Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Single Channel Harmonic Distoration & Classic Knee Compressor. 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 Mind (amongst others), the Distressor integrates his favored sonic characteristics of these, along with other unique and interesting features that have actually made it a staple for audio engineers all over the globe. With over 22,000 units in the field, it’s safe to say that the Distressor is one of the greatest selling high end compressors of all time … if not The Very Best selling. A prominent recording engineer just recently bet that there probably was not a top 40 record made in the last 5 years that didn’t have at the very least one Distressor on it.
Besides supplying a broad assortment of control and an unique feature set, the Distressor supplies a cozy, old noise using a custom created gain control circuit. This “warmth” or “classical sound” has come to be a major issue in the last few decades, as the extremely clear and linear digital modern technology does next to nothing to relax “severe” sounds, nor highlight the bass frequencies in popular music sources. Conversely, older analog tape, vinyl records and tube equipment can not be avoided from coloring the noise, typically to the frustration of tape-recording engineers. Nonetheless, many people now understand that this coloring can be exceptionally pleasurable and musical. Digital innovation is often referred to as “cold” and “breakable” among other terms (although we prefer “unforgiving”).
All 8 of the Distressor’s curves are special and distinctive, from the 1:1 mode that simply warms up signal with reasonable 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 character and many actually utilize different circuitry, and are effectively different compressors. The majority of exceptional is the 10:1 “Opto” ratio which utilizes separate detector circuitry to imitate the earliest (and valued) “light controlled” gadgets, such as the LA-2A.
Another large part of the Distressor’s individuality and power derive from three modes that color the signal, even without compression. These prolonged audio modes were created to enable emulation of some very old and pricey vintage compressors & limiters, and let the Distressor deliver a timeless “knee” sound all its own by supplying 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 comes to be prevailed over by 3rd harmonics more very closely resembling tape. Two HP filters– one in the audio course, one in the detector course – are also available to assist with low frequencies that could trigger pumping and breathing.
The Distressor is available in either its original form (EL8), or in a customized version (EL8-X) with 2 added features – British Mode, and Image Link.