Introducing the Neve 88RLB

9th October 2012
 
The world loves the sound of the incredible Neve 88R.
….Don’t just take our word for it…
“This is the best sounding console I have ever heard” – Al Schmitt
“The best console ever to have been designed” – Simon Rhodes, Abbey Road
“… the 88RS is the finest sounding analogue console made today” – Allen Sides, Ocean Way
“The sonic quality of this console is unbelievable” – Leslie Ann Jones, Skywalker Sound

The sound of the world’s best recording console is now available as a 500-series format mono mic preamp module, using the exact same circuitry as Neve’s flagship 88R large format analogue console. Not only does it capture the legendary Neve sound prefectly, but the 88RLB includes new features such as REGenerate and Direct Injection.
The definitive 88R mic pre continues to have an enormous impact on the recording practices of flagship studios.

For example, once Abbey Road Studios had installed the first of their two 88R consoles in 2004 and thoroughly appreciated the incredible sound, they put their vintage mic preamps to one side and started to use the 88R preamps completely. And not just for their condenser microphones but also their ribbon microphones.  They also use it for the most critical “Decca tree” recordings (the 3 main microphones used in any orchestral recording and scoring setup).  There can be no finer testament.
So now the classic 88R sound is available for you in a really convenient, manageable and widely affordable form. Just plug the 88RLB into a 500-series rack, power it up, adjust the gain and you’ll have pure Neve 88R for your own recording.


How does it compare with the legendary Neve 1073 mic preamp, also available in a 500-series format?
The Neve 1073LB 500-series format mic preamp uses classic circuit design from the Neve 1073 classic mic preamp & EQ module.  This is a Class A amplifier design and uses specific, individually characterised transformers at the input and output stages.
The 88RLB is a Class A/B amplifier design, again with its own special transformer at the input stage and this time with an electronically balanced output stage.
Robin Porter, designer of both units, has been designing for Neve for almost forty years and his wealth of experience of the evolving product ranges and the unique sounds of each have been brought to bear on the challenge of capturing the beauty of the Neve sound in 500 series modules.
Robin comments: “As far as the sound is concerned, the 88RLB complements the 1073LB.  The 1073LB is generally described as having a more defined sound than most mic preamps.  It is the sort of sound that makes you smile because you can just hear it.  But it doesn’t get in the way of what you are trying to record as the high and low frequencies are not rolled-off.  It has a really good balance – it has a lovely warm sound but is not as coloured as some mic preamps and that’s why people love the 1073LB.
The 88RLB is a modern design using modern components but with its own classic sound.  The new components and design allow a very wide frequency response and greater accuracy, but still completely true to the Neve hue – a warm sound – but more precise since its technical specification is better than the original 1073 design from the late 1960’s.  The 88R mic pres’ sound and precision have won their own legendary place in the ears and hearts of the world’s most critical recording engineers, producers and artists.”
What are the input specifications and features of the 88RLB?
The Line mode is an electronically balanced input with 22KOhm input impedance, the same as the 88R Line input circuit to maintain the faithfulness of the unit.
The DI input is a very high impedance input – 500KOhm – and this is a specially developed input amplifier for the DI for e.g. bass guitar.
The gain control provides a range of +20 to +70, so 50dB of gain is available on the Mic input. When the Line input is selected, the gain control becomes a trim control, so it gets a +/-20dB trim.  The DI has a gain of 0dB to 50dB allowing a guitar input to be raised to a good level for recording.
A special feature is REGenerate.
Robin Porter comments: “Because the 88RLB is a very high quality, very precise, very open mic preamp with a touch of analogue hue, we thought it would be a very good idea to be able to run the Line input and the DI input through the input transformer to dirty the sound for people who want to really crunch and add edge to the sound.  It is effectively the same thing that you would get if you wound a Marshall amp up.  Basically, it starts to distort and you get a completely different sound. The regeneration feature puts the Line input or the DI input through the Mic input transformer and retains the available Gain facilities.  So there’s no compromise with regeneration – everything is still there but it gives you the option of a harder, crunchier, warmer sound which is what some engineers want – for example you could use this feature across a stereo buss to give it some warmth and crunch it”.
phase switch and a minus 20dB switch are also available.  The minus 20dB switch works in all 3 input modes which allows great headroom in any mode.  This is really useful if you have really hot mic levels; some microphones will give an almost line level output which needs to be padded before it’s fed into the mic preamp to avoid overloading. It’s also useful for padding down hot Line levels or a hot DI level.
The 88RLB has a signal presence LED which illuminates green at -26dB input level then illuminates red at +25dB (or higher) input level to indicate the approach of clipping.
Also provided is a Lift switch. If the front input combi-XLR has a tip/ring/sleeve jack plugged into it then this uses the balanced part of the amplifier input (the same for the XLR – the High, the Low and the Screen).  However, if a tip/screen jack is used – as on a regular guitar jack – then it will unbalance the balanced input of the 88RLB.  The Lift switch allows the screen of the 88RLB to be “lifted” away from the screen of the instrument averting any potential hum issues.
How does the high-pass filter operate?
If you make the filter too steep, then too many artefacts can be added to the sound.  The 88RLB filter is a gentle 2-pole, 12dB per octave filter.  Taken straight from the 88R, it is a capacitor type with enough swing in the frequencies to apply to any job.  With the 1073, the high-pass filter is 18dB per octave, using a choke, and so is more ‘brick-wall’ by comparison.  The 88RLB filter runs from 31.5Hz up to 315Hz and it is swept – not just a certain set of frequencies you can pick out, which is really impressive.
phase switch and a minus 20dB switch are also available.  The minus 20dB switch works in all 3 input modes which allows great headroom in any mode.  This is really useful if you have really hot mic levels; some microphones will give an almost line level output which needs to be padded before it’s fed into the mic preamp to avoid overloading. It’s also useful for padding down hot Line levels or a hot DI level.
The 88RLB has a signal presence LED which illuminates green at -26dB input level then illuminates red at +25dB (or higher) input level to indicate the approach of clipping.
Also provided is a Lift switch. If the front input combi-XLR has a tip/ring/sleeve jack plugged into it then this uses the balanced part of the amplifier input (the same for the XLR – the High, the Low and the Screen).  However, if a tip/screen jack is used – as on a regular guitar jack – then it will unbalance the balanced input of the 88RLB.  The Lift switch allows the screen of the 88RLB to be “lifted” away from the screen of the instrument averting any potential hum issues.
How does the high-pass filter operate?
If you make the filter too steep, then too many artefacts can be added to the sound.  The 88RLB filter is a gentle 2-pole, 12dB per octave filter.  Taken straight from the 88R, it is a capacitor type with enough swing in the frequencies to apply to any job.  With the 1073, the high-pass filter is 18dB per octave, using a choke, and so is more ‘brick-wall’ by comparison.  The 88RLB filter runs from 31.5Hz up to 315Hz and it is swept – not just a certain set of frequencies you can pick out, which is really impressive.

Does the 88RLB have phantom power?
Like the 1073LB, we put an intelligent phantom power feature into the 88RLB – you can’t switch the phantom power on if you are in Line or DI input modes. Phantom power is only selectable when the input mode selected is Mic.  And if you have phantom power active and switch to the front panel input, the module will switch off phantom power because you might have something plugged into the front input that you didn’t want to accidentally damage.  The 88RLB stops the possibility of these kinds of accident from occurring.

 What is the current consumption of the 88RLB?

The in-rush current is very low.  The unit draws about 80-90mA maximum because it is a class A/B amplifier design.  Once running it is approximately 70-80mA.88RLB product information