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The Distressor EL8 from Empirical Labs is a professional compressor that features a wide range of controls and feature set for studio or live applications. The Distressor offers a warm, vintage sound by using a custom designed gain control circuit. All eight of the Distressor's curves are 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. Some curves have different circuitry, and are effectively different compressors. The 10:1 Opto ratio uses separate detector circuitry to emulate the oldest light controlled devices, such as the LA-2A.
The Distressor features three modes that color the signal, even without compression. These extended audio modes were designed to allow emulation of some very old vintage compressors and 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 the Distort 3 setting the distortion becomes dominated by 3rd harmonics more closely resembling tape. Two HP filters, with one in the audio path, one in the detector path, are also available to help with low frequencies that can cause pumping and breathing.
Classic Knee Sound
Improved noise specs and performance
Programmable Analog Distortion/Warmth
Three audio modes provide user programmable, warm harmonic distortion. Emphasized tubelike, 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 providing no hard clipping until a few dB past Redline
Advanced Built-In Sidechain EQ
High mid-band emphasis and low-cut keeps the low sum and difference frequencies from pumping the upper frequencies of source material
Eight Unique Curves
From the 1:1 mode that warms up signal with low order harmonics without intentional compression, to the Nuke setting, each curve has its own personality, and release shape. The 10:1 Opto ratio uses separate circuitry to emulate the oldest light controlled devices, such as the LA-2A
Large Knobs with High Resolution Numbering
They're large for easy readability and repeatable settings, and go to 10.5
Locked, Calibrated, Output Level
Allows speed in setting tape and live mix levels
Switchable 115/230 Volt Operation
Extra fuse provided inside unit
Over Designed Power Supplies
Runs cool, allowing cabinet to be sealed without heat vents and features long life components
All contacts doubled up for maximum reliability with no internal audio connectors
XLR and 1/4" Phone Inputs and Outputs
The XLRs are fully balanced with a transformerless design (pin 2 hot, changeable by user to pin 3 hot)
All metal film and Roederstein resistors in the audio path
In the Box
EMPIRICAL LABS Distressor EL8 Analog Knee Compressor (Single Compressor)
Limited 1-Year Warranty
Table of Contents
2 Hz to 160 kHz in clean audio mode (+0, -3 dB), response is shaped in distortion modes (Dist 2, Dist 3).
110 dB from maximum output to minimum output in 1:1 mode
Signal to Noise
> 100 dB in distortion 3
0.02 and 20%
50 uS to 30 mS
0.05 to 3.5 seconds, release goes up to 20 seconds in 10:1 Opto mode
Typical: 10 W Maximum: 14 W
EMPIRICAL LABS Distressor EL8 Analog Knee Compressor (Single Compressor) Review