Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

$299.00

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$299.00

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

      I. Batista

      April 16, 2019

      Perfection!

      Sometimes I wonder how the audio world survived all those years without Distressor!

      S. Potaczek

      April 11, 2019

      Eh...

      I own the real thing and use it every day. The plugin is okay, but when pushed hard (which is kinda the point of the distressed portion of this box), it starts to show. Not overly impressed with one compared to say the LA2A collection. Decent, but the gift of the hardware is that it stays quite invisible unless you don't want it to (whereas the software version feels more heavy-handed).

      L. Lively

      April 6, 2019

      Sold my hardware unit

      i owned the hardware for about 8 years, i own two other software emulations.......The UAD Distressor emulation......Lets just say, i processed a few drums through it and i think GOOGLE translate said "it's time to sell your hardware" when i pressed play. This and the manley massive passive made me a UAD believer.

      R. Patrick

      April 4, 2019

      Love It!!

      It adds so much to my tone!!

      P. Gharapetian

      March 29, 2019

      Finally!

      long awaited plugin version of this classic. i'm so happy to have this and it does sound just as amazing as the real deal!

      S. Allí

      March 25, 2019

      my new lover

      i really like the way that give live to drums , control synths and even voices

      J. Auguste

      March 25, 2019

      Tight Punch

      Love this compressor. The fact that I could use this on multiple channels while mixing is plus for me without having to purchase multiple units. Great addition to my setup.

      J. Willis

      March 22, 2019

      This kills

      Literally
      Nails the hardware tone and now being able to put a ton of Distressors all over my mix?! I’m in love

      P. Calabria

      March 21, 2019

      I Love It!!!


      It has become my main compressor on every single element of the drums !! Fantastic also on the bass and, with a bit of attention, a little on all the instruments including vocals and guitar! Great emulation of the namesake Hardware to have at any cost !!

      T. Brooks

      March 15, 2019

      If you don't have the real one, you need the UAD

      All five stars for me. The few times I've had the pleasure to work with the hardware unit, I've absolutely fallen in love with the Distressor's tightness and unique balance of saturation and transparency. It's the richest mortar for drum buss material, whether acoustic, electronic, or combination. Its side-chaining options are also powerfully simple, especially at the initial stages of your mix where you may still be trying to key in on "sound"; between the L+R linking options and the side-chain options for handling BOTH signal-hogging lows and piercing upper-mid transients -- I feel like I can access and cycle through dozens of flavors, and intuitively. It also has the scary ability to shapeshift between Opto, FET, and VCA-like performance based on your Attack, Release and Ratio settings. Without a doubt, a powerful magic box of a compressor. And I think UAD has emulated all of this with incredible care and accuracy. Super excited to keep exploring.

      Just to think of some specific applications: if you're playing with anything in the cinematic hip-hop/jazz, power-soul, or arena-pop veins, give the Distressor a go. I'm thinking Kendrick Lamar's "Institutionalized," Robert Glasper's "Black Radio" with yasiin bey / Mos Def, Emily King's "Good Friend," Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," Imagine Dragon's "Believer." With some character preamps or tape saturation early in the chain (i.e. V76, 1073), you could get flavors even more retro (yet still clean). I'm thinking Vinyl Williams, Jack White, and Danger Mouse.

      J. Davies

      March 9, 2019

      Favorite Compressor

      The Distressor is my go-to compressor for everything! The Opto present is particularly nice on vocals. I also use the LA2A for vocals and acoustic and the Fairchild for bass.

      E. Guerra

      March 3, 2019

      It makes your instruments alive in your mix!

      This is a great and versatile compressor. Very useful on bass drums, bass or acoustic guitars. I highly recommend it if you want to take advantage of the multifunctional processor.

      G. Corley

      February 15, 2019

      Best compressor, ever!

      This is my new go to compressor. I love it on just about anything. It really adds something special to the mix!

      G. Corley

      February 15, 2019

      Best compressor, ever!

      This is my new go to compressor. I love it on just about anything. It really adds something special to the mix!

      L. Lammert

      February 11, 2019

      Wow

      Can’t tell the difference between this and my hardware

      k. jang

      February 11, 2019

      Easy to use and amazing sound.

      We use it in various ways, especially for drum kick and snare. I have not used the original hardware but it is a very good compressor.

      B. Unis

      January 28, 2019

      Hard pressed to find things it doesn't sound good on.

      Anytime I find myself pausing in a mix, wondering what a sound 'needs' to just feel better. I reach for the EL8! It can really bring a vocal forward in a mix, fatten up any drum you throw at it, add grit to guitars and can probably even park your car ;) Swiss army tool for sure! Love it. Highly recommended.

      A. Hume

      January 24, 2019

      Great Plugin!

      One of my favorite UAD plugins. Sounds great on pretty much everything - Dry/Wet mix feature is awesome to have.

      B. Willems

      January 16, 2019

      Allround

      Very good allround compressor!

      B. Willems

      January 16, 2019

      Allround

      Very good allround compressor!