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Product of the Week: Empirical Labs Arousor Rev 3

For fans of the legendary Empirical Labs Distressor compressor, it doesn't get any better than a plug-in from the original designer.

Several software manufacturers offer plug-ins that emulate the iconic Distressor compressor, but there’s only one made by Empirical Labs (aka, “ELI”) itself: Arousor. This week, the company released Arousor Rev 3 (Mac and PC), which introduces some powerful new features.

The most significant improvement is the addition of two Opto Modes. ELI says it based them on the time constraints of two different hardware LA-2As—one vintage and one more modern—giving users additional sonic variety. In either of the Opto modes, you’ll see orange text underneath the Attack and Release knobs that indicates default Opto values for those parameters. If you click on the orange number, it will change that parameter to the recommended setting.

Pressing the Alt button at the right of the ratio indicators accesses two new ratios: 6.5:1 and 7. The new settings emulate those in the T4 Optocouplers modeled for Opto A and B, but you can use them in any of Arousor’s compression modes.

ELI also upped the adjustability—not to mention the “geek factor”—for the Soft Clipping circuit with a new “Expert Button,” which opens up an additional user parameter called 2nd Harmonic Control.

Read more Product of the Week: Avid VENUE 7 Software.

With the Expert button pressed, you’ll also see Pre and Post buttons for selecting whether the compressor input is before or after the Soft Clipping circuit.

With myriad knobs and switches and numerous parameter values visible on Arousor’s GUI, ELI introduced a sizing option in Rev 3 that allows users to significantly enlarge the GUI. Just click on the sizing icon that’s above and to the left of the Input knob.

Another addition is a Listen mode that solos the Sidechain EQ. You can drill down further and solo the HP or Parametric EQ sections.

ELI also added Tool Tips to selected functions, as well as iLok Cloud Protection. The latter makes it possible to authorize Arousor via iLok Cloud instead of a dongle.

Arousor Rev 3 is a free upgrade for existing Arousor owners; it’s $199 for new users. If you’d like to try before you buy, you can download a fully functional 15-day demo version.