Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Regular Price: $299.00

$249.00

You'll Save 16%

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Regular Price: $299.00

$249.00

You'll Save 16%

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

      P. Duffy

      March 25, 2020

      Everyone needs one

      I'd used various emulations of this and just decided to bite the bullet and get the UA version. Very glad that I did. A must have for drum mixing!

      D. Guevara

      March 21, 2020

      Best digital compressor i have ever used!

      This digital compressor has so many options and you can do so much with it, I am very satisfied with my purchase.

      UAD User

      March 20, 2020

      Thinned voice

      Excellent for the voices and guitares.

      R. Attias

      March 19, 2020

      legendary

      ...and now I know why.

      M. Robinson

      March 19, 2020

      Damn

      I waited way too long to get this comp, one of the best of the entire UA folder

      s. donat

      March 19, 2020

      good job

      sound great and nasty

      C. Gutierrez

      March 11, 2020

      British Mode

      Sounds good, I like the demo, but I'll buy it when you add a british mode

      C. Gutierrez

      March 11, 2020

      British Mode

      Sounds good, I like the demo, but I'll buy it when you add a british mode

      C. Gutierrez

      March 11, 2020

      British Mode

      Add British mode please

      W. Shanks

      March 11, 2020

      Sounds like our golden unit!

      A dedicated study by UA's algorithmic circuit model experts was held over the course of six months. Our chief scientist did a complete circuit trace and component study of Dave Derr's selected golden unit. Simultaneously, the team analyzed and measured our four specimen Distressors representing the lifetime of the product to ensure one of the tightest sonic and behavioral circuit models to date, well within our goal of analog unit to unit variation. By coincidence, the golden unit had the fastest attack among the four units.

      UA reached out to many famous proponents of the EL Distressor to ensure every nuanced detail of the hardware that fans have come to know and love were faithfully captured, along with feedback on their favorite digital convenience features they wanted to see included. UA's plugin product manager and QA staff scrutinized every facet of the plugin against the analog counterpart at every step along the algorithmic development path, ensuring the emulated sonics and circuit behaviors raised the bar of the UAD platform and the Empirical Labs brand. Finally, our work was then made available to Dave Derr for his own sonic verification and ultimately blessing of authentication and release approval.

      C. Rockaway

      March 10, 2020

      Wildly Useful

      The first time I engaged the demo of this, I was actually mad, because I knew that I HAD to buy it. Indispensable for the fast-attack, sleek, modern vocal sound. Excellent for dreamy, 'verbed out, spacious electric guitar. We ALL know what this does for a drum set, obviously!

      s. bosewicht

      March 9, 2020

      The Real thing In The Box

      I can not distinguish this from my real unit. Now I can use this on all my guitar tracks and make changes without committing to audio tracks. This is the plugin I use the most by far. Even just using the 1 to 1 ratio just to get the magic of running through the device it ads a lot to the character of the source. It is relatively light on resources.

      J. WOODS

      March 5, 2020

      Get it.

      You can't go wrong with you UAD

      P. Mata Rodriguez

      February 18, 2020

      it's a must!!!

      it's a plugin we should all have, excellent sound and easy to use.

      D. Pezzati

      February 14, 2020

      The compressor for experiment

      I own a real Distressor and this is a very close model. I tend to experiment with this on everything, not just a compressor, this is a shaping tool!

      C. Gutierrez

      February 2, 2020

      Nice but useless

      Please add British mode!! Nowadays with all plugins emulations of opto, vca, varimu... and the powerful pro c2, the only reason to use a distressor is because it's the only one compressor which got 1176 4 buttons knee behavior with 30ms of attack and variable ratio. So please update to emulate el8x version with BRITISH MODE

      J. meul

      January 18, 2020

      Thick in your face

      Really love how it does something when tracking vocals a up front in your face sound! That and the new avalon in unison mode !

      F. Ferrer

      January 18, 2020

      Happy New Year to me

      I have never used the hardware, anyway it is irrelevant to me, this pluging works wonders.

      B. DU

      January 17, 2020

      Best plugin ever

      Almost identical to hardware.

      P. Choudhury

      January 17, 2020

      You cannot go wrong with it

      Distressor - Super Plugin!!!