SPL is one of the premier designers of studio equipment, mastering hardware, and hi-fi audio gear. In this buyer’s guide, we'll break down everything you need to know about the storied gear manufacturer, including an intro to the company, an overview of its catalog, and the details of its key products. 

With such a broad range of offerings, we’ve separated this buyer’s guide by product category for easier navigation, including sections covering SPL’s mic pres, channel strips, mixing processors, monitor controllers, mastering equipment, and home hi-fi gear. Let’s get started. 

The History of SPL

SPL was founded in 1983 with a mission to create innovative audio products for music, film, multimedia, hi-fi, and broadcasting. In the late 1970s, founder and chief developer Wolfgang Neumann was running a recording studio in the Netherlands. Seeing both the high cost of studio equipment and the declining price of recording time, he realized the benefits of building his own hardware.

A radio and television technician by trade, Neumann developed the earliest SPL devices in his garage, founding the company after selling his holdings in the Dutch studio. The product line began with the introduction of the Vitalizer, a unique multi-processor that quickly became a favorite among engineers.

Since then, SPL has grown into one of the most respected developers of high-end studio hardware, mastering processors, and hi-fi audio equipment. Headquartered in Germany near the Dutch border, SPL has maintained a commitment to innovation and experimentation with a focus on listening rather than designing by the book.

SPL Studio Gear

Mic preamps

SPL Gold Mike MKII Dual Channel Mic Preamp

A versatile mic preamp incorporating design elements from across the SPL range, the Gold Mic MK II improves over the MK I with the implementation of a class A impedance converter on the instrument input. A hybrid signal path with tube and discrete elements enables controllable coloration, while its symmetric circuit layout ensures ideal separation between channels.

Gold Mike MK II is also available with analog-to-digital conversion onboard.


SPL Crescendo 8

SPL Crescendo is an ultra-high voltage, eight-channel microphone preamp designed for superior headroom and dynamic range.

SPL Crescendo Duo V2

The SPL Crescendo Duo V2 is the dual-channel edition of the high-voltage Crescendo design. Its 120V technology enables enormous headroom and fidelity, revealing new details from your microphones.

SPL Gain Station 1

SPL Gain Station is a single-channel, high-performance mic preamp in a portable package. Also available in a hybrid design, both versions combine classic tube coloration with clean gain and flexible controls such as a limiter and impedance selector.

Channel Strips

SPL Track One

The SPL Track One is a versatile channel strip that features a de-esser, compressor with limiter mode, and three-band EQ with parametric mid control. Ideal for vocals, the Track One incorporates SPL’s highly respected de-esser technology.

SPL Frontliner

The Frontliner is SPL’s flagship recording channel. With its signature hybrid preamp architecture, fully-featured compressor, parametric EQ, and tube saturation, the Frontliner is effective for any source material.


SPL Stereo Vitalizer MK2-T

The Vitalizer was the product that put SPL on the map. With features of a harmonic exciter, equalizer, and dynamics processor, the Vitalizer is an all-around audio enhancer known for its “un-masking” effect. The modern stereo MK2-T edition features a variable stereo expansion control for even greater stereo width.

SPL DeEsser MK2

SPL’s de-esser technology is widely respected as one of the top hardware options for reducing vocal sibilance. Based on a phase-inverting approach rather than traditional narrow-band compression, its simple control scheme and advanced detection circuit make it extremely effective. 

SPL Transient Designer 4 MK2

The Transient Designer is another smash-hit processor from SPL. With simple controls to access the key features of your sound’s dynamics, it brought transient shaping into the mainstream. Unlike traditional compression or expansion, its level-independent approach is uniquely transparent.

SPL MixDream

SPL MixDream is a class-A, 16-channel summing mixer with built-in stereo expansion and limiting. With a switchable transformer at the output and per-channel inserts, you can adjust the character of your summing stage and incorporate all your favorite outboard gear.  

SPL MixDream XP

SPL MixDream XP is a stripped-down version of the MixDream with 16 channels of class-A summing in a 1u package.  

SPL BiG 500 Series Stereo Expander

SPL BiG is a 500 series format edition of their renowned stereo enhancement technology. With controls for shifting the soundstage from front to back, its range control lets you tailor the frequency area of the processing to taste. The BASS function comes from AirBass design in the IRON Mastering compressor, providing a unique low-end boost based on a passive filter.

SPL 500 Series DES Dual Band De-Esser

A 500 series edition of the SPL De-Esser, the DES adds dual-band capabilities with two independent stages of de-essing. 

SPL 500 Series TDX Transient Designer

An expanded edition of the Transient Design in 500 series format, the TDx includes an additional mix control for parallel transient processing. 

