Introducing | Rupert Neve Designs

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For over 50 years, the name Rupert Neve has meant expertise in the field of pro audio, and many of the recording consoles that he built for studios are still in use today. Recently, representatives from Rupert Neve Designs (RND) came to Chicago Music Exchange to train our staff on how to get the best possible sounds from RND’s lineup of products. We sat down with RND's Director of Strategic Operations, Jonathan Pines, to get a better sense of Neve's legacy, and what the brand has to offer the modern studio. 

Rupert Neve Designs Group
Rupert Neve Designs Detail

Interview With Jonathan Pines From Rupert Neve Designs

CME: What are the ideologies and design philosophies that guide RND, as caretakers of his work, to preserve Mr. Neve’s legacy? How do you approach advancing and refining these feature sets moving forward?

Jonathan Pines: There are six precepts that make a Rupert Neve product: 

Class A -
 Class A refers to a type of amplification that is always on and delivering full power, regardless of the amount of input signal. Examples in the guitar world include Vox, Tweed Fender champs, the THD Bivalve, and most of the Matchless line, among many, vs. Class A/B amps like later fenders and most Marshalls (not the 18 watt!). So if it’s a 30-watt amplifier, or it’s a mic pre with 72 dB of gain, it’s always delivering that—which eliminates something called crossover distortion.

Transformer Design -
 The biggest overarching principle of RND would be custom transformer design. Rupert started out as a transformer designer and even worked with some amplifier companies before he started working on microphone preamps. He used to say, "I don't know if my earliest transformer designs were very good, but people really liked them..." And that was because of their fantastic character!

Rupert’s transformer design is geared toward the ability to add a controlled amount of euphoric distortions. When pushed they add second- and third-order harmonic distortion that’s musically pleasing. Things that are perfect are not necessarily as pleasing to the ear as these euphoric distortions. 

It’s the same thing that happens in a guitar amp. When tubes are overloading and they’re hitting the output transformer, they’re producing interesting sound from it—and, it’s musically pleasing sound. A lot of people think “distortion” is a bad word, but we wouldn’t have rock music without distortion. ​​Technically any change to the sound is distortion, the key is whether, it's good -sounding, the key is whether it’s a good-sounding distortion or a bad-sounding distortion.

Silk & Texture - Our Silk & Texture circuit gives users the ability to have control over this harmonic structure in the output stage, to enhance harmonics, to make things richer, and to make things fuller. Blue adds harmonics based on the lower frequencies in the source; red adds harmonics generated by the mid- and high-frequencies. No one else has done this.

Wide Bandwidth - The DI goes down to 1 Hz, and it’s bandwidth limited at 80K but it would go up to 200K if we let it, but that’s problematic for radio interference with some other gear! So all RND products have a very wide, flat bandwidth. 

High Voltage and High Headroom - Running at higher voltages with well-regulated power supplies creates higher headroom, often several decibels more, and all our gear is built around +26.5 dbm outputs. The extended dynamic range allows your music to sound they way it should! The 5088 console runs on 90 volts with near limitless headroom. All our summing units glue a mix more, and provide that awesome large format console tone, the harder they are pushed, and they almost never fold no matter how hard you hit them.

Rupert Neve Designs 5017 Mobile Pre / DI / Compressor w/ Vari-phase Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5017 Mobile Pre / DI / Compressor w/ Vari-phase Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5017 Mobile Pre / DI / Compressor w/ Vari-phase Pro Audio / Outboard Gear

Rupert Neve Designs 5017 Mobile Pre / DI / Compressor w/ Vari-phase

$1,299.00
Comprised of a rugged, portable chassis with world-class preamp, compressor and DI circuits as well as two channel operation, Vari-phase, Silk and DI/mic blending capabilities, the Portico 5017 is an innovative and powerful tool for recording or live performance.


