Taking numerical inspiration from his last console design, the Neve 8088, Rupert Neve has carried on his legacy of pure Class A design with the creation of the Rupert Neve Designs 5088 recording console. All the musicality and sophistication of the 8088 has been brought into the 21st century, refined and updated for today’s modern studio.

Aside from the improved components and circuitry, the key refinement is the totally modular nature of the console. You can have a 5088 built to your exact needs, including everything you want and nothing you don’t. Take the best of what Rupert Neve Designs has to offer, and make the most of your studio.

The Legacy Of Rupert Neve

In the world of analog audio consoles, one name stands out from a crowded field – Rupert Neve. Starting in the 1960s, Rupert and Co. made some of the first custom recording consoles in the world, and soon became a dominant force in the high-end studios of Europe and America. You know his consoles and their mic preamp/ EQs; the 8058, the Melbourne, 1073 and 1084 to name just a few. They live on in racks and full consoles all over the globe, lovingly cared for and touted by their owners. To own an original Neve console is a dream come true for many studios.

For others, the barrier to ownership of a vintage console is too high, with the maintenance costs and sourcing of parts being chief among them. Yet, they still want that legendary sound, and thus the racked pairs of mic pre/EQs have appeared literally everywhere. But what if you could have a full console in the Rupert Neve tradition, brand new from the factory? Well, with the Rupert Neve Designs 5088, you can.

Throughout this Buyer's Guide, we will be covering what makes the Rupert Neve Designs 5088 such an outstanding console. Read on to discover more about the console's design, configurations, channel strips, penthouse and modules that can be used with the desk.

The Discrete And High Voltage Design Of The Rupert Neve Designs 5088 Console

For his first all-discrete design in over three decades, Rupert pulled out all the stops. His high-voltage design brings +/- 45 volts to the game, increasing all three key parameters; headroom, dynamic range and frequency response. This is far more voltage than the average console and required new custom-designed op-amps to handle it all. All this power puts the 5088 out in front of the pack, but there is a single component of Rupert's design that puts this console in a league of its own – the transformers.

Nobody loves transformers like Rupert Neve, and nobody can match him when implementing them in a circuit design. For the 5088, Rupert has gone all the way with this love, as every single input and output is transformer coupled, even the inserts and speaker outs.

These transformers do two things that we all want in a console. They provide electrical isolation from all kinds of frequency interference to keep the audio pure and they impart a musical tone to every signal. Nothing provides individual character to an audio signal quite like a transformer, and when done right (i.e. done the way Rupert does it), they can’t be equaled for the halo they put around your audio.

Configuring Your Rupert Neve Designs 5088 Console

To stay relevant and competitive in today’s audio scene, you have to be nimble and quick, adaptable, and available. There’s nothing worse than not having the right tools for your clients. That’s what makes the modularity of the Rupert Neve Designs 5088 so relevant. It allows you to have only the essentials that you need and none of the unnecessary stuff.

Whether tracking, summing, mixing or a combination of all these tasks, there’s a 5088 that’s right for you, because you can order it in exactly the form you need. Starting with 8 channels and building in sections, you can have a 5088 with 1632, 48, 64 or 80 channels, but that’s just the size of the frame. What you put in it or add on to it can change depending on your needs.

The 5088 is designed around three key components; the channel strips, the penthouse, and the meter bridge. Do you need a VU meter for every channel including the master section? No problem; the meter bridge fits onto either the main frame or the penthouse rack. Are dozens of moving needles a bridge too far? No problem either, the meters are optional. However you want to design your 5088 is fair game.

The 5088 Input Channel And Stereo Input Channel

Not only is the number of input channels on the 5088 up to you, the choice of what to put in them is also up to you. Are you mostly mono and want a channel strip with selectable line 1 and 2 Inputs? No problem. Are you strictly stereo and want all that control devoted to binaural bliss? Not a problem either. The 5088 has two different Input Channel modules to suit what works best for you.

Input Channel

The regular Input Channel strip on the 5088 is meant to give you the most effective control of multiple sources. Featuring 8 Groups, 8 Auxes, Mute, Solo, Send Follows Pan and Aux to Group, you’ll have tons of routing options to create mixes very efficiently. And to recreate those mixes perfectly, you can stock those channels with optional automated faders.

Stereo Input Channel

The Stereo Input Channel has nearly all the features of the standard channel, like Solo, Mute, group sends, individual trims and pan for each channel. It also features 6 Auxes and a Stereo Width Control for both the main stereo signal as well as the Aux.

