Mixing console pioneer Rupert Neve dies at 94

The audio innovator's kit a mainstay on genre-defining classic rock albums.

Gary Miller via Getty Images

Pioneering audio equipment inventor Rupert Neve has died aged 94 of non-Covid pneumonia and heart failure, according to his official website. The entrepreneur, whose custom Neve 8028 mixing console was integral to the classic rock sound of the 1970s, passed away on February 12th in Wimberley, Texas.

Born in England in 1926, Neve volunteered to serve during World War II as a teenager, providing communications support to the British Army's Royal Corps of Signals. After creating his first audio mixing console in 1960 for a composer in Ireland, he established his own company, Neve Electronics, the following year. The decade marked a prolific period for the audio savant in which he produced much of the kit he is now recognized for, including the Neve 80 and 50 series mixing desks. Neve's ubiquitous 1073 preamplifier was also hailed for its sonics and has been reproduced in software plug-ins.

His Neve 8028 console, known for its punchy sound, ushered in the reign of rock in all its mutating forms after it was installed at the iconic LA recording facility, Sound City Studios, in 1973. Over 100 gold and platinum certified albums were churned out at the studio in subsequent years. Neve's kit was featured on records by Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Santana, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Weezer, System of a Down, Slipknot, Metallica, and Death Cab for Cutie — to name just a few.

The studio was celebrated in Dave Grohl's 2013 Sound City documentary, with the Foo Fighters frontman purchasing its equipment, including the Neve 8028, after its closure in 2011.

Neve and his wife Evelyn sold Neve Companies in 1975, but the inventor continued to work on new designs throughout his life. In 1994, he moved to Texas with his wife, where they later established Rupert Neve Designs in 2005. Neve's work was recognized by the industry with a Lifetime Achievement Technical GRAMMY Award in 1997.