FREQUENCY RESPONSE
  • Main Output, no load.
  • -0.2 dB @ 10 Hz
  • -3 dB @ 160 kHz

NOISE
  • Measured at Main Output, unweighted, 22 Hz - 22 kHz. Terminated 150 Ohm.
  • With gain at unity better than -100 dBu
  • With gain at 66 dB better than -62 dBu
  • Equivalent Input Noise better than -128 dBu

NOISE FACTOR 
1.5 dB

HIGH PASS FILTER
80 Hz, 12 dB/Octave Bessel

MAXIMUM OUTPUT LEVEL
Maximum output from 20 Hz to 40 kHz is +23 dBu

TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION AND NOISE
  • @ 1 kHz, +20 dBu output: Main Output: Better than 0.001%
  • @ 20 Hz, +20 dBu output: Main Output: Better than 0.002%

SILK ENGAGED 
Better than 0.2% Second harmonic


COMPRESSOR

THRESHOLD
Continuously Variable from -20 dBu to +10 dBu

RATIO 
Fixed at 2:1

ATTACK & RELEASE
  • FAST MODE: Attack 40ms , Release 40ms
  • SLOW MODE: Attack 100ms , Release 350ms

PHANTOM POWER
+48 Volts DC +/- 1%

POWER REQUIREMENTS
12VDC is optimal voltage, but 9-15VDC is acceptable

CURRENT CONSUMPTION
  • @ 9VDC Current is 1.3 A typical: Power = 11.7W
  • @ 12VDC Current is 1.0 A typical: Power = 12.0 watts
  • @ 15VDC Current is 800 mA typical: Power = 12.0 watts

DIMENSIONS
7.5″ (deep) x 6.5″ (wide) x 2″ (high)
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Rupert Neve Designs 542 500 Series Tape Emulator Pro Audio / 500 Series
Rupert Neve Designs 542 500 Series Tape Emulator Pro Audio / 500 Series

Rupert Neve Designs 542 500 Series Tape Emulator

$849.00
In addition to the 100% analog tape emulation circuitry – great for bringing out 3rd-order harmonics – the 542 incorporates a soft-clip circuit that tames the harshest sources and enhances 2nd-order harmonics, variable Silk Red & Blue for an infinite variety of transformer tones, and a blend control to dial in in the perfect amount of saturation.

Transformers Imitating Tape
Unlike digital emulations, the “True Tape” drive circuit works by feeding a custom-designed interstage transformer acting as a “record head”, which in turn is coupled to a correctly-equalized replay amplifier. As the voltage rises on the “record head”, saturation increases, and a soft clip circuit engages at higher levels to round off peak transients. The sound of the tape circuit can be further modified with selectable 15 / 30 IPS modes and a pre/post-tape blend control.

What is Silk?
In addition to the tape circuit, the continuously variable Texture control with Silk Red and Silk Blue modes provides a whole other level of control over the harmonic density and tonality of your tracks & mixes. The Silk Red mode accentuates transformer saturation in the high and high-mid frequencies to amplify the vibrant midrange harmonics associated with Rupert’s vintage equipment, while Silk Blue accentuates saturation of the lows and low-mids to add thickness and weight to any source – especially useful for “thin-sounding” tracks or mixes. Unlike EQ, these Silk & Texture controls saturate the output transformers, and add highly musical harmonics to the source material according to the amount of Texture applied.

Drive the 542 hard, choose your Silk flavor, and crank the Texture knob for a rich, saturated, vintage vibe – or disengage Silk entirely for a more purist, hi-fi tape effect. The choice is yours.

LINE AMP NOISE
  • Measurements with tape circuit disengaged. Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 20 Hz - 22 kHz, Input Terminated 40 Ohm.
  • Unity Gain: Better than -100 dBV

FREQUENCY RESPONSE
  • Measured at +10 dBu, trim at unity.
  • Main Output: +/- 0.25 dB from 5 Hz to 60 kHz, -2 dB @ 120 kHz

MAXIMUM OUTPUT LEVEL
23.25 dBu

TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION AND NOISE
  • @ 1 kHz, +20 dBu output level: Better than 0.002%
  • @ 20 Hz, +20 dBu output level: 0.07% Typical (2nd and 3rd harmonic)


TAPE FX SPECIFICATIONS

NOISE
  • Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 20 Hz - 22 kHz, Input Terminated 40 Ohm.
  • Saturation @ minimum: Better than -100 dBu 
  • Saturation @ maximum: Better than -100 dBu

FREQUENCY RESPONSE

  • 15 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu: -3 dBu @ 28 kHz 
  • Saturation @ minimum: 0 dBu @ 10 Hz 
  • +5 dBu Peak @ 60 Hz Saturation @ maximum: -3 dBu @ 20 kHz 
  • -3 dBu @ 12.5 Hz 
  • +2.4 dBu Peak @ 60 Hz

