Save up to 60% on Top Brands in our Biggest Sale of the Year. Shop Now ›

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Regular Price: $299.00


You'll Save 33%

You have no items in your shopping cart.

Regular Price: $299.00


You'll Save 33%

You have no items in your shopping cart.

The world’s most popular compressor, exactingly recreated for UAD and Apollo.

Introduced in 1993, the Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor is revered in studios all over the world as the modern, “must-have” compressor. Versatile, super fast, and offering tons of color, the Distressor picks up where the legendary UA 1176 and Teletronix LA-2A compressors leave off — a modern tool that’s equal parts utilitarian and creative, as heard on thousands of hit records.

The only authentic Distressor plug-in endorsed by Empirical Labs’ founder Dave Derr, the UAD Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor is available exclusively for UAD hardware and Apollo interfaces. An exhaustive end-to-end emulation of Derr’s iconic hardware, the UAD EL8 Distressor is the only faithful emulation of this true “desert island” compressor.

Now You Can:

Track and mix with the only authentic emulation of the EL8 Distressor — the world's most popular 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

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

Take a Listen

Take a Listen
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.

The Only End-to-End Distressor Emulation

The Only End-to-End Distressor Emulation

The Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor plug-in provides all the features and coveted sound of the original Distressor design. UA’s team of DSP experts started with a complete circuit trace and component study of Dave Derr's selected golden unit. Simultaneously, the team analyzed three more Distressors representing the lifetime of the product — ensuring one of UA’s tightest circuit models to date.

When comparing Distressor software emulations, contrast the original hardware’s ultra-fast attack time to quickly hear where most plug-ins fail, and the authentic UAD Distressor succeeds.

The Right Ratio

The Right 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 delivering unique tones and curves. Use the 1:1 ratio to gently warm up synths or strings without compression, while adding musical low-order harmonics. At the other extreme, the Nuke limiter setting is famous for adding explosive excitement to room mics, or energizing a entire mix.

Distortion Modes

Distortion Modes

The Distressor's iconic Dist 2 and Dist 3 modes feature a wide palette of compression coloration, letting you shape sources with even or combined even/odd-order harmonic distortion. From delicate thickening to burnished tape to fully saturated, the Distortion Modes, combined with low-frequency filtering, let you focus the Distressor’s textures.

Powerful Sidechain Controls

Powerful Sidechain Controls

The Distressor’s sidechain control lets you easily focus your dynamics. High Pass filter unwanted low frequency pumping and breathing — perfect for drum bus processing. Band Emphasis works to tame strident vocals or can laser in on harsh “power region” instrument midrange peaks, or use both together.

You can also run the Distressor on buses, linked or unlinked, for flexible imaging. Exclusive plug-in features like Dry/Wet Mix offer easy parallel compression on a mix bus or instrument group. Finally, the Headroom control lets you optimize the Distressor’s overall operating level to your playback system.

Watch The Reviews

      Key Features

      Painstaking, end-to-end circuit emulation of the iconic hardware designed by Dave Derr, exclusively for Universal Audio

      Provides the entire circuit path and control set of the original Empirical Labs hardware

      Features seven fixed ratios, including Optical and Nuke, Distortion Modes, and Detector Modes

      Plug-in-exclusive features include Dry/Wet parallel processing and Headroom for user-customizable operating level

      Customer Reviews

      Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

      Overall Rating

      G. Booker

      December 9, 2018

      Perfect Emulation !!!!

      When I went back to school for audio for media, there was a mix suite that had the Golden Rack Aaaahhh!!!!!! And we beginners didn't get in until the second year, It was worth the wait, 1176's, Manley's Mu's, and much more drooling stuff. But the one piece I always gravitated to was the EL8. I'm a drummer myself and attack is my thing, so the EL8 and I are good friends, but the cost for my project studio was just more then I could bear. Then UAD puts out "The Perfect Disstressor" and I'm still broke but put it on my wish list, Well my wish just came true and It is "Perfect" in every aspect that I can remember. I'm not joking this will be on every mix from now on. Thanks for making it right, it's spot on to the original.


      December 8, 2018



      k. sivasankar

      December 8, 2018


      Have always wanted to own a Distressor , could not be happier with the UAD version. Thank you UAD .

      i. sözüer

      December 6, 2018


      The best Compressor I own. Is always used on Drums. I love it

      S. Tong Cuong

      December 6, 2018

      definitely a must have

      when the distress appeared as an outboard ten years, it became a favourite in most studios, fattening whatever went through it. The plug in is an amazing replica. You fatten drums, bass, synth, final mix, you name it. It brings a nice glue at low levels or more distorted sound at highest. highly recommended.

      R. Bogdanovic

      December 5, 2018

      Smash it baby!

      UAD Distressor has got more then 90% of the sound of the original EL hw unit. That is it.

      UAD User

      December 5, 2018

      Distressor Compressor

      this Compressor is the first one that i really tough it sound like a hardware compressor.
      it makes everything up on front and tight.. I think its beter than the real one..
      Revelation first compressor that gives what you ask

      P. Dyball

      December 1, 2018


      This plugin is really great .. I’m very impressed with its emulation and it seems to have all the flavour and character of the hardware unit !! Great job

      A. Vella

      November 26, 2018


      Very happy with the purchase very fast compressor A+++

      C. Galimov

      November 22, 2018

      One of the favorite compressors!

      Compare Distressor UAD and Distressor Hardware. I did not hear the difference. Great plugin! On the Internet you can find my video, where I compared Distressor with UAD version. Thanks to Universal Audio for the great plugin! I'm happy.

      M. Silvestrini

      November 20, 2018

      lo quiero

      lo probe en el estudio de un amigo... increible

      c. Schattka

      November 19, 2018

      i have my hardware unit out for sale now

      by far the best emulation of a distressor i have heard. so close to the real hardware that i am selling it now. anybody wants a hardware distressor?

      K. Morris

      November 13, 2018

      Essential piece, amazing sound, faithful to the real thing

      One demo and I was ready to buy this. By far the best EL8DC software I've ever heard. A colorful, easy to use utility everybody should have. Thank you UA and Empirical Labs!

      C. LAURENT

      November 12, 2018


      Just beautiful, this plugin is very very great, tried in demo of 14 days I will buy it. So good in my voice, thx UAD

      J. Wilkinson

      November 8, 2018

      Great emulation of an industry standard

      I own the original, and this comes very close! I love the addition of the dry/comp dial - just like on the eL9. Really useful on kit and and bass guitar - it's my go to for these instruments. The distortion section adds that little extra crunch on bass guitar that I love:) Very happy with it.

      M. muñoz

      November 7, 2018


      He podido usar el hardware y este plugin es casi como el original.

      C. Edmonds

      October 28, 2018


      What I meant to say in my review was: The UAD Distressor is absolutely the best software emulation of a hardware signal processor ever done as of October 2018. The Distressor happens to be an incredibly versatile and useful compressor in its own right, which makes the fact that UAD has modeled it so mind-blowingly well even more enjoyable and useful to have.

      M. P

      October 28, 2018



      C. Edmonds

      October 24, 2018


      It’s pretty simple. If someone asked me what the best software compressor available was, I’d have to say the UA Distressor. Name a better compressor in the box. You can’t.

      J. Oliveira

      October 23, 2018


      It´s a swiss knife compressor. Everything is fatter and wider by using this Plug-In.