Neve CEO

Neve 88M – Bringing large-format brilliance to the project studio

Packing in the very same transformer-balanced tech of the iconic 88RS, The Neve 88M interface manages to fit the power of a two-ton desk into a USB-powered box. We take a deeper look at this powerful interface to learn more about how it incorporates its control room-swallowing parent

Wowing the hordes of gear-hungry attendees of the NAMM show is no easy thing, but Neve’s debut desktop interface – the diminutive 88M certainly turned heads when it was unveiled at this year’s show back in June. Astoundingly packing in the same Marinair transformer-balanced preamps that powered the company’s large-format flagship, the 88RS (as used in Abbey Road, AIR and Capitol Studios), the 88M promised to provide a refreshingly compact route to achieving Neve’s hallowed world-class quality in a small or project studio.

By their very nature, transformer-based preamps eliminate any and all RF interference, and can add up to 70dB of microphone gain, not to mention that all-important coating of a much sought warmth and colour to a chain. This special blend of aural magic is very often the indefinable element that elevates a vocal recording. Neve’s bus-powered 88M contains two of these preamps, faithfully replicating the ones found within the colossal 88RS.

Neve 88RS
An original 88RS, on which the tiny 88M is based

Further to the two analogue inputs on the interface’s front, the 88M also includes ADAT optical I/O at the exterior which allows expansion by up to eight ins/outs. There’s also a balanced insert send and return loop – allowing for the connection of analogue outboard. Let’s put it simply – 88M brings all of this pro level wizardry into an affordable USB 3.0 desktop interface. But just what prompted Neve to branch out, for the first time, into the world of USB desktop interfacing?


The road to the release of the 88M started around half a decade ago, when – after countless requests from customers – Neve began seriously considering how to go about releasing a bespoke microphone preamplifier/interface. “Some of the other popular units just appeared to be the circuit diagram of the components data sheet, but we knew we could make something better, something built from the ground up to be optimal for sound and home recording.” Explains Mark Crabtree, the MD of Neve , “We had a lot to live up to with the 88M, because the 88R microphone preamplifier has probably been used for more legendary recordings over the past 20 years than any other, as the 88RS is the console of choice for the world’s top studios.”

USB connectivity was important, but so was maintaining the 88RS’s beloved sound quality and conversion, without compromise. “The breakthrough came from using USB3/USB-C, which provides a substantial amount of power and is available on most modern computers.” Mark tells us, “For USB-2 users, a simple powered USB hub would stand in for the unpopular power brick”. With this greater flow of power, there was nothing to stop the incorporation of the Marinair transformers into the interface – a major facet of the 88RS sound.

Several design iterations were mulled over before the final product design was locked after the 12th revision. The shiny black metal chassis is ensconced in a Tolex-like material, while the distinctive red of the monitor level and gain knobs of its twin front inputs just scream ‘Neve’. The 88M’s internal circuit boards were upgraded to four-layer to increase performance. While this creation process took a little over two years, the remaining three years were spent guaranteeing that the interface that had been built was able to meet the standards that the team envisioned for it, via a series of rigorous listening tests.

Beyond its authentic sound, the other essential components of the 88M include the professionally balanced insert loops for each of the 88M channels, a really vital feature that Neve’s design team wanted to bring into the home studio environment. “The ability to combine the preamps with external processors such as the 8803 EQ gives the analogue side of the 88M plenty of flexibility for tracking sessions.” Says Crabtree. “On the digital side, we spared no expense in sourcing premium ADC and DAC chipsets to complement the analogue front end. The addition of ADAT I/O allows for expansion in the digital domain, with external units such as the 1073OPX.”


At NAMM 2022, the 88M was finally presented to the world at large “The NAMM launch was extremely successful.” Mark recalls, “We worked with many of our dealers to create pre-launch content and provide ‘stock on the shelf’ so that the early adopters can get their hands on the units straight away. We’re still working through the back-order list, because customer demand is so high. But with each and every machine made in house, we never sacrifice quality for production speed.”

With the 88M, Neve have successfully reconstituted the 88RS’s power into an accessible, authentic-sounding and space-conscious interface, the incredible work of Neve’s designers and engineers has resulted in something that can breathe life into a vocal.

It’s this philosophy, of providing modern producers routes to channel their legacy, that Neve continues to pursue.“Neve’s recent launch of the 8424, a compact console with large console features, plus the OPX 8-channel interface, have been very successful and takes the company into a wider market, including the growing market of home production. We also released the RMX16 in a 500-series rack to reach a wider audience with definitive production tools. The release of the Neve 88M follows this pattern, and we are delighted with the overwhelmingly positive reaction we’re getting from customers worldwide.” Mark says. Fuelled by the past, but with the producer of 2022 in mind, the 88M is certainly among the most characterful, expandable and meticulously-crafted interfaces that money can buy.