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SPL Vitalizer MK2-T Stereo
[SPL-VMK2TS] Tube processor with a very classy sound
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SPL Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T

Modell 9739

  • The MK2-T, model 9739, represents the tube version of the Stereo Vitalizer MK2, model 9526.
    The MK2-T employs 12 AX 7 LPS-tubes for the mid-hi processing and in the Stereo Expander circuitry, where the summed signal is processed. Coil filtering stages complement ideally the vintage tube sound characterisitcs.
    Great emphasis was laid on a harmonic tuning of the control parameters for high precision processings.

    The MK2-T fits into the range of Vitalizer products between the standard Stereo Vitalizer MK2 and the high-end mastering version, the Tube Vitalizer (model 9530).

    The Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T is a program equaliser concept which makes use of scientific psychoacoustic technology to process audio signals. The Vitalizer technology has been constantly improved over the past years.

    The 'MK2-T' utilises two 12 AX 7 LPS-double triode tubes. One of them is used within the Mid-Hi Tune filter and gives the mid frequencies even more accurate transparency with a soft, unobtrusive sound. The second tube is used within the Stereo Expander. The stereo image not only gains more width but also more depth, transparency and clarity because of the pleasant tube harmonics.
    The treble range is reworked with Coil filtering stages which focus on achieving a smooth, silky sound pattern. High frequencies are livened up extremely noiseless without them sounding hard or aggressive.

    As with all Vitalizer models you can choose between a dry, percussive bass (Tight) or a punchy, soft and very deep sound character (Soft). The bass is accentuated without any risk of emphasising the lower mid frequencies unnaturally. An easy to use compressor complements the bass section allowing the correction of level change due to bass processing.
    The Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T is especially designed to serve the needs in recording, mastering, cutting and post production work. Used on complete mixes or being inserted into the subgroups to treat specific parts of the mix, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T will perform the same task as those esoteric and costly equalisers often used for audio sweetening but with far greater tonal flexibility and at a much lower cost.




    1. In Recording Studios, the most popular application is to process a final mix, either while mixing or during post-production prior to cutting. Insert your Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T into the master-inserts of your console or right in between a playback and a recording unit. Although inserting the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T into the master inserts is the most popular application, we advise to insert the unit into the sub-groups, so that specific elements of the mix are being treated with the Vitalizer process.

    When patching the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T into the sub-groups or master-breaks of the console, note if the master breaks are switched 'pre' or 'post' fader. They should best be switched 'pre' fader, so that a variation of the master fader does not affect the input level of the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T. The effect level and the treated sound will then remain unchanged. It is important to use full-range monitors to assess the effect of any bass processing in and out of circuit in order to appreciate just how much processing has been added; the brain soon acclimates to changes in timbre and it is easy to overdo it! If in doubt, refer frequently to known recordings played through the same monitor system.

    Do not connect the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T between master-outputs and amplifier. The major disadvantage of this connection is the varying input sensitivity with each fader movement.


    2. Processing of existing master tapes is another popular stereo application, both during post-production and when reprocessing archive material for CD release. If a single-ended noise reduction system is used to clean up the original, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T can make a significant contribution in restoring the high end detail that invariably suffers during such treatment. In many cases, the restored master can be made to sound appreciably better than the original.


    3. In the field of electronic music, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T can be used to add new range and depth to samplers and synthesizers and also to further process existing effects such as delay and reverberation. Even budget instruments and processors with limited audio bandwidths can be made sound full-bodied and detailed.

    If you want to use a compressor in the master chain after the console, use your Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T after the compressor. You can then be sure that the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T will receive a level-corrected signal which helps to operate even more precise. If you use the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T before the compressor negative side-effects such as pumping could be more audible.


    4. Tape duplication is often made at high speed resulting in a deterioration of the high frequency spectrum of the copies. By processing the output from the source machine, additional brightness can be added to compensate for deficiencies in the copying system. It may also be necessary to modify the bass end as many high speed systems fail to reproduce the bass end of the spectrum faithfully. In both areas, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T is both effective and simple to set up. Real-time duplication is getting more and more popular. In that application the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T offers the same advantages as described under "Recording Studio" and "Video & Film Post Production".


