Rupert Neve, Audio Equipment Trailblazer and Grammy Recipient, Dies at 94

Dave Grohl, Rupert Neve
Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW

Dave Grohl and Rupert Neve arrive at the screening of "Sound City" during the 2013 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Paramount Theatre on March 13, 2013 in Austin, Texas.

Rupert Neve, the audio industry icon whose name was shorthand for the highest-quality mixings consoles on the planet, died Friday (Feb. 12) in Wimberley, Texas due to non-COVID pneumonia and heart failure. He was 94.

Born in Newton Abbott, England, in 1926, Neve had a spark for electronics from an early age. As a youngster, he repaired and built radios for fun, and turned that hobby into something else when, at 17, he joined the war effort with the Royal Signals, which provided communications support to the British Army during WWII.

After returning to his homeland, Neve developed a mobile system for recording choirs and public events, and public address systems used by then Princess Elizabeth and Winston Churchill.

At the dawn of the ‘60s, he was commissioned to build his first audio-mixing console. And in 1961, Rupert and his wife launched Neve Electronics, which would set the bar for professional audio equipment and mixing desks.

By the time Neve Electronics was sold in 1975, the company employed over 500 staff.

Countless artists would record albums on analog desks that bore the Neve brand, from U2 to Neil Young, Queen and Nirvana, as his consoles became the first choice for high-end recording studios around the globe.

Neve moved with the times, and adopted digital technology in 1977. He developed the world’s first “flying” fader system, NECAM (NEve Computer Assisted Mixdown), installing the first system at producer George Martin’s Air Studios in London.

In 1997, Rupert’s contributions to the professional sound industry were recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Technical Grammy Award.

Neve and his wife Evelyn moved to Texas in late 1994 and became U.S. citizens in 2002. In 2005, they acquired premises near where they had settled in the Texas Hill Country and established Rupert Neve Designs (RND), which in recent years presented new high-fidelity audio products, from a headphone amplifier, phono preamplifier, digital-to-analog converter and more.

“When Rupert, his wife Evelyn, and I sat at his kitchen table and founded Rupert Neve Designs 16 years ago, he had two goals,” recounts Josh Thomas, Rupert Neve Designs’ co-founder and GM. “The first was to set a new standard in the quality of recorded sound, drawing upon his unparalleled depth of experience to create high-end solutions for the modern recording engineer, musician, and listener alike. The second was to pass on his philosophies, techniques, and methodologies to a new generation of designers to carry his life’s work and passion into the future.”

Neve is survived by his wife; five children, Mary, David, John, Stephen, and Ann; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.