Early RUPERT NEVE consoles and their stories | PART TWO: 1962 – 1968 ‘A REVOLUTION HAS OCCURRED’ | Transistors make the ‘modern mixing console’ possible

2022-01-04 0 By David Taylor

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

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

Typical of the early Neve’s finished in the ‘shiny black’ that Rupert used at that time. This 1967 mixer was seen again by Rupert on a visit to Singapore in 2003. Amazingly it was last recorded, still in use 45 years later in 2012! It may even still be around somewhere.

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

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

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

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

Part Two Contents:
‘Have you ever heard of these transistors?’
3: 1964 – ‘More guitar please’ – The Tape Control Unit for Philips Records
4: 1964 – ‘The first modern sound mixer’ – Neve’s dual mobile consoles for Philips

‘A revolution has occurred’
5: 1965 – ‘Industrial Applications’ – Neve’s other audio equipment
6: 1965/6 –‘Mixer for a Town House’ – The Philips Studio 20 channel Neve
7: 1966 – ‘The Church Hall Neve’ – The Wessex Studio 18 channel
8: 1966/7 – ‘Two for the road’ – Intertel’s Neve consoles
9: 1966 – ‘The really small Neve’ – The Portable Sound Mixer
10: 1966 – ‘The Station Of The Stars’ – Radio Luxembourg’s 8 channel mono Neve
11: 1966/7 – ‘Studio over a Shop’ – Chappells 20 channel Neve
12: 1966/7 – ‘Reduced’ – Chappells 5 channel Remixing Neve
12: 1967: The 16 channel Neve of ‘Televisión Española
13: 1967: ‘Worldwide Christian Radio’ –Trans World Radio’s 8 channel Neve
14: 1967 – ‘Four down to 2 down to 1’ – The Estudio Regson ‘Reduction’ Mixer
15: 1967/8: Estudio Regson – gets a ‘main console’
16: 1967: ‘Radio, but not Wireless’ – The 8 channel Neve of Rediffusion Singapore (丽的呼声)
17: 1968: Granville TV Theatre’s 16 channel Neve – Serial ‘6781’


‘Have you ever heard of these transistors?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a ‘new’ audio designer. Rupert did seem to be having more trouble than other big UK audio companies in getting hold of useful transistors. More UK broadcast companies were now using transistor consoles such the desks Pye made for the new BBC OB ‘scanners’ in 1963 and the small broadcast consoles fitted with full EQ built by the EMI broadcast division that my colleagues were using at Anglia TV by 1965. These germanium transistors mixers though gained a poor reputation for being noisy, which was something early Neve consoles didn’t seem to get accused of. His diligence in searching for the best performing transistors along with his design skills must have really paid off.

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

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

Neve B100 mic amp.
Neve B100 mic amp.

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

The AC107

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


3: 1964 – ‘More guitar please’ – The Tape Control Unit for Philips Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4: 1964 – ‘The first modern sound mixer’ – Neve’s mobile consoles for Philips

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

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

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

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

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

The Philips 10 channels monitor section
A closer look

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

The design concept of channel strips in a line above each of the flat linear faders and a monitoring control section at the side seems immediately to be fully developed with these desks.
Design input however had come from the nearby Cambridge company R. G. Bentinck and Associates Limited and it would be interesting to know how much Bentinck contributed to this stunning looking audio console design.

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


‘A revolution has occurred’

Rupert Neve’s first brochure declared:

A Revolution had occurred text

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

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

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

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

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

From the first Neve brochure. It continued:

Text from the first Neve brochure

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


Philips Records, London – location recordings

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


5: 1965 – ‘Industrial Applications’ – Neve’s other audio equipment

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

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

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

Industrial Applications
From Neve’s first brochure

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

Endless loop cassette

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a closer look at the desk:

Closer view of the Philips Neve
Two sections of 10 channels, with all the other stuff-off to the side.