  • 30 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu: -3 dBu @ 120 kHz 
  • Saturation @ minimum: -3 dBu @ 10 Hz, +3.15 dBu Peak @ 125 Hz 
  • Saturation @ maximum: -3 dBu @ 100 kHz 
  • -3 dBu @ 12.5 Hz 
  • +1.3 dBu Peak @ 110 Hz

TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION AND NOISE 

15 IPS
  • Input @ -0 dBu: 0.4% @ 3 kHz to 1% @ 175 Hz typical Saturation @ minimum: Greater than 1% below 175 Hz typical 
  • Saturation @ maximum: 1% at 6 kHz typical, 0.3% @ 1 kHz to 3% @ 50 Hz typical

30 IPS
  • Input @ -0 dBu: 1% at 1 kHz typical 
  • Saturation @ minimum: 0.6% @ 400 Hz to 5% @ 20 Hz typical 
  • Saturation @ maximum: 1.5% @ 20 kHz to 0.4% @ 1 kHz typical, 0.4% @ 1 kHz to 2% @ 50 Hz typical

POWER REQUIREMENTS
Supplied by 500 series rack with 110-125 mA @ +/- 16V DC
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Rupert Neve Designs Group

More About Rupert

Rupert Neve’s career started during his adolescence, first in radio technology related to shortages before WWII; then, during the war as a soldier working with PA systems; after WWII, in audio design and manufacturing industries (including as Chief Engineer at a transformer manufacturer); later as the leading innovator of modern studio recording in the 1960s; through his storied career as the founder of ARN Consultants, Focusrite Ltd., and AMEK Systems and Controls Ltd.—all prior to founding RND in 2005.

Rupert Neve’s equipment designs are some of the most revered and sought after, and as a result some of the most emulated, even copied outright, by manufacturers since Mr. Neve left his original company in the ‘70s. 

Rupert Neve Designs Group

CME: How is the summation of Mr. Neve’s career experience reflected throughout RND’s product catalog? Are there any products we carry at CME you can specifically point to that you can point to as an illustrative example of these multiple career experiences?

JP: The Shelford Channel is a flagship product for us. It was very important for Rupert to not be constantly looking backward, making the 17th version of something he created in 1970. It was very difficult for him, initially, to partially do that for the Shelford Channel. But, we explained how revered some of those products were, and why it was so interesting to do a new spin on them, and he took the past into the future.

With the Shelford Channel, we really got him to make the first transformer-gain preamp from Rupert Neve in well over 40 years. What’s cool about a transformer gain preamp? The first 15 dB of gain comes from the transformer, so it’s going to be more vibey, right off the bat. We wanted an inductor EQ, but instead of putting the 1073 EQ in another product, we really were looking for a cool hybrid.

Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear

Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor

$3,999.00
The Shelford Channel is built around Rupert Neve’s first new transformer-gain, class-A microphone preamplifier in over 40 years, a “best-of-the-classics” inductor EQ section, a tone-packed diode bridge compressor, the power of variable Silk saturation, a new dual-tap transformer output stage, and twice the operating voltage of vintage designs.


The Input Stage and Transformer Gain Mic Pre
Like Rupert’s designs from his time in Little Shelford , the Shelford Channel’s preamplifier uses a directly-coupled transformer input with gain provided by the custom transformer itself – a first in over 40 years for Rupert Neve. This new custom-designed input transformer, along with its careful integration with the surrounding class-A circuitry, is critical to the Channel’s bold and instantly recognizable character.

Conveniently, the Direct Input uses the same topology as the best-selling RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface, providing astonishing clarity for high-Z instrument signals, with unparalleled low-frequency response and an incredibly smooth high end.


What is Silk?
The Silk & Texture circuit on the Shelford Channel allows you to fine-tune the amount (and type) of harmonic content in the output stage. This means your signal can be adjusted from quite transparent to settings that produce nearly 10x the amount of sonic color as Rupert’s vintage modules – and in two very unique modes. No matter what sound you’re looking for, Silk can help get you there.


The Dual Tap Transformer Output
Complementing the Silk circuit is the custom-designed output transformer, which uses Rupert Neve Designs’ unique dual-tap output topology. This offers both full-headroom (+26dBu) and -6dB outputs, allowing the engineer to drive the unit fully into classic transformer saturation without clipping converters and other devices later in the chain.