The Penthouse Of The Rupert Neve Designs 5088

Do you want to live in a fully furnished penthouse suite? No problem. We can load the standard 25-slot penthouse with all the sweet Rupert Neve Designs modules you could want, including mic pres, EQs, and compressors. Do you want an unfurnished apartment to plug into all your own cool outboard gear? No problem either, as the penthouse can wait until you need it, and the 5088 can be a line-only console.

Rupert Neve Designs Modules Compatible With 5088 Design

Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5051

Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5051
The Shelford 5051 Inductor EQ/Compressor marries an EQ to a fully Class A, discrete compressor/limiter. And like any good marriage, it’s polite to take turns, so the EQ can be switched Pre or Post the compressor. It also has two XLR balanced Inputs, selectable from the front panel. These can also take turns, allowing the 5051 to have a line input or a mic pre from a DAW to be readily accessible. The compressor section of the 5051 sports all the features of the Portico Series module, along with a 250 Hz High Pass Filter electable for the Side Chain. Dual 8-segment LED Gain Reduction and Level meters guide the user to their desired destination. And of course, the compressor can be bypassed while the signal still flows through Rupert’s custom designed transformers, imparting a sonic character found in no other make or model.

Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052

Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5052
The Shelford 5052 Mic Preamp/Inductor EQ brings the character of the classic 1073 module right into your penthouse. The Mic preamp section has the usual Phase and Phantom Power, along with a sweepable High Pass Filter from 20-250 Hz, and up to 72 dB of gain. A touch of a button turns this into a line amplifier, and in either mode, the custom Rupert transformers are on both the Input and Output. For the EQ stage, the 5052 utilizes a three-band Inductor Equalizer with a selectable Shelf/Peak Filter for the Highs (a hybrid vintage/modern design based on the 1073) and the Lows (inspired by the 1064). The Midrange is controlled by a Parametric filter (based on the 1073). The Highs can be switched between fixed frequencies of 8 or 16 kHz with +/- 15 dB of boost or cut (Shelf or Peak). The Lows can be switched between fixed frequencies of 35, 60, 100 and 220 Hz, also with +/- 15 dB of boost or cut (Shelf or Peak). The Mids have six selectable center frequencies of 200, 350 and 700 Hz or 1.5, 3 and 6 kHz. This band also has +/- 15 dB of boost or cut, and being parametric, the Q is proportional and can be switched to a wider or narrower bandwidth. And while the EQ section is inspired by the classics of old, the design is not a clone but a modern topology with components only recently available. A homage to his heritage would be a better way to look at it. Along with a dose of updated nostalgia, the 5052 also brings the Silk Red/Blue and Texture control into the equation, providing the opportunity to introduce distortion of mostly second order harmonics, up to 4-5% THD, without any chance of overloading the output. And speaking of output, the Mic Pre can be switched with the To EQ button to go directly to the Equalizer, creating a single channel strip to the output, or this can be disengaged and the transformer-coupled output can directly feed a DAW or tape recorder while still allowing the Silk/Texture control to do its thing. This output might also be used to introduce a compressor/limiter into the signal path or to let the 5052 utilize two distinct sources. Choices abound.

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5043 Vertical

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5043 Vertical

The Portico 5043 Duo Compressor/Limiter is designed for both tracking and mixing, with two independent units in one module. Use them separately, linked for stereo via the front panel A/B button, or in a chain for two individual control slopes. Several 5043s (and even some vintage AMEK CIB and DMCL units) can be linked via the rear-panel TRS connections. Signals are brought into the unit via the Line or Buss Input, providing wide flexibility for the placement of the unit in the signal chain. There is also a Side Chain available.

The 5043 is a Voltage Controlled Amplifier, or VCA. Rupert Neve Design’s version of a VCA is a very low noise and low distortion unit that provides a very neutral sonic character. While most of Rupert Neve’s classic designs were of the ‘Feed-Back’ type, the 5043 offers the unique advantage of choosing between Feed-Back and Feed-Forward compression styles, at the touch of a button.

In the FeedBack mode, the VCA control voltage is taken from the transformer-coupled Output. Having already been modified once by the VCA, it does not "attack" the signal as quickly. The Feed-Forward mode is taken from the transformer coupled Input, and is thus immediately modified by the VCA that follows. Feed-back tends to be more musical, while Feed-Forward tends to be more precise. Each control slope has its own characteristics and its own unique uses.

The Threshold level of the 5043 is -30 to +20 dB, with a Ratio that is continuously variable from 1:1 (no compression) up to 40:1 (limiting).  The Attack is continuously variable from 20-75 mS, while the Release ranges from 100 mS to 2.5 Sec. The Gain range is from -6 to +20 dB. These simple and intuitive controls provide an incredible amount of flexibility over your program material, whether tracking or mixing, running the Line or the Buss input source. And with Rupert’s custom transformers at both ends of the signal path, even sources that are "just passing through" will be sonically richer for the journey.

