Empirical Labs EL8X Distressor
If you ever walked into a professional recording studio, chances are you've seen at least one Distressor in the racks. It's undoubtedly one of the most popular analog compressors in our industry!
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.
Besides providing a wide range of control and a unique feature set, the Distressor offers a warm, vintage sound by using a custom designed gain control circuit. This “warmth” or “vintage sound” has become a major issue in the last few decades, as the super clear and linear digital technology does next to nothing to soften “harsh” sounds, nor emphasize the bass frequencies in music sources. Conversely, older analog tape, vinyl records and tube equipment could not be prevented from coloring the sound, often to the frustration of recording engineers. However, many people now realize that this coloring can be extremely pleasant and musical. Digital technology is often referred to as “cold” and “brittle” among other terms (although we prefer “unforgiving”).
A TRUE MODERN DAY CLASSIC
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.
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.
All prices on our website include 23% Portuguese VAT and are also displayed VAT free. If you’re buying from outside of Portugal and have a VAT registered business within the EU, you can buy directly on our store without VAT. Just add the product to your cart and go to the checkout page and there will be an option for you to enter and validate your VAT ID. If it's accepted through our system your order will be completed and fulfilled without VAT. Please note, if you use an express checkout or buy it now button the option to buy without VAT isn't available, you need to add the product to cart first and use the standard checkout procedure.
We can ship worldwide but our online store is configured to only handle orders to EU (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden) and Schengen countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland). If you want us to ship to a country outside this list just get and touch with us so we can quote you and let you know how much it would be to fulfil such order.
For all orders over €400 will automatically receive free shipping during checkout, if it's for one of mainland EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia). No need to add a promo code or voucher, it's all done automatically!
We have access to all the products of the brands we represent, however not all of them are listed. Please get in touch and let us know what you’re looking for, we can pretty much guarantee the best price in Europe.
We use UPS so you can expect 1 - 3 business days to get it after we ship (1-2 days if we’re shipping to continental Portugal). If the item you bought is in stock, we usually ship the same day (for orders placed until 11AM) or the next day at the latest. If we’re out of stock, we can usually get the products in 2-5 working days. Please get in touch if you have a specific deadline you have to meet before ordering. In some cases we can ship a demo unit to get you to work if the manufacturer has a longer lead time.
Regarding plugin sales in our online store, those are processed automatically so you'll receive your code immediately after your purchase!
Bank transfer is preferred, but we take all major credit cards, PayPal, or cash if you’re picking up the gear at our shop. We don’t accept debit cards or checks at the moment. If you’re looking for financing for your purchase get in touch as we might be able to help you with that.
According to EU law, we accept returns for all the products purchased through our online store during the next 14 days after receiving the goods, provided that the packaging is in it’s original condition. If this is not the case, we reserve the right to refuse the return or charge a re-stocking fee.
All returns need to be pre-approved by us and must be complete including accessories and documentation with original packaging.
You are responsible for return shipping costs including shipping insurance which is recommended to protect your items, as you are liable for items damaged during return shipment. Additionally, if you received free shipping on the order when we fulfilled it, we will be deducting the value of this shipping cost from your refund/discount.
We do not accept returns of the following goods: (1) Software and computers; (2) All custom or special order items; (3) Magnetic tape or other recording medium; (4) Personal use items, such as headphones or windscreens; (5) Studio furniture, racks and chairs.
After inspection of the returned goods, and providing that they meet the conditions stated above, we will issue a refund or give you credit for another purchase.
Everything we sell is covered by the manufacture's warranty, which is a least 1 year. Special conditions may apply.
Yes, we do. Please contact us to know if the software you’re looking for has an Education licence available.
We don’t through this website, but please check our Reverb store. There you can find B-Stock and Ex-Demo gear, as well as other stuff (used and new) from brands we don’t usually represent.
At Arda we try to work with only the best brands in the business, because we know how important is reliability in a professional environment. That being said, sometimes shit happens. If you run into some issue with anything you bought from us, please get in touch and we’ll try our best to take care of it ASAP. We might even be able to provide you with some sort of replacement gear in order to minimize downtime.