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

      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!

      M. Bravin

      January 16, 2019

      Magnifique

      J'ai testé ce produit pendant 14 jours en démo sur le mix entierd'un album et je suis bluffé, je l'ai mis à coté de mon compresseur Slate Digital et je bypass pour pouvoir faire une vraie comparaison et c'est le jour et la nuit. Je l'utilise sur mes voix, sur mon Bus de drum, tout devient plus clair, plus de punch... Je ne pourrai plus m'en passer. J'attends les promo UA pour en faire immédiatement l'acquisition, les jours sont désormais longs face à cette attente! A posséder d'urgence...

      A. Warren

      January 14, 2019

      Easy and sounds great

      Thank you to whoever encouraged me to buy this. I can hear why, very versatile. Could become a favourite.

      A. Warren

      January 14, 2019

      Easy and sounds great

      Thank you to whoever encouraged me to buy this. I can hear why, very versatile. Could become a favourite.

      D. Zahn

      January 13, 2019

      Favorite UAD Compressor

      It sounds great on everything, and the ability to run numerous instances makes me go from 6 to midnight.

      D. Gianesello

      January 12, 2019

      Really similar to the real Distressor outboard!

      I own a real Distressor outboard, an exceptional and extremely versatile machine ... and I can say that this UA plugin sounds almost the same ... wonderful!

      J. Tristán

      January 11, 2019

      De lo mejor

      Es impresionante lo que este plugin es capaz de hacer. Desde algo suave hasta lo más agresivo que te imagines. Aporta vida y carácter allá donde lo insertes. Totalmente recomendado.

      D. Cojocaru

      January 11, 2019

      Tasty!!

      I love what it is doing to my drums!!!!

      P. Giacalone

      January 10, 2019

      Great software comp

      To be clear, it’s still not the same as the hardware - but... nothing is. It’s still great in its own right and well worth owning. I do wish they had emulated the britmod version.

      A. Milyukov

      January 9, 2019

      Empirical Labs Distressor Plug-In for UAD-2

      Loved the plugin !!! Perfect for vocals plugin !!!

      M. Kartashev

      January 6, 2019

      Amazing emulation of the best compressor!

      If you can have only one this is it!

      R. JAGRU

      January 4, 2019

      Totally impressed

      This plugin is amazing.
      It’s the final touch to my mix

      A. Lee

      January 1, 2019

      Incredible

      I saw the review of this by Michael White - he said " I can't believe it" - I know exactly what he means! This is not only the best compressor plugin ever, it could just be the best plugin ever!!!

      E. Buckley

      December 27, 2018

      The only compressor you need

      Of all the compressors on the market, the Distressor is the island piece. Granted, UAD makes some great plugins and their very own 1176 was the best software compressor I owned until the Distressor came along. This does everything the 1176 does but so much more. This is a no brainer.

      C. Stimpel

      December 26, 2018

      An industry standard brought to the digital platform.

      I'm not sure how they do it but they do it. Getting to use this in the studio as a hardware unit gave us a good comparison for the software. It's crazy how accurate this thing is plus a mix knob makes it that much cooler.