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5033 Vertical

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5033 Vertical

The Portico 5033 Five-Band Equalizer employs Rupert’s custom I/O transformers to serve the high and low shelving filters that bookend the 3 bands of midrange parametric EQ. Even with the EQ bypassed, the unit can still be a line driver that benefits from the transformers to impart a rich character to your source.

At both ends of the audio spectrum, the 5033 utilizes a shelving filter, with a single button for their combined engagement or removal.  Each filter allows for a +/- 12 dB range and a curve of approximately 6dB/octave. If the path is engaged, but no boost or cut is employed, the processor provides a flat response (with some RND character for good measure). With a large boost or cut, the 2nd and 3rd harmonic can be varied relative to the fundamental, while more gentle adjustments allow a fine amount of control over the two frequency bands.

The Low Frequency Shelving Filter is continuously variable from 30 to 300 Hz, while its companion on the high end is variable from 2.5 to 25 kHz. Whether you want to eliminate hum and rumble on the low end or bring in some "air" to the high end, these two filters can solve a myriad of problems.

The 5033 EQ covers the middle range with three bands of parametric equalization. These also have a +/- 12 dB range and offer a true "flat" response when the path is engaged but not boosted or cut. Being parametric, the "Q" or bandwidth can be varied based on your needs, from very narrow for pinpoint audio surgery to very broad for gentler handling of the frequency band. The three midrange bands overlap, with the Low Mids living between 50-400 Hz, the Mids from 330-2500 Hz, and the High Mids from 2000 to 16000 Hz. With plenty of coverage, no frequency will ever escape your control.

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5012 Vertical

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5012 Vertical

The Portico 5012 Twin Channel Mic Pre is just that, but can also act as a line amp. Whichever mode you choose, you’ll employ input and output transformers custom designed by Rupert Neve. The input transformer on the mic pre allows a full +25 dBu signal to be processed at unity gain over the entire audio spectrum without the need for an input pad. In conjunction with the balanced Transformer-Like-Amplifier that sits at the front end of the input, the 5012 mic pre combines the advantages of both a transformer and an electronically balanced input.

From there, the signal passes through a Class A discrete path that provides ultra-quiet operation, while keeping non-harmonic distortion to a bare minimum. Along with 72 dB of gain, the 5012 has controls for Phase, Mute, a sweepable High Pass Filter from 20-250 Hz, and the famous Silk circuit, with the vintage character of Rupert’s classic modules. Turn off the phantom power and even the line amp mode by itself will enhance the audio sent through it, due to the custom transformers. With the 5012 you get not only high quality and low noise, but you also get that most elusive feature of all – sonic character.

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5015

Rupert Neve Designs Shelford 5015

The Portico 5015 Mic Pre/Compressor combines a single channel of the 5012 Mic Preamp with a single channel of the 5043 Compressor/Limiter into one package. The mic pre can be routed to the compressor without patching by using the To Comp button. All the features of the 5012 and 5043 are available in a unit that takes up only one module space.

Other Elements Of The Rupert Neve Designs 5088

Small Group Work

Rupert Neve Designs 5088 Group Channel
Maybe you hated “small group work” in school, but you’ll love working with the Group Channel. Control up to 8 mix groups or 4 stereo stem mixes, each having a transformer-coupled Insert. Featuring Aux Master and Group Master Pan controls, 4 pairs of FX Returns, direct outs and satin-smooth 100mm faders. You can even use the Inserts and FX Returns for an extra 16 summing inputs.

Monitor Your Masters, and Vice Versa

Rupert Neve Designs 5088 Monitor Controller
Yes, Rupert even put transformers on the speaker outputs! Choose up to 6 sources to feed to any of 3 speaker outs. And of course, there are talkback and oscillator controls, stereo level and stereo inserts, (transformer-coupled, naturally) and then the big red knob of anodized aluminum, the control room master level. Use it with caution, but use it with pride!

Set It and Don’t Forget It

Rupert Neve Designs 5088 SwiftMix
If you have a need for best-in-class motorized faders to automate your mixes, then order the optional SwiftMix™ automation. Using DAW control over Ethernet, SwiftMix™ lets the digital robots control your analog tones, so you never have to worry about forgetting a setting again.

Rupert Neve Designs 5088 Console Pricing

8-Channel 5088

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16-Channel 5088

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32-Channel 5088

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48-Channel 5088

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Jeffrey Ehrenberg If you’re interested in getting more information or ordering a Rupert Neve Designs 5088 recording console, contact a Vintage King Audio Consultant via email or by phone at 866.644.0160.