Here is a post I put up over on the Balance Blog with a potted history of old Neve mixing consoles:
I found some information from Geoff Tanner about the history of some of the classic Neve consoles, like the beautiful 8014 below. So I took the liberty of illustrating his words with some more pictures from his website
Quote from Geoff Tanner (c)2002:
"The 8014 is another very popular console with 1073’s, this time 16 channels and 4 bus with 8 track monitoring. Early consoles had four VU meters and later models used eight. As with the BCM10, the 1272 line amps were mounted on the front of the console with their function silk screened on the front panel and a front panel mounted level control fitted. A good guide is that 80*4 consoles were generally four bus, and the 8014 was superseded by the later 20 channel 8034 and rarer 8024 consoles
Then came the 8 bus consoles 8016, 8016A, 8026, 8026A and 8036. . . so the clue is that 80*6 is obviously an 8 busser! The 8016’s were rather like a expanded 8014 and most of these desks used 1900 (or derivative) switching units
The 8026 range were a little radical as they used 3401 + 3402 line amplifiers which were 32mm wide and used externally mounted VT22543 transformers. These transformers were mounted on hinge down rear panels and Lord help anyone undoing the thumbscrews without prior knowledge of the weight of those panels. . . they were HEAVY !The 3401 & 2 line amps were replaced by the 3405 with its internally mount LO1173 output transformer and I believe that the 8036 went back to 45mm 1272 line amplifiers
Next came the 16 bussers which used coding 80*8. . . e.g. 8028, 38, 48, 58,68, and 88. The 8028 used 1073 or 1084 equalisers with 1903 16 bus routing units and 1906 Aux routing units. The 8028 was the last all Class A console Neve produced as the others all had a sniff of AB somewhere in their circuit paths! I would add that we can convert any 80 series console to all Class A with our adapter kit. The 8028 was 24 channel but the later 38 and 48 could be 28 or 32 channels (+Rev returns). The 8038 used a 12″ 1064 or 1081 equaliser with a 12″ 1948 routing module which combined the functions of the 8028’s 1903 and 6 modules into one module. My recollection (and this is going back over twenty years!) as to the quickest way of identifying the 8038 from the similar 8048 was that the 48 had its monitor section consisting of a “square” of up to four 8T matrix panels (32T) whereas the 8038 had just three panels in a straight line, offering 24T monitoring
The 8058, 68 and 88 consoles were a major change as they were the first inline monitor Neve consoles and the first consoles to be produced to the New Appearance Design (NAD). This involved using Extra Dark Sea Gray paint instead of RAF Blue Gray, lower case letters instead of upper case, custom charcoal grey knobs instead of the Marconi predecessors, custom extruded aluminum fader panels instead of standard P & G, and custom extruded aluminum cladding instead of the wood cladding of previous consoles. Pretty radical! The 58 was 28 channel, the 68 was 32 channel, and the 88 was 40 channel. The 8078 was the first (non custom) console to have 24 busses. Plenty of custom consoles before it were built as 24 bus, the earliest one I know of being A88 Wessex Sound’s unique console (C1970) which now resides at Paramount Studios in Hollywood and is currently for sale. The 8078 was the last 45mm standard console produced by Neve and are usually snapped up as soon as they come up for sale. A rare derivative, the 8098, used a separate monitor section in an “L” shaped extension to the main console frame
The 8100 series of centrally assigned and microprocessor based consoles came about because of a series of beer and sandwich lunch time meetings to which all Neve engineers were invited. The promise of free beer was a good incentive to attend these design meetings for the console code named N78. I sometimes wonder, with hindsight, whether they would have been better designed with a little more input from the prospective customers! The consoles can be easily identified with the following clues; 8108 consoles, available in a number of different sizes, were mainly blue. The successor, 8128, was mainly extra dark sea grey, and the 82** economy versions (e.g. 8232) used conventional keyboard switches instead of the expensive touch panels of the other two models
The 8000 range of consoles were intended for music recording whereas the 5000 range were designed for broadcast. There is always at least one exception to a sensible rule and, as an example, the 8301 10 channel 2 bus “Kelso” console with its simple two band eq could hardly be described as a “music console”!
To summarize Neve broadcast consoles, 5000 series used 45mm modules and were usually 20 channel 4 bus or whatever. 5300 series were usually old appearance RAF Blue grey and used 35mm (and sometimes 32mm) modules. 5310 consoles were similar but used NAD extra dark sea grey. As an example, the 5302 was very similar, electrically, to the 5312 and both were 12 channel 2 O/P. The 5305 4 bus console used a “flat” profile similar to a BCM10 whereas its successor the 5315 had a stepped meter section. Both could be provided as 12, 24 or 36channel. There was also a lovely 8 bus version, the 5316, and I built a lovely 36 channel custom 5316 for Scottish TV which is now in a studio in the USA
54 consoles were based on a 5422 Suitcase console which, in turn, were based on a range of suitcase consoles sold to the SABC. These were easily distinguished by their built in telephone handsets. 5432 was an 8 channel “drop through” version and the 5442 was a tabletop version. Later versions had more channels and / or busses e.g. 5455, 5465
This list is far from complete but should help Neve aficionados identify the true model number of their consoles. Neve did not make that many “standard” consoles (until they foolishly disbanded the custom section!) so folk should be proud of their “50 or 80 series” classic custom Neve consoles!"