Khaliq-O-Vision Employs Portico II: Channel on New Michael Jackson Album

Grammy Award-winning engineer and mixer Khaliq Glover, also known as Khaliq-O-Vision, has been using the Rupert Neve Designs Portico II Channel during overdub and mixing sessions for the first posthumous collection of Michael Jackson songs. Khaliq has been working alongside producer Teddy Riley to complete tracks for the album of previously unreleased material, which is due for release before Christmas 2010 from Sony Music Entertainment.

The Portico II is a self-powered 2U channel module incorporating a fully featured mic preamplifier, 4-band EQ, compressor-limiter, “Texture” control and level metering that together offer users boundless creative possibilities. For Khaliq, it has made a strong first impression: “This box is absolutely awesome; it’s my new secret weapon. Even something simple like an SM57 or 58 running through this baby sounds like a completely different type of microphone; it adds serious character. And if you’ve got a high-end microphone, it’s really amazing.”

One of the final overdub sessions for the project involved Orianthi, the Australian guitarist who had been rehearsing with Jackson for the This Is It tour prior to his untimely death. The guitarist was recorded using a Royer R-121 ribbon microphone through the Portico II alongside a Shure SM57 into a vintage Neve 1073 module. “Royer mics sound amazing on guitar anyway,” Khaliq says, “but the Portico II Channel really dialed it in. We didn’t have to use a lot of anything, but the compression and the EQ really set her guitar right where it needed to be in the track, dynamically and tonally.”

The Portico II can make a big difference to a track with only minimal adjustment of the controls, comments Khaliq: “I tried the compressor on several different things, and tried it versus plug-ins. Sometimes with plug-ins you have to really push and turn them up to 10 dB of gain before you hear something that’s acceptable. You don’t have to do a whole lot on any section of the Portico II channel to get something that really fits in perfectly.”

According to Khaliq, the Portico II Channel Strip’s Texture control, which is combined with switchable Silk modes, is a favorite feature of the unit and was especially useful on the sessions. The continuously variable control allows the user to fine-tune the negative feedback on the output transformer and adjust the frequency response to more closely resemble Mr. Rupert Neve’s vintage designs.

The compressor section also came in handy, says Khaliq. “I tried it on several different things, and re-recorded some tracks through it.” Although the album’s track listing has not been announced, Khaliq reports that some of the more recent songs required additional overdubs, which he recorded using the Portico II module. “There’s a lot of material, and different songs needed different levels of work,” he explains, noting, for example, “Paulhino da Costa came in and put some percussion on.”

Glover has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry during nearly 30 years in the business, including Prince, Herbie Hancock, Justin Timberlake, Marcus Miller, Jermaine Jackson, Donna Summer, Kenny Rogers, Jeffrey Osborne, and many others. The new Michael Jackson album completes a circle for Glover, who worked as an engineer on the original recording sessions in 1985 for “We Are the World,” which was written and performed by Jackson with Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder.

As Khaliq observes, life doesn’t get much better: “I’m working with super-producer Teddy Riley; Teddy is the second most successful producer with Michael Jackson after Quincy Jones. And Michael Jackson is the most successful artist in the history of the world. So I’m extremely lucky.”

Owned by Rupert and Evelyn Neve, Rupert Neve Designs Inc. was founded on passion, experience and a desire to build products embodying the highest musical quality. In continuing his legacy as a pioneer in audio circuit design, Mr. Rupert Neve is currently
focusing his talents on creating further innovative analogue solutions to the issues facing the modern recording engineer.