The AMS Neve 8816 is a 16-channel summing mixer featuring the sound of classic Neve consoles of the ’70s, with +15dB gain, level, pan, cut/solo and cue controls per channel, monitor control, talkback, and the unique stereo widening control.
So, you didn’t get that vintage Neve desk you wanted for your birthday, but that’s no reason to hold your breath until you turn Royal Air Force Blue. The AMS Neve 8816 Summing Mixer is well within your reach and features classic Neve transformer-coupled sonics, plus a wealth of functions you’d find on a professional desk. The 8816 has 16 input channels, aux inputs, cue, level, pan, solo, mute controls, and mix insert points. But that’s only a part of the story. It has a monitor section, talkback, headphone outputs, 2-track return, iPod input, and instant recall of settings from Mac and PC via USB. Of special note is the stereo widening control*, a feature of certain ’70s consoles that enabled you to mix “outside the speakers.” The 8816 also has options for a fader pack and digital output card capable of PCM sample rates up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD. Plus, you can cascade units and fader packs for a larger system with multiple outputs.
AMS Neve 8816 Summing Mixer—Just the Facts
- Hand-built, hand-wired 16-channel summing mixer for use in professional computer-based studios
- Classic Neve analog transformer mix bus topology
- Instant Recall of settings stored on PC or Mac via USB
- 16 input channels plus aux additional inputs
- Cue, Level, Pan, Solo, and Mute controls
- Mix Insert points
- Various solo and solo in place functions
- Sum and difference insert with exclusive “Stereo-Width Control”
- Separate Monitor and Cue levels
- Main and Alt speaker outs
- Onboard talkback mic w/talkback input to Cue
- Units can be cascaded for multiple outputs
- 2U rackmount design with special shielded power supply
- 2-track return, plus iPod input
- Headphone outputs on front and back
- Optional digital output card; 44.1kHz to 192kHz, plus DSD
*PAD Tech Note—A feature that all but disappeared from consoles is the width control. Summing a small portion of each channel into the other reduced the width of the stereo image, and was considered desirable by some, since the slightly smaller image would make the image less associated with the speakers, thus enhancing the illusion of acoustic reality. However, in modern times, the common wisdom is that greater isolation between the speakers is required in order to provide a good stereo image. This notion was disproved by the BBC in extensive testing before the days of stereo broadcasting. It was determined that a stereo separation of 20-25dB is all that’s needed to provide the illusion of a full stereo width. Of course, once we all fell in love with hard-panned heavy guitars, the idea was to find a way to de-correlate a mix from the speakers by making it wider, and mixing “outside the speakers” became a highly elusive goal. It was discovered that cross-feeding anti-phase signals would increase the stereo image. In 1972, Mullard Research Laboratories published a famous circuit that provided continuous variation from mono to normal stereo to enhanced-width stereo. The caveat was not to sum more than 24% of the phase-inverted, stereo-flipped mix into the main mix or it would break the stereo image into two halves.
AMS Neve 8816 Summing Mixer—Under the Hood
Hand-built and hand-wired at the Neve factory in Burnley, England, the 8816 allows engineers and producers to mix their music on a true Neve summing mixer. A post-insert mix function can be used for mixing in a separate stem or blending the mix with a special effect.
With four monitor sources, two sets of speakers, independent monitor level control, talkback mic, cue send and headphone outs, the 8816 effectively turns a digital audio workstation to a professional mixing facility. An onboard USB connector allows snapshots of the 8816 to be saved to a PC or Mac and recalled ready for remix.
And of course, there’s the classic, genre-defining Neve sound. The 8816 uses the same transformer mixing topology as the classic 80-Series consoles, with two custom Carnhill transformers on the stereo mix bus output, plus a unique Stereo Width** control as found in professional mastering studios. And what all this means is that the unit delivers the open, punchy mixes for which Neve consoles have long been renowned.
