plates holding new XLR’s. The EP3 was the UK standard mic connector until XLR’s began to take over in the early 1960’s. This change was still going on in my first year in sound in 1966 and I was often making up EP3 to XLR converters and rewiring studio mic wall panels. The Amphenol multicore connector socket has been blanked over and a few additional jack sockets fitted in.

Here’s a closer look at that back panel:

The rear after modifications including the change to XLR’s.
Photo via Doug Williams

The large rear panel seems to have been cut into two near the power supply section and there were now two outputs, on both XLR’s and jacks. Perhaps the original multipin connector was for a tape deck that has now become jacks as well, which are also now fitted for Echo ‘In’ and ‘Out’.
In the two earliest photos, we can also see that the mixer was in a metal case, as suited its ‘location’ use and it also has a PA output. So definitely a location and not a studio mixer.

We don’t know exactly what Leo Pollini used it for, but with the first four channels being the only ones with ‘echo sends’, it indicates that perhaps only a small group of musicians was expected to play in the shows he was recording for Luxembourg.
As for ‘echo’; the engineers had to improvise and sometimes the venue’s gents toilet was quite often blocked off and a speaker and mic positioned to make it a temporary ‘echo chamber’. These were the days when the BBC booked a pair of equalised phone lines to use an echo chamber ‘back at base’.

There is one other photo that appeared in the very first Neve brochure however, which is most interesting:

From the first brochure
The location mixer appears in Neve’s first brochure

That photo just has to be of the Recorded Sound location mixer in its original ‘mono’ form. Note the carry handles and clasps for a front cover just visible at the side.

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Rupert takes Neve to a Rectory

JOHN TURNER: 
Rupert built the first Recorded Sound studio mixer in his garage in Harlow – Rupert states this on “The Shelford Interviews – Moving to the Little Shelford Rectory and other early production sites”. So both the Desmond Leslie and the Recorded Sound Studio console were manufactured in Harlow with the Recorded Sound location mixer being manufactured after the move in 1962 to Cambridge.”

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

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

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

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

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

The Old Rectory ‘Priesthaus’ in Little Shelford.

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

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

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To Come in Part Two

With the move to Little Shelford, Rupert also moved to using transistors. It was a change which enabled ‘the modern mixing console’ to come about and Rupert Neve & Co. was responsible for much of that ‘revolution’.

With John Turner’s photos we are able to explore a many of these early ‘shiny black’ Neve mixers and the continually changing audio modules they used.

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Credits and references:

[1] Rupert Neve interview with Steve McAllister in TapeOp magazine Nov/Dec 2001.
[2] Confirmation that Desmond Leslie’s Rupert Neve mixer is still at Castle Leslie, came from the Castle Leslie archivist in September 2021.
[3] From Rupert Neve Designs video series ‘The Shefford Interviews’ 2013 via www.the rupertneve.com
[4] From the advertising for ‘Desmond Leslie-The Biography of an Irish Gentleman‘ by Robert O’Byrne.

[5] ‘The Science Of Sci-Fi Music’ by Andrew May. Published by Springer 2020.
[6] From the sleeve notes on ‘Music Of the Future’ re-released on CD by Trunk records 2005.
[7 Video interview with Rupert Neve-October 25/26th 2013 – At the SAE Institute, Paris.
[8] From Ric Holland’s book ‘As I Heard It-In the music industry 1969-1979. Pt.1 ‘In the Recording Studio’. (Kindle)
[9 Correspondence with Ric Holland Nov 2021
[10] From www.philsbook.com archived and retrieved from ‘The Wayback Machine’ website. We await an new look Philsbook website as it’s a great resource now missing from the web.
[11] The wife of pianist John McCabe, who was recorded often by Bob Auger, Monica McCabe writing in 1999: http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/1999/04/auger2.htm
I think Monica must have got the 1956 date wrong, because Bob moved to Pye and in 1956 was working under the American engineer Bob Fine doing classical location recordings and was soon recording them for Pye himself. Bob was ‘Head-Of-Sound’ at Granada TV in Manchester between 1960 and 62, when he returned to Pye as Technical Manager. Auger certainly retained a good relationship with Granada, as they funded his ‘Granada Recordings’ location recording venture in 1968.
[12] Doug Williams on the Gearspace.com forum.
[13] Doug Williams correspondence September 2020