The channels, are in two 10 channel sections and have the German EMT faders. The mic amps are different from those on the ‘portables’ and are 1053 modules, mounted just above the faders. Then come the two newly designed ‘Routing Modules’; the Main Routing 1851’s with the 1852 Rev and FB Routing modules at the top.
Here’s a 1053 microphone module:

Neve 1053
Neve 1053

This modular design, that he was calling ‘Brick Built’ at the time, was a big leap of progress after his valve desks, and the control layout was something that sound mixers immediately felt at home with. The knobs and pots are Rupert’s original ‘Bakelite’ ones of course, and the paint finish is his original ‘shiny black’, but otherwise you can see that Rupert kept to this sort of module channel strip for many years afterwards.
In this 1053 mic amp, Rupert has swopped the layout of the control knobs and the frequency select switches compared with his first 1051 module but the mic gain switch at the top goes from -80 to 0dBm, and already he was switching to ‘Line’ at -20. Next down is the HF boost and cut, at a fixed 10K. He does however put the High Pass Filter next, with frequencies of ’20/45/70/170 and 360 c/s‘.
The Mid has a choice of ‘700/1.2K/2.4K/3.8K and 7K’, boost or cut and the LF has a choice of ’35/60/100 and 220c/s’, boost or cut.

The 1851 Routing modules are using a series of interlinked push buttons to select groups. This later became the ‘norm’ on Neve consoles but some users in the early days still choose to have a rotary switch as we’ll see.
Here’s a closer but rather oblique view, of the Philips console group and monitoring ‘side panel’:

Neve group and monitoring panel
The groups and monitoring panels

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

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

The Philips Studio at Stanhope House

Philips Studio entrance in Stanhope Place
Taken in 1997, the street entrance to Philips Studio in Stanhope Place W2.
Photo: via Studio Sound

The tape machines were in a separate small machine room and they were at this time all made by Philips, being 4-track and 3-track Pro series decks, plus 2-tracks.
Roger Wake became one of the balance engineers at Philips and he recalled his tape-op years in the mid-60’s:
“There was the studio, then the control room, and then a separate machine room, where the tape machines were.  The control room had big windows so that Johnny (Franz – the producer) and Peter (Oliff – the engineer) could look out and see into the studio and from where I was, in the machine room, we had a little window about 3ft square, so I could see into the control room. We also had a set up so that I could hear what was going on in the control room.  If Peter wanted to speak to the studio or me, he had a talkback button for both.  So I’d be in the control room with all the tape machines, the multitracks and the stereos and big huge patch panel, which we would have to operate.  And Philips then had a totally different patching system to other studios such as Abbey Road.  Huge plugs – send and return within the same plug.  The patch panel was about seven by four feet. ” [16]

The studio at Philips was long and narrow, listed in 1970 as 40 ft long, 22 wide and 14 high. Session guitarist Alan Parker said in 1965:
“The studio was a little bit confined, long and narrow and the control room had like a narrow walkway at the back where we used to stand and listen, you know.  So it was a bit restrictive, with all the orchestra and brass, percussion and singing groups…it was really crammed in”. [16]
Despite that, 30 piece orchestras were common and it had a reputation for getting a ‘big sound’, which of course meant that all the ‘spill’ of the drums and brass onto the strings was being creatively used by the engineers! All very ‘Phil Spector’ as we will see next.

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

Records from the Philip’s Neve

Philips mainly recorded its own artists for all the labels it was producing. The biggest stars in 1966 were perhaps Dusty Springfield and The Walker Brothers. These were all produced by Johnny Franz, who was responsible for an amazing amount of work done at the Stanhope Place studios.
Dusty became an enormous star from the records she made at the studio and also from ‘fronting’ the Rediffusion TV show ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ during the ’60’s and then her own BBC TV series starting in 1966.
One of Dusty’s hits from this period was ‘You Don’t Have to Say You Loved Me’, an English version of an Italian song by Donaggio that she’d heard at a Festival in San Remo. On 9 March 1966, Springfield had an instrumental track recorded at the Philips Studio. The session personnel included guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and drummer Bobby Graham. [17]
In their book ‘Dancing With Demons’, the two writers Penny Valentine and Vicki Wickham, who’d been very involved in Dusty’s professional life wrote about the recording session:
” Dusty had already recorded the backing track for the song, arranging it from the original acetate, but at the Philips studio she and her producer Johnny Franz were still dubious about whether her lyrics would actually work. When they did she had something else to worry about: she was concerned about the echo on her voice. With Vicki (Wickham) and Simon (Napier Bell) in the studio, bewildered that something they had written so quickly was sounding so marvellous, the sound engineer Peter Oliffe went to the basement to sort out the sound on Dusty’s echo chamber. “He noticed how good the sound was coming back up the stairwell,” Napier Bell was to remember. Dusty, who had always hated what she hears as the ‘dead’ sound of the studio in Stanhope Place with its low ceiling and who preferred to sing in the tiled space of the women’s lavatory there, “went out there and sang into a mike suspended over the stairwell and the sound was perfect”. [18]

