Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5211
The Rupert Neve Designs 5211 is a 2-channel microphone preamp that borrows elements from the brand's first preamp, the classic 5012 Duo, and adds some new key features. With two channels of gain up to 72 dB, a sweepable high-pass filter, and variable Silk control for saturation of the dual-tap transformers, the new 5211 2 Channel Mic Pre from Rupert Neve Designs can bring you tonal options from crystal clarity to a vintage vibe.
The 5211 differs by having a transformerless input; the design incorporates a Transformer-Like-Amplifier (T.L.A.) that allows all the nuances of the original microphone signal to enter the circuit. The input also acts as a high-quality line input with 9 kOhms impedance, when the +48 V phantom power is disengaged. Phase inversion and a high-pass filter from 20 - 250 Hz complete the input controls.
A major evolution from the 5012 sound is the addition of a variable Silk control. This control saturates the Class-A output stage to dial in a zone of tone reminiscent of Rupert Neve’s vintage designs. Applying Silk reduces negative feedback and saturates the dual-tap output transformer, while also tweaking the frequency spectrum. This imparts a very musical character to the signal, and also allows some experimenting with the total effect required, as Silk is further enhanced the closer it is driven to the limits of its headroom.
The Silk control is one of the hallmarks of the 5211 design, but it would be nothing without its better half: the dual-tap output transformer used in the famous Shelford Channel. This transformer has two taps, providing both full-headroom (+26 dBu) and -6 dB outputs. This allows the operator to overdrive the unit into full-on vintage transformer saturation, with no fear of clipping any devices later in the signal path. Even if the 5211 is the front end of a digital chain, your A/D converters are in good hands! For convenience, that output is displayed by an eight-LED meter ranging from -10 dBu to +22 dBu.