By Drew Robertson
Rupert Neve Designs Shelford Channel
The search for the perfect sound is something that unites both artists and engineers alike . For those of us on the engineering side of things , that sound comes largely in part from our path of signal flow , the heart of which is the channel strip or preamp we ’ re using to capture our sounds . In the world of professional recording Rupert Neve is a name that represents one of those highly sought after sounds that everybody wants . Mr . Neve has produced a litany of outboard gear that captures some of his best designs and the Shelford Channel represents more than 40 years of iterative evolution and I ’ m excited to see what the hype is all about .
Features and Build The Rupert Neve Designs Shelford Channel is a solidly built piece of kit that is the culmination of some of Mr . Neve ’ s best design ideas over the last half-century . The 1u unit is composed of an all-metal chassis and has been divided into four distinct sections : Preamp controls , a unique three-band inductor EQ , a custom diode bridge compressor and the output section , which includes the colour saturation controls . Each section has been expertly assembled with the exceptional fit and finish you would expect from a Rupert Neve Designs product . The control pots are all constructed of machined metal and feature exceptional tactile feedback so there ’ s no double when you ’ ve made an adjustment . The button controls likewise have a fantastic feel to them , with strong springs and crip positive retention for the selectable features and smooth operation for the cyclable saturation feature . The rear of the unit is clean and straightforward with mic and line inputs , a stereo link out so that you may run two units in parallel , a separate compressor sidechain input and two line outs with one being full range and the other set -6dB to reduce risk of clipping without compromising the harmonic content .
Sound and Electronics As with any audio product the real magic is what is under the hood and the Shelford Channel has some truly magical electronics . The input transformer and accompanying class-A circuitry is a truly unique work of art and produces a sound that is unmistakably Rupert Neve Designs . Without processing I found the preamp to be punchy and expansive in typical Rupert Neve Designs fashion with a satisfying edge to the sound when you really drive the preamp . The DI input also contains the same circuit that can be found in Rupert Neve ’ s Designs ' RNDI active transformer DI boxes and sounds fantastic on guitars and bass .
The inductor EQ is a cherry-picked blend of Rupert Neve ’ s best designs . The low band shares roots with the vintage 1064 and with its silky smooth without being muddy or cloudy . The low band is subtle , yet powerful enough that it can be great to help control and tame the low end as well as enhance it .
The midband is based on the classic 1073 design and has a sweet yet powerful colour to it and with a variable Q you don ’ t have to fret about problem frequencies . I found it helped my vocals pop to the front of the mix and gave my guitars that extra sweet sparkle .
The High band is a custom hybrid design that marries older styler inductor circuitry with more modern capacitor-based designs that can only be found in the Shelford channel . The result is a vintage sound with greater control and can help add a lot of air to your sound and give you that expansive feel should you want it . Like the EQ section , the compressor module also shares its lineage with a variety of vintage Rupert Neve designs , but it owes much of its history to the classic 2254 . Unlike more common VCA and FET based compressors the diode bridge design offers a lot of rich harmonic enhancement that can help a variety of sources really stand out in the mix . It ’ s easy to get too much of a good thing with a such a circuit and thus Rupert Neve Designs went to great lengths to ensure the diode bridge found in the Shelford channel was up to the task in the modern era and I can happily say it delivers .
The Silk saturation module is the final stop in the processing chain , and it can do some absolutely magical things to your sound when used right . Silk comes to you in two flavours , either Red or Blue . Red mode enhances the highs and high mids of your sound source while Blue mode adds character to your low mids and lows . Red mode can best be described as sparkle or sheen while Blue mode adds thickness or weight to the sound . With the texture control knob , you can really be subtle with the saturation and dial things in just right . Overall , I really like the sound of the Rupert Neve Designs Shelford Channel and am impressed with the power and presence of the sounds I was able to capture with it .
Conclusion The Rupert Neve Designs Shelford channel Represents 50 years of incredible sound and engineering knowledge . The Shelford Channel is a master class in “ best-of-class ” design and is an absolute must for any engineer looking to add to their armoury of sounds . Rupert Neve Designs took the time to get each stage of the channel strip just right and it shows as it brings all the classic Rupert Neve Designs power , clarity and texture in a single compact channel strip that won ’ t disappoint you .
Drew Robertson is an audio engineer , live sound tech and educator based out of London , ON . He can be reached at RobertsonAudioPost @ protonmail . com .
24 PROFESSIONAL SOUND