    5. The Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T is perfectly suited to the production of radio jingles, commercials, and station idents. Because of the psychoacoustic nature of the processing, the treated signal will appear louder, closer, brighter and more intelligible than whatever was played beforehand, thus creating a powerful impact.

    In commercial radio, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T can be used to process the entire on-air signal helping the radio station stand out from the competition. The integral surround processor can also be used to create a wider stereo spread which is important when most of the audience are listening on systems with a narrow speaker geometry such as is the case with in-car sound and portable stereo music systems.


    6. In live performance or in club installations, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T is a powerful ally in maintaining speech intelligibility under difficult conditions. It is also of great benefit in systems designed to play recorded music because the illusion of loudness can be maintained at lower absolute SPLs. This could be particularly beneficial with the introduction of new noise level legislation. On the subjective side, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T helps produce a detailed, tight sound, even from indifferent speaker systems giving an improvement in perceived audio quality.

    The Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T can be of great value when mixing under time-pressure. You can almost leave the onboard EQs flat and create the FOH sound with the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T in the master inserts.


    7. As in other areas, the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T can be used to sharpen and enrichen dialogue, even when the microphone placement is less than optimum as is often the case when filming due to the need to keep the mic out of shot. Music soundtracks benefit in the ways already described for audio-only applications and the fact that the Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T is so quick to set up can save a lot of wasted time spent tuning multi-band equalisers.

    Time-compressed audio can also be treated to restore the lack of timbre so often caused by such intensive processing. This is particularly valid in the case of vocal narratives as even a relatively small amount of time-compression or expansion can dramatically compromise the sound quality.


    On the post production work on Spike Lee´s "Malcom X" the voice of Denzel Washington playing Malcolm X was treated with the Vitalizer for dramatical reasons:

    "We wanted to make sure that there was a dramatic quality difference between the voice-over and the sync dialog," Fleischman adds, offering a mixer´s view. "You try to find a balance between two center mics then balance that with whatever you´re using from left-right pair. We then treated it with the SPL Vitalizer, a psychoacoustic equalizer. It brings a lot more presence to the upper end of the spectrum and a very deep low end so that the voice sounds full." (Mix Magazine)

    There can be few devices available in so many different versions as the SPL Vitalizer. This series of analogue enhancers combines EQ and a number of largely secret processes, with the aim of making your music sound bigger, brighter, fuller and generally more appealing. First there was the Classic, which is still in production and is considered by many to be the definitive Vitalizer. Then there was a dedicated stereo model, a cheaper version with jack connectors, a Mk2 version, the hugely expensive Tube Vitalizer, and now the Mk2-T. Forgive me if I've missed any out, but even as a confirmed Vitalizer fan I lose count! The styling also varies from model to model -- the high-end Tube version sports a gold front panel, the Mk2 has a black anodised panel with blue veins (rather like a Swiss cheese that's just been shot by a Dalek), and the Classic has a fairly conventional-looking screened panel.


    Inside The Box

    The newcomer to the series is the Mk2-T, and it's definitely worth a look, as it combines many of the features of the esoteric Tube Vitalizer in a much less expensive, dedicated stereo format. Like the Tube Vitalizer, the Mk2-T has a gold panel, with a mesh window through which can be glimpsed the glowing filament of a valve. The package is 1U high, and there's a choice of both balanced jack and balanced XLR connectors on the rear panel.
    The Mk2-T is really a valve-enhanced version of the regular Mk2: there are two dual triodes inside the case, one of which is used in the Mid/High filter, ostensibly to sweeten up the mid-range, with the other being used in the stereo width expander circuit, where its sonic attributes affect the whole of the signal being processed. At the HF end, the circuitry employs LC (coil and capacitor) networks because of the subjectively smooth sound of this type of filter.
    Unlike most other enhancers, Vitalizers are designed to affect the whole of the audio spectrum -- they are not just high-end enhancers with a bass boost control to balance up the low end. A single control selects between a tight, punchy bass enhancement or a very deep, rounded effect, and some clever dynamic circuitry prevents this bass enhancement from spilling over into the mid-range. One feature that will be familiar to those who've used the Tube Vitalizer or the Mk2 is a stage of compression on the bass end that treats only the enhanced component of the signal. This can be useful for increasing the average bass level without allowing the peak levels to rise significantly. Additional controls address how the mid-range and high end are processed.