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

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

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

Dusty though gained a reputation for being hard on her musicians, probably because she already knew what she wanted…. usually a copy of an American ‘soul’ record, that the poor UK session musicians had probably never heard. Alas she also could take it out on some good players, like guitarist George Kish, who she threw out of a session proclaiming:
“I can’t work with a baldheaded guitar player.” [19]
The next full album that Dusty recorded ‘Where Am I going?’ in 1967, was done on that Philips Neve and it including the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song ‘The Look of Love’ written for the Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’. For the soundtrack version that she sang she had to have recorded in New York by Phil Ramone, and a shorter version was then redone in London by Philips for the album.
Dusty left her Philips contract in 1968 and headed to the US to record with Atlantic, the source of so much of her favourite American ‘soul’ recordings. She then made a great album in Memphis but her popularity waned when she was away from the UK

Manfred Mann was an artist with recording experience but still took some time to be comfortable with the opportunities that multitracking offered. He had already had hits like ‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy’ and ‘Just Like A Woman’ when in 1967 his new manager Gerry Bron took the Manfred Mann band into the Philips studio to laydown a new song, ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown. Gerry Bron remembered that:
“I think it took Manfred a while to understand the flexibility that multitrack recording gave you when mixing. Like most people at the time, we were working on four-track then, bouncing three tracks together on one track and then overdubbing. We had been working on ‘Ha Ha Said The Clown’ and Manfred phoned me up at about 11.30pm and said, ‘This is absolutely no good at all, this is terrible, we will have to do it again.’ He told me there wasn’t enough bass in the mix, but I assured him that the bass was on a separate track. He said ‘Are you sure about that?’ I said, ‘Of course I’m sure’ and he went and had another listen. Ten minutes later the phone rang again and he said the same thing, that it wasn’t going to work, and I was absolutely sure that when we mix it across there is going to be enough bass? I emphasised that we could mix it anyway we liked, but he still rang again, way past midnight, saying he didn’t believe me and I could imagine his mind ticking over, trying to work out how it might be done. The very next day we went back to Philips where I did a mix and the bass was just at the right level.” [15]

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

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

It’s good to know that it was made on:
A fully solid state modular mixing desk incorporating contoured frequency correction covering the entire frequency spectrum, multiple reverberation, delay and foldback outputs, panoramic location, limiting and compression facilities on all channels. Extremely comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system allowing precise control of multiple outputs for fully integrated sonic display, popular injection effects and stereo phase co-ordination.”
Well the Philips marketing boys were certainly impressed with the Neve, and I particularly like that the drawing shows the ‘SPE’ (Stereo Presence Equaliser) being used ‘post fader’ in the stereo mix output. That was bound to make all the difference!

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

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


7: 1966 – ‘The Church Hall Neve’ – The Wessex Studio 18 channel

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

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

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

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

The Neve as delivered
The Neve as delivered

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

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

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

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

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

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

monitor panel
The Monitoring Panel and upstand

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


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

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

When Wessex got a new bigger Neve in Studio A in 1970, this desk moved to the new Wessex Studio B.
As noted by John Turner earlier, he’d discovered that metalwork and woodwork modifications were done to the desk in 1968, and these would have allowed the further electronics changes for 8-track working.

