[JN] Rupert Neve RIP

Christian Rintelen christian at rintelen.ch
Thu Feb 18 04:20:13 CST 2021


> Am 18.02.2021 um 09:20 schrieb Cool Hand via Sound <sound at soundlist.org>:
> 
> One more thing regarding the perspective of nostalgic ’sound’… 
> 
> Imho a significant contribution were the herbal & pharmaceutical influences, that and mostly the tape machines, the tape formulations AND biaising, biasing was key and you could really put tangible phatness into anything you printed with the right combos… very often times we used or were sent ‘safeties’ of the 2” 24trk reels, so already we’d be starting with a 2nd generation copy, and thus the juicy tape induced non-linearities would be two-fold right there !!

studer, in close cooperation with sandoz (albert hofmann’s employer in basel, switzerland) developed a special tapehead formula that created magnetic WoW & phat, phasing and flanging and other hallucinogenic effects that were then via sum/difference layered to the actual recorded sound. until 1964, these effects lasted only a short time which forced recording studios to mix and master during or immediately after the recording session — or else the desired sound effect would not be cut into the lacquer. it was alfred hofmann himself who in 1964 suggested to replace the ubiquitous PVC, PP or PE backing material (aka carrier) with archive grade blotter paper. blotter paper, as he had discovered earlier, was able to absorb and thus stabilize the sum / difference layer so that it could be stored at room temperature. (side note: 2008, after the universal studios fire, several fire fighters reported enhanced capabilities when all of a sudden they could see around corners, hear flames where there were none (but would erupt seconds after), or quell fire before it started by simply bending time. the media did not take notice of that particular and singular phenomenon. to this day the cause remains a secret.) on hofmann’s suggestion, studer joined forces with an undisclosed plastics manufacturer; their joint venture was called 4M and developed the technology to mass produced blotter based magnetic recording tape. 4M in turn sent samples of the new tape to leading recording studios in europe and the US — hiding the real reason of the new sound effects behind elaborate marketing speak. the feedback at first was enthusiastic, the demand for the 4M test tapes skyrocketed. but shortly after, the same studios started complaining about unprecedented head wear; even superhard longlife tape heads lasted no longer than 20 hours at 19 ips tape speed. studer and his undisclosed partner feared liability lawsuits and sent 4M into bankrupcy. studer continued his research and eventually found out that it was much easier and more convenient to use 8-track 2" tape and dedicate one track to his sound effects. however, knowing that the recording studios would not accept having only 7 instead of 8 tracks, studer developed special recording and replay heads that recorded and reproduced 9 tracks instead of 8, tracks 8 and 9 having half the width of the other 7 tracks. the hidden track 9 was used for the sound effect, track 8 as a normal recording track. being only half width, track 8 saturated earlier and harder than the seven other tracks. the saturation effects, combined with the sum / difference of track 9,  made track 8 behave subtly different. recording engineers soon noticed that effect and put it to good use — whilst treating it as their trade secret. especially vocalists noticed that their performance sounded much better on this particular track, and so «put me on 8» quickly became a household request in studios and had considerable influence on the success of singers like grace slick and others. it was of course also a well-kept secret reason for the success of studer’s A80 multitrack recorder. studer has been quoted that the A was a reference to Albert (as in albert hofmann); his biographers univocally describe this as «one of the very rare instances of willy studer showing signs of irony or humor». how wrong they were… when approached by the swiss secret service (acting on a rumor fed to them by the CIA after an interrogation of timothy leary), he secretly abandoned his company’s foray into pharmaceutical sound enhancement. by then, his reputation has been made — and within a decade, his «track 8» was replaced by vocalizers, harmonizers and a plethora of IC based sound effects that were later replaced with DSP based digital technology aka plug-in.
> 
> But this side of getting the ’sound’ isn't half as glamorous as waffling on about the secretive saturation curves of ‘magical' transformers and tantalum capacitors ;-)
nah, not waffling … just describing Rupert Neve’s contribution to the sound of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. as he did not build tape recorders, microphones or studio monitors, he could not introduce tape saturation, proximity effects or thermal compression to the sound. but transformer saturation, tantalum distortion, germanium non-linearity … he could.