The “Best-Of” EQ
The Shelford Channel’s 3-band, custom-tapped inductor EQ was inspired by our favorite elements of Rupert’s vintage EQ designs. The low frequency band is designed to produce a creamy, resonant bass response similar to a vintage 1064 – but unlike the vintage modules, the LF band on the Shelford Channel can be used as either a shelf or a peak filter, adding punch, dimension, and control to your low end.

The midrange band is based on that of the 1073, ideal for sweetening vocals and instruments while bringing them forward in a mix, and its proportional “Q” response makes it well-suited for minimizing problematic frequencies. The high frequency band is a hybrid vintage / modern design, blending inductor circuitry with capacitor-based topologies to achieve vintage tones with enhanced control, with the shelf / peak corner switchable between 8K or 16K.


The Diode Bridge Compressor
Like the Inductor EQ and Transformer Gain microphone preamp, the Diode Bridge Compressor in the Shelford Channel is based on the same topologies found in Rupert’s vintage designs – but refined & adapted for the modern engineer.

What is diode bridge compression? Where the VCA compressor found in the Master Buss Processor provides unmatched clarity, the weighty, harmonically rich tonality of diode bridge compression can be essential in pushing key sources like vocals, electric guitars, bass and drums to the forefront of a mix. 

By understanding the limitations of vintage units like the legendary 2254, painstaking effort was taken to reproduce the unique tone of these classics while improving the noise floor & accuracy, expanding inflexible time constants, adding full wave sidechain detection for improved dynamic response, and widening the range of threshold and ratio controls. 

Delivering the powerful sound of these iconic designs with enhanced flexibility for the modern age, the Shelford’s diode bridge compressor is a dynamic tool equipped to make a statement on virtually any mix or track.


MIC PREAMP

INPUT IMPEDANCE
2200 Ohm

MAXIMUM INPUT
  • +21.5 dBu from 150 Hz to 22 kHz
  • +8 dBu 20 Hz to 22 kHz

NOISE
  • Un-weighted, 22 Hz-22 kHz, source impedance 150 Ohm balanced.
  • Main Out @ unity gain -100.9 dBu
  • -6 dB Out @ unity gain -106.6 dBu
  • +30 dB gain (Main Out) -91.37 dBu
  • +66 dB Gain (Main Out) -64.1 dBu
  • Equivalent Input Noise -121.37 dBu

FREQUENCY RESPONSE
+/-0.25 dB from 17 Hz to 45 kHz


DIRECT INPUT


MAXIMUM INPUT
8 dBu @ 20 Hz to 120 kHz

NOISE (MAIN OUTPUT)
-100 dBu (22 Hz to 22 kHz)


LINE INPUT

MAXIMUM INPUT LEVEL
+30.5 dBu 20 Hz to 30 kHz

TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION AND NOISE
  • @ 1 kHz, +20 dBu output level, no load: Better than 0.002%
  • @ 20 Hz, +20 dBu output level, no load: 0.05% Typical (2nd and 3rd harmonic)

NOISE (MAIN OUTPUT)
Un-weighted, 22 Hz - 22 kHz, source impedance 40 Ohm balanced, no load.
-101.1 dBu


FREQUENCY RESPONSE
+/- 0.25 dBu from less than 10 Hz to 110 kHz
-0.32 dB @ 120 kHz

MAXIMUM OUTPUT LEVEL
+26 dBu @ 16 Hz to 20 kHz


TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION AND NOISE WITH SILK ENGAGED

RED
  • MIN TEXTURE @ 100 Hz, +20 dBu input level, no load: 0.0131%, mostly 3rd harmonic (typical)
  • MAX TEXTURE @ 100 Hz, +20 dBu input level, no load: 1.66%, mostly 2rd harmonic (typical)

BLUE
  • MIN TEXTURE @ 100Hz, +20 dBu input level, no load: 0.0079%, mostly 3rd harmonic (typical)
  • MAX TEXTURE @ 100Hz, +20 dBu input level, no load: 0.941%, mostly 2rd harmonic (typical)


HIGH PASS FILTER
  • Continuously variable swept frequency from 20 Hz to 250 Hz.
  • Slope: 12 dB/Octave

