Rupert Neve Designs 542
As a 500 Series follow-up to the Portico 5042, the 542 delivers the same thick, musical simulation of tape while drastically enhancing creative control via a number of new features. In addition to the the “true tape” circuitry – great for bringing out 3rd-order harmonics – 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”, whichin 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.
Getting the Most Out of the 542
While in the olden days, tape’s non-linearity was generally looked upon as more of a curse than a “feature”, the advent of digital systems that operate in a completely linear fashion has made many appreciate the quirks of non-linear audio processing. Unlike linear designs, non-linear devices require the user to actively experiment with gain staging to find the “sweet spot” of the circuit. Although this requires a small amount of effort on part of the engineer, if used properly, the effect can add a dynamic aspect to performances that can enhance the impact of a song.
The non-linearity in the 542’s “True Tape” circuitry and Saturation control necessitate taking note of both drive and input levels. How levels are staged into the 542’s tape circuit can significantly impact tone, depending on the position of the saturation control and the drive level on the tape circuit. As saturation is increased, low frequency compensation is decreased, and at a drive level of 5 the soft clipper enters the circuit. Finding the best balance point between low frequency response, total harmonic distortion, and desired soft clipping require playing with a combination of the saturation, trim and blend controls, and may also include using dynamics processing and proper gain staging before the 542.
As a rough guide, we recommend starting with an input signal from around 2-10dBu and applying saturation, 15 / 30 IPS, Silk, and blend to taste. However, it always behooves the engineer to experiment with the balance between the pre-tape signal level and the level of the saturation control to find the best results for each source.
To get a better idea of what is happening at different saturation and “Tape Head” levels, look through the frequency response and THD by frequency response graphs in the Technical Specifications section at the end of the manual.
Also, like a real tape machine, the flux loops in the “True Tape” circuitry can pick up signals from strong nearby magnetic fields (The most likely sources are nearby power supplies, power amplifiers and computer monitors). Although we have shielded both the unit as a whole and the tape circuit to minimize stray inductance, if you have issues with hum when engaging the tape circuit, try moving the 542 to other spots away from magnetic field radiators until the hum subsides.
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.
Designed for 500 Series by Mr. Rupert Neve
Rupert Neve: “While creating functional 500 Series modules is relatively simple, designing those modules to equal their non-500 series counterparts with the current, voltage and space restraints is quite challenging. In creating our Portico 500 Series Modules, we experimented with a number of different transformer and circuit designs to achieve the same presence and sweetness found in the Portico Series of modules. The result of these efforts is that outside of the slightly lowered headroom, our 500 series modules are nearly indistinguishable from standard Portico Series modules, and are perfectly suited for studios of the highest-caliber.”
The Portico 542 consists of a line driving amplifier having transformer balanced inputs and outputs. The sonic quality of these amplifiers is such that by providing galvanic isolation, simple single-sided circuit topology and freedom from grounding problems, they are capable of enhancing the sonic quality of many signal sources, especially those of digital origin. The sonic “signature” is one of extreme purity and the image is consistent with that of Rupert Neve’s original designs of 35-40 years ago.
All prices on our website include 23% Portuguese VAT and are also displayed VAT free. If you’re buying from outside of Portugal and have a VAT registered business within the EU, you can buy directly on our store without VAT. Just add the product to your cart and go to the checkout page and there will be an option for you to enter and validate your VAT ID. If it's accepted through our system your order will be completed and fulfilled without VAT. Please note, if you use an express checkout or buy it now button the option to buy without VAT isn't available, you need to add the product to cart first and use the standard checkout procedure.
We can ship worldwide but our online store is configured to only handle orders to EU (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden) and Schengen countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland). If you want us to ship to a country outside this list just get and touch with us so we can quote you and let you know how much it would be to fulfil such order.
For all orders over €400 will automatically receive free shipping during checkout, if it's for one of mainland EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia). No need to add a promo code or voucher, it's all done automatically!
We have access to all the products of the brands we represent, however not all of them are listed. Please get in touch and let us know what you’re looking for, we can pretty much guarantee the best price in Europe.
We use UPS so you can expect 1 - 3 business days to get it after we ship (1-2 days if we’re shipping to continental Portugal). If the item you bought is in stock, we usually ship the same day (for orders placed until 11AM) or the next day at the latest. If we’re out of stock, we can usually get the products in 2-5 working days. Please get in touch if you have a specific deadline you have to meet before ordering. In some cases we can ship a demo unit to get you to work if the manufacturer has a longer lead time.
Regarding plugin sales in our online store, those are processed automatically so you'll receive your code immediately after your purchase!
Bank transfer is preferred, but we take all major credit cards, PayPal, or cash if you’re picking up the gear at our shop. We don’t accept debit cards or checks at the moment. If you’re looking for financing for your purchase get in touch as we might be able to help you with that.
According to EU law, we accept returns for all the products purchased through our online store during the next 14 days after receiving the goods, provided that the packaging is in it’s original condition. If this is not the case, we reserve the right to refuse the return or charge a re-stocking fee.
All returns need to be pre-approved by us and must be complete including accessories and documentation with original packaging.
You are responsible for return shipping costs including shipping insurance which is recommended to protect your items, as you are liable for items damaged during return shipment. Additionally, if you received free shipping on the order when we fulfilled it, we will be deducting the value of this shipping cost from your refund/discount.
We do not accept returns of the following goods: (1) Software and computers; (2) All custom or special order items; (3) Magnetic tape or other recording medium; (4) Personal use items, such as headphones or windscreens; (5) Studio furniture, racks and chairs.
After inspection of the returned goods, and providing that they meet the conditions stated above, we will issue a refund or give you credit for another purchase.
Everything we sell is covered by the manufacture's warranty, which is a least 1 year. Special conditions may apply.
Yes, we do. Please contact us to know if the software you’re looking for has an Education licence available.
We don’t through this website, but please check our Reverb store. There you can find B-Stock and Ex-Demo gear, as well as other stuff (used and new) from brands we don’t usually represent.
At Arda we try to work with only the best brands in the business, because we know how important is reliability in a professional environment. That being said, sometimes shit happens. If you run into some issue with anything you bought from us, please get in touch and we’ll try our best to take care of it ASAP. We might even be able to provide you with some sort of replacement gear in order to minimize downtime.