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Rupert Neve Portico 542

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542

4.4 4.4 out of 5, based on 8 Reviews

500 Series Tape Emulator


25th April 2013

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by hughbob

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Rupert Neve Portico 542

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!

  • 2
12th August 2014

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by LMNproyect

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Rupert Neve Portico 542

Just some words of my experience with this box.
I tried tracking with full 100% tape saturation and 100% blend in vocals and adds a rich density to my vocals. Love it in guitars, brass and drums. When i pass drums loops or midi drums through it , it adds low freq weight , tight and punch to the kick , and make the snare more agressive, kind of a compressor with mojo, also tame the high hi-hats freq and make the sound more balanced, organic.
I work with alot of vst in the digital domain, and this box help me to sound like a record much faster than anything i tried , comp, eq or whatever. If i want to get close to its sound, i will have to add EQ, comp, and tape emulator in the same track and the lows will still sound loose. Its like a magic box thats does alot of thing at the same time.Trasparent Compress , round, harmonics , weight ,glue , and tame high freq in a great way. In the master buss, my vocals doesnt jumps at me anymore with it, and i can add more high freq eq and dont have to worry about , 542 will take care of shrill ssss hisss plastic sounds. Don´t know exactly at all what it does but what it does is really great!!!
The more i use it , the more it surprise me.

Now im beginning to understand why so much love to that tape sound

Hope it helps

im very glad with this buy. Thanks Rupert Neve!!

  • 1
6th May 2015

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by nick8801

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Rupert Neve Portico 542

I've had mine for a few weeks now and I have to say, I don't know if I could record without these now that I have them. The way they round off the higher frequencies is really sweet, and the fatness I get in the mid range is just what the doctor ordered. As a previous reviewer stated, don't be afraid to drive them hard and then use the blend to find the right balance for your track. The tape saturation on it's own is super cool, but the silk is the icing on the cake. Red is really nice for making things sound a little more aggressive, while blue really fattens things up on the bottom and makes for a very smooth top end. All in all it's a versatile tool that can really shape your tracks in a very pleasing way.

  • 1
28th August 2015

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by JamesTinney

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Rupert Neve Portico 542

To add to what previous reviewers have said.

This has that "Yes, yes, yes!!" sound of tape.

I love / loved the sound of tape as a kid, growing up with music all on cassette tape. This unit brings me back there with smooth bass, thick low mids & rolled off highs.

The 542 does a significant amount of compression & a significant amount of EQ. Has the "extra" feature of the silk transformer to add. When maxed out with both silk & tape, it is not subtle.

See the EQ curves from the manual attached, 15ips is adding up to 6db at 60hz, add that to blue silk adding 1.5db to the low end also.

It's a huge improvement on the 5042, which I didn't rate when I played with it.

It's very different to the ubk fatso, that's more like a dirty mashed up tape machine in comparison. The UAD Ampeg, is closer to this in terms of tone & effect; both of which I have & I'm so glad I also have the 542 !!!!

Attached Thumbnails
Rupert Neve Portico 542-542-manual-curves.jpg  
  • 1
19th December 2015

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by Greg Wells

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Rupert Neve Portico 542

I'm currently reprinting all mixes from the last two months through two of these. My engineer and I are blown away.
We have an a gorgeous Mara 1/4 two track that often gets mixes printed to it but the flexibility of this 542 is addictive. The Silk Red alone is worth running mixes through, but the blend knob on the tape sound is a 10/10. Amazing work, Rupert Neve Designs.

  • 3
21st August 2016

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by Onan

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Rupert Neve Portico 542

The 542 gives me exactly the "vintage saturation" sound I crave. I have a 5042 that I got years earlier than my pair of 542's, and the 542's are in their own league. The 5042 rolls off low end; the 542 does not. The 5042 tames the high end in a way I usually like, but is sometimes too much; the 542 has a blend control so you never get more tape effect than you want. But the super fantastic special sauce in the 542 is the silk button. Silk blue gives me the old school sound that's otherwise missing from my otherwise too-clean tracks. Silk red saturates the high end in a way that I vastly prefer over eq as a way to boost the highs. On vocals, I like to run through two 542's in series, with blue silk on the first and red silk on the second.