**PAD For the Record—Stereo widening is readily available in plug-in form these days. However, using these plug-ins on a final mix can introduce phase cancellation, so you’ll need to reference your mix in mono. This effect can be easily created in a DAW without using a plug-in. Copy your 2-track master, use the stereo flip function so that left is right and right is left on your copied mix. Then reverse its phase. From there, blend the two mixes together adding small amounts of the copied anti-phase mix as you would a parallel compressed track. You’ll hear the widening effect as you blend the two together. Also, be sure to check your mix in mono. The advantage of this procedure is that you’re not dealing with the reconstruction filters of the plug-in adding word length to your final mix, which could cause overloads in the converters that the L/R meter can’t see. At the end of the day, stereo widening is best left for mastering. However, there are certain effects within the mix that stereo widening can be very, well, effective on. For example, put a widening plug-in on the stereo returns of a reverb, such as the Lexicon 224XL, and it will make the reverb returns wrap around your head.
Digital ADC option card and 8804 Fader Pack
For those requiring digital output, the 8816’s analog-to-digital conversion option supports standard sample rates to 192kHz and direct conversion to DSD (Direct Stream Digital). This Neve-designed ADC has been compared quite favorably to dedicated professional A/D conversion units costing as much or more than the entire 8816 mixer. If sixteen inputs aren’t enough for your mix, multiple 8816 units can be cascaded together via a dedicated 2-track bus. And the unit can be paired with the 8804 Fader Pack, which provides 18 long-throw faders for hands-on control.
8816 Rear-Panel I/O and Controls
- DB-25 Socket (standard Pro Tools and DA88TM connection) balanced at +4dBu for INS
- Main and LS Outputs and 1/4" stereo jacks at -10dBv for Main and Alt (Loudspeaker) outputs
- DB 25 Socket (standard Pro Tools and DA88TM connection) balanced at +4dBu
- DC Power Input: 8 Pin DIN Socket
- Talkback Foot Switch: 1/4" mono jack
- USB: Type B male
- Earth Lift Switch: This will lift the main’s earth connection from the chassis of the unit, allowing for the unit to be connected to a suitable technical earth system and thus avoiding hum from ground loops
- Slave Bus Switch: Allows two 8816 units to be joined together to create a slave and master system expanding the number of inputs. It also automatically sets the unit to be part of the Recall system as the slave or master
What the Pros are Saying about the AMS Neve 8816
In the words of Hugh Robjohns at Sound on Sound Magazine, “The critical issue is what [the 8816] sounds like. The answer is simple: It sounds fabulous and sublime. Its huge headroom and the classic transformer mixing topology endow the mix with an effortlessly silky quality that just screams ‘analog’ at the listener.”
The AMS Neve 8816 is a surprisingly affordable means of upgrading your DAW to professional standards for tracking and mixing with console functionality and classic Neve sound. For more information, call or chat online with your PAD Studio Specialist today.
- Input impedance: (balanced +4dBu) >20k ohm
- Output impedance: (balanced +4dBu) 50 ohm (unbalanced +4dBu) 100
- Headphone jack output impedance loading: More than 60 ohms
- Max input level (balanced): Better than +26dBu
- Max output level (balanced): Better than +26dBu into 600 ohms; better than +14dBu into 600 ohms unbalanced
- 1 Line input to main output: 20Hz to 20kHz +/- 0.5dB; better than -3dB @ 60kHz
- 1 Line input to main output: 50Hz to 20kHz, better than 0.02% (measured at +20dBu into 10kHz with 80k filter)
- No channels routed: Better than -86dBu (20Hz to 20kHz filter)
- 1 channel routed: Better than -85dBu
- 16 channels routed: Better than -80dBu
- Rated voltage: 36V DC
- Rated current: 1.6A max
- Primary protection fuse:
- Operating Voltage: 36V
- Fuse rating and type: T3. 15A anti-surge 20mm x 5mm glass
- Height: 3-1/2" (88 mm)
- Width: 19" (483 mm)
- Depth: 15-3/8" (390 mm)
- Weight: 16 lb. (7 kg)
*All specifications with no processing in circuit