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New Music Gear Monday: UAD Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Plugin

UAD EL8 Distressor plugin on Bobby Owsinski's Production blogIt’s really difficult for a piece of gear to become a standard that everyone must have. It’s especially difficult when it comes to compressors, since most of the classic designs were created 50 years ago or so and we’ve seen mostly variations on a theme since. That’s why Dave Derr’s EL8 Distressor is such a phenomenon. It’s transcended the great compressors of the past to become one that offers its own unique sound that has become essential to the sound of so many engineers and recordings. The problem was that it was only available as a hardware unit, as no one has ever come close to reproducing its coolness in software.

Until now, that is. The clever boffins at Universal Audio have come up with a plugin version of the Distressor that is so authentic that it’s the only one that’s received the esteemed Mr. Derr’s endorsement.

The UAD Distressor plugin incorporates all the features that make the hardware version so totally distinctive, from the 8 different ratio settings (including Opto and Nuke), to the distortion modes, to the Sidechain controls, it’s the same.

The UAD version does have some features that are different from the hardware version though. For one, in stereo mode you can run it linked or unlinked, for flexible imaging. The plugin also features a Dry/Wet Mix mix control for easy parallel compression on a mix bus or instrument group. Finally, the Headroom control lets you optimize the Distressor’s overall operating level to get just the right level.

The UAD Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor plugin retails for $299. Of course, you’ll need a UAD piece of hardware like an Apollo interface or Satellite to run it, but that’s a purchase that should be a no-brainer. Check out the video below or the UAD Distressor plugin page for more details.

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