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The Story of the Focusrite Studio Console


Active Member
Aug 9, 2019
I got to meet Rupert at AES at Jacob Javits in 1997. He was working for Harmon at the time - a company called Amek where he designed the 500 pound 9098 console - https://www.historyofrecording.com/AMEK_9098i.html

I recall he had a hideous migraine that day. The reason I met him was that I had designed and built this studio:

which used a Rembrandt with Neve preamps in the GAL 10 modules . The story on that link and tracking down the hum issue was probably the reason anyone even cared to talk to this stoopid hippie (me).

I recall at the show all he wanted to talk about was this:
http://www.ajawamnet.com/amnet/index.html He had a feeling that doing telemetry over the internet was gonna be huge... I guess it's called the Internet of Shit now... well my term for it (why the F' do I need my toaster on the internet?)

Billy (the guy's studio I designed) and someone from Amek kept trying to get Rupert back on the audio thing - but he kept asking questions on how it all worked, how we handled the RF and the internet traffic - and biz questions, which I suck at.

About a year later he called - right before the fourth takeover attempt of my IoT startup and told me that engineers typically make bad businessmen :

"... they can get themselves backed into a corner and design themselves out of it... but they never really make any money".

He mentioned two that were good engineers and biz guys - one was Colin Sanders of SSL and the other was a guy that had approached him years ago - - with an idea and asking for some help with companders and Rupert didn't think it was such a good idea - - Ray Dolby.

About 4 years later I had moved to D.C. since the boobs incident happened (don't ask) with the fifth takeover attempt of my IoT thing.

I get a call where Billy and crew want Rupert to help design an analog front end for a digital interface. Since he was still under Harmon (and not real happy about it) he was willing to listen. I recall the guy from some big disty also on the conf call (Mercenary I think).

Rupert had moved to Wimberley, TX by this time and was loving it - "Very sunny ... not dreary like England at all" he mentioned when asked how he likes it.

I asked if he was rebuilding all those old modules from his old consoles - both old original Neve's and Focusrite...

"Why would anyone want to use the old stuff - it's just god-awful... Wayne, you know how far semiconductors and passive have come - I cannot understand why so many people are so enamored with that old stuff..."

That's what he said... Billy mentioned something with an F bomb and he reprimanded him - Rupert is a very proper Englishman with no patience for swearing (I was always on my toes when speaking with him, since I have the vocab of a sailor).

He then asked about the thing I was involved in -the wireless telemetry over the internet; I told him what happened and that I was now working for ex-NSA guys.

He then went on to tell me a story about his dealings with Philips Semi after AMS had bought Neve, how he told his boss that he didn't trust Philips as far as he could throw them uphill ... "but it's your company so be on with it..." So he goes on to tell me how they did the NDA, how they were amazed at how simple his circuits were ("they have to be to keep the noise down") and went away.

Sometime later he mentioned asking Philips for some of these opamps and they mentioned that they had bought a company called Signetics and they would be fabbing them for production. He then went on to mention that he eventually called Signetics and they told him that they were on allocation and he'd have to wait. He recalled his boss at AMS eventually stating that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to give their IP to Philips.

He said he told him, "That's your problem now - you just need to make sure my stock is worth something..."

Swear to dog - this is how the call went down... wish I would have recorded it.

https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/solid-state/62806-5534-audio-amp-11.html :

"Dear Bonsai, AS far as I understood Neve didn't designed the silicon indeed, but the first TDA1034 was based on a Neve op-amp design. The TDA1034 was followed up by the NE5534.

Pretty much is in line with what Rupert told me on that conf call back in the early 2000's...
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