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

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

The Wessex Studio

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

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

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

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

On the left would be ‘strings’ with the mics ‘over-head’ for violins and with the lower fore-ground mics for cellos. ‘Brass’ and ‘woods’ are in front and that’ll be ‘percussion’ in the distance I guess. The stairway served a number of upstairs offices including a projection room for 16 & 35mm film, and the control room was a door far right and beneath the stairway. Once through this door there was about 5 steps up and around to get into the control room. It was about half the height of a `second-floor’, such that the view from the control room covered the entire studio floor and even working with 50+ musicians you could clearly see everyone.
Roger Ginsley is still working in electronics and has a book about sound engineering available called ‘The Bottomless Money Pit’, see the references below. [20]

The Crimson King in Wessex

King Crimson had started recording their first album at Morgan Studios with the Decca producer Tony Clarke in June 1969, but it didn’t work out too well for the band so they moved to Wessex, a bigger studio that they hoped would give them the sound they were after. They had gained some confidence when they provided the supporting act for The Stones enormous Hyde park concert, and they came into Wessex on the 7th July. However something still wasn’t right and the guys in the band; Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Ian McDonald, Peter Sinfield and Greg Lake decided that Tony Clarke’s way of working, by slowly building up backing tracks as he’d done with his Moody Blues records, wasn’t the way they wanted to make their first record.
So they then did something dramatic; they ditched Tony Clarke, along with their Decca Threshold Records deal
“In order to finance the self-produced album, managers Enthoven and Gaydon swung a deal with the Thompson family (Wessex Studios’ owners) that guaranteed the £15,000 recording costs. To do this, Enthoven remortgaged his house. “A bit of punt, really,” he says. “It was either a test of commitment or bloody madness on my part! We knew it was going to be successful, so at the end of the day it was just down to money, and we had to find the money to do it.” 
“On Monday, July 21, 1969, as man first walked on the Moon, King Crimson walked into Wessex Studios, took control of their own fate and began work on their elusive debut album for the third time. 
The album’s final overdub – Robert Fripp’s one-take guitar solo for …Schizoid Man – was completed on August 20, with plans already under way for the finished album to be leased on Chris Blackwell’s Island Records label.”

The DGM website has available many really fascinating audio snippets of the multitracks from Robert Fripp’s work including the King Crimson sessions. [22]
Here’s the 8-track tape label for ‘I Talk To The Wind’ recorded on that 21st July session when they began to produce themselves:

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

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

About the album ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’, the writer Paul Stump said: 
“If Progressive rock as a discrete genre can be said to have had a starting point, In the Court of the Crimson King is probably it. All the elements that characterize Progressive’s maturity are in place: jazz and blues influences are subservient to intense compositional rigour characterized by Mellotron-induced Western classical symphonic arrangements … Individual and collective passages of arresting virtuosity and a rhythmic discontinuity bordering on the perverse are also components of an essentially tonal, approachable whole inoffensive to any classical or pop listener.” [23]

LP cover

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

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

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

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

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

Quincy used José Feliciano as both vocalists and guitarist at times in the score, such as this opening piece from the subsequent LP:

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

McaKenna's Gold LP
The soundtrack LP cover

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

Afterlife: The first Wessex Neve goes West

After Wessex, the 18 channel Neve went across ‘The Pond’:
The American musician and engineer Dan Alexander had started his first recording studio in San Francisco called Tewkesbury Sound Recorders in 1976 and in 1980 he purchased Wally Heider’s studios at Hyde Street, San Francisco, re-equipped them with vintage audio gear, which included some truly classic mixing consoles. His interest in vintage audio equipment had sent him scouring Europe for old Neumann, AKG and Schoeps microphones, so moving on to mixing consoles was a natural progression.
The Hyde Street Studios he shared with other engineers and in the first six months they brought in the truly historic ‘first Helios console’ from Olympic, which alas gave endless trouble, an elderly Electrodyne, a 40 input Trident ‘B’, and then an ancient black Neve in 1981 for the smaller of the studios, which was mainly doing voice-over work. It’s likely that it was in that studio that Alastair Cooke started using when he came to Hyde Street to continue to record his long running ‘Letter From America’ for the BBC.
That ‘ancient Neve’ was the very same original germanium transistor Wessex console
“Subsequently it was sold, eventually winning an award from AMS-Neve as the oldest operating Neve console in America.” [25]

Roger Ginsley has recently confirmed for me:
“The “black” console which was originally in the main studio and moved to the “Remix Suite” after we bought the A88, it was third console made by Mr. Neve. Three things of interest; the faders on this console were made by EMT and… this was the board that recorded ‘In The Court of The Crimson King’; Robin Thompson max’d out the Neve mic preamps to get that fat distorted vocals of Greg Lake on Schizoid Man. Some years ago I spoke with Dan Alexander when I saw what appeared to be our old console on his website and he confirmed that he had bought it from Leo Lyons. Leo had become our studio manager when Chrysalis moved into Wessex.”


