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  • Overview
  • Customer Reviews
  • 4.9/5
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Regular Price: $299.00


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Get the colorful sound of the world’s most popular compressor.

The Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor is revered in studios the world over as the modern, “must-have” compressor. Versatile with tons of color, the Distressor picks up where the legendary UA 1176 and Teletronix LA-2A compressors leave off — giving you a modern tool that’s equal parts utilitarian and creative, as heard on thousands of hit records.

Included Versions

UAD Native
Runs on your Mac or PC without UA hardware.

Apollo Realtime & UAD‑2
Runs accelerated on Apollo interfaces and UAD‑2 hardware.

UAD Native plug-ins run on both macOS 10.15 Catalina or newer and Windows 10 and 11. Go to our UA Support page for system requirements.

  • Track and mix with the only authentic emulation of the EL8 Distressor — the world's most sought-after modern compressor
  • Radically shape guitars, drums, and vocals with nearly infinite gain reduction variations
  • Harness plug-in-only features like Dry/Wet parallel processing and Headroom for user‑customizable operating level
  • Creatively color instruments and vocals with famous “Dist 2” and “Dist 3” modes
  • Embellish, pump up, or destroy bass, synth, and room mics with custom detector filtering
  • Mix with presets from Joe Chiccarelli (The Strokes), Vance Powell (Jack White), Jacquire King (Kings of Leon), Jimmy Douglass (The Rolling Stones), and more

Want to Try It?

Use this plug-in free for 14 days and find out if it's right for you.

Try it free
This is the fastest and most accurate Distressor emulation out there. -Dave Derr, Founder of Empirical Labs


Learn how to Add Energy to Drums
Learn how to Add Energy to Drums

Learn how to Add Energy to Drums

Grammy-winning engineer Vance Powell (Jack White, The Dead Weather) and the Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor plug‑in.

Shape with the Only End‑to‑End Distressor Emulation

Shape with the Only End‑to‑End Distressor Emulation

The EL8 Distressor Compressor plug-in gives you all the features and tone of the original hardware. Simply compare other Distressor emulations for yourself, and contrast the original hardware’s ultra-fast attack time to quickly hear where most plug-ins fail, and the authentic UAD Distressor succeeds.

Find the Perfect Compression Ratio

Find the Perfect Compression Ratio

The crux of the Distressor are its staggering variations in compression — 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1, 10:1, 20:1 and Nuke — each offering unique sounds. Use the 1:1 ratio to gently warm up synths or strings without compression, while adding musical harmonics. Conversely, the Nuke setting gives explosive excitement to room mics or your entire mix.

Add Color with Distortion Modes

Add Color with Distortion Modes

The Distressor's iconic Dist 2 and Dist 3 modes give you a wide palette of compression textures, letting you shape sources with even or combined even/odd-order harmonic distortion, from delicate thickening to burnished tape to fully saturated.

Focus Dynamics with Powerful Sidechain Controls

Focus Dynamics with Powerful Sidechain Controls

The Distressor’s sidechain control gets rid of unwanted low-frequency pumping — perfect for drum bus processing — while Band Emphasis tames strident vocals and harsh “power region” instrument peaks. You can also harness "plug-in only" features like Dry/Wet Mix for easy parallel compression on a mix bus or instrument group.

Watch The Reviews

      5-Min UAD Tip
      5-Min UAD Tip

      5-Min UAD Tip

      In this video, learn how the EL8 Distressor compressor can transform your mixes into something truly special.

      Customer Reviews

      Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

      Overall Rating


      J. Budna

      May 25, 2024


      Great. I use this for all, drums, acoustic guitar, vocals

      A. Guzman

      May 24, 2024

      Haven’t stopped using it since i got it

      I love this compressor, have been using it on all my mixes with the LA2A and a couple others.

      P. blanco

      May 23, 2024


      me encanta este compresor de mis mejores compras gracias

      S. Waterman

      May 20, 2024

      Great Plugin

      Since buying I have used it on many of my channels and great to dial in and find what you need quickly . .

      B. Lena

      May 19, 2024

      Phenomenal plug in

      This thing is money. Buy it now

      R. Taylor

      May 18, 2024

      Stability is the key.

      I admit I can't compare this vst to the original hardware but I can compare it to the IK version I also own, and this version is way more CPU friendly as well as producing awesome results. 10/10.

      S. Adams

      May 17, 2024


      I am the proud owner of the best emulation of the Distressor plugin

      c. nagel

      May 17, 2024

      Mehr Druck-Mehr Größe-Mehr Power

      Wir nehmen den Distressor um dem Drumset mehr Raum und Druck in einem dichten Mix zu verleihen. Für Vocals auch klar zu empfehlen!

      J. Yancey

      May 16, 2024


      Amazing tone. Gets the job done .


      May 16, 2024

      Der Dampfhammer...

      Ich habe den Distressor schon vor 20 Jahren als Hardware sehr gern genutzt. Gerade wenn es Mal richtig Druck braucht, setzte ich den Distressor gern ein. Und jetzt wieder, diesmal eben auf Basis der UAD2. Auch ohne direkten A/B Vergleich tut das Plugin genau das, woran ich mich noch von früher erinnere.... Neben auch dem 1176 ist das wohl eines meiner wichtigsten Plugins, wenn es um den Sound geht.....

      M. Martinsen

      May 15, 2024

      Good stuff!

      Does exactly what it says on the tin.

      D. Urq

      May 15, 2024

      A Lot of Mojo

      Nice difference from other compressors, esp. on vocals and drums. Great for parallel comp.

      M. Le Borgne

      May 15, 2024

      Atypique et top

      Compresseur atypique et étonnant, une machine qui permet de sortir des sentiers battus.

      E. Lopez

      May 14, 2024


      I use mine on vocals and I love it, just inserting this plug in on my vocal buss brings my vocals where they need to be. Caught this one on Sale and only wished more plug ins dropped to this level of affordability.

      C. Lauer

      May 14, 2024

      Allrounder / Must-Have

      Einfach mega für alles ;P

      I. Gratton

      May 13, 2024

      I just does a thing...

      The Distressor works great on kicks and snares - and so many many other things.

      H. Sato

      May 13, 2024

      Correct pedigree of this product as EL8

      I sense the correct pedigree of this product as EL8.
      HR and Mix are very useful.
      I wanted MS mode.

      c. rivera

      May 12, 2024



      p. gonka

      May 12, 2024


      Best of the best of the best.

      S. Giles

      May 11, 2024

      Easy to dial in

      Love the distressor, I’ve seen it in so many studios and always wondered about it. Now I know why it’s in every studio. Dialling it in is so easy and it is so versatile for different sources. It just works. It compresses in such a natural and smooth way. Love it.