SPL Monitoring

SPL MTC MK2 Monitor and Talkback Controller

The MK2 edition of the SPL MTC monitor controller combines a variety of professional monitoring features to serve as the centerpiece of your listening chain. With three different monitoring modes, subwoofer output, multiple speaker switching, and advanced talkback features, the MTC MK2 offers everything you need for professional monitor management.

SPL SMC Surround Monitor Controller

The SMC is an all-analog monitor controller for surround sound listening systems. With the ability to manage different input sources, the SMC is ideal for surround sound audio production or even audiophile home entertainment.

SPL SMC 7.1 Surround Controller

SPL SMC takes analog surround monitoring up to a seven-channel configuration with subwoofer.  With four switchable inputs including dual stereo and 7.1 sources, each of the seven loudspeakers can be switched on and off or solo’d from the main panel. The large central potentiometer controls all channels directly without the use of control circuits or VCAs.

SPL Control One Monitoring Controller

SPL Control One is a straightforward monitor controller meant for fast workflows and uncompromised sound quality. With two switchable pairs of stereo inputs and speaker outputs, Control One is equipped with SPL’s breakthrough Phonitor Matrix headphone amplifier. Its adjustable cross-feed control allows for headphone audio that sounds comparable to stereo speakers.

SPL 2Control

SPL 2Control is an analog speaker and headphone management solution. Featuring a large central volume control, subwoofer output, and dual headphone connections with cross-feed, 2Control is a problem solver for your monitoring chain.

SPL Madison 16-Channel AD/DA Converter and MADI Interface

SPL Madison is a 16-channel audio AD/DA with impeccable conversion quality. With rock-solid clocking and sample rates up to 192 kHz, Madison excels in critical audio conversion tasks. Combined with the SPL Madicon, the Madison can be integrated into a larger MADI setup with multiple units. 

SPL Madicon MADI to USB Interface

SPL Madicon is a USB to MADI interface with up to 64 input and output channels. Its SmartMADI technology allows you to daisy chain up to four Madison AD/DA converters for 64 channels of analog I/O. Madicon comes equipped with powerful monitor mixing software capable of managing talkback, control room mixes as well as six headphone mixers. It even includes a 64-track recorder that records audio directly to your drive without the need for a DAW.

SPL Reducer Passive Power Soak

The SPL Reducer is a speaker attenuator for reducing the output volume of a cranked guitar amp. Built around a passive, resistive load, the Power Soak goes between your amplifier and speaker to get true cranked amp tones at reasonable volumes.

SPL Volume 8

SPL Volume8 is a simple, 8-channel volume device for analog control of audio levels. Designed to address the shortcomings of digital level reduction, the Volume8 provides smooth volume taper with zero loss of bit rate.

SPL Volume 2

The dual-channel cousin of the Volume 8, Volume 2 offers the same ideal analog volume control in a package meant for stereo applications. 

SPL Phonitor One D Headphone Monitoring Amplifier with D/A Converter

The Phonitor One D is a headphone monitoring system with onboard digital-to-analog conversion. Featuring the acclaimed Phonitor Matrix cross-feed technology, next-gen 768kHz/32-bit D/A converter, and high-performance headphone amplifier, the Phonitor One D offers impressive audio fidelity.

SPL Mastering Hardware

SPL PQ Mastering Equalizer

The SPL PQ is a fully parametric mastering equalizer based on the company’s 120V Rail technology. With five bands that can be independently activated and toggled between constant and proportional Q, its dual-channel circuit is unique among mastering equalizers. 

SPL Tube Vitalizer Stereo Mastering Enhancer

The Tube Vitalizer represents the culmination of SPL’s innovative design. Going far beyond traditional equalization, the Tube Vitalizer works on principles of psychoacoustic. With five controls for shaping the response of the filter network, it’s able to de-mask superimposed sound components by relating the timing perception of a sound’s frequency and amplitude. On top of the core circuit, you’ll get some traditional frequency adjustment tools and variable tube saturation with a shunt limiter for analog tape effects.

SPL DMC Stereo Mastering Console

The SPL DMC is a stereo mastering console built from the ground up for critical mastering applications. Using the same 120-volt technology as other high-performance SPL products, the 3u console combines four stereo inputs, four stereo source inputs with two stereo recording outputs with flexible inserts and metering outputs.

SPL Hermes Mastering Router

SPL Hermes is a signal-routing device designed for high performance in mastering. With the ability to route stereo signals through up to eight processors in any order, Hermes makes complex chains recallable at the touch of a button. Its fully passive routing ensures zero tonal coloration and its two parallel mix stages allow for easy parallel processing of any connected device.

SPL Mercury Mastering DA Converter

SPL Mercury is a digital-to-analog converter with world-class technical and tonal performance. With up to seven digital inputs, the Mercury boasts a 768kHz/32-bit D/A with analog components operating at SPL’s unequaled 120V rails. Additionally, the Mercury supports Direct Stream Digital conversion up to DSD4 and features a controllable analog output that allows it to serve as a monitor controller.

