"Once I knew that my mentor and friend, legendary platinum producer Bruce Swedien, would be involved in the mixing of the new Gjallarhorn album, there was a very special concern to record the group as well as possible," explains Martin Kantola, who is a celebrated developer of high-end sound equipment, speakers and studio microphones. With the band recording all of the basic tracks live in the studio with few, if any, overdubs, there was also a need for 16 channels of high quality preamplification.
Kantola reports that the initial Portico 5012 evaluation unit exceeded his expectations. "Recording a solo vocal usually provides some very useful impressions of a unit. For the first time ever, my reference preamp—a custom-built, transformerless, all-tube unit—was not the clear number one preference anymore.
Together with my U 47 from 1953 the vocal sound was just exquisite, having exactly the right balance of highs and body without sacrificing any detail or depth. There was also something in the sound that I instantly recognized from many of my favorite recordings, but have never been able to achieve before—a certain velvety quality and inviting musical tone."
Jenny Wilhelms, lead vocalist of Gjallarhorn and CEO of Vindauga Music, is also impressed by the performance of the Portico 5012. "The sound of these preamps is a rare combination of clarity and softness," she says.
But the real test came during the recording sessions with Gjallarhorn’s many acoustic instruments, comments Kantola. "The setup consisted of microphones ranging from vintage ribbons and tube microphones to popular modern dynamics and miniature condensers. The Porticos were able to deal with them all, even the low-level ribbons. It was like having my whole microphone collection upgraded at once!"
He continues, "The Porticos are very gentle to the original sound of both acoustic instruments and microphones, which is an important feature because a strong coloration on all channels would most likely ruin the total mix. Instead, I noticed that these pre-amps actually make mixing the material easier, since instruments don’t seem to stick out as much as before, and the individual elements can also take much more equalization without sounding harsh or thin. Elements in the mix can be both very loud and soft and still maintain a distinctive, pleasant character."
Such a significant investment demanded a first class sound, but Kantola notes that, when he began his search, he was wary of the exaggerated cost of original vintage and even cloned models. "At the same time, I was not too fond of the unexciting, lifeless sound that many modern designs have. The units also needed to have the versatility to be used as the main preamp for all other projects in the studio to make the investment sensible. The Portico 5012 seemed like a perfect candidate for the application."
The Portico 5012’s certainly justify the investment, observes Kantola, who also notes that, on a musical level, the contribution of the Porticos is anything but subtle. "A dissonant ring has clearly disappeared from the tone of the instruments, and the sustain is suddenly longer. The most striking effect is how the different frequency components of the sound seem to arrive with correct timing, which gives each track a welcome authority and body. I will not hesitate to say that it sounds like better instruments played by better musicians."
Midas Studios supports both analog and digital recording and, with its Studio A, reportedly offers the first and only studio offering calibrated true full-range 5.1 monitoring and mixing in western Finland. The full service music and media facility also incorporates a photographic studio and graphic services, in addition to research and development of audio equipment, including Midas Studios Loudspeakers.
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, 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.
All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.
Tel: (323) 665-2455
Rupert Neve Designs
PO Box 1969
Wimberley, TX 78676
Tel: (512) 847-3013
Fax: (512) 847-8869