80 Years in the Making
The pedigree of the 5088 mixing console is unrivaled. Mr. Rupert Neve, who created his very first circuit 73 years ago at age 13, is a pioneer of analogue mixing console design, having started building custom mixers at the very beginning of the 1960s.
Over the ensuing 50 years he has produced some of the most highly-prized analogue recording equipment in the business, winning recognition from his peers as well as several major awards – including a Technical GRAMMY from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for his contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.
Audio Quality Above All Else
Over the decades Rupert has remained faithful to several crucial design concepts, incorporating custom-designed transformers and single-sided amplification into his products. Like the Portico range of modules, the 5088 console continues that philosophy, integrating those designs into an all-discrete analogue circuit topology.
In order to meet attractive price points and incorporate massive feature sets that may seem appealing to clientele, many other medium and large-format mixing console designs frequently suffer from compromised audio quality due to their reliance on integrated circuits – not so with the 5088.
The 5088 has been designed with audio quality as the utmost priority. Unnecessary bells and whistles have been removed so that single-sided, high voltage, discrete op-amp cards can replace integrated circuits throughout the mixer. These amplifiers provide a 10dB-greater dynamic range than any previous console design from Mr. Rupert Neve – a difference perceptible not only on the test bench but to the listeners’ ears.
Discrete Amplifier Design
“My original transistor amplifiers were based on valve designs. ‘Discrete’ transistors (there were no integrated circuits) were configured in such a way as to form single-sided op amps. They were so substantially over-designed that one competitor even commented that ‘Neve circuits are so conservative that they will last forever!’”
Integrated circuits started to appear in the mid 1970′s, and were greeted with alarm and skepticism. These devices had the advantage of being small in size and very cost effective, which became more important as consoles grew in complexity and required ever-growing quantities of amplifiers. With care, the sound quality could be good enough, although they were never quite as good as the cumbersome old single-sided, discrete transistor designs.
Amplifiers must be designed so that high-order harmonics and switching transients cannot be generated. Almost all integrated circuits have class B or AB complementary output stages which are very efficient both electrically and in the use of space, but they generate crossover distortion, which produces high order harmonics and switching transients (non-harmonic distortion) that, although small in terms of measurement, have a significant effect on the quality – especially at lower signal levels. Even when these artifacts might not be heard, tests have consistently shown that they are perceived and can alter the musicality of the main audio band.
The all-new, discrete amplifiers in the 5088 have not only been designed to eliminate crossover distortion and switching transients, but their high voltage design also greatly improves dynamic range, headroom and frequency response.
Adapt and Survive
Another unfortunate downside to the standard large format console model is that it pigeonholes end users into purchasing mic preamps, EQs, and dynamics for each channel with no regard to what is actually needed in a specific facility. The 5088 avoids this pitfall with a completely modular design that enables its user to decide what they want and adapt when demands shift.
The 5088 was designed to fit seamlessly into the modern, sound-conscious recording facility that encompasses high-quality digital interfaces, DAW automation and control and a variety of high quality analogue outboard equipment. In this environment, it offers much-needed signal monitoring, metering, talkback and routing functionality, and – most importantly – classic analogue summing from the man who created the most highly-coveted gear in the industry.