Today, Rupert Neve continues creating gear under his new company, Rupert Neve Designs.
In 1970, Rupert Neve designed the first 1073 mic preamp module for a new A88 console for Wessex Studios. It became a legend, still widely regarded as one of pro audio's best preamplifiers. The Class-A design 1073 mic/line preamp has three EQ bands (a fixed 12kHz HF band and switchable-frequency LF/MF cut/boost bands) and a passive -18dB/octave high pass filter with 50/80/120/160 Hz steps. EQ bypass and "phase" (polarity) switches are also standard. (Click here to view a vintage Neve 1073 schematic.)
Designed as 80-series console modules and not originally intended for standalone use, Neve's 1073s and 1084s were often removed from older consoles and put into third-party racks and housings. The circuit has been widely imitated and cloned (in both hardware and software) and the Neve company now offers recreations of the 1073 in rack and module form.
Prized today as outboard preamp/equalizers, the original Neve 1073s shown here were originally console modules.
But according to Rupert Neve, the secret to the original 1073's success was transformers: "I've thought about this a lot," Neve recalls, "and it had to be in the input and output transformers and that way in which the response rolls off. If you take a very large rise time signal and throw it at a stage that's not man enough to take it, you get slew rate problems. There are few things that sound more elusive or worse than slew rate problems—it just doesn't sound right, with a soggy sound. What we did with the transformers was to build them out like filters to the maximum that we could squeeze out in terms of high frequency response and then make sure they rolled off smoothly—with no peaking or things of that sort."
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Rupert Neve talking about his original 1073 design