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Equipping Your Home Recording Studio - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Compression: Basic Compression - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

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Why would you want to mix a microphone and an instrument signal in your preamp?

The Rupert Neve Designs Portico 517 preamplifier/DI can blend microphone and instrument signals. Why would you want to do this in the preamp?

If you're not familiar with the API Lunchbox rack, then take a quick diversion. Don't forget to come back!

Master of audio, Rupert Neve, has come out with a preamplifier/DI module that slots right into the Lunchbox rack, just like an API module would.

This unit has several interesting features, which we may come back to in future. But one is the fact that although the Portico 517 has a microphone input and a DI instrument input, and both can be used at the same time, it only has one rear-panel output (which is a feature of the Lunchbox format).

So any competent designer would provide a switch so that you could use the module as a microphone preamplifier or as a DI.

But Rupert Neve isn't just a competent designer. He sits in a throne at the very top of electronic design Valhalla.

So he has provided a control labeled 'blend', by which you can mix the mic and instrument signals.

So what?

Yes, many people would look at this and heave a gigantic sigh of, "So what?"

It's easy to imagine a singer with an acoustic guitar with an internal pickup. This unit can blend them perfectly.

But why would you want to do this in the preamp? You would be denying yourself the opportunity of rebalance later, or panning, or putting any kind of effect on the individual signals.

But that's not how you would use it.

One interesting use for the blend control is to mic up a bass guitar cabinet, and mix the miked sound with the DI signal. Of course there are other ways you can do this, but with the Portico 517 it is very convenient, and you get the Rupert Neve sound!

But you might worry about the delay between the DI signal and the mic. There's no delay in an analog electronic signal, but sound takes a millisecond to travel about 30 centimeters, so there is a delay on the mic.

Fear not however, the Portico 517 has a vari-phase control to correct this. Just twiddle it until the sound is the way you want it.

So off you go and buy yourself a Rupert Neve Designs Portico 517, and an API Lunchbox to put it in.

Oh, and don't forget that the Lunchbox will have another five empty slots, waiting for you to fill them with yet more luvverly gear.

By David Mellor Wednesday January 5, 2011