'He was the Steve Jobs of audio': how Rupert Neve changed the sound of music | William Stokes

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The late audio engineer revolutionised recording with an innovative EQ design, his innovations used by everyone from the Queen to Dave Grohl

“Many different rock records, in my opinion, are predicated not on a structure or a melodic line, or a rhythm – but on a sound,” said Brian Eno in 1979. He was delivering his landmark lecture, The Studio as a Compositional Tool, in New York, illustrating how, in a recording studio, “you can do what the classical composer couldn’t: you can infinitely extend the timbre of any instrument … and you mix it all in some manner of your choice”. The mixer, he said, “is really the central part of the studio”.

This weekend the music community said goodbye to a core part of that mixer’s history: Rupert Neve, the British-born audio engineer and innovator whose beloved designs over a staggering 80-year career changed the sound of recorded music. Neve, who has died aged 94, was to music what Steve Jobs was to computing and Terence Conran was to design. “Rupert Neve. I can’t describe your influence on everyone who has ever made music,” Matty Healy of the 1975 posted on Instagram on Sunday. Said songwriter Frank Turner: “The sound of every record you like was shaped by his work.”

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