Rupert Neve 542 Tape Emulator

In addition to the 100% analog tape emulation circuitry – great for bringing out 3rd-order harmonics – the Rupert Neve 542 incorporates a soft-clip circuit that tames the harshest sources and enhances 2nd-order harmonics, variable Silk Red & Blue for an infinite variety of transformer tones, and a blend control to dial in in the perfect amount of saturation.

The Rupert Neve 542 Tape Emulator is available to audition in our showrooms.

Rupert Neve 542 Tape Emulator

Transformers Imitating Tape
Unlike digital emulations, the “True Tape” drive circuit works by feeding a custom-designed interstage 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.

What is Silk?
In addition to the tape circuit, the continuously variable Texture control with Silk Red and Silk Blue modes provides a whole other level of control over the harmonic density and tonality of your tracks & mixes. The Silk Red mode accentuates transformer saturation in the high and high-mid frequencies to amplify the vibrant midrange harmonics associated with Rupert’s vintage equipment, while Silk Blue accentuates saturation of the lows and low-mids to add thickness and weight to any source – especially useful for “thin-sounding” tracks or mixes.

Unlike EQ, these Silk & Texture controls saturate the output transformers, and add highly musical harmonics to the source material according to the amount of Texture applied. Drive the Rupert Neve 542 hard, choose your Silk flavor, and crank the Texture knob for a rich, saturated, vintage vibe – or disengage Silk entirely for a more purist, hi-fi tape effect. The choice is yours.

Tape In
Sends the signal through the “True Tape” circuitry, which is affected by the saturation, blend and 15 / 30 IPS controls.

Provides +/– 12dB adjustment of level on incoming signal levels, prior to the tape circuit.

Controls the signal level being sent to the “tape head” circuit. As the saturation level increases, the level on the “record” head rises, and the replay gain is reduced so that the overall output signal level remains more or less constant. In a real tape recorder, you would adjust the record and replay gain controls separately – however, in the Rupert Neve 542 the record and replay gain controls are coupled so that the overall signal level only varies as the “Tape” saturation level changes. As you approach maximum saturation setting, the output signal level will drop due to the effect of extreme saturation and soft clip.

Additionally, to compensate for low frequency loss at low “record head” levels, the saturation knob also controls a low frequency compensation circuit that boosts low frequencies more at low saturation levels, and tapers off at higher levels. This function can be useful on many sources like bass and kick drum to find the balance between a clean, boosted low end (low saturation) and a denser, more saturated low end (high saturation).

15/30 IPS
Selects the pre-emphasis / de-emphasis, record / replay tape characteristic. The 15IPS mode has a significant “head bump” in the low frequencies centered around 60Hz, as well as a more pronounced roll of in the high frequencies. The 30 IPS mode is generally a flatter response through the high-end with a “head bump” around 120Hz.

Controls the mix of pre and post tape signals. This allows the engineer to dial in a subtle amount of the tape effect, to better control the amount of saturation, tone and soft clipping in the post blend signal. As the signal gets more saturated, dialing back the blend can be a great way to impart the feel of tape, while maintaining a similar level of detail and transparency. NOTE: The blend control does not affect the Silk and Texture controls, as that circuitry is located at the physical output of the unit.

Soft Clip
A soft clip engages in the “True Tape” circuitry when the drive meter hits 5 (first yellow LED), and becomes more apparent at higher levels. The soft clip can be used as a way to tame overly transient material like drums, and can be controlled further by using the blend control.

Pushing the Silk button engages the Silk Red circuit, and pushing it a second time introduces Silk Blue circuitry. Silk reduces the negative feedback on the output transformer, adding desirable harmonic content as the texture is increased. Silk Blue mode features more saturation in the lows and low mids, whereas Silk Red accentuates the saturation in the high mids and highs.

Level/Drive Meters
Two eight segment LED bar-graph meters are fitted to the 542 for output level and drive metering. The level meter shows the output level of the Rupert Neve 542 before the Silk circuit, and the drive meter reflects the level on the “record head” when the tape effect is engaged. The soft clip circuit is present at Drive levels above 5.


Measurements with tape circuit disengaged. Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 20 Hz – 22 kHz, Input Terminated 40 Ohm.
Unity Gain: Better than -100 dBV

Measured at +10 dBu, trim at unity.
Main Output: +/- 0.25 dB from 5 Hz to 60 kHz, -2 dB @ 120 kHz

23.25 dBu

@ 1 kHz, +20 dBu output level: Better than 0.002%
@ 20 Hz, +20 dBu output level: 0.07% Typical (2nd and 3rd harmonic)


Measured at Main Output, un-weighted, 20 Hz – 22 kHz, Input Terminated 40 Ohm.
Saturation @ minimum: Better than -100 dBu
Saturation @ maximum: Better than -100 dBu

15 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu: -3 dBu @ 28 kHz
Saturation @ minimum: 0 dBu @ 10 Hz
+5 dBu Peak @ 60 Hz Saturation @ maximum: -3 dBu @ 20 kHz
-3 dBu @ 12.5 Hz
+2.4 dBu Peak @ 60 Hz

30 IPS, Input @ -0 dBu: -3 dBu @ 120 kHz
Saturation @ minimum: -3 dBu @ 10 Hz, +3.15 dBu Peak @ 125 Hz
Saturation @ maximum: -3 dBu @ 100 kHz
-3 dBu @ 12.5 Hz
+1.3 dBu Peak @ 110 Hz

15 IPS
Input @ -0 dBu: 0.4% @ 3 kHz to 1% @ 175 Hz typical Saturation @ minimum: Greater than 1% below 175 Hz typical
Saturation @ maximum: 1% at 6 kHz typical, 0.3% @ 1 kHz to 3% @ 50 Hz typical

30 IPS
Input @ -0 dBu: 1% at 1 kHz typical
Saturation @ minimum: 0.6% @ 400 Hz to 5% @ 20 Hz typical
Saturation @ maximum: 1.5% @ 20 kHz to 0.4% @ 1 kHz typical, 0.4% @ 1 kHz to 2% @ 50 Hz typical

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

User Manual

Download the User Manual in PDF format.


SKU RN542 Categories ,

$1,561 Inc GST

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