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Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

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EMP EL8DIST

Product Details

The Empirical Labs 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.

Distressors Everywhere

With over 22,000 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.

Add Analog Color

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").

From Zero to Brickwall

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.

It's Not Just a Compressor -
- It's a Distortion Generator

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.

Features:


- Classic knee sound
-
- with modern noise specs and improved performance. The Distressor really grabs.
- Programmable analog distortion/warmth
-
- helpful in the pristine but unforgiving digital world. Three audio modes provide 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.
- Foolproof 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 brickwall 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 and a half.
- 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.
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- 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.
- Weight: 12.1 lbs

When will I receive my shipment?

We ship on business days (Saturday, Sunday, and holidays are not business days). Packages ship from Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, or Ohio -- we cannot guarantee that any product will ship from a specific warehouse. Expedited Shipping (1-Day Air and 2-Day Air) is the only way to guarantee that you will receive an item within a certain time frame. Delivery estimates for expedited shipping options are listed on the product page for the item in question. All expedited shipments are delivered Monday-Friday.

Ground Shipping typically takes 1-4 business days from the date of shipment (for orders within the 48 contiguous United States). Residential ground and Free 2-Day shipments are delivered Tuesday-Saturday. Commercial ground and Free 2-Day shipments are delivered Monday-Friday. Make sure to select the proper address type for your address in checkout, as delays may occur if your selection is incorrect.

For APO/FPO customers, all orders ship via USPS. Expedited shipping is not available. Tracking for these orders is not available.

For customers shipping to a PO Box, the order may need to be shipped via USPS. For this reason, expected delivery dates cannot be guaranteed.

Do you ship to my location?

For most products shipping to the continental United States, customers may choose Ground, 2-Day Air, or 1-Day Air delivery. We also ship to Alaska and Hawaii; however, due to carrier restrictions, we cannot ground-ship to those states.

In addition, we ships to the following destinations, though some restrictions apply:

  • Canada
  • Puerto Rico
  • APO/FPO
  • U.S. Territories

See instructions below for how to search the site by our eligible shipping destinations.

Note: We cannot change a shipping address on an order after it has shipped. If an order is returned because it couldn't be received at the listed shipping address, we will accept the return but will not refund the shipping charges.

Canada

We ship a lot of our most popular gear to Canada! To determine if item(s) ship to Canada, add the item(s) to your cart and enter your shipping postal code. Items that ship to Canada are sent via International Air, and delivery is typically 2-5 business days from the date of shipment.

Canadian orders are charged in U.S. dollars. Actual charges are dependent on your bank's conversion rate. Your bank may assess additional fees for international orders.

Although items shipped to Canada receive their full factory warranty, they must be returned to a United States service center for repairs. We're not responsible for any shipping or customs fees incurred in such a case.

Puerto Rico

We ship many items to Puerto Rico. To determine if item(s) ship to Puerto Rico, add the item(s) to your cart and enter your shipping zip code. Eligible items ship via International Air, and typically arrive 2-5 business days from the date of shipment.

APO/FPO

We ship to APO/FPO addresses for free, though over-sized items may be ineligible. To determine if item(s) ship to your APO/FPO address, add the item(s) to your cart and enter your shipping zip code.

U.S. Territories

We ship eligible products to American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and the Virgin Islands. Eligible items typically arrive 2-7 business days from the date of shipment.

What about customs fees?

Please be aware of customs fees such as taxes and duties, which are not included in our shipping charges. Customs fees vary from location to location. Please check with your local customs office for more information on the fees in your area. If you refuse to pay these fees, your order will not be delivered. We cannot refund shipping charges if an item is returned due to refusal to pay fees, and a restocking fee may be applied to cover the cost of return shipping. Customs fees are non-refundable.

Which items ship immediately?

Most orders ship the same business day your order is placed when you place a valid order before the shipping deadline.

Immediate shipment is available Monday-Friday. A valid order placed before 5 p.m. EST will ship the same day when using Ground or Free 2-Day shipping. Ground and Free 2-Day shipping orders placed after 5 p.m. EST will ship the next business day. Many orders using an expedited shipping method (2 Day Air or Next Day Air), and placed before 10 p.m. EST, will ship the same day.

Shipment and availability information updates from our warehouse to our website almost in real time. We are highly confident of the status of each item when you view a page. However, we do not reserve inventory being viewed or even placed in shopping carts, so we cannot guarantee an item's availability until you have placed your order. In particular, if you have been in the checkout area for more than about 10 minutes, we do recommend that you refresh the page to get the most current inventory prior to checking out.

What is a valid order?

A valid order is for a valid item at a valid price, placed with a credit card with complete and verifiable address and other information. Details.

Does immediate shipment mean immediate delivery?

Once an order is shipped, our carriers (Federal Express and UPS) typically guarantee a service time for when the order will be delivered to you. Our carriers have a very good record of delivering at their promised service time. We will ship immediately, and on all items, we will refund expedited shipping charges if the carrier's service levels for your chosen shipping method are not met.

If a product is in stock, is there any reason it will not ship immediately?

Exceptions are very unusual, but here are some examples of reasons that might prevent us from shipping immediately:

  • Warehouse, call center, or web operations lose power or telecom connectivity.
  • Warehouse, call center, or web operations lose capability due to adverse weather (blizzard), safety threat, or other factors.

What can I do if I don't feel you've lived up to your guarantees?

If you ever feel we have not lived up to any of our guarantees, we want to know about it -- and we want a chance to do right if we agree. Contact Us.

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