    The enhancement effect produced by the Mk2-T is level dependent, so the first control, Drive, sets the input gain to match signals between -20dB and +6dB in amplitude. The more Drive you apply, the more intense is the effect of processing -- but keep an eye on the clip LED to make sure you don't apply too much.
    Next comes the Bass Sound knob, which has a centre null position and is moved anti-clockwise to increase the Soft bass effect or clockwise to increase the Tight bass effect. The Bass Compression control affects only the added LF component, so it doesn't influence the sound of the high end all. A blue LED shows when compression is taking place.
    The Mid/High Tune control affects the mid-range enhancement and also the signal being fed to the high LC-EQ. Turning the control tunes the Mid/High filter from 1kHz to 22kHz, though I find that frequencies of between 3kHz and 10kHz work best for most material. The process involves amplitude-dependent phase shift coupled with a rise in level above the set frequency. (The shape of the frequency response curve is apparently derived from the well-known Fletcher Munsen loudness curves, which describe how the human hearing system responds to different sound levels.) When material that is already too sharp-sounding is being processed, the Mid/High control can be set to a higher frequency (generally 10kHz or above), in which case the offending frequencies are below the filter frequency and are damped as the Process control setting is increased.
    The Process control governs the overall contribution of the enhanced bass plus high/mid components and simultaneously damps the mid-range to produce the loudness curve mentioned earlier. To take care of the high end of the spectrum there's the LC equaliser, which has two controls: LC-EQ, for setting the filter frequency (2kHz to 20kHz); and Intensity, for setting the amount of EQ boost. The idea behind using the coil mentioned earlier is to recreate the sound of vintage studio equipment, where the saturation effects of coils and audio transformers often played a greater part than the valves in shaping the sound. In broad terms, the LC equaliser is used to add presence and 'air' to a mix and, unlike the bass and mid controls, it still has an effect when the Process control is turned fully down. That's because this filter uses a mix of the original signal and the mid/high filtered signal as its source.
    The final control is for Stereo Width, and it operates on a very simple and well-known principle. Some of the left-channel signal is inverted in phase and fed into the right channel, while some of the right-channel signal is reversed in phase and fed into the left channel. This has the effect of widening the stereo image beyond the speakers, but you have to be careful not to go too far, otherwise centre sounds start to drop in level. Though simple, this process has the advantage of being both effective and fully mono compatible, and the designers claim that using a valve in this stage adds depth to the sound, while reducing the sharpness of off-centre sounds. The Active bypass switch takes the enhancement and stereo expander out of circuit, but the stereo expander can be used on its own if required, simply by making the effect active and then setting the Process and Intensity controls to minimum.


    Using the Mk2-T

    I don't know why, but I found the Mk2-T much easier to set up than the big Tube Vitalizer, and having one set of stereo controls rather than two mono sets doesn't really account for the difference. Adjusting the Mk2-T is more like setting up an equaliser -- but the results combine the best attributes of EQ with dynamic enhancement. For example, the low-end power you can get from using the bass control never ceases to amaze me -- it's hard to believe the unit is not synthesizing sub-bass, but apparently that's not the way it works. The bass can be made huge, deep, powerful or punchy, but, unlike conventional equalisers, the process doesn't trash the lower mid-range and never feels out of control. The compressor is also very useful, as it holds the peak level down while still enabling the user to add a lot of subjective bass energy to a mix.
    The Mid/High Tune control can produce quite a bright sound when set lower than 2kHz, especially with high Drive and Process control settings. This can be useful for adding bite to soggy drum recordings, but for processing complex mixes it's probably better to use it higher up the range, so that it actually smooths out the mid frequencies a little. Then the LC-EQ control can be used at a higher frequency still, to add the 'air' back into the top end. The result is the kind of clarity and definition that most equalisers don't deliver – at least, not the sort you and I can afford. What's more, the setting up process is far more intuitive than adjusting a parametric equaliser.
    Though the stereo width expander is pretty basic, it also works extremely well, and the results rival far more complicated systems that may have serious mono compatibility problems.