EQ NOISE
Un-weighted, 22 Hz-22 kHz: -92 dBu

SIGNAL PRESENT
Illuminates GREEN when input stage signal level reaches -20 dBu

OVERLOAD INDICATOR
Illuminates RED when input stage signal level reaches -23 dBu


DIODE BRIDGE COMPRESSOR

  • NOISE (BW 22 Hz – 22 kHz)
  • 0 dB Makeup Gain: -84.5 dBu
  • +20 dB Makeup Gain: -64.2 dBu

TIME CONSTANTS
  • Measurements taken represent full range achievable between 1.5:1 Ratio and 8:1 Ratio setting.
  • 0 dBu I/P 1kHz Burst Tone used for all recorded measurements.
  • Fast (TC1): Attack 180µS — 1.8mS // Release 100mS – 150mS
  • MedFast (TC2): Attack 750µS – 5.25mS // Release 160mS – 250mS
  • Med (TC3): 2.7mS – 18mS // Release 350mS – 525mS
  • MedSlow (TC4): 4.6mS – 38mS // Release 600mS – 1 S
  • Slow (TC5): 11mS – 72.5mS // Release 800mS – 1.25 S
  • Auto (TC6): 5.75mS – 35.5mS // Release T1 400mS – 850mS, T2 TBD
  • “Fast” Mode Multiplier: Modifies aforementioned TC’s by 70% of original value

PRODUCT DIMENSIONS
19” (48.3 cm) x 10.5” (26.7 cm) x 1.75” (4.4 cm)
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People who are deep in the weeds will know this, but 1066 and 1064 are revered for a bigger low end than a 1073. So we put those concepts into the low frequency. 1073 which everybody agrees is the answer for mid-range, and then a hybrid EQ on the top, because now people are looking for more airy, open sounds than they were 40 years ago. That and a new faster and quieter spin on the diode bridge compressor. So, the Shelford Channel gave us a chance to take those things that were beloved in the past, bring them into the future, and make them more functional.

Some of these classic products like the 1073 did extremely well—but they weren’t that flexible. You couldn’t get rid of the 1073 sound even if you wanted a more transient sound, like for an acoustic guitar. People want flexibility—they want all the colors on their palette. 

We don’t live in a world where everybody buys a full console with 80 modules, anymore. You buy one thing, and you need it to do a lot of things, and you need it to satisfy a lot of needs, and the Shelford Channel gives musicians and producers the ability to have that kind of control. 

CME: What makes the RND models stand out from the rest, both from a technical/functional standpoint, and any perceptible sonic differences? 

JP: In all of our products, we use custom-designed transformers. We don’t buy them from anyone else. We don’t sell them to anyone else. They’re all designed by Rupert and the team. It provides a lot of the Rupert Neve character and tonality. 

Musicality
Our engineers spend a lot of time in the listening phase. We have regular listening sessions at RND, and I think that’s one of the differentiators for our company. 

Our organization is not siloed into the technical, separate from the marketing group—it’s a mixed, collaborative process, and the technical group is very involved in listening to the product, in a way where they’re using the product for the purpose it was originally designed, and like the intended user.

The head of our product team, Dennis Alichwer, came from Electric Lady Studios. He was heavily involved with transformer design, Class A circuitry, and modifying guitar amps –so when he got a chance to sit down and start working with Rupert more than 10 years ago, he was able to just speak the language and talk about how cool these things were. He’s got transformer materials in his house – including a transformer winding machine! – and experiments with this stuff night and day.

Rupert's Legacy
One of the things that Rupert did was keep copious notes in notebooks. From his previous companies, when they went bankrupt or got sold, he kept 27 binders full of transformer and audio design information that he worked on coming into RND in 2005, plus about 20 more notebooks designs that he added while at RND. These binders are a major part of Rupert Neve’s legacy. Those didn’t get sold with the companies. They’d buy the tooling, and they’d buy a design, but they didn’t buy any of the philosophies and ideas, and massive intellectual property that Rupert developed over time, or the secret sauce behind it all.

Rupert started working with Dennis and the engineering team o​​ver 10 years ago, transferring his legacy in a massive data dump, going over “What is Rupert’s philosophy? How does he approach designing? How does he listen to the equipment he designs? What is his process? How are his ears trained?”

