Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

Empirical Labs® EL8 Distressor

$299.00

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$299.00
4.8/5
(27 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.

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

4.8/5
(27 reviews)

J. Johnson II

December 4, 2017

I lOVE It!

It sounds like the hardware! End of story from me. Buy IT!

M. Kramer

December 4, 2017

The best.

Let me keep this short. This is the best Distressor emulation out there and I freaking LOVE it!

j. elliott

November 30, 2017

top of the heap

as an owner of 2 distressors, this is easily the closest plugin version out there currently... get it!

J. Park

November 30, 2017

Just like a Real Thing

I have 2 units of EL8-X and UAD is most similar things in plug-ins. Arouser is OK but they are complicated. FG-stress and Deflector are way to go.

c. nagel

November 30, 2017

WOW!

So nice to have this on the Drum-Bus- So easy to get great sounding drums on one Fader!
Thanks!!!

D. Gallucci

November 30, 2017

Hard to believe

Sounds exactly like the hardware version

M. Olsen

November 30, 2017

Best of the best...

The UAD EL8 and FG-Stress are very close contenders. I'd already bought FG-Stress as it sounded amazing and was practically indistinguishable from the real unit in A/B tests. I also own EL's Arousor, which sounds and acts quite a bit different. But in my shootout between UAD and Slate, I favored the UAD slightly and appreciated the additional HR (headroom) dial. Also, I like the stand-alone interface a lot more. What tips it further is the ability to use it live in Console (wish UAD Console had MIDI control though). I ended up picking up the UAD EL8 at a discount while registering new hardware. Well done, UA. You got me again.

e. Thorngren

November 29, 2017

Deserted Island Compressor

If I could have only ONE compressor this would be it.

J. Schweitzer

November 29, 2017

Sounds Amazing

As promised, this little gem, like all UA emulations just sounds great. From a touch of compression to slamming the meters, this guy delivers that classic distessor creaminess.

S. Woolgar

November 29, 2017

I just love it

I'm not one of those that had the hardware version. But I have to admit that it sounds fantastic on everything I've put it on. This is an ongoing exercise as I try it on more and more things.

C. Clouser

November 29, 2017

Spot-on emulation of the hardware

I've owned hardware Distressors for twenty years, and the UAD emulation is right on the money. The same crunchy push, the same in-your-face sound - it's all there. They pass the A/B test against the hardware with flying colors.

m. linett

November 29, 2017

great to have it back.

Great plug in emulation of the mighty Distressor

A. EMIXPRO

November 27, 2017

Forgot to add!

Pair this with the Fatso in parallel and just WOW!!

A. EMIXPRO

November 27, 2017

Superb emulation. Super easy to dial in

I own all but the Slate emu and all do a great job. This clinches it though as I find this emulation super easy to dial in, just like my hardware version. All the others take a little more time to get there, but get there they do. If time is money, then this is a no brainer. Best emu yet

J. Maiwald

November 23, 2017

Very impressed

In comparison with all the competitors, this Baby is the easiest to dial in, and the one with the fastest and best results...obviously it’s home is more the acoustic, real recorded world, but this beast on my drum bus fulfilled with electronic impacts is a milestone in the plugin world. I own all the distressor competitors and with no doubt I will buy this one to have MY distressor finally.

A. Schebstadt

November 22, 2017

299 USD = 299 EUR is unacceptable discrimination

Money-making-UAD charges EU customers more than US customers. There is no justification (like cost, etc.) for this discrimination of loyal customers who use the UAD platform and products. Back in the days we all paid in USD, than they changed it. Inacceptable.

M. Fletcher

November 21, 2017

A wonderful compressor

Fabulous sound, great emulation, so glad it has a wet/dry knob would be so much harder to use without it. Can be extremely powerful like a cartoon version of a compressor but also adds very nice glue at lower amounts of mix and 2:1 and 3:1 on the master. Just annoyed it's another mindblowingly good plug I'm having to buy. UAD are hitting homerun after homerun at the moment.

W. Taylor

November 18, 2017

Distressor vs Distressor

I have 2 hardware distressors. In my study, I find the UAD plug-in to be great, but it is brighter. One of the big things I try to work on in digital recording is smoothing that high end, 'rounding' things out so to speak. My hardware units have more of 'that sound' when I track/mix through them.

W. Taylor

November 18, 2017

UAD Distressor and Hardware Distressor

I have a pair of hardware distressors. In just initially comparing a vocal through the hardware/UAD, I could not discern any difference. ( I had identical microphones, identical preamps, set hardware comp/UAD comp identically and compared). However, when I did a similar test with a kick drum, recorded the results and listened back n forth, I could hear a difference. To my ears the UAD distressor sounds great but it is a little 'brighter' than my hardware. I guess it's a matter of taste. If you just buy the distressor and have never had the hardware, you're getting a great compressor. If you have a hardware unit and are used to the sound of it, you might hear differences. One thing I'm really glad with the UAD version is all the presets that come from various engineers. It's great to be able to try them out on the UAD but also to be able to try out all those different settings on the hardware as well.

L. Walker

November 18, 2017

So, Dave, you're saying this is better than your own Arouser v2?

I doubt they differ by much, if at all. But having a distressor plugin available for tracking still makes this compelling, and the reason why I purchased it. I'll do a comparison of all the distressor plugins from UAD, Empirical Labs, Slate, Sknote, but who really cares which one sounds closest to the hardware? How does the plugin sound and is it useful? Again, having one for tracking gives the UAD version another BIG use.