Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Regular Price: $299.00


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Regular Price: $299.00


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
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

      D. Montoya

      April 7, 2021

      Fantastic emulation of the hardware unit! This thing rocks!

      I love what this thing does to drums, guitars, bass, gritty vocals and busses! Sounds and responds exactly how I remember the hardware does.

      D. Schmidt

      April 2, 2021

      Great! Great!

      One of the best !!!

      G. Tully

      March 18, 2021

      It's great

      What can I say? It's the real deal - used it straight away on a bass and drums mix and it just get's you to where you want to go...quickly.

      B. Rogers

      March 16, 2021

      Bass DI sound so much thicker

      I haven't used this as much as others but it is always on the bass DI track. Adds to the low end like nothing else I've tried

      T. Harpel

      March 15, 2021

      Essential and intuitive

      When I’m in the right mood, nuke ratio is so sweet on the drum bus. Overall, a relentlessly un-fussy compressor. Each control obeys intuition, with each knob and button doing basically what you want and expect. A true utility player. Good sound sounds.

      S. Lord

      March 4, 2021

      I love this thing

      I work primarily in the box with midi drums, this thing gives those little lines the power they deserve! I’ve been searching for this tone for awhile now. A must have!

      a. Thompson

      February 23, 2021

      Love it

      It has performed, and will do so again, and again, and again.

      D. Dembek

      February 18, 2021

      Modify the dynamics without loosing the harmonics

      Most of the compressors tends to kill the early harmonics. It is NOT the case with the Distressor. You can nuke your track and still add the distortion which makes things just right. One of the most versatile compressors, one of the must-have's in the arsenal.

      M. Lee

      February 9, 2021

      Oh god amazing!

      Sooooooo Good!
      I don't need to say anything. It's just perfect!

      C. Knight

      February 8, 2021

      Like the hot sauce, "I put that Sh*t on everything".

      You already know this lives on every buss. You can make it distorted or cleaner, harder or softer, you can make it fast or slow and you can mix it with dry/wet controls. You can also nuke it. Like varnish for furniture, it can transform and enhance subtle grain details into dramatic and drastic yet beautiful features.

      Required tool if you are a serious engineer.

      T. Gapski

      February 6, 2021

      Not much I can say - it's THE DISTRESSOR

      Great tool, invites to do experiments with your sound...

      S. Marshall

      February 5, 2021

      Amazing quality compressor

      This is my favourite UAD compressor, Sounds so good, and really makes anything you put through it shine

      S. Marshall

      February 5, 2021

      Amazing quality compressor

      This is my favourite UAD compressor, Sounds so good, and really makes anything you put through it shine

      A. Vaquero Taboada

      February 4, 2021


      really amazing , sweet and squash , i like it


      January 24, 2021

      Must have. Like the original !

      Impressive like the original. Can t imagine doing without ....

      R. Craig

      January 21, 2021

      Good sound and character

      Very nice plugin, good sound and has improved a lot of my tracks. I'll always have it on drum busses, have got some good results with it on guitars and basses too.

      M. Braziel

      January 15, 2021

      Comes In Handy.

      A Situation Specific Tool That's Great For Adding Texture To Your Sound.

      J. Gruensfelder

      January 15, 2021

      EL8 Amazing Compression Tool

      Well, I used the EL8 on my Chanel-Stribes drums. Through the variable use of attack and release times, the drum sounds get the desired pressure. Compared to the EL8 hardware, I can't really hear any difference in the mix. The big advantage of the software solution is that I use a lot of the EL8 in my DAW Pro Tools and Logic Pro X. THX Guys

      D. Cadoch

      January 14, 2021

      An amazing sound...

      The UAD Distressor lives up to its goal compresses and delivers a balanced and hefty sound without compromising. Very satisfied with vocals and guitar highs midrange and low!!

      A. Mitrofanov

      January 14, 2021

      Удивительный компрессор

      Отличный компрессор, с удивительными свойствами по компрессии. Можно применять на любом материале! Круто заходит на Барабанной шине, на вокале. Если микшируете танцевальную музыку, компрессор, однозначно MUST HAVE!!!!