We have many years of products that he’s already signed off on, because we knew that the end was coming. We worked very carefully to prototype designs and have ones he actually heard, himself, even though the products still haven’t come out, yet. 

There are things to come. His legacy doesn’t stop with his passing. He was very concerned with trying to make sure new generations could move on with his work. Some of the people on our engineering team are quite young, but they would sit and work hand-in-hand with him and see what he was doing, see why he was doing it, and learn what he was trying to achieve. 

Rupert Neve Designs R6 Six Space 500-Series Rack Pro Audio / 500 Series
Rupert Neve Designs R6 Six Space 500-Series Rack Pro Audio / 500 Series
Rupert Neve Designs R6 Six Space 500-Series Rack Pro Audio / 500 Series
Rupert Neve Designs R6 Six Space 500-Series Rack Pro Audio / 500 Series

Rupert Neve Designs R6 Six Space 500-Series Rack

$649.00
Power You Can Trust
Power-wise, the R6 has more than 150% the required current for a 6-space chassis to prevent the power rails from failing under a higher-than-expected load. To help monitor and troubleshoot problematic modules, the R6 is equipped with LED current metering to show how much power is being used. The internal power supply itself has been carefully designed and double-shielded to avoid significant magnetic induction in any of the channel positions. With such attention to providing and monitoring power, the R6 helps your modules realize their fullest potential.

To ensure many years of use, the chassis is made of solid steel with bumpers to support the unit in both horizontal and vertical configurations, and features a collapsable handle for portability. And of course, all connectors and fittings are of the very highest quality.

Connect Like Never Before
With a plethora of connections available, the R6 backpanel is practically a patchbay on its own. The R6 features 8 channels of balanced I/O options including DB-25, XLR and TRS that may be used interchangeably. This versatility is especially handy when you are taking the R6 with you to another environment where you are unsure of the cables available, or if you need to convert DB-25, XLR or TRS connections to another format using the THRU functionality on channels 7-8.


DC VOLTAGE TO UNITS
+/-16VDC and +48VDC for phantom power

MAX CURRENT
1000mA for modules, 150mA for 48V phantom power 

POWER REQUIREMENTS
100-240VAC, 50/60Hz, 50 Watts

WEIGHT
9.5lbs

DIMENSIONS
13” long x 7.5”wide x 5.5” high 
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CME: How are the 5045 Primary Source Enhancer and RMP-D8 Dante Connected Mic Preamp a continuation of Mr. Neve’s legacy to meet a specific need in live sound?

JP: Live sound has always been a struggle. It’s only within the last decade or two that it’s gotten decent. It was horrible when I was a kid! Going to a concert, you hoped you heard the vocals, and that was it. 

Starting in this century it’s gotten a lot better, but one of the pieces that Rupert did is a really unique piece. The 5045 (and the 545) is a “Primary Source Enhancer”, which is confusing because it doesn’t quite represent what it does—it’s a feedback reduction device. 

Rupert Neve Designs Group

The normal way that that is done is you have something that finds a frequency and puts a narrow band filter and EQs it out. The problem is that feedback occurs at multiple frequencies, simultaneously, and different harmonic frequencies all at the same time—so, you have to have lots of these filters. Doing it once is not so problematic; but doing it to eight to ten frequencies, which you have to do, really eviscerates the sound quality. It’s taking away all these musical frequencies, because a room may happen to have a node there, or the PA is hot in that area, a mic is stronger at some frequencies, and it’s feeding back in a particular zone.

The Primary Source Enhancer is not a noise gate, and it’s not an EQ. It uses phase inversion to cancel out feedback, by always looking at the input signal to determine whether the sound is music or feedback, and then phase-cancels the feedback. 

CME: Functionally, how have these consoles stood the test of time? How is the continued relevance and functionality of the originals reflected in RND’s own product lines?

JP: They’re analog, so they may require cleaning, parts, and maintenance at some point – but so does anything that is 50 years old. But every RND 5088 console that’s ever been made is still in service. We expect them to be a 50-year purchase, not a 5-year purchase. We do not believe in obsolescence. As our co-founder Josh Thomas says, “We build forever products, not ‘for now’ products.”

