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Empirical Labs Distressor



Where can I find the manual?

What are the features of the Distressor?


  • Classic knee sound - With modern noise specs and improved performance. Really grabs.
  •  Programmable analog distortion/warmth - helpful in the pristine but unforgiving digital world. Three audio modes providing user programmable, warm harmonic distortion. Emphasized tube-like, 2nd harmonic in clean and Distort 2 mode. In Distort 3 mode, the distortion becomes dominated by 3rd harmonic, more similar to tape.
  • Distortion indicator lights - A 1% LED and a "Redline" (3%) LED. No hard clipping until a few dB past "Redline".
  • Advanced built-in sidechain EQ - High mid band emphasis prevents harsh, edgy guitars or vocals from hurting innocent ears. Low cut keeps the low "sum & difference" frequencies from pumping the upper frequencies of source material.
  • Fool proof operation - Even though there are 384 possible settings (not counting knob settings), it's almost impossible to get a bad sound. Keep all knobs on 5 or 6 (around middle) with ratio at 6:1 and you won't go wrong.
  • Eight unique curves - 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 release shape. Most exceptional is the 10:1 "Opto" ratio which uses separate circuitry to emulate the oldest (and valued) "light controlled" devices, such as the LA-2A etc. See manual to emulate other compressors of old.
  • Discrete and integrated combination - the best of speed/linearity with repeatability. Hand tested & selected components.
  • Huge knobs with high resolution numbering - For easy readability and repeatable settings. They also go to 10 1/2 .
  • Locked, calibrated, output level - Allows speed in setting tape and live mix levels.
  • Stereo Strappable
  • Switchable 115/230 volt operation - Extra fuse provided inside unit.
  • Over designed power supplies - Runs cool, allowing cabinet to be sealed - without heat vents. Long life components.
  • Single height and light weight - Classic sound in a small, extremely reliable package.
  • True bypass - Know what it's really doing. All contacts doubled up for maximum reliability. No internal audio connectors.
  • XLR and 1/4" phone ins and outs - XLR fully balanced, transformerless design, pin 2 hot. Changeable by user to pin 3 hot!
  • All metal film and Roederstein resistors in the audio path - top quality components. Many military spec. parts.
  • Interface and features found nowhere else.
  • Hand wired, calibrated in USA. Shipping weight 12 Lbs

What are the Specs for the Distressor?

  • 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.
  • Time constants - Attack range 50uS - 30mS. Release range .05 sec to 3.5 seconds. Release goes up to 20 seconds in 10:1 “Opto” mode.
  • Power Consumption – Typical is 10 Watts, maximum is 14 Watts.

dbx160a vs Distressor

Hi guys,
Alright, I do mainly hip hop , r&b music.
Lots of rap vocals. So its widely known the with hip hop , if the drums don't thump, the songs not happening all the way.

I'm looking to invest in my first outboard compressor. I have lots of
experiece with the uad stuff as well as waves. But I think the plugs are missing what I need for that true thump.

Vintech X81-Distressor or TUBE TECH comp . Killer VOX?

Hey all, planning towards new additions. Primary style Gospel-Hip-Hop, RAP, R&B, etc. Current pieces:

Focusrite ISA 428

I'm wanting to add to my pallete the Vintech X81 and either the TUBE TECH compressor or the Distressor. I also am locked on the Blues Kiwi and the AD card for the ISA.

so, Kurt, about the Distressor...

I respect your opinion on gear. I am hearing you say the Distressor doesn't cut it. Could you be more specific?
I am ready to buy tracking compression, but have heard that
the Distressor is the only one that is NOT a one--trick-pony.
Is it NOT a swiss armyknife unit?
My other choices are
Manley ELOP,
pair of Daking
pair of Chandler LTD

Distressor users out there?

Hey guys, i'm fairly new to the Empirical Labs EL-8x Distressor. I really like what I hear so far but I thought it might be cool to have a forum just for Distressor and FATSO talk. There is some pretty cool info I found by searching but you have to wade thru a lot of stuff to get to the interesting tid bits. Just my thoughts.


DISTRESSOR, mono or stereo?

Hey, everybody!

My question refers to drums: room mic compression. I currently have two EL8 momo distressors. I like them on the room mics but, would it be better to use a stereo EL8 insted? would there be a difference? and if not, whats the point of offering a stereo unit? if you get the same results with two mono units at a cheaper price? thanks for any opinions.

Anyone used the SPECK ASC EQ? DISTRESSOR? R84 Ribbon?

Hey guys just got my Great River MP-2NV in and I am already wanting to get a good EQ and comp to go with it. I have seen where the Speck ASC and RNC comps are recommended to use with the GR. (Mercenary Audio) Anyone out there use these pieces and what do you think about them? Will I really hear a substantial sonic improvement over my UAD cards Pultec eq and LA-2A/1176 LN comps?


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