8: 1966/7 – ‘Two for the road’ – Intertel’s Neve consoles

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

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

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

However the work arrived and so did another truck:
“We had taken delivery of the first four Philips PC60s in the summer of 1966 and installed them in a new vehicle.” [26]

Intertel’s first 24 channel Neve of 1966

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

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

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

The Neve brochure reproducing the above photo stated:

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

The desk, built with narrower modules, has 24 channels in sections of six. There are 4 groups and two Main outputs, which would allow a Clean Feed Output (usually just ‘FX’ with no commentary) in addition to the full Main Out.
Here’s the mic module, a 1054, and the new narrower width of 1.8 inch has dictated it’s fairly restricted set of EQ choices compared with the 1053 used earlier:

Neve 1054
Neve 1054

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

Neve 1858

The 1853 switching module is most interesting; it has two pots with ‘Pre/Post’ selection on keyswitches- but no labels to say if they’re ‘Auxes’; and two more keyswitches labelled ‘1GR/1&2/2GR’. Well that would be ‘Groups’ surely, but why two sets, that look to be associated with those ‘Auxes’?
In addition to the ‘PFL’ button, there’s a ‘Direct/Insert’ switch, so the send out to the ‘insert’ had to be selected.
Some Neve’s of this period had ‘PFL’ buttons above the EMT fader, but the ‘PFL’ buttons here are on the 1054 modules and on this desk there are indicator neons on the scribble strips, and they look like they are different colours, possibly for each separate group. That makes me wonder if each section of 6 faders went to a ‘fixed group’, as was common on earlier broadcast desks, like the Marconi B1103 desks in their previous colour scanner. I still can’t explain the keyswitches on the 1853 module though.

Intertel’s second 30 channel Neve of 1967

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

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

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

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

Neve 1058
Neve 1058

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

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

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

Programmes from the Intertel OB Neve’s

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

Terry Heath's Bing item
Photos and text taken from an ‘Intertel history’ document by Terry Heath, an Intertel rigger who became a cameraman at the time of the Bing Crosby TV special in Dublin. [27]
Bing in Dublin
TV always stops the crowds passing. Bing Crosby….and a camera on a Mole crane.

VIDEO: Press ‘Play’ in bottom left corner:

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

“1968 brought us both the Winter and Summer Olympics being broadcast by ABC. The rights fee for Grenoble was $2,500,000, with the network airing 27 hours of coverage from France.  By this point in time, the entire broadcast was in full color and satellite enabled, providing live coverage for select events.  ABC’s extensive coverage of France’s Jean-Claude Killy during the alpine events (he won 3 gold medals) and America’s own Peggy Fleming in skating (winning the only gold for the U.S.) helped to popularize the Winter version of the Olympics in the States.” [28]


9: 1966 – ‘The really small Neve’ – The Portable Sound Mixer

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

Neve Ad of Jan 1966
IBE magazine

If you got a copy of ‘International Broadcast Engineer’ magazine in January 1966, you’d have found that Neve advertisement, featuring a very small mixer, the ‘PSM6’. Perhaps not Neve’s finest Ad with that crude sketch. Here though is the the fully realised mixer:

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

The PSM6 had a new 1055 mic module:

Neve 1055
Neve 1055

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

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

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

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

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


10: 1966 –‘The Station Of The Stars’ – Radio Luxembourg’s 8 channel Neve

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

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

A keen pop music listener to Luxembourg would however remember that the most regular advertiser on Luxembourg during this time seemed to be ‘Horace Batchelor’ with his ‘Infra-draw’ method of doing the Football Pools.
Ted Scott was the Chief Engineer at Hertford Street until 1959 and recalled:
“John (Witty), as handsome as any film star, did the Horace Batchelor voice-overs. Although Horace did his own blurb, it always ended with John saying: ‘Keynsham, spelt K.E.Y.N.S.H.A.M, Keynsham, Bristol”

AUDIO: Horace Batchelor advertisment.

