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Gear and Technology

Review: Universal Audio Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor

By Rich Tozzoli. Dig into Universal Audio’s new software emulation of the classic Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor.

A great piece of hardware now available to us in software form for UAD hardware and Apollo interfaces is the Universal Audio Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor.

I’m a huge fan of using the Distressor on drums, be it overheads, room mics and snares. It’s like having a blend of some of my favorite studio compression tools: the UA 1176 Teletronix LA-2A with some extra coloration using the “Dist 2 and Dist 3” modes.

Rich Tozzoli’s Top Gear of 2017 – Part 1

On guitars (and bass), you have to be careful with it because you can easily push the compression to the point of full squash, unless that’s what you want.

But by using a nice 3:1 or 4:1 with just a touch of gain reduction (set by adjusting the input knob), you can really pound a guitar signal through a mix, even a super dense one.

Rich Tozzoli’s Top Gear of 2017 – Part 2

On clean funky Telecaster parts, I will often add some grit with the aforementioned Dist 2 or Dist 3 modes, which adds a touch of even/ odd order harmonic distortion.

There’s a reason that studio racks are filled with Distressors, and I, for one, am glad to have a rack of them inside my computer now. One welcome feature the software has that the hardware does not is the Dry/ Comp Mix knob, which lets you dial in just the right amount.

I find this especially useful when using a Distressor on stereo drum loops because you can use it to taste instead of altering the Input/Output blend. If you want to add some ’tude to your productions, dial in one of these.

Universal Audio •