Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Regular Price: $299.00

$179.00

You'll Save 40%

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Regular Price: $299.00

$179.00

You'll Save 40%

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
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

      N. Sharif

      September 9, 2018

      Another great UAD plug in

      Very nice plugin. Makes the instrument stand out

      N. Sharif

      September 9, 2018

      UAD are the best! Period

      I'm using it on drums and bass and made my mix a day and night difference ! Compared it to the real thing and it's very difficult to differentiate.
      Thank you UAD team for this great plug in.

      H. Ataka

      September 8, 2018

      Sharp sound!

      Delicious distortion, sound that comes out earlier, this has both.

      C. Howat

      August 23, 2018

      Better Than The Hardware

      I never really loved the Distressor, I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m better at dialing in tones now, but with the wet/dry mix knob, I can dial in the exact tone I want. Great for drum close mics and vocals. No British mode but maybe in a future version.

      C. Kaliampakas

      August 2, 2018

      One of the best!

      Thats the comp i use most of the times. It works great on everything and it has an unbeatable "sound".

      T. Hänel

      July 26, 2018

      Awesome Sound Machine!

      Works with everything.. from vocals to guitars, synths, drums.. from subtle to extreme. Great compression and great distortion.

      K. Gilroy

      July 20, 2018

      Will THE REAL DISTRESSOR PLEASE.....

      I have been using the Slate version and after hearing the real difference at Conway, I bought it! Now after using it I notice an even bigger difference. It's a smoother warmer distortion. BEST PLUG OF THE YEAR! Thanks Again UAD! Note: This is how we made the kicks mixed with sinewaves sound so killer. The kids call 'em 808s and 909s. I bought my Roland 808 Drum Machine for 50 bucks at a pawn shop in the 80s. I sampled it to DAT and sold it in the LA RECYCLER for 1500. Still have the Tape. - Gilroy

      C. Bell

      July 15, 2018

      Finally

      The majority of my career has been on analog desks mixing with outboard gear. It's only been the last couple years I've been moving to a more hybrid mixing setup. The Distressor is one of my "go to" boxes for several pieces of the mix. I was really missing not having the distressor working "in the box". Finally I can use the same settings as the real box and have it translate into exactly what I get from the hardware. Thanks UA!

      B. Krueger

      July 15, 2018

      Great comp for guitar

      Works well with guitar, transparent to smashing the signal.

      J. Nguyen

      July 14, 2018

      Modern day 1176

      Beast!! Sounds great on almost anything. This hands down is a must have if you want you mix to stand out.

      UAD User

      July 9, 2018

      A++

      The best emulation of one of the best and most versatile compressors ever made. A must-have.

      j. tretta

      July 4, 2018

      Incredible

      It’s my new go to for snare and kick.

      G. Venkataraman

      July 3, 2018

      Works like magic

      Whether you are a novice or pro, you can’t go wrong with this! It’s an amazing compresser with a generous dose of distortion to tame even the most unruly tracks in your mix. I use it to fatten vocals, drums and to make guitar tones cut thru the mix!! It works like a charm and I will never let go of this anytime!

      A. Kirakosyan

      June 29, 2018

      YES YES YES this is really the best plugin for me.

      This plugin I use everywhere.On drums, on basses, on vocals etc.

      C. Wandzilak

      June 25, 2018

      UAD is out of control

      Worse than Apple I tell ya! I bought this thing in a bundle sale because I have a UAD plug-in problem. You own me because I own you, all you’re plug-ins anyway. The Distressor is well…the one and only DISTRESSOR! It does anything to everything and back again. Drums are boom-bastic, bass can get downright dirty, and everything is just covered in saturated bliss OR not depends on what you're trying to achieve but the Distressor excels at bringing sounds to life by crushing the shite out of them! I’ve never owned this “swiss army knife” but now I know why it’s in just about every studio and I’m thankful (kinda) UAD partners with the studio “staple” hardware manufacturers to bring these tools to the average Joe. EL/UAD partnership makes perfect sense as EL has overtly bragged about emulating UA’s classic hardware for years. Either way, a clean yet dirty little plug that yields drastic results with the smallest adjustment which is probably why some users have a difficult time with it. It's not a one knob, one (amazing) trick pony like the LA2A, therefore you have to listen carefully as you dial in your desires. It’s for that reason I don’t necessarily track with it…just yet. It’s very easy to do more damage than good in the wrong unexperienced hands (ears) which is likely a big chunk of UAD’s audience-me included. It can be transparent but again, you can go down a slippery slope with the saturation and the ratios during a perceivably transparent vocal tracking session-can’t undo it so I save it for the mix. Still honing my skills with this beast but it works wonders on everything in parallel which UAD caught onto thus adding a “mix” knob. Distressor does a phenomenal job emulating LA2A/1176 but there is still some sonic differences that I can’t quite put my finger on but its close. You could spend hours in this sonic playground with a drum loop that could send you into psychosis but you only have 335 more hours to dial it in before the DEMO expires. Couldn’t pass it up during this sale. If you have a creative bone in your body, you want this.

      c. kestner

      June 19, 2018

      AMAZING on drums!

      This is by far the most amazing compressor I've ever used on drums. It really make the kick slam and the snare pop!

      O. Glans

      June 17, 2018

      Amazing!

      This is truly the most versatile tool in my arsenal!

      C. Brown

      May 27, 2018

      Beware...if you demo, you will purchase!

      It’s a Distressor...the Swiss Army knife of compressors. An incredible tool that has been missing from my itb toolbox for years!

      F. Taglioli

      May 23, 2018

      essential

      once you try it is impossible to do without it !!

      R. Esposito

      May 21, 2018

      The best compressor ever

      I love using this on everything. Particularly Vocals, Guitar & Bass. Before this I was fixated on the 1176 which is fantastic. But now that I started using this plug it’s added a sweetness that didn’t exist from teletronix or the 1176. I’ve never used one until recently so I look forward to seeing what else can be done with it.