Tributes paid to audio equipment inventor Rupert Neve, who has died aged 94

"Please understand that this man was one of a kind"

Rupert Neve, the audio equipment inventor whose mixing consoles and preamplifiers shaped the sound of recorded music in the 20th century, has died aged 94.

The legendary inventor’s death was confirmed in a statement posted to his official website. His cause of death was “non-Covid pneumonia and heart failure”.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that Rupert Neve, whose name is synonymous with quality audio recording equipment worldwide, has died,” the statement read. “He remained in great spirits to the end, enjoying his life in Wimberley, Texas, where he and his wife Evelyn have lived for 27 years.”

Born in Newton Abbott in 1926, Neve, who worked for a number of electronics firms and manufacturers before founding his own company, Neve Electronics, in 1961, designed the first-ever commercial transistor-based mixing console in 1964 for London’s Phillips Studios. It replaced the traditional vacuum-tube-based designs used up until that point.

Neve’s mixing boards defined the sound of classic rock in the 1970s. His Neve 8028 console was used on recordings by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead, Santana, Tom Petty and many more.

Rupert Neve
Rupert Neve with Dave Grohl in 2013. CREDIT: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

His Neve 1073 preamplifier is arguably the most influential of his inventions. Used to shape the gain and sound of microphones during the recording, it is regarded by many audio engineers as one of the best preamps of all time.

Neve and his wife sold the Neve Companies in 1975, but the inventor continued to work on designing new recording innovations for the rest of his life. He received a Lifetime Achievement Technical Grammy Award in 1997.

“While Rupert’s passions for music, creativity, and insistence on exceptional quality have made an indelible mark on the fabric of the recording industry, his kindness and generosity made him a legend to us all,” the statement on Neve’s website said. “Through his designs and through the music created with them, his spirit will live on eternally. God bless you, Rupert.”

Tributes for Neve have begun to be paid on social media, including one from Jay-Z‘s audio engineer, Young Guru.

“This is heavy,” Guru wrote on Twitter. “Please understand that this man was one of kind. There is nothing close to him in the engineering world. RIP to the KING!!!”

A post on the official Twitter account for Abbey Road Studios read: “Abbey Road Studios has a long and proud history recording with equipment that bears Rupert Neve’s name, dating back to the EMI Neve console of the mid-1970s, and we are very saddened to hear of his passing. His name will continue to epitomise audio excellence.”

The 1975‘s Matty Healy shared a tribute to Neve on his Instagram Stories, writing: “Rupert Neve. I can’t describe your influence on everyone who has ever made music. Thank you for everything.”

See more tributes to Neve, including those from Run The Jewels‘ El-P, Garbage and producer Harry Fraud, below.