©
_ _ _
aka christian rintelen

> 
> 
>> On Feb 18, 2021, at 6:01 PM, Cool Hand via Sound <sound at soundlist.org <mailto:sound at soundlist.org>> wrote:
>> 
>> Hahaha… 
>> having engineered numerous grammy award winning albums spanning a number of genres on the aforementioned consoles amongst countless others, I can’t say I entirely disagree with ’the good old days’ although talking about desk sound as such is a highly over simplified perspective, there was a lot of sonic crossover going on which many outside of the scene seem to be unaware.
>> 
>> The ‘sound' was never simply that of the console (or even just one console) alone !… there was a far more wholistic approach to recording often taken.
>> 
>> At the discretion of the producer, or with guidance from the engineer we would for example track vocals and live instrumentation via a Neve or Trident printing to Studer A-800 or MCI JH-24 etc…and perhaps all electronic sounds, keyboards, drum programming etc.. on say an SSL going to a Mitsubishi X850 or Sony PCM-3348 (digital multi-track recorders), 
>> OR, any various combinations of the above.
>> 
>> Come the mixdown, the analogue and digital multitracks would be synced with SMPTE…and tracks & stems could thus be recombined via, again either flavour of console.
>> 
>> That however is but a very minor part of the whole, as there is far more ‘art’ in the production/recording of a great deal of music than many can possibly imagine, from the multitude of mic types at the outset, the preamp types and absolute plethora of inserted outboard gear etc….
>> 
>> In fact would be exceedingly rare NOT to use a metric tonne of outboard processing for even the simplest of tasks ;-)
>> 
>> We would often mix on a Harrison or SSL G Series, BUT only to make use of its total recall automation !!
>> The entire multitrack would pass into the console via fader inserts which pumped all the tracks straight out into outboard Pultecs, GML’s, Neves etc.. etc…
>> 
>> The fact of the matter is that very few of the thousands of albums songs/albums I engineered were completed solely at one studio or both tracked and mixed via one console alone.
>> 
>> Recorded music is the same as always, digitally captured or not...it’s just that many of the techniques, the ‘art’ and the ears have been discarded purely for the sake of cost, convenience and/or due to plum ignorance !
>> 
>> <PastedGraphic-2.tiff>
>> 
>> 
>>> On Feb 17, 2021, at 8:26 PM, Thorsten Loesch via Sound <sound at soundlist.org <mailto:sound at soundlist.org>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> Hi,
>>> 
>>> Those were the good old days.
>>> 
>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHKhbB58vGk <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHKhbB58vGk>
>>> 
>>> https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/legendary-consoles-impact-music-history/ <https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/legendary-consoles-impact-music-history/>
>>> 
>>> Absolute sonic transparency was not a major design goal of the old Desks, good sound was. You can hear that "good sound" on most 60's and 70's records. 
>>> 
>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwTPvcPYaOo <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwTPvcPYaOo>
>>> 
>>> Then came SSL and made a stab at a console that was sonically transparent. It became the sound of the 80's, squeaky clean, "open window", but no soul. Plastic Pop Phantastique!
>>> 
>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s__rX_WL100 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s__rX_WL100>
>>> 
>>> Then came AVID Pro Tools and finally tore the roof of da muthafuckah. 
>>> 
>>> Recorded music was never the same again. Any soul, any humanity, anything "good" about "the sound of music" was eliminated.
>>> 
>>> https://www.englishpatient.org/e-patient-videos-converted/5e314cd7-d132-4ba8-b684-05d65f93a29f/5e314cd7-d132-4ba8-b684-05d65f93a29f_480p.mp4 <https://www.englishpatient.org/e-patient-videos-converted/5e314cd7-d132-4ba8-b684-05d65f93a29f/5e314cd7-d132-4ba8-b684-05d65f93a29f_480p.mp4>
>>> 
>>> The end.
>>> 
>>> Thor
>>> 
>>> On Wed, 17 Feb 2021 at 06:29, Christian Rintelen via Sound <sound at soundlist.org <mailto:sound at soundlist.org>> wrote:
