We started our AUS220 demo projects this week in last studio we’ll be granted access to at our time at SAE. It’s got a well-lit, professional looking and feeling live room, a smaller isolation booth and racks of professional level outboard gear, both digital and analogue. The studio also has a Neve Genesys. Neve and SSL is the Holden and Ford of the audio world, though it’s not uncommon to embrace both companies due to the different flavours and textures that they can bring to a recording. You can utter the word ‘Neve’ and audiophiles will be torn between reminiscing about a 1073 or stand with their heads hung at the price tags associated with them.
I’m writing this as an open letter, and I’m not saying you’re the only one that has smack-talked the Neve, because I loved the Genesys. There’s some shortfalls, a Windows 98-esque computer (though more modern than a lot of the DOS-style computers I see linked to SSLs pictured below), a few broken meters and some very expensive EQ and dynamics software that are all coupled with some very complex routing, but none of this is without reason.
While the workflow and computer controlled Monitor/Channel path seemed complicated at first, it was demonstrated to me that this way you can audition inserts before recording to tape (e.g. by putting inserts in the Monitor path while listening to scratch tracks and swapping them back to ‘Channel’ when you go for real takes). We also pulled some great sounds from a trash mic with the Neve pres distorting to oblivion, as we as bypassing some of the Neve pres for external pres but incorporting a few channels of Neve EQ and dynamics. While the routing and gain staging is very different to the Audient consoles that I’ve grown to know, the Neve has three seperate gain stages (excluding any outboard processing) to make sure you’ve got a healthy signal to tape (real tape or to Tools) no matter what processing you’re doing before it. The routing is complicated at first but by the end of the day I’d found myself getting a feel for the desk (and not just the heat that it gives off) and could see myself finding new ways to route and capture great sound. Whether or not the first thing I did when I got home that day was look up prices and Australian stockists is a secret that will remain with me (http://www.audiochocolate.com.au/all-products/neve-genesys-64-fader128-input/).
Hell, back in October Eddie Kramer posted excitedly off his Facebook page that his Genesys had just arrived and my jaw-dropped because I’d heard nothing but bad things about them. It was partly because of this that I entered our first Neve studio session open-minded.
I’m just writing this in an attempt to say: give the Neve a chance. I did, and I can really see the benefits ofr routing that seems complicated because it gives you options on the fly. Once you realise the first 8 channels don’t meter, and that you need to switch to Assign mode to do most things, it’s really not all that bad.