    I really like the Mk2-T. It's easy to use, it delivers a very classy sound, and it works on whole mixes as well as on individual tracks or submixes. Of course, it is dedicated to stereo use, so it's not as flexible as the Classic or Tube when it comes to working with individual mono sources, but it's a useful thing to have patched into a stereo subgroup so that you can send it anything that needs enhancing. I don't know exactly what contribution the valves or coil filters make to the overall sound and what's due to other circuit tweaks, but however the result is achieved, I've no complaints. The Mk2-T is useful on virtually every type of music, from pop to new age to dance, and in the latter application the floor-crumbling bass it can produce is almost reason enough to buy it before you even listen to what else it can do. It's not the cheapest enhancer on the market, but it could be the best value.



    SPL Users

    You are not alone.

    Achim Lanzendorf
    FOH freelancer, Germany

    " SPL units do what they should. And you do it fast!"

    "My favorite is the Transient Designer 4. No compressor can substitute this effect, which even allows to outwit some shortcomings of some musicians. I use it permanently with kick drums, snares and bass guitars."

    Achim Lanzendorf also uses Channel One, Kultube, Qure and Vitalizer MK2-T.

    Barry Rudolph

    "With all SPL gear, I get results completely fresh and really unobtainable in no other way, no matter how many pieces of gear I strap together!"

    Barry Rudolph uses both the Transient Designer 4 and Vitalizer MK2-T when tracking and mixing. Barry's long engineering career includes albums by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rod Stewart and Hall and Oates, Keith Moon, Robbie Nevil, BB Mak, and The Corrs. He has worked with producers ranging from Tom Dowd, Steve Cropper, Oliver Leiber, David Gamson to Stanley Clarke, Rick Rubin and James Last.

    "I like the Transient Designer 4 mostly for drums and creating special effects for R&B/Hip-Hop records while the Vitalizer MK2-T always works great for clearing up vocals" says Rudolph.

    Besides engineering, Barry likes to write articles and reviews about engineering and new equipment for many magazines and web sites.

    Chris Heil
    recording & mixing engineer

    "I use my two Transient Designer 4 on every percussive instrument."

    Vitalizer MK2-T "I used the MK2-T for the first time in a mix session, with tons of choir and backing vocal tracks and things really got messy. Thanx to the MK2-T, I got it all placed very nicely, due to the amazing presence it put across those tracks. The same I did on drum ambience and overheads."

    Qure "On the same tune I used the Qure on the acoustic guitars – I pushed the Qure button in – and the guitars popped right out of the mix.
    On a different song of this session I had to get a busy piano line thru an even busier playback and, again, the Qure was the right tool for the task at hand."

    Transient Designer 4
    "I use my two 4-channel TDs on every percussive instrument I come across: Drums, loops, congas, bongos – you name it. Its ability to shape the envelope of any give sound is priceless. Use it to regain the attack of an overcompressed bass or keyboard track, shorten or lengthen the tail of a snare or adjust the lengh of a loop according to the songs timing – the possibilities are endless. It's a must have for everyone in today's world of professional audio."

    SPL De-Esser
    "The De-Esser is without question the most effective, yet least damaging de-esser out there. Inserted right after the preamp, the SPL De-Esser gives you the most natural and least processed signal to work with. Put it on your 'I gotta have this, Santa!' list!"

