There's a recessed "Q" Preset control just to the right of the Mid-Hi Tune control. This control allows you to adjust the Q or bandwidth of the Mid-Hi Tune filter. As with the Deep button, this Q control lets you fine tune the Vitalizer to suit your particular needs. We found the factory setting fine for our applications in the production studio.

Finally, our front panel tour stops at the Harmonics control. The harmonics enhancement circuitry of the Vitalizer is based on fourth-order filters and phase manipulation. Unless you're a glutton for technical jargon, you don't really want to know any more than that. The harmonics circuitry analyzes the dry input signal and the output of the Mid-Hi Tune filter to determine what harmonics are added to the mix. The Harmonics control determines how much these restored harmonics are added to the mix. It's worth noting that the harmonics circuitry is dependant upon the setting of the Mid-Hi Tune control. Because of this, it is necessary to experiment with both the Mid-Hi Tune and Harmonics controls together when adjusting one or the other. In fact, once you discover how all the controls interact with each other, you realize there is much more to using the Vitalizer than its simple front panel controls would lead you to believe. For example, not only are the harmonics affected by the setting of the Mid-Hi Tune control, but the function of Mid-Hi Tune control is affected by the Process Depth control. And remember, the Harmonics control is not affected by the Process Depth control. But, the Sub-Bass control IS affected by the Process Depth control. Get the picture? This is not to say that using the Vitalizer is difficult. In fact, it's really very simple to use. The point is, a lot can happen with a small twist of a knob, and it's best to know what you're doing and how it's affecting the rest of the processing.

We put the Vitalizer to the test in several areas of the radio production department. One obvious place to start was with agency dubs -- you know, those dubs that sound like fourth generation, high-speed duplicates. The Vitalizer "vitalized" them well, adding crispness where it had been lost without adding a lot of tape hiss and noise in the process. We found it a little redundant to have to adjust settings for each channel, but the payoff was worth the time. After a few dubs were done this way, we simply found some "average" settings for the Mid-Hi Tune and Harmonics controls and left them alone while adjusting only the Process Depth control for each dub that needed adjustment. This was quicker than adjusting all the controls for each dub, and the result was certainly adequate.

We then tried the Vitalizer on a mixdown of some 8-track production. This was a promo filled with effects, music, and voice-over, and the entire mix was first passed through a limiter/compressor to even out the levels a bit. The Vitalizer was then placed on the back of the 2-track mix on the way to cart. After toying with the adjustments for awhile, we were able to bring back a crispness and presence to the promo that were somewhat lost in the mixdown through the limiter/compressor. We used the Vitalizer on several mix-downs, including several that did not run through a limiter/compressor. Rather than EQ voice and music tracks with the console EQ, the Vitalizer was used with excellent results.

Probably most surprising was the Vitalizer's ability to process the voice. Those of you looking for a "boomy" bass in your voice will appreciate what the Vitalizer's Sub-Bass control does nicely and quickly. Adding harmonics and playing with the Mid-Hi Tune control further tweaked the voice to provide a very clean and very good sound. As a mike processor alone, the Vitalizer is worth the investment.

Obviously, the applications of the Vitalizer aren't limited to the radio production studio. Any recording studio, whether for broadcast, music/jingle recording, or video/film post production, can find many uses for the Vitalizer. In fact, the Vitalizer is available in three different versions that each cater to specific studio applications. The "Jack" version is equipped with unbalanced, ¼-inch ins and outs. The "XLR" version features balanced XLR ins and outs. And the "Broadcast" version is equipped with balanced XLR ins and outs with user selectable pin configurations, i.e. pin 2 high or pin 3 high. The Broadcast version also provides a switch to select the input and output impedance (600Ω/20Ω on the input, 600Ω/22Ω on the output). All three versions feature rear panel rotary switches for each channel which select the input operating level. Five positions are available: -10dBV, 0dBV, +4dBu, +6dBu, and +8dBu. Reported specs include a frequency response of 20Hz-22kHz, total harmonic distortion of 0.002% at 1kHz, and signal to noise at -96dB.

The Vitalizer lists for $1,500 and is distributed in North America by Sascom Marketing Group in Pickering, Ontario, Canada.