The only caveat for anyone who's never heard them: the effect never gets harshly distorted. I'm hesitant to say it's "subtle," because it's quite plain to me. But the 542 is not the tool to use for monster crushing.

  • 1
8th September 2016

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by angel72bg

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Rupert Neve Portico 542

All reviews here are really the truth.
Neve 542 is not only tape emulation,it is a compressor,Eq,limiter(soft clipper) in one knob(a few knobs).
It is amazing in every aspect.Magic box.When bypass it your smile goes away.



Now I am big fan of RNDesign.

  • 2
22nd July 2018

Rupert Neve Designs Portico 542 by EisaMo

  • Sound Quality 1 out of 5
  • Ease of use 1 out of 5
  • Features 1 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 1 out of 5
  • Overall: 1
Rupert Neve Portico 542

A failure on pretty much all fronts. First off if you read something like sweetwater's description saying that this has a real "tape-head", that's not true. It actually has a transformer that acts as the tape-head. In-fact, not only are certain companies descriptions of this COMPLETELY different than the official RND website description, but RND uses strange terms like 2nd and 3rd order harmonics or "harmonic ratio"(of what exactly? which amplitudes? what frequencies? etc).

At anyrate, you have four basic functions. The trim knob can act as a gain control, but is usually better off in a negative gain setting where it's less likely to invoke the soft-clip function. Then there's the saturation knob which is supposed to be the main feature. However besides increasing saturation, it also increases the soft-clip function which actively removes the saturation. I actually used some test files with high-z routing, and on max there was literally zero saturation(at least for the given test files). Essentially what you get is: the first third of the knob you get actual saturation but very little transformer tone. The second third of the knob you get some coloration from the transformer and slightly less saturation due to the soft-clip function. The last third of the knob (towards max), you get the most transformer tone but almost zero saturation due to the soft-clip function. !!!So basically the soft-clip function stunts the entire point of the module and only the 2nd third of the knob is useful in anyway!!!.

After that you have a tape IPS switch, where 15 has harsher saturation and 30 (in) has soft more subtle saturation. I found that with high impedance signals, 30 was acceptable, and for low impedance signals you could go with the 15 ips. (again this is a transformer, not a real tape-head).

Then you have the blend function. And even if the blend function has an effect on the tone, 90% of the sound is a EQ boost at 150hz, which gets more pronounced the closer you go to max. so on max setting, you have this huge 150hz boost which makes everything muddy-fied. and if the blend function does in-fact add more of the smooth tape quality, it's so subtle in comparison to the 150hz boost that you basically hear nothing.

The last part is the texture knob and silk button, which comes on other RND gear. On the red setting, there's 2 effects; one is slightly more aggressive saturation (very slight) and the other is a distinct EQ high-shelf boost. The closer you go to max on the texture knob, the more high shelf boost you get. At about 12 o clock, you get more of a low cut/low freq attenuation due to the high shelf boost not being fully engaged yet. On the blue setting, you don't get any EQ effect at all, but rather the closer you go to max, the more of a "dampening" effect you get on the saturation. In my opinion, I would actually call the blue effect the "off" effect since it's actually MORE subtle than when silk is turned off. The last setting is when silk is turned off, and you just get a default sound. RND's website says that you get 3 distinct tones, but in my opinion, you really only get one distinct tone (red), and one dampened tone which is kinda the opposite of distinct.

Overall, for the price and what the ACTUAL functions are, and all the nonsense spouting online that don't match up with the real unit.... it's a dead fish in a barrel. I'll include files for the blend and red silk effects, and also comparing silk off to blue silk. I wanted to include a file that showed the saturation, but I literally can't because on max all the saturation legitimately goes away due to the soft-clip.

And not sure what's with all these great reviews, kinda shows that some people aren't actual engineers : /.

Attached Thumbnails
Rupert Neve Portico 542-effects.png   Rupert Neve Portico 542-silk.png  
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