The 542 is a follow-up to the Portico 5042, delivering the same thick and musical simulation of tape in a 500-series module. In addition to the the “true tape” circuitry, the 542 incorporates a soft-clip circuit that tames the harshest sources and enhances 2nd-order harmonics, a variable and versatile Silk/Texture circuit for three transformer tones in one, and a wet/dry control to blend in the perfect amount of saturation.
The Portico 542’s “True Tape” emulation circuit provides the nostalgic rounding and compression usually only achieved by the use of tape, and can offset the harshness often found in digital recordings. Unlike digital emulations, the “True Tape” drive circuit works by feeding a tiny magnetic “record head”, which-in turn is coupled to a correctly equalized, replay amplifier. As the voltage rises on the “record head”, saturation increases, and a soft clip circuit engages at higher levels to round off peak transients. The sound of the tape circuit can be further modified with selectable 15 / 30 IPS modes and a pre/post-tape blend control. In addition to the tape circuit, the 542 also has the variable Silk & Texture circuitry found in the Portico II series of modules, which allows the engineer to fine-tune the harmonic ratio and tonality on the output transformer.
Both Silk modes are modified and fine tuned by the “Texture” control. By manipulating the Texture control, the amount of Silk can be changed from essentially absent, to roughly four times the amount of coloration found in Silk from the original Portico Series. With Silk / Texture engaged, the distortion characteristic and harmonic content of the unit are very reminiscent of many of Rupert’s vintage class-A designs. These controls add another realm of tonal control to the 542, and should be explored creatively in conjunction with the “True Tape” for best effect.