Empirical Labs | EL8-S Distressor | Stereo Pair | Compressor / Limiter
The Empirical Labs "Distressor" is an analog compressor similar to the ELI8M Single Channel Distressor, but in a stereo/dual mono channel package. Users can add 2nd or 3rd order harmonic distortion to the signal to emulate tape saturation of the classic tube compressors from the 60's and 70's. Other features include classic knee sound delivered with modern noise specs in an indestructible, digitally-controlled, single-height box.
The four large white knobs gleam at you as you enter the control room, announcing that this is not going to be your ordinary dynamics processing session. Vintage compressors are coveted — and rightly so — for their sonic qualities, but if there's a modern analog unit that belongs in the pantheon of all-time-great dynamics processors, it's the Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor. Which leads to the question: what do George Massenburg, Bob Clearmountain, Steve Vai, and Mick Gazouski have in common? They're all in the Distressor early-adopters club. Former Eventide engineer Dave Derr's ground-breaking design, released in 1996, has to be the most sui generis compressor we've come across.
- Classic "knee" compression with modern specs and performance
- Programmable analog distortion warms up unforgiving digital recordings
- Three audio modes: user-programmable, vintage-style harmonic distortion
- Clean and Distort 2 modes: tube-like, 2nd-order harmonics
- Distort 3 modes: distortion dominated by 3rd-order harmonics (similar to tape)
- Distortion indicator lights: 1% LED, "Redline" (3%) LED; hard clipping starts a few dB past "Redline"
- Advanced sidechain EQ: high-mid band emphasis tames harsh, edgy signals; highpass keeps the low sum/difference frequencies from pumping source material's upper frequencies
- Eight unique curves, starting with 1:1 with low-order harmonics but no compression
- "Nuke" setting is a brick-wall limiting curve — great for drum room mics
- 10:1 Opto setting employs separate detector circuitry to emulate classic "light-controlled" compressors
- Discrete and integrated circuitry for the best combination of speed/linearity with repeatability
- Hand-selected and tested long-life components, including all-metal film and Roederstein resistors in audio path
- Large knobs with high-resolution numbering for easy readability and repeatable settings
- Locked and calibrated output level for confident, speedy setups
- Switchable 115/230 volt operation with extra fuse stored inside unit
- Over-designed power supply runs cool, allows for sealed cabinet without heat vents
- True bypass for confident A/B comparisons
- XLR and 1/4" I/O; stereo linkable
- Hand-wired and calibrated in USA