The Sound of the Legendary 88R Console in a Rack
The 8801 is a complete channel strip from the legendary 88R console, packed into a 1U 19" rack unit – widely considered among the best-sounding analogue music consoles ever developed.
Completely hand-built and hand-wired by Neve® , this ground breaking Channel Strip delivers a front-end with all the quality and versatility that has become synonymous with the Neve name.
The 8801’s signal path consists of our extremely high-quality Neve® mic preamp, high and low pass filters, four bands of highly musical equalization, a compressor, gate, dynamics side chain and an insert point. The order of the signal path can be easily modified as the producer requires.
The filter section and/or the equalization section can even be routed to the dynamics side chain to tailor the dynamics response of any input signal. An optional Neve-designed analogue-to-digital converter accommodates all standard sample rates up to 192kHz, as well as direct-to-DSD conversion. In listening tests, many engineers and producers preferred the sound of these Neve-designed converters to standalone converters costing more than the entire 8801 unit.
Neve’s proprietary Recall software (Mac/PC-compatible) allows seamless integration with workstations, providing instantaneous recall of all external device settings. An essential tool for creativity, Recall combines the flexibility of a computer-based system with the power and sound quality of genuine Neve design. Quite simply, the 8801 is the most convenient way to give any serious studio the ultimate Neve analogue sound.
Click on the logos below to read the independent product review:
First week with the Neve 8801
Like many other people I've lusted after one of these for years, i have the UAD and BX plugins, both of which are superb and used on a regular basis.
I currently own an SSL Alpha channel and UA 6176 and got this to compliment them as I've always been a firm believer in having the best analogue front end to a DAW you can get your hands on to 'get the best of both worlds'.
The first thing i noticed is just how heavy this thing is for a 1U box.... it's HEAVY!!! particularly if you take into account that it has an external PSU.
It's a lovely looking unit and the lit power button is rather cool!
As a test, just to make sure the unit was functioning, i grabbed a Neumann KM184 and used my own voice, speaking, as a source as i know both extremely well.
I used a pair of ATH-M70x cans running from my RME interface into which the 8801 was connected via balanced XLR to TRS cable, for monitoring myself.
The unit is very logically laid out from left to right and extremely easy to set up. I did use the Recall software to configure the internal routing of the unit previously which was again, very straightforward.
I set the input to mic and dialled up the input gain to 0db and then raised the output so it was hitting -10dbfs peak in my DAW.
Immediately i noticed just how silky the upper mids and highs were, silky isn't a word I'd generally use for that particular mic from experience with other pres and it can sound rather snarly on the SSL, it's a totally different animal with this though, it gave me a lovely and again silky smooth and subtle saturation in the mids and upper mids when i pushed it harder..... VERY NICE! The imaging was pin sharp, not quite as tight sounding as the SSL but that was one of the things i was expecting AND one of the reasons i wanted the unit in the first place.
Over all it gave me a very classy and EXPENSIVE sounding recording. I sat there with raised eyebrows and a huge grin listening to the playback on the nearfields.
I've used that mic A LOT on acoustic guitars over the years and have always had to spend a bit of time calming the top end and upper mids down with The SSL, i'm rather looking forward to using the 8801 next time from what i've heard so far.
Setting the filters took seconds and i was able to dial in a 'BBC4' like sound rapidly with the EQ section. I added around 3db of reduction with the compressor on medium attack and auto release at 2:1, couldn't hear any pumping or artefacts, just nice and smooth and natural, i used the expander to kill any reflections from the room amazingly quickly, being a fairly typical project studio the room is less than stellar acoustically.
Next i tried a Korg Minilogue xd through the mic pre using a Radial JDI passive box, i wanted to use the sound as a bass sound so needed to do some fairly severe EQ cuts in the lower mids and mids, used a slower attack and faster release with the compressor and was able to dial the whole thing in in under five minutes and apart from boosting a couple of db's at 3KHz for some bite and snarl once it was 'in the box' i had to do nothing else to it other than some pitch microshift and a bit of flanger..Brilliant!
Next up was various hand percussion, cabassa, claves, guiro, flexatone and tambourine through a Neumann TLM102, a drummer friend performed some percussive parts for me on an avant garde electronic track as well as a funky house track. we did the claves first, again setting levels, eq and compression on the unit took no time at all, we both listened to the playback shocked at just how nice they sound, apart from some liberal reverb they're mix ready!
None of the percussion gave any issues and again i found myself actually dialling in some 'air' around 12Khz without them sounding nasty, just that same silky smooth saturation when i pushed the unit harder, we got the best tambourine sound i have ever recorded. Both of us are extremely happy with the results.
I think the only thing i could 'moan' about would be that it's not a 2U box as my eyesight isn't the greatest, obviously though cost is a factor here and i should really get some reading glasses anyway ;)
If i made a comparison with cars i'd say the 6176 was vintage GT40, the SSL Alpha channel more of an RS Turbo having a more 'brutish' sound (which is awesome when that's what you're after) and the Neve 8801 a McLaren road car; seriously refined!
I'm definitely feeling like a VERY lucky boy at the moment with a 'garage' like this :D
If you ever get the chance to own one of these units then grab that chance with both hands, get that divorce, sell your house, you will not be disappointed!