Empirical Labs

EMP-EL8Distressor

Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor


With over 22,000 units now in all the top studios around the world, it’s safe to say that the Distressor is one of the best selling high-end compressors of all time. The Distressor is the product that started it all for Empirical Labs. Born of founder Dave Derr’s love of classic compressors like the 1176, LA-2A and Gain Brain (among others), the Distressor incorporates his favorite sonic characteristics of these, along with other unique and interesting features that have made it a staple for audio engineers all over the world.  


    • Empirical Labs EL8 PRODUCT FEATURES:

      A prominent recording engineer recently wagered that there probably was not a top 40 record made in the last five years that didn’t have at least one Distressor on it.

      All eight of the Distressor’s curves are unique and distinctive, from the 1:1 mode that simply warms up signal with low order harmonics without intentional compression, to the “Nuke” setting - a brick wall limiting curve that shines on live drum room mics.  Each curve has its own personality and several actually use different circuitry, and are effectively different compressors. Most exceptional is the 10:1 “Opto” ratio which uses separate detector circuitry to emulate the oldest (and valued) “light controlled” devices, such as the LA-2A.

      Another large part of the Distressor’s personality and power derive from three modes that color the signal, even without compression. These extended audio modes were designed to allow emulation of some very old and expensive vintage compressors & limiters, and let the Distressor deliver a classic “knee” sound all its own by providing user programmable, warm harmonic distortion. In addition to the basic distortion mode, Distort 2 emphasizes tube-like 2nd order harmonics, while in Distort 3 setting the distortion becomes dominated by 3rd harmonics more closely resembling tape. Two HP filters – one in the audio path, one in the detector path - are also available to help with low frequencies that can cause pumping and breathing.

      The Distressor is available in either its original form (EL8), or in a modified version (EL8-X) with two additional functions  - British Mode, and Image Link.

    • Empirical Labs EL8 TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:

      Freq. response is 2 Hz to 160 kHz in clean audio mode (+0, -3 dB). Response is shaped in distortion modes (Dist 2, Dist 3).
      • Dynamic range 110 dB from max. output to min. output in 1:1 mode. Greater than 100 dB signal to noise in distort 3 mode.
      • Distortion ranges between .02% and 20% depending on distortion mode and release times set on front panel.
      • DC coupled output - High quality input caps.
      • Input impedance is 20K Ohms, Output impedance is < 75 ohms
      • Time constants - Attack range 50uS - 50mS. Release range .05 sec to 3.5 seconds, normal modes and up to 20 seconds in 10:1 opto mode. Time constants are dependant on ratio.
      • Metal Chassis - single height 1.75" high, 10" deep, 19" wide.
      • Shipping info - 12.1 lbs mono, 24.2 lbs Stereo pair. Mono box dimensions 22.5" x 18.5" x 3 1/4". 
      • Stereo Pair box dimensions 22.5" x 18.5" x 6 1/4

      Need more info on the EL8? Click HERE for the official Empirical Labs product listing >>>