In the Fall of 1996, Alan Dickson had a problem. Dickson, owner of Grandmaster Recorders, LTD., a recording studio located smack dab in the heart of Hollywood, California, knew he had great sounding rooms and a Neve console he loved. But something was wrong. The classic console, one of the five Neve 8028 models ever made, had a problem with it that no one in Hollywood or greater Los Angeles could seemingly fix. The final straw occurred when a high profile band deemed the console unusable, and Dickson was forced to find a replacement studio for the band to work in.
A frustrated Dickson sought to find a solution. He’d already tried every supposed “top tech” in town, subsequently spending thousands of dollars and incurring hundreds of hours in downtime and lost work. Next up was approaching Neve itself. Neve actually had their local office within walking distance from the studio. They showed no interest in fixing the vintage gear, but were more than happy to sell him one of their newer, hi-tech consoles. Dickson was not interested.
While telling his friend about his console woes, she suggested that he talk to her husband, David Langford. Langford was one of the original designers and on the board of directors at Neve. One of the real deal. Langford had moved to Los Angeles and was working for the famed Yale Electronics in Hollywood. Dickson paid him a visit.
Langford presented a solution: All Alan needed to do was bring in his friend and co-worker Geoff Tanner over from England. Tanner was well versed in the custom works at Neve, performed console installs, and had maintained many vintage Neve consoles since he had left Neve in late 1985. Dickson made arrangements for Tanner to come to Hollywood immediately. The planets were aligning.
After all the hours that techs spent on the console and all the money spent, what Dickson saw next was truly astonishing. Tanner fixed the unfixable console in a matter of minutes! The Neve was saved. The studio was saved. Three cheers all around.
In the following days, Tanner, Langford, and Dickson spent plenty of time together. Tanner undid all the work that the L.A. techs did, bringing the 8028 back to spec. They reminisced about the old days at Neve and how the classic consoles brought so many people so much joy. Soon, the crew started to think about building a company together. One thing they immediately agreed on was that the product would have the classic Class A discrete sound they loved, but out of the respect for all of their former co-workers at Neve, no direct copies or “clones” would be made. When Neve expressed no interest in designing or manufacturing Class A electronics in the 1980’s, this left Tanner and his friends with design ideas that they felt could improve the legendary preamps like the Neve 1073 on the design room floor. Now Tanner had an option to start up a company with Dickson to bring his ideas to life.
One afternoon, Geoff Tanner, Alan Dickson, and David Langford were walking down Sunset Boulevard. Not only did they need to decide where to eat lunch, but also what were they going to name this new company. Tanner and Langford suggested Phoenix Audio. Phoenix, as in rising from the ashes of Neve, the company they loved and accomplished so much.
After relocating to Los Angeles, Tanner got to work on designing the first product for the newly christened Phoenix Audio. Word quickly spread that a new Neve guru was in town and Tanner suddenly found himself working on the various vintage Neve consoles in town. He also knew how to get parts for consoles where people previously thought there were no parts left. By communicating with his old buddies from the Neve days, Tanner could help others with getting their old consoles to behave like they did when they were new. This took Geoff all over the country and to many well-known studios.
But there was work to be done. By 1999, Tanner was ready to present his first unit for the new company. The GTQ2 dual channel microphone preamplifier was deemed an instant classic. Such a powerful package was rarely seen in the pro audio world. Two channels of classic Class A sound plus one of the most flexible, musical, and useable equalizer in a 1U enclosure.
Many Los Angeles based producers, engineers, and artists got in on the first batches of preamps. Dickson featured it in his studio with his Neve 8028. This enabled the people working in his studio to directly compare the preamp with his console. Clients were impressed. For as long as they could keep up with production, many preamps were sold as soon as a session in the studio concluded. Tanner clearly had a hit on his hands, and Dickson had only intended on being a boutique style company that sold preamps but also helped studios and others get their consoles repaired and parts found.
With the company growing and demand increasing, Tanner and Dickson knew some accommodations had to be made. David Langford decided to retire and Tanner wanted to solely focus on designing and manufacturing pro audio gear with Dickson. As a result, a name change was in order. Dickson and Tanner renamed Phoenix Audio to Aurora Audio. They felt this could show people that Tanner wanted to transcend his past roots and take his designs to new heights and have the ability to introduce new products like the GTC2 Compressor, GTQC Channel Strip, and GTP8 8 Channel Preamp. Geoff Tanner and Aurora Audio use the best of the past to take you into the future and beyond.