Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5012 by AndyFromDenver
It's your friendly Andy From Denver (aka Andy Gonzales) reviewing the excellent Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5012.
Home studio enthusiast who records my own music and select friends exclusively. Started on a 4-track cassette in the early 90's and did several albums on tape and have been daw since '05. Band is Marshmallow Coast, past bands Of Montreal, Music Tapes, and too many others to mention all, currently doing remixes etc. under a few aliases.
I have had the white face Portico 5012 for about a year and have logged many hours tracking on various sources. A google search will show the black face or white face Porticos have the same guts, so rest assured if you're perusing the used market.
2 channel pre-amp with very appropriate stepped 6db gain controls for easy stereo matching, +66db gain. Trim control -6 to +6 (not stepped). The why-don't-all-pres-com-with awesome High Pass Filter with on/off 12db/octave slope fully variable from 20 to 250hz. Silk button (so subtle to the average ear) adds just a touch of fur (yes i'm making up new descriptors) if I can even call it that to make a, well, silk-ier track, ultra clean lovers will probably leave off, but the option is great nonetheless.
Rounded out with mute, phase flip and the need-I-even-mention phantom power. Oh yeah, the construction feels very solid and it is all housed in the tidy half rack size.
I do a lot of stereo tracking now mostly synths, samplers, and drum machines. I was previously accomplishing this with 2 LA610s, but as there is no stepped controls it was a huge PITA! You'll need to incorporate a stereo di as the 5012 is xlr only. There is nothing I haven't run through the 5012 on the way to daw that didn't benefit noticeably from the awesome sound and transformers and HPF. I generally have a feel for what will need some low cut and the HPF is so effective, it's a nice way to eq on the way in to avoid daw eq and rerouting. unfortunately the HPF is not stepped so if you're at all worried about the stereo image/balance just leave off or put at extreme settings. The transformers add clean (meaning no buzzing or hum unlike cheap pres on budget ad/da) beef and weight to your sound which will ensure your tracks are hi-fi and present. The silk button will just soo subtly make a crisp digital synth a little smoother, it took me a few minutes of on/off to finally hear what it was doing, and honestly I usually leave it off.
Ok vocals. I use a Neumann tlm127 (older discontinued mic) or, yes, the gearslutz loved/hated Shure sm7b. If you have a competent vocalist and go straight to daw, no compressor, you will have a huge smile on your face from the 5012. Vocals have weight and presence and again HPF on the way in is just too handy. This is definitely an application for the silk button too, multiple stacks and takes will have a smooth blended quality.
For the gain hungry sm7b you have the +66 with the additional trim of +6 for a whopping +72! I've not used with a ribbon, but it will likely be plenty of gain. Also, at the max of the gain the pre is still very internally quiet, which is a must imo for hi-fi recording.
Strings. Of course works very well for acoustic guitars, but really shined on a cello. I assisted tracking a friends project (soundtrack for a major movie release) we did lots of cello stacking with the tlm127 and a se reflexion filter to kill my crappy room. She was blown away by the richness and beef. we also ran my moog through it for synth sounds. All was mixed @ lucas arts studio in CA (unfortunately I was not privvy) and my friend texted that my tracks held their own and were easy to mix. I had to rush to name my crappy studio for credit, I can't even remember what I called it!!!
Well that's it! To summarize and add, it rules! I use it for a clean pre and the La610 for a color pre. I honestly don't know what other stuff my little studio needs (well as any gearluster knows that's a silly statement...)
One little con is I wish it had a variable impedance and di like the la610 and at the price one might expect that. But maybe that would be cramming too much into it's awesome little half rack package.
As an aside, I lost the power adapter and Tristan from RND was soo helpful in recommending an equivalent and offered to send a new one, so a huge plus on the awesome customer service!
Thanks for reading!