SPL 9526 Vitalizer Stereo Mk 2 #5


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The enhancer market was created by Aphex in the 1970s with the launch of their first product, the Aphex Aural Exciter. Originally charged for on a per-minute basis, the Aural Exciter was the first attempt at enhancing audio by adding harmonics to the signal. It wasn’t exactly a new idea – guitarists with valve amps had been doing it for years – but this was the first rack unit aimed at mix enhancement

SPL came up with new ways to approach the idea and their Vitalizer offers more than just high-end enhancement. The Bass control gives Soft or Tight bottom end via a variable control. It’s an effect that’s hard to describe but is powerful and extremely effective

The Model 9526 “Stereo Vitalizer Mk 2” is one of the later, improved Vitalizer models with balanced XLR connectors as well as jack sockets. It has a more comprehensive set of controls than previous versions, with an input Drive control plus clip indicator, Bass Sound & Compression controls, Mid – High Tune and Process controls and a separate High EQ with Intensity control. The excellent Stereo Expander has a depth control and a dedicated bypass switch
The front panel controls are

  • Drive
  • Bass Sound
  • Bass Compression
  • Mid-Hi Tune
  • Process
  • High EQ
  • Intensity
  • Stereo Expander effect control
  • Stereo Expander bypass switch
  • Vitalizer bypass switch

It’s hard to describe the effect of the Vitalizer so I’ll quote straight from Sound on Sound:

“Produces that characteristic effect of making every part of the spectrum seem clearer and more solid.”

“Turning the Bass knob clockwise from the centre to the Hard position results in a tight, punchy bass lift, whereas turning it towards Soft brings in a very deep, less focused bass end capable of shaking bass drivers from their mountings.

“Making its first appearance outside the Tube Vitalizer is the Bass Compression control, a one-knob, automatic compressor designed to act only on the side-chain portion of the bass-enhancement signal”

“The bass enhancement is sensational on dance tracks, though it is equally useful for beefing up wimpy bass guitar, bass synth or kick-drum sounds in pop mixes. Having the ability to compress the bass enhancement is a useful facility, as it allows you to add more bass energy without allowing the overall level to get out of hand”

I approached the Vitalizer at first with a large degree of scepticism, asking how a black box can “improve” the sound in a way that can’t be done with traditional tools? In practice it works rather brilliantly, enabling huge changes to be made to any signal that passes through it. I could see it being a great asset in a studio rack for a variety of sources, particularly including loops and drums. I don’t think I’d use it on a mix but am sure that many will

It still surprises me how deep an effect it can produce without sounding unpleasant. By contrast with the Aphex, which rapidly sounds screechy and unlistenable, the Vitalizer is in another league. And, unlike the early Aphex models, it offers low-frequency enhancement as well. The stereo expander is remarkably effective and can push sounds right to the edges of the stereo image

It’s worth noting that SPL produces extremely high-end equipment used by some of the top mastering studios. Their approach is to apply technology to come up with new ways of solving problems. All the SPL products I’ve used have impressed me with their sound quality and I respect the fact that they don’t make “Me Too” products that copy other manufacturers

Photos show the Vitalizer for sale

Analogue processor with balanced audio inputs & outputs via XLR connectors and jack sockets. Operating level is 0 dB. Power supply is via a standard IEC power connector and voltage is switchable between 110 and 220 Volts. UK, Euro or US power cable supplied on request

1U device suitable for mounting in a standard 19" rack. Built-in power supply with IEC mains connector. UK or EU mains cable supplied on request

Owners manual


Sound on Sound Review



In excellent used condition with almost no marks or rack rash. Tested & working 100%. Photos show the Vitalizer for sale