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With independent transformer-coupled mic preamp and compressor-limiter sections identical to those found in the 5012 and 5043 modules, the fully analogue Portico 5015 combines the outstanding sound quality expected from a Rupert Neve design with the total flexibility required by modern recording studios. Available in both vertical and horizontal configurations, when used with the 5033 five-band EQ it is possible to create a Portico channel strip with preamplification, dynamics processing and equalization. As an additional routing option, the mic pre output may be routed directly to the compressor section without patching.
The Microphone Preamplifier
The microphone input is balanced but not floating, using a Transformer-Like-Amplifier (T.L.A.) configuration with a toroidal Common Mode Rejection Low Pass Filter that excludes frequencies above 150 kHz. The T.L.A. is followed by an actual input transformer designed by Mr. Neve that permits a full +25 dBu input signal to be handled at unity gain without an input pad over the whole audio spectrum. This innovative solution combines the advantages of both an electronically-balanced and true transformer input.
The Compressor Section
The 5015’s compressor has fully variable threshold, ratio, attack, release and makeup gain with two selectable VCA modes that provide for exceptional control of any source material. To control gain, a V.C.A. or Voltage Controlled Amplifier (or Attenuator) is used. There are many types of voltage control devices, including tubes, discrete and integrated solid state circuits and naturally non-linear devices, each one having its own characteristic behavior that reflects sonically on the final performance, providing a character or signature that can be musically attractive (or not!). The Portico 5043 makes use of a very accurate, low noise, low distortion V.C.A. having essentially no signature of its own.
Low Noise, Low Distortion Operation
Much care was given in designing the 5015 to produce as little noise and non-harmonic distortion as possible. Carefully implemented signal paths and Class A operation are a large part of the 5015′s sweet, whisper-quiet performance. All Portico modules use input and output transformers and almost entirely discrete component amplifiers.
Incredibly small amounts of musically dissonant odd harmonics can have a disastrous effect on the sound quality. Extraneous noise or interference that finds its way into a signal path seriously impairs performance of the whole chain. Transformers are the ideal solution to solve this problem. The sweet and silky sound of Mr. Neve’s classic designs was achieved with big transistors and large high quality transformers. Rupert Neve Designs’ Portico modules achieve similar quality today without the bulk or the cost.