It is with shock and sorrow that I mourn the death of my friend, Rupert Neve. Although he had been ill for some time, I didn’t expect this sad day to come so soon… I remember the last time I saw him like it was yesterday. It was just over two years ago, and we spoke about his ambitious desire to design a microphone that could pick up spatial sound in the ultra-high frequency range of 20 kHz – 50 kHz. I remember the smile on his face as he talked about it. Today, I can’t help but reflect on Rupert’s legacy, our relationship, and the deep regret that I couldn’t say goodbye to him in person, due to travel restrictions. As we all begin to come to terms with this enormous loss, I take comfort in writing down a few stories, in memory of my beloved friend, colleague and brother, Mr. Rupert Neve.
How it all started
In 2004, sE was exhibiting at AES in New York and a distinguished gentleman walked into our booth and introduced himself as Rupert Neve. Over the next few years, he would always visit sE’s booth, where we would catch up and exchange ideas. Rupert and I quickly took to one another, becoming close friends as years passed. Both being inventors, we obviously shared a passion for creating, pushing the boundaries of technology through innovation and experimentation, and we were seriously fascinated by the synergy that a collaboration would bring.
And so it began
The unavoidable and equally exciting journey with Rupert Neve started officially in 2008, aiming at designing a Series of innovative microphones that would add value to any audio professional’s mic locker. I was thrilled and humbled at the opportunity to be working alongside Rupert Neve, a man who has shaped our industry, and to see my signature right next to his. His contributions went beyond the development of groundbreaking gear, especially in the shaping of innovative young minds. Rupert’s natural passion for creating and inspiring others forever influenced my own career and left an indelible mark on my life.
Making the impossible possible
Rupert and I shared the same work ethic, and often held the same points of view when designing and developing microphones. Rupert’s ability to tackle issues that would have been a hindrance to many others, was best displayed during the development of our second co-branded microphone, the RN17. To improve the sound quality of this small-diaphragm condenser, we wanted to use a custom transformer designed by Mr. Neve. For me, the size of the transformer far exceeded RN17’s housing and I was somewhat stuck. That’s when Rupert said to me in a firm voice, “I’m going to add that transformer. I know it’s not easy, but isn’t it our mission to make the impossible possible?” That was a great example of the determination that powered his unique spirit. And more situations would follow, that made perfectly clear why the man was a legend. “If there is no challenge and no pressure, then how can we push the needle forward and grow?” Led by that Neve spirit, as well as the efforts of the engineers involved, we quickly overcame the difficulties at hand and the RN17 small-diaphragm condenser microphone, with its unique shape, was born.
Never stop learning
There is no doubt that Rupert’s understanding of sound was very forward-thinking. Bringing the most natural and exciting sound to the world is the mission of Rupert Neve designs, his most recent namesake company. Rupert’s inquisitive nature led him to continuously bring new design ideas to the table, even in his nineties! That “never stop learning and thinking” attitude is what made Rupert one of the greatest sonic pioneers of our time. His products still set standards and are the benchmark for highest quality analogue audio products. They continue to make irreplaceable contributions to the field of music production.
Godspeed, my old friend
Lately, he seemed fascinated by the world of 20 kHz – 50 kHz ultra-high frequency space. Saying that “we should go to that space, capture the sounds, and share them with this world.” It seems to me that my good friend and valued colleague Mr. Rupert Neve, has set off to explore that wonderful world, and worlds beyond.
Until we meet again…
Shanghai, March 1st, 2021