Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Regular Price: $299.00


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Regular Price: $299.00


You'll Save 16%

(54 reviews)

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

    (54 reviews)

    V. Juvvaanapudi

    March 15, 2018



    T. Axtell

    March 15, 2018

    Mix Engineer, Producer, Musician

    They nailed this one... I still can't believe how good it sounds. And the bonus is getting to mix the amount of dry/wet! So great...

    R. Flack

    March 15, 2018

    EL8 seems like cheating in the best way

    You can definitely get “that drum sound” w/ the use of the nuke button, but there are many transparent ways to use the EL8 to tame unruly transients. The killer feature is the ability to blend compression into the mix w/out sidechain busing in DAW.

    F. Zellner

    March 12, 2018

    Hard to tell...

    ...because it can not be authorized and the support does not respond to our requests.

    F. Ruisch

    March 10, 2018

    Fast as a shark !

    The Distressor is absolutely amazing, it is the fastest of them all. Perfect to beef up that snare, bass or give a unique effect to the room mics. It's a must have plugin from UAD.

    K. Garcia

    March 2, 2018


    An amazing emulation of the original hardware! UA continues to impress me with everything they're doing right now.

    j. elliott

    February 27, 2018

    as a distressor owner...

    this is by far the best software version i have found. maybe not 100%, but it's behavior/reaction is very similar and it's nice to have access to multiple extra distressors come mix time.

    R. Invernizzi

    February 25, 2018

    Amazing Tool

    I love this Distressor! Very powerful tool. I use this on a lot of kind of tracks and sounds.
    I really love it!!!

    A. Apolo

    February 16, 2018


    ive got the hardware and did an a/b test with this plugin.. I was blown away! this plugin really sounds and acts like the real hardware! bought it straight away! finally I can have the disstressor rocking several tracks both in mono and stereo at the same time!!

    M. Nazir

    February 15, 2018

    Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

    simply says i love it

    R. Heaney

    February 14, 2018

    Forget IT U Nailed iT!!!

    Holy Shit U Nailed iT!!! End oF Story .Buy it and Thank Me!!!

    A. Fontaine

    February 14, 2018

    very good

    very good results in no time.

    A. Maiani

    February 9, 2018

    Simply essential

    Must have, nothing else to say

    j. van den berghe

    February 6, 2018

    New favourite compressor

    Title says it all!

    j. alvarado alvarez del castillo

    January 31, 2018

    Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

    Is very good sound , I like it .Highly recommended.

    J. Daley

    January 23, 2018

    Sounds like the hardware but even better

    Working on a mix struggling with a very aggressive vocal this thing is like magic and I have 2 hardware Distressors ! Great !

    A. Taccône

    January 17, 2018

    Simply fantastic

    Great on Bass, Kick drum, Snare, etc etc but I think it's like mayonnaise
    "It goes out of everything"

    c. morrison

    January 16, 2018

    A Must have

    Just incredible. Really didn’t want to spend the money but it’s so good. Raised the bar and gets even closer to analog in the box IMHO

    P. Kostov

    January 16, 2018


    This is a must-have tool for every mixing engineer! Its working so precise with the audio signal so i can do anything with it. But the thing i love most with this comp is extending the low end of a kick, using it on parallel kickbus. Thanks a lot for making this possible!

    -. Trips

    January 15, 2018


    Hands down, of ALL the emulations I have used, from FG-Stress, to Sknote Disto and Disto-S, to Empircals own Arouser, just to name the most recent.. this UA version absolutely takes the cake!

    They don't call it "the swiss army knife of compressors" for nothing. And I have literally used this on everything since buying it. The other other similar plugin I am still using is Arouser. But if I was forced to pick a single Distressor emulation and ditch all the others, without a doubt, this would be the one.