    Elastic Mix, Miami, USA

    SPL units: Transient Designer 4 and Vitalizer MK2-T

    Elastic Mix is an exclusive studio based on the hybrid studio concept developed by Gustavo Celis. With a 100% modular design the studio is easy to transport to any exotic location.

    SPL units: Transient Designer 4 and Vitalizer MK2-T

    Oliver Sroweleit
    Engineer of a couple of Fury In The Slaughterhouse releases and of the last two Such A Surge CDs

    "I have been playing with the GainStation1 during the last Fury session–what a hot thing."

    Engineer of a couple of Fury In The Slaughterhouse releases and of the last two Such A Surge CDs. Emil Bulls, Sincere, Motorsheep, Shifty Sheriffs, Yeti Girls, Anger 77 and Klein are on his credit list, too.

    I have been playing with the GainStation1 during the last Fury session–what a hot thing! The bass pressure you can produce with it really slams, especially the limiter works perfectly. With bass players like Christian (from Fury), who play very dynamic with strong attacks, a compressor always caused problems. With reduced attacks the peaks were eliminated, but the bass performance gets dull and simply sounds compressed. So I had to reduce levels though it compromises the AD conversion. With its combination of two preamps, its limiter and the output control, the GainStation1 makes an end to all these problems. And vocals just sound awesome – the preamp combination allows for simply all sound colorations you can think of!“

    Oliver defines his role primarily as a recording engineer and tries to create a perfect sound foundation for the mixes.
    The rack in the picture above shows a Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T and six GoldMike 9844.

    Paul Grau
    In 1983 Paul Grau founded the Heartbeat Studio in Cologne/Germany.

    Paul's four reasons to use SPL gear: versatility, reliability, capability to solve of difficult problems, because Hermann is a nice guy.

    As manager and producer of German band RAUSCH Paul worked out an exposed position in Germany's music scene, producing acts such as Fury In The Slaughterhouse, Abstürzende Brieftauben, Shifty Sheriffs.

    In 2001 he moved to Spain and established the Gismo7 Studio in Motril. Nice website ... nice location (sigh).

    SPL units: Qure, Vitalizer MK2-T, Kultube, Transient Designer 4, SPL De-Esser and DynaMaxx

    Ron Liberton
    Credits: de Sjonnies, Schintaler, Johan en de Groothandel, Major Dundee, Zinatra.

    "My SPL set is with me everywhere I go."

    "My SPL set is with me everywhere I go. The Qure Equalizer for example is fantastic for piano or for overall mix treatments. My Transient Designer 4 is used for percussive intruments such as snare and toms, but also for guitars and loops. The Vitalizer MK2-T for acoustic guitars and subgroups of drums and vocals. The Charisma for hammond, electric guitars.
    I create 'my sound' with SPL, and I'm afraid I can't do without anymore."

    Ronald Prent
    Resident Engineer Galaxy Studios, Belgium

    SPL units: GainStation1, Qure, Passeq, Vitalizer MK2-T, Tube Vitalizer, DynaMaxx, Transient Designer, PQ Mastering EQ Surround Set.
    Our special thanks go to Ronald for his valuable collaboration in developing the MMC1 console. Before Darcy Proper was engaged as resident mastering engineer in the Galaxy, Ronald was also involved in planning the mastering suite, where the MMC1 operates in the centre of the mastering environment fulfilling the tasks of speaker management, source connectivity, audio metering, track assignment, master and monitor level setting and automated insert routing of external processors. A surround set of three PQ 2050 adds a decent parametric filter package.


    Seeed from Berlin play reggae in all its variations from roots to dub and dancehall. Always on tour with at least eleven band members, each of their shows is an outstanding performance.

    SPL gear: Kultube, Vitalizer MK2-T, Transient Designer 4 and Transient Designer 2, Qure, six Channel One and two Track One.

    Our special thanks go to Seeed's incredible live mixer Olsen Involtini.

    Sir Larsie I
    Roots Reggae/Dub Producer

    "SPL products are easy and straight to use, a must for me in stressing studio sessions."

