well I know this is a topic of hot debate...my own thoughts :
From my experiences so far - I would have to say that the AMS Neve 'rebuilds' are pretty damn close to my impression of an 'original' Neve (1081, 1073) etc. - but this raises the age old question of what exactly qualifies as the 'definitive' 1073
or 1081 etc. ?
All 1073s are not equal...
Chances are , if you buy an 'original' '73, '81 etc. - the unit will have had X number of tech (and not so tech!) hands at it w/ soldering irons (and other things! - glue guns were the worst I've seen!) - possibly non-original transformers, numerous component replacements, possibly mod'd, etc. etc. - hence one persons's racked unit may well end up w/ audible differences to another.
All Neve products are not equal...
Recent years have seen an almost absurd emphasis placed on anything carrying the Neve logo/name - or quoted as 'Neve-inspired' 'Modelled on Neve' etc.. Certainly the semi-mythical status of this name is reflected in the prices that both original and 'cloned' equipment commands. It's important to remember that Neve manufactured many diff. consoles / modules over a considerable number of years. The idea that the name alone should be indicative of how a unit sounds is ridiculous.
Essentially a lot of fuss is being made over a *name* - surely what matters is how a particular unit sounds? Who cares if it has a Neve logo on it, or uses St Ives transformers rather than a later Marinaire-branded tx (seriously - you try telling the difference in a blind test - it's a tough one)
Ultimately we shouldn't even really care what is inside the unit (radioactive and/or hazardous materials withstanding) - if it works and sounds good - use it.
All clones are not equal...
To be fair I don't think I've ever seen a product which advertises itself as being 100% identical to a Neve 1073
, 1081 (with the exception of the AMS-Neve reissues). Most products in the 'clone' market are built to sound similar to or are 'inspired by' classic Neve units - with varying degrees of success.
Personally I think it's the differences that can make a product interesting rather than the similarities - they are what makes a particular unit unique rather than 'identical to xxx'.
Really - the only people who could understandably be concerned with whether a product bears the 'Neve' name or not is AMS Neve - for the rest of us, we'll just carry on using our ears - same as we've always done.