Rupert Neve Designs Portico II: Master Buss Procesor
Could this be the end-all of stereo buss processing? This reviewer thinks you will be at first amazed, and shortly after will become overwhelmed with the urge to keep anyone else from figuring out that this "magic box" exists.
Here is the opening statement from Rupert Neve Designs about this product:
"Based around the high voltage, discrete and class-A signal paths made famous in the 5088 Mixer and the Portico II: Channel, the Portico II Master Buss Processor is a creative tool that redefines the boundaries and limitations of traditional 2-channel compression and limiting."
And I am inclined to agree 110%...
The first thing you will notice is that by simply patching in this device your sound has already improved; This is because of the custom wound input and output transformers. The second thing that comes from this experience is the massive amount of headroom provided by the 72V topology, borrowed from the 5088 console and instantiated throughout the entire Portico II range of products. Additionally, the MBP also incorporates mastering grade detented pots for full recall-ability and easy notation.
The beginning stage of the processor is the S.F.E. or Stereo Field Editor; This section uses a MS processing approach to give you individual control over the depth (mid) and width (side) levels of the program material as well as a band pass filters that allow you to boost or cut these values within a specified frequency range. The curves for the EQ are broad and general purpose, i suggest checking the manual for the exact specs before using them. There is also a switch to feed the compressor with the Mid (depth) signal, going to channel A, and the Side (width) signal, going to channel B. This way each section may be treated independently for dynamic adjustment.
The Compressor section is both dual mono and stereo capable, providing both feed-forward and feedback types, as well as peak or RMS detection circuits and make up gain (up to 20db). As if this were not enough flexibility there is also a mix control (titled "Blend") provided for parallel compression, both a internal side chain (set to 250hz) as well as inserts for external side chain processing, and finally a continuously variable control for Silk and Silk+ modes which emulate the best characteristics of transformer distortion in two distinct flavors. Silk is focused on the lower frequency range, and Silk+ is focused on the upper frequency range although both types are full range effective.
The final component to this massive all-encompassing desert-island masterpiece is a finely tuned single knob operating brick wall limiter. Here is the description from the manufacturer: "...this limiter is extremely intelligent...Our new Adaptive Release Technology is behind this...Using a blend of release time constants, this limiter will simultaneously respond quickly to transient material... and slowly to more sluggish signals." There is also a soft clip section that catches any peaks that may have slipped past the knee of the limiter. The limiter and soft clipper are both switched out of the signal path when the limiter knob is fully clockwise.
With on board MS processing including band pass filters, various forms of compression, parallel processing, internal and external side chain detection, frequency range tailored variable saturation, and advanced brick wall limiting I ask you: Could you even imagine a more complete, flexible and sophisticated device for the duties of master buss processing? All for under $4,000 and from the one of the most legendary names in the industry I think this device will have to be pried from my cold dead hands before I will ever go another session without its use. Thank you Mr. Neve for paving the way to a brighter, smarter future and for conceiving this most ultimate of audio witchery.