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Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Regular Price: $299.00

$149.00

You'll Save 50%

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Regular Price: $299.00

$149.00

You'll Save 50%

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
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.

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

      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.

      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

      I. Krstic

      May 17, 2022

      Great Tool

      Great compressor, very useful, great tool for every professional ...

      J. ter Borg

      May 7, 2022

      Awesome!

      Not just flexible and versatile, but also a visually well-designed tool that really helps to understand limiting and compression in general if you don't have a lot of experience.

      R. Matias

      May 4, 2022

      Best compressor available

      It works with everything, glad it was finally on Tuesday sale

      UAD User

      April 25, 2022

      Intuitive and precise!

      More than any other compressor I have ever used, physical or plugin, this puppy changes the sound the way my brain wants it change. In other words, with many other compressors I really have to think about ratios etc, but the Distressor is just full of great sounding options. It has lots of color and is a joy to use.

      So many other compressors work, and work well — this thing is something special.

      C. Carouthers

      April 25, 2022

      Instant vibe and power

      I’ve always loved the original rack unit. This thing lives up to every bit of its “real world” origins. So much flexibility with the blend knob. Hard for me to not put this on EVERYTHING. The only negative is that the people at UA really modeled everything perfectly. Even the noise and hum. So be prepared for a little noise on your tracks. But other than that, it’s great. Very happy with my purchase.

      C. Leonard

      April 25, 2022

      Great for Particular Purposes

      The Distressor creates punch for drums and pushed up the vocal without being harsh, so depending on the drum or vocal sound you are aiming for, it can be really helpful. It has a unique tone and I do like the adjustable "grit". I find that it works really well as a contributor to a chain as I like the vocals to cut through the mix, yet still remain warm and smooth and this helps with the former without negatively affecting the latter. For my voice, personally, this was a nice complement and once I got used to hearing my vocals through it, comparing it to bypass made it clear how much it was contributing to the tone. I really like it on drums; it smooths out the overly-dynamic while really bringing all the different drum contributions into the spotlight without them overpowering, which I find hard to accomplish in general. However, if you do want a drum kit to power through the mix with some good tones and maintain natural dynamics while still compressing enough, this is a great tool. I think this is a plugin that should be in most people's arsenal, though selectively. For the money, it's a winner and I've already incorporated it into multiple new recordings and prior ones, both of which it made significantly better.

      A. Belkacem

      April 25, 2022

      Distressor

      One of the best UAD Comp. Sounds amazing.

      J. Ross

      April 24, 2022

      COMING INTO NEWNESS

      I HAVE BEEN LEARNING MY WAY AROUND THE EMPIRICAL LABS EL8 DISTRESSOR COMPRESSOR FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS. I USE IT AS A HARDWARE INSERT/RACK IN APOLLO 8:2.
      I am loving the sonic spread through each I/O routing via CUE in Studio One Pro 5.5.3. it awakes all tracks with a seasoning spice, so tasteful in hearing--is its ultimate 10 Star results.
      As wells as a little amount of flavor-is its secret.

      J. Solyom

      April 22, 2022

      Good times

      Sounds killer

      M. Barnes

      April 22, 2022

      The ultimate for synth bass!

      Top notch as always.

      D. Schaufelberger

      April 22, 2022

      Amazing. No words needed.

      See title.

      S. Bruinsma

      April 22, 2022

      Just.. WOW!

      I use it on vocals en beats.. man man. Should've bought it much sooner.

      J. Gang

      April 22, 2022

      Great Comp

      Must have it!

      D. Wershba

      April 21, 2022

      Very Distressing!

      Works as Advertised! A great addition to my other dynamics plug-ins - this one has a strong personality!

      P. Isaac

      April 21, 2022

      Great for Vocals

      Puts vocals in place

      Q. Adolphin

      April 21, 2022

      I love it!
      Just slap it on and then Work with %! I’m good

      S. Sweeney

      April 20, 2022

      Distressor

      Didn’t realize what I was missing. Great add to the arsenal.

      F. Lagacé

      April 20, 2022

      Great Compressor

      Amazing

      J. Love

      April 20, 2022

      No surprises here.

      The Distressor is all it's cracked up to be and a welcome addition to the tool box. It has met all my expectations.

      D. Holland

      April 19, 2022

      Distressor one of the best

      This is one of the best plugin out there