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Remembering Rupert Neve, A Pioneer Who Set The Standard In Audio
As a child in the 1930s, Rupert Neve loved building and repairing radios. What he could never have imagined was that he'd continue on until he was 94—nor that his contributions would be felt into 2030 and beyond.
If Neve's sole contribution to the music industry was inventing the Neve 8028 console, on which luminaries from Fleetwood Mac to Nirvana to The Who recorded classic albums, his place in the pantheon would be assured. But across an eight-decade career, Neve did much more than that.
The audio wizard spearheaded mixing consoles' move from vacuum tubes to transistors, which facilitated the capacious sound of The Beatles' Abbey Road and numerous other classics. And across the decades, he participated in a litany of audio electronics projects and mentored younger engineers.
Sadly, Neve passed away on February 12 in Wimberley, Texas, due to non-COVID pneumonia and heart failure. He was 94.
"It's all about his transformers," singer/songwriter Billy Crockett told The New York Times in response to the news. "They provide something intangible that makes the mix fit together. So when people get poetic about analog, it's how the sound comes through the transformers."
Neve was born in Newton Abbot, England, in 1926, and grew up in Argentina. As a teenager, he volunteered to serve in World War II, working on the communications side for the British military.
His early career trajectory took him from Refiffusion and Ferguson Radio to his first business, CQ Audio. In 1961, he and his wife, Evelyn, founded Neve Electronics. Three years later, he designed his first transistor-based equalizer, then built his first transistor-based mixing console for Philips Records. In 1975, the couple sold the Neve Companies. A decade later, they established Focusrite Ltd. under the name ARN Consultants, who worked on a variety of cutting-edge projects.
In 1997, Neve's accomplishments were recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Technical GRAMMY Award. In 2005, he established Rubert Neve Designs. And in 2019, he returned to the high-fidelity audio market with Fidelice. Neve is survived by his wife, five children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.