Bill Sgambati has installed 8 channels of Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5042 “True Tape” emulation and line driver at his Infinitum Productions facility in New York’s Hudson Valley. Although the studio maintains four tape machines, the Portico 5042 units offer an economical way for artists on a budget to duplicate the euphonious effects of tape when recording directly into the digital audio workstation.
“I purchased the 5042s for sessions where people don’t want to pay extra for the time and expense of tape,” comments Sgambati, who operates the home-based project studio when not working full-time as an engineer. The all-analog Portico 5042 provides a remarkable simulation of true tape sound through the inclusion of genuine tape drive circuitry. He adds, “If something can give us the same sound as tape going into the workstation, then it’s basically a cost- and a time-saver for the artist.”
The temporary suspension of professional tape manufacturing in early 2005 was a wake-up call to those segments of the recording industry that still rely on the medium. Offering an economic alternative, the 2-channel Portico 5042 Line Amp/Tape FX unit’s emulation circuit provides the nostalgic rounding and compression usually only achieved by the use of tape, which also serves to offset the harshness often found in digital recordings.
Infinitum Productions houses classic MCI 2-inch/24-track and 1/2-inch/2-track plus Ampex 2-inch/16 track and 1-inch/8-track machines, as well as a vintage Sphere Eclipse A analog console, and additionally utilizes SAW Studio multitrack recording software running on two Pentium IV machines linked together. “I normally track to tape then dump it into the workstation,” reports Sgambati. “Eighty percent of the time I mix right in the box, but when the mixes are really large they just sound better when I stem them and bring them into the console.”
For those on a budget, the Portico 5042 Line Amp/Tape FX units offer an alternative to what can be a costly exercise, as he elaborates: “There are sessions that need to be done quickly and people don’t want to spend the time. I normally run 24 tracks at 30 ips, and that costs $200 for 15 minutes. It takes longer to set up the tape and to calibrate everything. Then there are the tracking and rewind times, and after that’s all done, there’s the dump time to get it into the workstation. It’s all extra time and cost, so it’s great if we have something that can closely emulate the sound of tape.”
Word of mouth has brought plenty of projects through Infinitum Productions, which Sgambati built with the assistance of his brother, Steven. “He is also the musician that I work with most of the time, recording original material with our band, Scam Batty. We’re also in a Beatles tribute band, the Remnants,” he reveals.
“We just tracked vocals and acoustic guitars using the Portico 5042’s with Dallas Fisher, a blues artist, and we’re going to build on those. We’re also involved with the lead guitarist, JP, with the Dallas Fisher project, who we’ve known for many years, in a retro ’60s/’80s pop band that’s like the Knack meets the Beatles, called the Roadents. I also work with Junkyard Smith, a band that I’m involved with that does country music parodies. Then, there’s an aggressive alternative band, Fallen Innocence, who I believe are on the verge of a record contract.”
During the past two decades, Mr. Rupert Neve, revered for his vintage mixing console designs, put his audio design talents to work for a number of manufacturers under the ARN Consultants LLC moniker, including Amek, Legendary Audio Masterpiece Mastering, Summit Audio and Taylor Guitars. Now trading as Rupert Neve Designs, Inc., the company manufactures products embodying the principles of very high musical quality that have become synonymous with Mr. Rupert Neve’s name over the years.
Portico is a trademark of Rupert Neve Designs, Inc.
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Tel: (323) 665-2455
Rupert Neve Designs
PO Box 1969
Wimberley, TX 78676
Tel: (512) 847-3013
Fax: (512) 847-8869