Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by hughbob
I've had the 542 for 3 weeks now and I love it. I've recorded electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, vocals, synth and drum overheads. Everything I track through it needs less processing come mix time, and combines with other instruments better.
The red and blue silk modes go from hardly noticeable to obvious saturation, but never sound distorted. They both affect different frequencies, although I seem to prefer the blue mode as it rounds off the highs a little more.
The tape head saturation can be very subtle to extreme, if you really abuse it. Don't be afraid to clip those drive meters and then keep on pushing for some gritty fun. Used responsibly the tape saturation always sounds good to my ear. The 15 and 30 ips settings are as you would expect. 30 ips is the subtler of the two, I generally prefer the 15 ips setting as it sounds more "vintage".
The 542 nicely tames the high frequencies. I found it to reduce sibilance in vocals and make acoustic guitar tracks smoother and less spiky. Bass sounds great driven hard into the 542, fret noise is reduced and the extra saturation and compression thicken it up and make it sound better on small speakers.
The 542 gives me a satisfying tape effect. Having said that, i don't have much experience recording to tape. I use some of the well known tape plugins and will continue to do so. There's a mix knob but i just leave it at 100% wet. Give me the sound of tape, the mix knob is for sissies.
I'd recommend the 542 instead of a compressor for tracking (although it performs well when used with one). It has a soft limiter, plus you get three different types of saturation. The 542 is one of those boxes that makes almost everything sound better and is very easy to use. I love early reggae and funk and this box gets me closer than ever to those sounds. Highly recommended!