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

Ted Scott continued:
“38 Hertford Street contained two studios; four edit suites and four floors of office space. On the lower ground floor were several edit suites. These were four times larger than a telephone kiosk, no windows and walls covered in sound proofing material. Also, on this level was the sound store and office. A capacious cupboard herein served as an echo chamber. Selected sound from either of the two studios would be fed into a loudspeaker at one end of this cupboard and picked up by a microphone at the other. Crude, but effective. It was difficult to make a telephone call from the sound office when a studio was in use, with Cliff Richard echoing around or when Pete Murray in Studio B wanted a ghost effect for his record programme.” [29]
It was into one of these two studios that Neve supplied a new transistor mixer:

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

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

Here’s the front view:

The 8 channel Luxembourg Neve
The 8 channel Luxembourg Neve

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

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

Neve 1056
Neve 1056

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

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

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

Hertford Street’s Records and Jingles

The Hertford Street studios had for many years been recording the famous British pop artists like Marty Wild, Billy Fury and Cliff Richard, shown below with Alan Bailey: [30]

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

Author Tony Barrell though has given us some details about the Hertford Street recording studio during the period they had this Neve:
“The station’s Mayfair studios could be hired privately by people wanting to make recordings cheaply, on equipment that was far from state-of-the-art. David Bowie came here in 1971 to make basic demos of tracks that later appeared on his breakthrough album, ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’. The Hertford Street version of the song ‘Ziggy Stardust’ features Bowie singing to his own roughly strummed, slightly out-of-tune 12-string guitar.

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

During the same period, Bowie’s short-lived band Arnold Corns recorded their flop single ‘Moonage Daydream’ at Luxembourg Studios, along with its B-side, ‘Hang onto Yourself’. Both songs would also appear on the Ziggy Stardust album, recorded much more impressively at Trident Studios in St Anne’s Court, Soho.
The Monty Python team came to Luxembourg Studios in October 1972 to record their third album, ‘Monty Python’s Previous Record‘, which included Eric Idle’s hilarious critique of Australian wines, the ‘Fish Licence’ sketch and their philosophical single ‘Eric the Half-a-Bee’, co-written by Idle and John Cleese. Part of their subsequent LP, ‘The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief’, was also taped here.” [31*]

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

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

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

“The trick was not a new one. Both Bailey (who suggested the idea) and Eric Idle knew of the technique being used in an old party game, where half a dozen grooves on a 78rpm gramophone record would each reveal a different winner to a fictitious horse race. Sustaining decent sound quality on something with the sonic complexity of Previous Record, however, was a challenge. In the October 2006 issue of Mojo magazine, Terry Jones remembers the technological headaches which eventually caused the idea to be dropped, while a contemporary record of the team’s frustration is captured in Michael Palin’s diaries:
Saturday November 4, 1972:
Spent three hours with André [Jacquemin], editing and tightening the B side of the new album until it was in a very strong and satisfying shape, then, with Terry [Jones] and André, walked across Regent Street and into Savile Row, where the Apple Studios are situated in a well-preserved row of Georgian town houses. They seem to be the only place that has the technology to cut our multiple B side. Finally left about 8pm – the cutter, John, promised to have more attempts at the cut over the weekend, but the chances of producing this highly original B side don’t seem too rosy.
Tuesday November 7:

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

All is quiet for a bit – the sun shines in onto my desk, and I feel all’s well with the world. But the phone soon starts ringing – EMI cannot do the cut, what shall we do? Almost an hour is spent ringing round the Pythons to get them to a meeting on Thursday to listen to the record. We decide to cut the B side in mono, which apparently will allow the three-track cut to work. So Apple now have the job again”.
Michael Palin Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years – Phoenix Books, 2006 [32]

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

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


11: 1966/7 – ‘Studio over a Shop’ – Chappells 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.
Chappell Ad
‘toutes les possibliitiés’–John Timperley tries out his new Neve
Chappell 20 channel Neve- colour picture
And then he 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-440’s, 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 Pye’s and perhaps the Astronics were there because they hadn’t come across Neve channel EQ before.

