By Frank Wells
Wimberley, TX (May 25, 2005)--The first product to be released by the new manufacturing venture of Mr. Rupert Neve is ready for debut. After 15 years of consulting for others, the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5012 duo mic pre is the first product bearing his own brand. The products are being built by a recently expanded staff at a new facility near Austin, TX.
Neve told Pro Sound News that the new designs are a "departure" from the more purist approach he recently employed in designs for another manufacturer, those designs having featured "incredibly low" distortion and noise, but "didn't really catch on." Elements associated with some of Neve's more popular designs--single-sided amplifier designs using custom transformers for coupling, minimal negative feedback, short signal paths--are the building blocks for Portico.
He explained, "We came 'round full circle and said, 'OK, we'll allow a certain amount of second harmonic,' totally eliminating any vestige of crossover distortion, and it starts to sound very sweet." With a discrete input stage, and "the same kind of output transformer topology which I used way, way back," and some modification for performance improvement, the result is a hybrid retro/modern design. "It is interesting," said Neve, "after all these years that we've come back to the some of the baselines, and the things that actually sound sweet and musical."
The 5012 is a dual-channel microphone preamplifier that incorporates a "To Buss" control for use with later modules as a summing bus or to create a headphone mix, while the front-panel "Silk" switch is said to yield a familiar analog warmth. According to Neve, the effect is to make digital recordings "sound distinctly non-digital." Gain control is via a rotary switch, in 6 dB steps, with a continuously adjustable ±6 dB trim control. A sweepable HPF, switchable phantom power and Mute round out the feature set. Two 5012s can be combined in a single 1R enclosure.
As the Portico family expands, the 5012 duo mic pre will be joined by EQ, filter, dynamics, routing, mix and monitor modules. One unique module will offer tape-saturation emulation, based on a circuit Neve used years ago when he was building tape machine electronics. Built around a tape machine-like audio path employing a current fed inductor, with several parameter adjustments, Neve says the result offers "exactly the same characteristics" that a tape machine would have, "without the noise." The circuit is currently employed in Billy Stull's Legendary Audio Masterpiece analog mastering and processing system. "People who've heard it," Neve said of the tape-emulation processor, "want some more of it."
The first five products in the Portico line are scheduled to be released by the end of August. The Portico name suggests entryway, and the product line is just that--the first and most economical of three product families planned by Rupert Neve Designs.
Rupert Neve Designs
By Frank Wells