542 – 500 Series Tape Emulator

The ultimate “color box”. As a 500-series follow-up to the Portico 5042, the 542 delivers the same thick, musical simulation of tape while drastically enhancing creative control via a number of new features. In addition to the the “true tape” circuitry – great for bringing out 3rd-order harmonics – the 542 incorporates a soft-clip circuit that tames the harshest sources and enhances 2nd-order harmonics, a variable and versatile Silk/Texture circuit for three transformer tones in one, and a wet/dry control to blend in the perfect amount of saturation.



Unlike digital emulations, the “True Tape” drive circuit works by feeding a custom-designed transformer acting as a “record head”, which in turn is coupled to a correctly equalized replay amplifier. As the voltage rises on the “record head”, saturation increases, and a soft clip circuit engages at higher levels to round off peak transients.

The sound of the tape circuit can be further modified with selectable 15 / 30 IPS modes and a pre/post-tape blend control. In addition to the tape circuit, the 542 also has the variable Silk & Texture circuitry found in the Portico II series of modules, which allows the engineer to fine-tune the harmonic ratio and tonality on the output transformer.

Line Amp Specifications (Measurements with tape circuit disengaged)
Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 20Hz-22kHz, Input Terminated 40 Ohms.
Unity Gain Better than -100dBu

Frequency Response
Measured at +10dBu, trim at unity.

Main Output +/- 0.25dB from 5Hz to 60Khz
-2dB @ 120KHz

Maximum Output Level 23.25dBu

Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise:
@ 1kHz, +20dBu output level Better than 0.0025%
@ 20Hz, +20dBu output level 0.07% Typical (2nd and 3rd harmonic)

Tape FX Specifications
Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 20Hz-22kHz, Input Terminated 40 Ohms.

Saturation @ minimum Better than -100dBu
Saturation @ maximum Better than -100dBu

Frequency Response:
15 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu -3dBu @ 28kHz
Saturation @ minimum 0dBu @ 10Hz
+5dBu Peak @ 60Hz

Saturation @ maximum -3dBu @ 20kHz
-3dBu @ 12.5Hz
+2.4dBu Peak @ 60Hz

30 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu -3dBu @ 120kHz
Saturation @ minimum -3dBu @ 10Hz +3.15dBu Peak @ 125Hz

Saturation @ maximum -3dBu @ 100kHz
-3dBu @ 12.5Hz
+1.3dBu Peak @ 110Hz

Total Harmonic Distortion and Noise
Refer to sweeps on page10
15 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu 0.4% @ 3kHz to 1% @ 175Hz typical

Saturation @ minimum Greater than 1% below 175Hz typical

Saturation @ maximum 1% at 6kHz typical
0.3% @ 1kHz to 3% @ 50Hz typical

30 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu 1% at 1kHz typical

Saturation @ minimum 0.6% @ 400Hz 5% @ 20Hz typical

Saturation @ maximum 1.5% @ 20kHz to 0.4% @ 1kHz typical
0.4% @ 1kHz to 2 %@ 50Hz typical

Power requirements:
Supplied by 500 series rack with 110-125 mA @ +/- 16V DC