Empirical Labs EL8X-S Distressor British Mod Stereo Pair

Order Empirical Labs EL8X-S Distressor British Mod Stereo Pair from American Musical Supply. Get 0% interest payment plans, free shipping, & free warranty.
The EL8X-S is a pair of EL8X Distressors that are matched at the factory and include the cables you need to lock them together. Offers a warm, vintage sound by using a custom designed gain control circuit.
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Product Description

Experience the unmatched power of the Empirical Labs EL8X-S Distressor Stereo Pair. Quite possibly the most desirable pieces of professional audio gear ever created, these integrated units are designed specifically for studio engineers who demand the highest fidelity and biggest sound. Combining two individal Distressors into a single stereo unit, you get a rich analog sound reminiscent of classic vintage equipment paired with modern digital engineering for unparalleled performance.

With built-in features like low noise operation, rigorous quality control processes, automatic anti-clipping circuitry, and true stereo operation; this matched pair of EL8X-S is among the industry's finest tools in creating warm and inviting mixes. And with easy connectivity between units for full stereo operation, you can be sure that you'll always elicit a wide spectrum of tones from your recordings no matter where or how you use them.

The 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. With over 28,000 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.

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.

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.

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.

The EL8X Models have British Mod and Image Link Features:


The concept of British Mode came from an unusual setting on the classic UREI LN1176 limiter. The unit was designed to have only four ratios, each ratio being engaged by selecting one of four buttons. However, as early as 1980 (or before), renegade recording engineers, always on the lookout for something a little more over-the-top, found that you could make all four buttons stay in if you pressed them just right. What resulted was a very aggressive sound that had some elements of the unit’s 20:1 ratio, but with an unusual knee and new envelope shape. Somewhere along the line, someone called it British Mode, and the name stuck.

The EL8-X has the advantage of being able to selectively apply this aggressive characteristic - not just to the new British ratio (1:1) - to any of the ratios, simply by engaging the dedicated British Mode switch.

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Phone:  973-728-2425 Warranty:  Fatso: 3 Years; Distressor: 1 Year

Product Specifications

Empirical Labs EL8X-S Distressor British Mod Stereo Pair Specifications

  • Number of Channels: 2
  • Controls: Ratio (Button), Input, Attack, Release, Output
  • Ratio: 1:1 to 20:1 (And "Nuke")
  • Frequency Response: 2Hz-160kHz (-3 dB)
  • Inputs: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4", 2 x 1/4" (Stereo Link)
  • Outputs: 2 x XLR, 2 x 1/4", 2 x 1/4" (Stereo Link)
  • Rack Spaces: 1U
  • Dimensions (H x D x W): 1.75 x 10 x 19”
  • Manufacturer Part Number: EL8X-S Stereo Pair
  • Product Specifications (per unit):
    • 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 1.75 inches high, 10 inches deep, 19 inches wide.

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