>>> back in 2013 and related to the release of «sound city», dave grohl said in an interview with npr: <https://www.npr.org/2013/03/08/173823162/dave-grohl-finds-musics-human-element-in-a-machine?t=1613512895729>
>>> 
>>> «Neve boards were considered like the Cadillacs of recording consoles. They're these really big, behemoth-looking recording desks; they kind of look like they're from the Enterprise in Star Trek or something like that. They're like a grayish color, sort of like an old Army tank with lots of knobs, and to any studio geek or gear enthusiast it's like the coolest toy in the world. But they're pretty simple. They're not filled with miles and miles of cable and wires — they're pretty simple. And what you get when you record on a Neve desk is this really big, warm representation of whatever comes into it. What's going to come out the other end is this bigger, better version of you. And so it makes you sound real, but it makes you sound really good.»
>>> 
>>> (my italics)
>>> 
>>> i stumbled across this interview 3 months ago during my research for the liner notes of an album that was recorded last summer on a 1972 neve console. the other control room of this studio was equipped with an SSL console. the difference between the two consoles was striking. and everybody (!) preferred the neve over the SSL.
>>> 
>>> it was a relief when i found grohl’s statement — because he put it into very few words and made it understandable, tangible, and down to the very essence: «…it makes you sound real, but it makes you sound really good.»
>>> 
>>> (yes, it was the transformers. yes it was the cheap wiring. yes it was the tons of dried-out 1970s electrolytics everywhere in the signal path. yes it was … yes it was a bit of everything. it wasn’t even really state of the art back in 1970, but the Neve had very good mic preamps and the EQ was also excellent. and honestly, i am convinced that RN — with his intimate knowledge of transformers — knew exactely what he did when he specified the transformers so that they would start to saturate at -10 dBV. that gave the extra fatness that was part of the Neve signature sound. the obituary mentions briefly that he was nominated «Audio person of the century» by Sound magazine back in 1999. this was an election among peers — sound engineers all over the world. Neve’s first place was no contest; 2nd to 4th place were IIRC, Ray Dolby, George Martin and Willy Studer. so yes, people that did know how important and groundbreaking neve’s work really was, gave the honor to those that the honor really belongs. neve and studer were responsible for the huge jump in quality and efficiency of recording technology between 1960 and 1995. george martin was one person to push them both to go further (Studer J37 comes to mind), and Dolby … well, Dolby was the odd man out in this 	quartet — even though today, his legacy is probably bigger than neve’s and studer’s.)
>>> 
>>> just my 2 cents… 
>>> 
>>> ©
>>> _ _ _
>>> aka christian rintelen
>>> 
>>>> Am 16.02.2021 um 21:27 schrieb bear via Sound <sound at soundlist.org <mailto:sound at soundlist.org>>:
>>>> 
>>>> 
>>>> Sure as heck wasn't due to the stellar performance of his discrete opamps!!
>>>> 
>>>> Yes, back in the day, more output current than an IC opamp, but right there is the
>>>> limit. 
>>>> 
>>>> Ever test one? (any version) 
>>>> 
>>>>                       _-_-bear - my opinions, your opinions, opinions both...
>>>> 
>>>> Sorry, not a big fan. 
>>>>> Date: Tue, 16 Feb 2021 06:01:35 -0700
>>>>> From: Marc Wauters <mswauters at gmail.com> <mailto:mswauters at gmail.com>
>>>>> Cc: Joes <Sound at soundlist.org> <mailto:Sound at soundlist.org>
>>>>> Subject: Re: [JN] Rupert Neve RIP
>>>>> Message-ID:
>>>>> 	<CAGezxSQydLcxRKSPKh+OAy-uXPq1jUALXHy=RLV+TETvG6=Aqw at mail.gmail.com> <mailto:CAGezxSQydLcxRKSPKh+OAy-uXPq1jUALXHy=RLV+TETvG6=Aqw at mail.gmail.com>
>>>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>>>>> 
>>>>> He had an appearance in the sound city documentary in which he said that
>>>>> the sound of his "Neve Consoles" was due to the transformers that he used.
>>>>> 
>>>>> Marc
>>>> 
>>>> -- 
>>>> -- bearlabs.com <http://bearlabs.com/> --
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