SPL Gemini Mastering M/S Processor

SPL Gemini is a mastering-grade mid/side encoder and decoder. It surgically separates the sum and difference of a stereo signal to allow you to apply processing to elements in the center or sides of the mix. In combination with the Hermes, the Gemini makes it possible to position any device in your mastering chain in the mid/side path at the touch of a button.

SPL MC16 16-Channel Mastering Monitor Controller

The MC16 is a monitor controller for mastering listening chains. With a proprietary 16-step precision potentiometer designed specifically for SPL, the MC16 handles loudspeaker management, input switching, and volume control for mastering systems.

SPL PASSEQ Passive Mastering EQ

The SPL PassEQ is a dual-channel passive equalizer for mastering. With three bands per side offering both boost and cut, the PassEQ offers incredible configurability for a passive design. Its high-frequency boost even includes selectable Q settings for almost any EQ curve you could imagine. The PassEQ’s passive circuitry has been optimized for peak performance and tonal qualities surpassing even those of beloved vintage designs.

SPL IRON Tube Mastering Compressor V2

SPL Iron is a flagship mastering compressor built for the most sonically demanding mastering applications. With a host of innovations such as the Mu-Metal iron transformers, 120V rails, and parallel dual-tube circuits, IRON sets a new standard for vacuum tube engineering. 

SPL Hi-Fi audio

SPL Elector Analog Preamp

The SPL Elector is an analog preamp built to deliver uncompromising fidelity for your analog sources. It features six inputs with three balanced XLR connections available for line-level equipment. In addition to that, you’ll get a remote control, tape monitor function, and all-analog VU meter.

SPL Crossover

The SPL Crossover is an active analog crossover for managing which frequencies your loudspeakers reproduce. Built as an answer to the common digital crossovers found in hi-fi subwoofers, the SPL Crossover is fully analog. This allows you to avoid an entire round trip of unnecessary AD/DA conversion in your system. With highly customizable crossover points, the SPL Crossover is effective for a wide variety of speakers and systems.

SPL Director MK2

The Director MK2 is SPL’s reference hi-fi preamplifier with onboard digital-to-analog conversion. Equipped with a mastering-grade D/A converter capable of 768kHz/32-bit performance, the Director’s digital section supports Direct Stream Digital up to DSD4. On top of that, you’ll get six channels of analog input with two balanced XLR connections for line-level gear. If you need a no-compromise input stage for your hi-fi system, the SPL Director is a compelling option.

SPL Phonitor 

The SPL Phonitor is the company’s hi-fi headphone amplifier series. The platform bundles the analog design of SPL’s premium input stages and headphone amplifiers with a variety of different features at different price points. At the heart is the company’s respected Phonitor Matrix which enables listeners to emulate the crossfeed effect of stereo loudspeakers.

Here’s a quick look at the Phonitor series for hi-ifi audio:

Phonitor X

Phonitor X comes with premium analog inputs and features a remote control for hi-fi listening. It's configurable with an optional D/A converter.

Phonitor 3

Phonitor 3 comes standard with 120V rails, DAC and mastering rade I/O.

Phonitor se

A compact version of the conversion-equipped Phonitor for hi-fi applications.

Phonitor xe

A dual power amp version of the Phonitor se for ultimate headphone fidelity.

Phonitor 2

Phonitor 2 is an all-analog headphone platform for line-level and RCA sources. It can be combined in a rack rousing with an SPL passive four-way to allow switching between pairs of speakers.

For a full breakdown of the Phonitor series, check out this comparison chart from SPL.

SPL Diamond Premium DAC with VOLTAiR Technology

The SPL Diamond is a hi-fi audio DAC with impressive specs. With six connectable digital inputs, the Diamond can achieve sample rates of up to 768kHz.  Its onboard volume control lets it function as a preamplifier for systems that include only digital input sources.

SPL Performer 800 Stereo Power Amplifier

Rounding out SPL’s hi-fi offerings is its series of power amplifiers. The Performer 800 offers an ultra-compact design with fewer components in the signal path thanks to the SPL VOLTAiR technology. Its fully analog design uses a toroidal transformer that outperforms cheaper methods like digital switching power supplies.

SPL Performer M1000

The SPL Performer m1000 is a high-output power amplifier designed as a mono block. With a minimal signal path containing only a single opamp, the M1000 has a uniquely fast, direct, and efficient sound. With microprocessor-controlled cooling, toroidal power transformers, and a custom-made Mundorf coil, the M1000 is a top-tier hi-fi amplifier.

Joe DickinsonIf you’re interested in purchasing any of the SPL products mentioned in this blog, contact a Vintage King Audio Consultant via email or by phone at 866.644.0160.