There are features that we could put into consoles that would be very software dependent and à la mode, that we choose not to put in because we know that the basic building blocks of our consoles will still be relevant in whatever form the music business takes in five years, ten years, or 50 years. 

We also know our customers are spending their hard-earned cash. We will service anything we ever make. We don’t charge people to get help just because their warranty has expired! Several of our competitors require their customers to join a service club and pay thousands just to speak with them about a console that’s out-of-service and no longer under warranty. We never do that. You can call our service people at any point in time and they’ll help you. They’ll service anything we’ve ever made. That’s the Rupert Neve legacy we’ve come from.

Rupert Neve Designs Group
Rupert Neve Designs Group

CME: Can you explain the benefit of using a Rupert Neve preamp to a guitar player who might not understand? 

JP: So many more guitar players and musicians and content creators are taking control of their own destinies and producing more and more content in-house—in their basement, or their den, or the area of their home that they can dedicate to this. So, providing the best quality tools for them, at an affordable price, allows them to make professional-quality recordings at home.

An RNDI is a better, richer-sounding device than a standard DI box. They’re less problematic, in terms of the fact that they’re bulletproof. They’ll take any amount of level, and you can use them in so many situations. And a lot of RNDI customers say they feel the RNDI adds a whole other octave at the bottom-end – especially nice for metal guitarists, or bass players.

Rupert Neve Designs Group
Rupert Neve Designs Detail
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface Pro Audio / DI Boxes
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface Pro Audio / DI Boxes
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface Pro Audio / DI Boxes
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface Pro Audio / DI Boxes
Rupert Neve Designs RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface Pro Audio / DI Boxes

Rupert Neve Designs RNDI Active Transformer Direct Interface

$249.00
The RNDI’s signature sound is the product of new custom Rupert Neve-designed transformers and class-A biased, discrete FET amplifiers. The carefully orchestrated union of these two elements is key to the RNDI’s unique response, delivering a powerful and vibrant direct sound capable of reproducing the full harmonic depth of basses, guitars, acoustic instruments, and professional line level sources. 

With portable, powerful, larger-than-life tone for your instrument and amplifier signals, the RNDI is truly the first standalone DI worthy of the Rupert Neve name.

The Development
After coming into existence during an experimentation with new transformer designs, the RNDI was fine-tuned over a series of listening tests against the the most popular high-end DIs available. It was in these tests where the RNDI always seemed to add another dimension to the sound and bring the instruments to life. The lows felt richer, deeper and fuller, and the highs had outstanding clarity without any added harshness. 

Active + Passive: The Best of Both Worlds
The RNDI’s signature sound is the product both of new custom Rupert Neve-designed transformers and class-A biased, discrete FET amplifiers. The carefully orchestrated union of these two elements is key to the RNDI’s unique response.

THE TRANSFORMERS
The custom transformers provide superior passive isolation while adding musical harmonics and dimension to the sound. The low impedance, transformer-balanced output excels at driving long cable runs, and performance is immensely consistent regardless of the connected equipment. This is very important for both live and studio environments where the unamplified signal may travel almost 100ft before hitting an amplifier. In other designs, these high-capacitance lines cause major reductions in high frequencies – not so with the RNDI.

THE CLASS-A, DISCRETE FET AMPLIFIERS
The class-A & discrete FET amplifier in the RNDI is powered by 48V phantom, and creates a very high impedance input of 2M Ohms that ensures consistent performance with a wide variety of instruments. The class-A design ensures that zero crossover distortion is added to the signal, which can add upper-order odd harmonics that are musically dissonant in nature. With the RNDI, the overwhelming majority of harmonic content is 2nd order (octave) with some 3rd order present (fifth above octave). These musically relevant harmonics, present in subtle amounts, actually add to the richness of the original signal. And the discrete aspect of the RNDI design means there are no ICs or digital components that can have negative effects on the tone.

Massive Headroom + Speaker Mode
In instrument mode, the RNDI’s high input headroom of +21.5dBU is capable of handling not only instruments, but professional, line level sources like interfaces and drum machines – without a pad. This allows the RNDI to serve as a way to “re-preamp” any previously recorded track using your interface and a desired pre-amp. To do this, simply connect a channel output of the interface to the input of the RNDI and connect the RNDI’s output to the preamp and engage 48V. By “re-preamping” you can apply the tone of another preamp to the source and more accurately automate or control the drive level on the preamp.

