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. With over 28,000 units in the field, it’s safe to say that the Distressor is one of the best selling high end compressors of all time...
if not THE best selling. 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.
The concept of British Mode came from an unusual setting on the classic UREI LN1176 limiter. The unit was designed to have only four ratios, each ratio being engaged by selecting one of four buttons. However, as early as 1980 (or before), renegade recording engineers, always on the lookout for something a little more “over-the-top”, found that you could make all four buttons stay in if you pressed them just right. What resulted was a very aggressive sound that had some elements of the unit’s 20:1 ratio, but with an unusual knee and new envelope shape. Somewhere along the line, someone called it “British Mode”, and the name stuck.
The EL8-X has the advantage of being able to selectively apply this aggressive characteristic - not just to the new “British” ratio (1:1) - to any of the ratios, simply by engaging the dedicated “British Mode" switch.
The original Distressor stereo link function used a summing and phase detection method, which allowed slight stereo image shifting. Although frequently desirable for its phase correction, and its “thickening” on open room mics and other stereo sources, this approach can sometimes be a problem on stereo program material where the producer/engineers want to maintain absolute left/right balance at all times. With the new “Stereo Image Link” option, the EL8-X now has three link options - the original “phase” link, the new Image Link and the combination of the two, phase and image linking - something never before offered on any compressors or limiters.
• 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
US and EU parcels ship via UPS, ETA 1-7 working days from pickup day zero. That also applies to most
All shipments are fully insured.
Bigger shipments requiring pallets or custom made crates ship to US, CA, JP, CN, AU and other outside of EU locations via DHL Air Freight, ETA is normally approx. 7-14 working days from pickup day zero.
Big shipments inside EU ship via different freight companies, recently mostly via ACE Logistics. Freight forwarders can use different courier companies for deliveries to final destinations.
Palletising and crating time can vary depending on the size of the shipment and packaging queue. We pack all our shipments with great care.
You are most welcome to pick your order up yourself from our Retrosonic Pro Audio showroom, studio and warehouse in Tallinn, Estonia.
We ship worldwide – contact us for a personal shipping quote or any other questions.
VAT (Value Added Tax) can be deducted if you have a company with a valid EU VAT number or if you're based outside of the EU. Non-EU buyers pay all and any import tax and duty as regulated by their local customs.