Empirical Labs EL-8X Distressor

$1,669.00
Stock Item, Usually Ships Same or Next Business Day

Stock Item: Ships from our shelf quickly in almost all cases when ordered before our ship cutoff times.

Direct Ship: Non-stock item, but normally ships quickly from the manufacturer or alternate warehouse.

Built To Order: Item is custom built per the options chosen and quickly shipped out upon completion.

More On The Way: The manufacturer is experiencing delays, but we'll ship quickly upon arrival.

New Item: We have this on order, the manufacturer hasn't shipped but you'll be in line upon arrival.

Visit our Shipping Page for cutoff times for FREE (USA), UPS, USPS or FedEx.

Visit our Returns Page for info on non-returnable, special order non-stock items.


The Distressor is an automatic gain (or volume) control device (AGC in engineering terms) designed for pro audio (music) applications. Basically, it 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 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 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.

Empirical Labs Distressor Specifications

  • Freq. response: 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: 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.
  • Shipping info: 12.1 lbs mono, 24.2 lbs Stereo pair. Mono box dimensions 22.5" x 18.5" x 3 1/4". Stereo Pair box dimensions 22.5" x 18.5" x 6 1/4

Our ONE WITH EVERYTHING ZEN WARRANTY extends the standard manufacturer warranty by one year, see our ZEN WARRANTY page for details.

Recently Viewed Items