In speaker mode, the RNDI can handle the screaming output of a 1000-watt solid-state power amplifier (92 Vrms or 266Vp-p) to capture the full tone of the instrument, preamplifier, EQ, inserts, and the amplifier’s output stages before it hits the speakers. This technique allows the engineer to avoid any bleed in a live environment and any unwanted tone added by the speaker cabinet or microphone. 

¼” INPUT
  • Hi-Z unbalanced input:
  • 2.2M Ohms (Instrument)
  • 200 kOhms (Speaker)


¼” THRU
Parallel ¼” port used to send signal to an amp or speaker.

SPEAKER / INSTRUMENT INPUT LEVEL
  1. Selects Speaker or Instrument level. 
  2. Max input: +21dBu Instrument, +41.5dBu Speaker


48V POWER LED
Indicates that +48V phantom power is present from the connected mic preamp (required to power the RNDI).


GROUND LIFT
Isolates the XLR Pin 1 from the instrument input ground.

OUTPUT
Transformer-balanced XLR output. Impedance less than 40 Ohms. Phantom power to the RNDI is supplied through this connection.

WEIGHT
1.5lbs

DIMENSIONS
6.25” long x 4”wide x 1.5” high
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Some things are subtle. When comparing high-end preamp designs, they all sound good and they all have different tonalities to them—in the same way that, say, a PRS sounds different than ‘58 sunburst Les Paul. 

We’re always going to need great microphone preamplifiers, because we’re going to have to get sound out of that microphone (which are transducers). So, you’re always going to have a reason to have a good one. Compared to other manufacturers, there’s no way a $5 microchip is ever going to be able to compete with dedicated, purpose-chosen components and amazing design. 
That same idea carries through: We wanted a direct box that can be used for anything, that’s never going to fail, and that’s always going to deliver the best quality sound. We just did a demo in CME for the sales staff, with relatively inexpensive speakers, and you could hear it! That’s real value to a customer—and it’s only $50 or $60 more than a DI box that’s a tier under the RNDI. People spend that—sometimes five times that!—on a cable. 

In the same way, you can buy a $100 modeling amp, but it’s not the same as an amp that has carefully selected tubes, carefully chosen transformers, speakers that are specifically designed for it, and a cabinet designed for it. You can buy something really cheap that’s functional but doesn’t sound good. 

CME: What product would you recommend to someone looking to get their first piece of Rupert Neve gear?

JP: An RNDI is a no brainer. Then I would go to a mic pre. Then I would get a compressor. After that, I would look at some of the color options, like a 542. For the person who’s buying a $50,000 guitar, here, or an amazing vintage drum kit, anyone buy modules from any other manufacturers, but we make one the best 500 series racks and some of the best 500 series preamps ever, and having the ability, wanting the finest channel strip made, I would recommend the Shelford Channel, but, for the average guitar player, bass player, drummer, or high-end home recording hobbyist who’s trying to get into all this stuff—having a 500 rack is a great way to build a quality recording rig.

Of course, you can buy modules from any other manufacturers to put in your 500 rack, but we make one the best 500 series racks, and the best 500 series preamps ever, and having the ability, to mix and match and plug things into it gives you the kind of flexibility that a Eurorack has. You have a universal design, that’ll accept any equipment in that format, and you can try different things out and improve it as you go along. 

SHOP RUPERT NEVE DESIGNS

Rupert Neve Designs 535 500 Series Diode Bridge Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 535 500 Series Diode Bridge Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear

Rupert Neve Designs 535 500 Series Diode Bridge Compressor

$999.00
Rupert Neve Designs 5211 2-Channel Microphone Preamp Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5211 2-Channel Microphone Preamp Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5211 2-Channel Microphone Preamp Pro Audio / Outboard Gear

Rupert Neve Designs 5211 2-Channel Microphone Preamp

$1,999.00
Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear
Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor Pro Audio / Outboard Gear

Rupert Neve Designs 5035 Shelford Channel Microphone Preamp / Inductor EQ / Compressor

$3,999.00
Rupert Neve Designs 542 500 Series Tape Emulator Pro Audio / 500 Series
Rupert Neve Designs 542 500 Series Tape Emulator Pro Audio / 500 Series

Rupert Neve Designs 542 500 Series Tape Emulator

$849.00

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