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Microphone Month

Apple Flat Screen iMacs

Apple’s brand spanking new Flat Screen iMacs have arrived at our doors, and we’ve got three words for you: faster, better, and more. Behind its eye-catching design is the fastest and most powerful iMac yet, with a PowerPC G4 processor that lets you fly through computer-based audio applications. An easily-adjustable 15-inch LCD flat screen gives you plenty of room for sorting through multiple windows. Of course, you get loads of space and memory, plenty of connectivity, and all the software extras like iTunes, iMovie 2, etc. This is one of the best times to put an iMac at the center of your computer-based audio workstation.

Today in inSync we are following through on a promise that was made a couple of weeks ago (see the inSync from 3/5/02). Basically your inSync editor offered to pick one question from a number of submissions by inSync readers for Rupert Neve during his visit here. Mr. Neve was here this week and his visit proved to be very, very interesting on a number of levels. We received a number of interesting questions for him, but I picked the one I thought was the most compelling and that he would most effectively be able to answer.

The question was submitted by Kerry Smith and is as follows:

“You’ve created so many great input sections, for Neve, Shep, Focusrite, and now Amek. Has your design style/goal changed over the years, or have you (in your estimation) continuously been “moving forward” with each design in pursuit of a sonic “Holy Grail” that you have in your mind? Or has each design been to fulfill a different purpose?”

Before we move on the Mr. Neve’s answer we need a minor disclaimer. I never asked his permission ahead of time to do this, nor am I taking the time to get him to approve the text as it is being printed here. As such I have decided to paraphrase (not quote) most of it, but this is what he said.

Rupert’s goal from the beginning was to develop the tools to allow the listener to experience the sound of the elements of a recording without the recording or playback system getting in the way. He told us this has always been and continues to be his primary design philosophy, and the changes in specific designs over the years are more a function of improvements in the available technology than a shift in design goals. His belief is that “perfect sound” is perhaps an unattainable ideal, but that by continually striving to get there, we will continue to improve.

One of Mr. Neve’s contentions is that there is material well above the “standard” 20Hz – 20kHz range of human hearing that contributes to our perception of a given sound. When asked about the current state of recording technology, Rupert said that “with 192kHz systems, we are starting to get to a place where we are able to capture” that supersonic material, thus better replicating the sound of the original source. He is quick to point out, however, that digital recording systems “are just a storage medium”, and that “as long as we continue to speak in the analog domain and perceive sound in the analog domain, analog technology will necessarily continue to have a place in the recording environments of today and tomorrow.”

Many of you may be aware that we were also taking submissions for questions on the Sweetwater Forums. Those questions became part of a formal interview that we did and will be published in due time on our website.

During the course of the day (particularly at lunch) Mr. Neve had quite a bit to say about a great many things. One that is probably worth mentioning right here is his sincere desire to see us all continue to demand excellence in our audio, not only in terms of technical achievement, but content as well. In his words he squarely put the responsibility on our (meaning us engineers, producers, and yes, us as a sales organization) shoulders to educate and inform the public about quality. Quality is something you customers of Sweetwater know we take very seriously so it’s safe to say Rupert’s feelings resonated with all of us and we hope you readers as well. As we move into the future we need to keep in mind how far we’ve come and not allow ourselves to take our eyes off the ball.

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