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Control your volume levels while adding musicality, intelligibility and excitement.
The EL8 Distressor from Empirical Labs is an automatic gain (or volume) control device (AGC in engineering terms) designed for pro audio applications. Basically, the compressor electronically controls the volume of just about any source in a very pleasing, and "musical" manner - adding fullness, intelligibility, and especially in the Distressor's case - excitement. This type of device is often called a "limiter" or "compressor" by audio industry people. Its most probable uses will be in recording studios, live sound situations, movie sound production, and radio broadcast production.
Unlike most analog compressor/limiters the Distressor is a digitally controlled audio device and actually incorporates several products into one by utilizing digital controls to switch totally different circuits in and out. Years of beta testing and redesign went into the Distressor as will be the case with all Empirical Labs products.
Besides offering a wide range of control and unique features, the EL8 Distressor offers a warm, vintage sound by using a custom designed gain control circuit. This "warmth" or vintage sound has become an important issue in the last 15 years, as the super clear and linear digital technology does very little (or nothing) to soften "harsh" sounds nor emphasize the bass frequencies in music sources. Older analog tape, vinyl records and tube equipment on the other hand, could not be prevented from coloring the sound, often to the frustration of recording engineers. However, many people have now realized that this coloring can be extremely pleasant and "musical". The current digital technology is often referred to as "cold" and "brittle" among other terms, although we prefer the term "unforgiving" to describe the negative side of the "linearity". The Distressor compressor offers several modes that color the signal, even without compression (or gain control). These extended modes were designed to allow emulation of some very old and some very expensive vintage gain control units (compressors & limiters) and deliver a classic "knee" sound all its own.
About Empirical Labs:
Empirical Labs was started in 1988 and functioned mainly as a recording studio and electronics consulting firm. The founder, Dave Derr, was also employed at the time by Eventide as an audio engineer and was one of the core designers of their legendary H3000. EL's first product, the EL8 Distressor (#501578) immediately took the recording industry by storm and hardly a record has been made without it since. With a mission "to make products that work a little easier, a little better, a lot longer, and are fun to use," Empirical Labs continues to create unique and innovate products that quickly find homes among the top professionals of the audio industry (and anyone else who wants in on the Empirical Labs sound).
Empirical Labs Users:
Aerosmith - Joe Perry (8 Distressors)
Angela Piva - Mary J Blige, Naughty by Nature, Janet Jackson
Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, Niacin, David Lee Roth)
Bob Clearmountain - Journey, Bryan Adams, Stones, Springstein, etc, etc, etc!
Brendan O'Brien -Producer Mixdown Engineer
Bruce Calder - (Electric Lady Studios, Degeneration)
Chris Lord Alge
Craig Melvin (Gloria Estefan)
Creed - Eight Distressors on their 2003 tour
D & D Studios NYC
Daniel Lanois (U2)
Dave Hewitt - Remote Recording Services
Dave Matthews —
Death Cab for Cutie
Dust Brothers (John King)
Ed Cherney -
Ed Kowalcyzk - Live
Eddie Kramer (JimiHendrix)
Effanel Remote recording - Randy Ezratty, 2003 Grammys
Eric Schilling - Gloria Estefan, John Secada
Finn Halle - Germany
Five Towns College (6 Distressors)
Full Sail School for the Recording Arts
Goo Goo Dolls
Greg Calbi - Sterling Sound
Jason Slater - Snake River Conspiracy
Jay Baumgartner - NRG Studios
Jay Gordon - Producer, Lead Vocalist of Orgy
Jerry Harrison - Live, Verve Pipe, (12 Distressors)
Jerry Only - The Misfits
Joe Chicarelli - Hole, Beck, U2, etc!
John Agnello - Producer, Engineer, Mixer
John Kurzweg - Creed
John McBride at Blackbird Studios - 8 Distressors, 4 Fatsos, 2 Lil FrEQs
John Patterson —
Josh Abraham (Orgy, Staind, Korn, Limp Bizkit)
Julien - K
Kooster McAllister - Record Plant Remote
Marc Costanzo, Len
Mark Plati - David Bowie
Michael Wilton (Queensrych)
Micheal Brauer - Sony Studios NYC
Mick Gazauski — (Mariah Carey, Boyz 2 Men, Toni Braxton, etc.)
Mick Hughes - Metallica FOH Engineer
Mike Keating (Sting, Bush, Springstein live)
Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue)
Nine Inch Nails
Paul Tennebekk (Norway's Midwest Audio)
Phil (the Buther) Nicolo (The Stones, Amy Grant, Sting, Aerosmith, Judy Saiya)
Phil Ramone/John Patterson
Real World Studios - (Peter Gabriel's facility in England)
Roey Shamir - Information Society, Al B Sure
Ross Hogarth - (Jewel, Coal Chamber, Grade 8)
Ryan Hewitt - Engineer Extraordinare
Scott Anthony - Dessau recording, Beastie Boys
Seal - on tour
Sean Beresford (3rd Eye Blind)
Stone Temple Pilots
Sue Shoemaker - Blues Traveler
Tchad Blake - Sheryl Crow, Richard Thompson, Crowded House, Pearl Jam, Bonnie Raitt
The Academy Is
The Voyager Remote Truck in Paris
Tom Lord Alge
Woodland Studios - Robert Solomon
If you could only buy one pro-quality compressor, make it a Distressor.
Reviewed by 1 customer
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Comments about Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor Stereo Pair:
I rarely give any product a rating of 5 *'s, but this product truly deserves it!I'm a pro bassist in Greensboro, NC, and the primary studio that I record sessions in has 2 - 1 channel units of the Distressor. He uses them for everything from drum tracks, to vocals, to guitar, and of course: BASS!! This unit is essentially his compressor rig in 1 unit instead of 2.Anyway, I've used many compressor units at Underground, and this is my favorite compressor by far! The engineer at Underground works all of the controls, so I can't speak on how easy it is to use. It looks simple enough to use though. I can tell you that this thing makes my bass sing! The tone is even, the signal is boosted, there is no coloration from the compressor, and no noise. Running direct into a patchbay into the Distressor, then directly into his ProTools rig, my bass sounds clear, defined, precise, punchy... I have not run through any high end bass rig that make my bass sound as good as the Distressor! I would say, from my playing experience, that the LA-2A is the closest competition to these units. But at double the price of this unit, you can keep the LA-2A. I'll take the Distressor!!!