However they got the first 1057 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 FB’s. 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.


12: 1966/7 – ‘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 previous 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 EMT faders associated with them. The studio was recording on 4-track tape as we have seen, and these EQ module 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:

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

The two young engineers that Chappells 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 STC4038’s would pickup 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 Chappells 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 Chappells, 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 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 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 Chappells 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 Neve’s

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.

12: 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.

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

The TVE 16 channel Neve – front
and rear

The channels have 1058 mic modules and 1858 switching modules, which were both new, although I’ve already shown the 1058 as it was the 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.
Here’s a close-up of the monitor section of the desk:

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 Rtn’s’ 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 XLR’s. The Outputs on XLR’s 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 jack’s 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.


13: 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
Trans World Radio’s 8 channel Neve

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 no ‘foldback’ on the module, which may seem strange for any mixer, but that it shows it is a ‘self-op’ radio desk, so there’s no reason to feed ‘foldback’ to a presenter. That also explains the switch labelled ‘Level Pre-set’ as that’s 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 the Spanish TV and a Rediffusion Singapore Neve desks had those as well.

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

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 the right, the keyswitches for the ‘PFL’ for ‘GR1’ and ‘GR2’.
The toggle switches beneath are labelled for the VU’s 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.


14: 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, with new 1860 switching modules beneath them. These have the facility of sending to ‘Rev1’ and ‘Rev2’ ‘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.


15: 1967/8: Estudio Regson – gets a ‘main console’

There is no photo we’ve found so far for this item detailed in the Drawing Schedule:
‘Drawing S/10013’ ‘Regson’ – This would be a bigger ‘studio’ console for Estudio 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, and we have wait 4 years after they got the ‘reduction desk’, to see that by 1971 that Regson’s Studio ‘1’ now has a Neve 24 input 8 output, with Studer 8-track, Studio ‘2’ a Neve 6 input 3 output but with only stereo decks and a mobile unit was listed as having a Neve 16+10 working with a Studer 4-track. That I believe tells us that the first studio Neve desk, most likely a 16 input console, had at least by 1971 most probably gone into the mobile, and another 24 input had been bought for Studio 1.

Records from Regson’s Neve’s

‘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 distributors 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.


16: 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 work-places. Singapore was ideal for a system like Rediffusion because reception of the major state broadcaster, Radio Singapore was often difficult for many on it’s 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 fulltime 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

The National Library of Singapore website recalls:
“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 coffeeshops 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 artistes.
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 different 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

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 a big hits with their guitar instrumental style recording, particularly ‘Shanty’ which they recorded in 1964 in the 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 thought 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 underestlmate 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 studios output.

Ellery, came up from being a DJ, which he also continued doing. It was a blow to Rediffusion’s pop programming then 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]

45 years later….the Neve was still ‘On Air’

”  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.
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 VU’s 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 1960’s era Garrard 301 turntables! It closed on 30th April 2012, operating from their 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 it’s original owner, and I wonder where that wonderful old germanium transistor Neve 1967 desk is now?


17: 1968: Granville TV Theatre’s 16 channel Neve – Serial ‘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.

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 is 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 house keeper, 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 add 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.

Even this new space was almost immediately outgrown and a much larger building was required, as we shall see in the next Part.


To Come in Part Three

Many more of these early consoles were made during the late ’60’s period when these ‘shiny black’ Neve’s were being produced, but sadly we don’t have details of all 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 Three we will continue with the Neve’s from 1968 until Rupert left the company in 1975. As that’s a lot of Neve’s, we’ll try and find ‘the interesting ones’.

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

At the beginning of the ’70’s, the expansion of Neve took off and consoles for both recording studios and broadcasters spread around the world, and they just keep getting get bigger.


Can you help with ‘The History of Neve’?

The RND website has given us the excellent video’s 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 Neve’s 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 be 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 from Nigeria’ – thanks!


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] to [6] are references in Part One only

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