    "SPL products are easy and straight to use, a must for me in stressing studio sessions.
    I get excellent vocal and instrumental recordings with the Channel One.
    All my expectations in outboard gear are fulfilled completely by SPL products. Besides the wide variety of their processing solutions, their application-related individuality and remarkable sound characteristic is amazing. Especially in mastering, SPL products are a good example of my preferences in outboard gear – the „warmth“ of a Vitalizer MK2-T can not be emulated by any Plug-in I know.
    I have no experience in SPL’s service quality until yet, but that speaks for itself. „Damaged“ seems to be a unknown term at SPL :), but seriously the workmanship is solid and also contributes to the very positive optical appearance of SPL equipment.

    Big Ups 2: DJ Perch (Zion Train), Oli Dread (Dubfront), Benjahman (Tabernacle Ites), Steve Vibronic (Vibronics), Arno (Dubcreator), Bredda Neil & Alex (King Shiloh), Sander (Walboomers Rec. Amsterdam), Hitoshi Sakimoto, Alberto Rizzo Schettino, Russ D (Disciples), Lex (Fireball), MC Python, Janny (Lobster), Rankin Diddy, Pman (SJ Groover), Sister Ifua (Rootsman Culture), Paul (SPL), Gummi Gerd (Music Works), Wolfgang (Music Rebel), Florent, Matt (Unity Sound, N.Y.), Peter (LinPlug Virtual Instruments).

    Lars Brachmann aka Sir Larsie I

    Stephan Zeh
    Engineer and Producer

    „What should I say – it simply does not work without SPL gear."

    Credits include No Angels, Bobby Kimball, Al Di Meola, Chris de Burgh, Ian Anderson, Phil Collins, Chris Thompson, Peter Maffay, Victor Bailey, Alessia d´Andrea, ...

    SPL units: Transient Designer 4, Channel One, Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T, and a Loudness Maximizer (discontinued).

    "I think the Transient Designer is a must-have in every production studio – my eight channels are used up each time and often I have to "print" channels to get channels free.

    The Channel One is a fix point for lead vocals and always grants impact. The De-Esser is absolutely fabelous, and I love the AIR band of the EQ section. SPL's "one-knob" soncept scores again ... results can be heard on the German version of the Disney production „Bärenbrüder“.

    The Vitalizer MK2-T works on each mix in a parallel stereo bus. With the typical SSL LB/RB I can select the signals and adjust precisely and how much processing is added. This gives me another dimension, both in positioning and frequency response. In mastering I like a bit of Vitalizer in the stereo sum.

    The Loudness Maximizer is my secret weapon for ... well, loudness. The three knobs of this unit give you more with higher quality than any plug-in on the planet. I've heard this unit for the first time at Abbey Road with Chris Blair, and it has been fascinating me from the first second."


  • features

  • Input & Output
    • • Instrumentation amplifier, electronically balanced (differential), transformerless
    • • Nominal input level: +6 dB
    • • Input impedance: 22 kOhms
    • • Output impedance: < 600 Ohms
    • • Max. input level: +20 dBu
    • • Max. output level: +20 dBu
    • • Minimum load ohms: 600 Ohms
    • • Relay Hard Bypass
    • • Power Fail Safety
    • • Frequency response: 20 Hz-100 kHz (100 kHz = -3 dB)
    • • EQ frequency range: 20 Hz-22 kHz
    • • CCMR (common mode rejection): > -80 dBu @1 kHz
    • • THD & N: 0,01855% @ 1 kHz
    • • S/N CCIR 468-3: - 85 dBu
    • • S/N A-weighted: - 99 dBu
    Power Supply
    • • Torroidal transformer:.15 VA
    • • Fuse: 315 mA (slow blow)
    • • Ground-Lift switch
    • • Voltage selector
    • • Housing: Standard EIA 19"/1U, 482 x 44 x 237 mm
    • • Weight: 3,4 kg
    • 0dBu = 0.775V Subject to change without notice.




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