0% up to 48 Months on over 110 Brands!

New & Current Vintage King Card Holders

Shop Our Summer Sale

0% financing up to 48 Months on over 110 Brands!

When you shop now with your Vintage King Credit Card.

$ 1,549 .00
Your Savings: $ 51 .00 Msrp: $ 1,600 .00
No interest if paid in full within 18 months Learn more
In Stock
Item is in stock and will ship the next business day. To inquire if this item is available to ship sooner or is in one of our stores, please call 888.653.1184.



Empirical Labs Distressor EL8 Compressor/Limiter

Versatile analog compressor/limiter known for its unique distortion options, wide-ranging controls, and transparent sound – a popular choice for professional audio engineers and musicians seeking precise dynamic control in various recording and mixing applications
MFR# EL8 Distressor

Product Description

The Empirical Labs Distressor EL8 is the Swiss-army-knife of compressors. Capable of emulating classic vintage designs like the 1176 and the LA-2A, this digitally controlled compressor is a modern studio workhorse. Packed with innovative tone-shaping features, the Distressor delivers an array of desirable sounds: digital, analog, tape, tube and more.


At first glance, the Distressor may seem like your average compressor, but with a little know-how, you can emulate the sound of some of the most iconic compressors of all time. Dial in a classic “Over E-Z” VCA-style sound, recreate five classic 1176 settings including “all-buttons in mode”, or simulate the sound of classic optical compressors like the LA-2A to find the perfect sound for any situation.

Choose from eight digitally-selectable ratios, each with their own unique compression algorithm. From the 1:1 mode that simply warms up signal with low-order harmonics, to the unmistakable NUKE setting — each curve has its own personality, and release shape. With fully-variable attack times ranging from 50 microseconds to 30 milliseconds, and release times ranging from .05 seconds all the way up to 20 seconds, the Distressor is capable of everything from fast, punchy peak limiting to slow, gentle bus compression.


The Distressor is a lot more than just a pretty compression curve, it’s also packed with advanced features for controlling dynamics and coloring tracks with harmonic distortion. While the Distressor is capable of clean, digital-style compression, it’s also equipped with two dedicated distortion generators. Engage Dist 2 to give your tracks a smooth tube-type distortion, rich in second-order harmonics. Or turn on Dist 3 to generate third-order harmonics and emulate the sound of tape compression.

The Distressor also features advanced filtering options for both the side-chain and audio circuits. Aggressively compress bass-heavy tracks without causing pumping using the high-pass filter on the detector circuit. Boost the midrange to keep a dynamic vocal in check. Or use both for a truly one-of-a-kind compression curve!


  • 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 height 1.75" high, 10" deep, 19" wide

Product Specifications

Condition New
Tube or Solid State Solid State
Channels Single-Channel
Chassis 19-inch Rack-mount
Rack Spaces 1U
Digital I/O No

Product Reviews

5 out of 5 stars.
Review Count (10)

write a review

An amazing piece of gear. There is a reason it is in so many studios. Take the time to read the manual if you are not familiar with the settings.

By Charles C on March 29, 2023

There is a reason you see Distressors in every studio - it is an indispensable piece of gear. Really no need to chase vintage compressors, as you can dial up almost any form of squish in this box, along with some other interesting tricks. For VoiceOver, the built-in HP side chain function is magic on deep, resonant voices. I’ve used a lot of different compressors over the years, should have bought a Distressor out of the gate rather than waiting but better late than never.

By Todd R on November 8, 2022

Love it

By Juan M on October 31, 2022

Most versatile compressor ever made period!

By Joan V on June 17, 2021

This compressor just kicks ass. It can take vocals that are flat and lifeless and bounce them up to slice through upfront in the mix with vocals that pop and shine.

By Victor C on November 27, 2020

I'm mad at myself for waiting so long to get a Distressor. It is absolutely fantastic at making recordings sound more "like a record" right off the bat. I opted for the standard El8 because if its good enough for Eric Valentine, i think it will be fine for me.

By dylan w on July 8, 2020

I awesome piece to my studio love this

By Christopher L on November 3, 2019

Great customer service

By William V on February 6, 2019

Classic piece

By Ben M on November 26, 2018

If you are having a hard time picking a specific compresor; Fet vs. Opto vs. VCA.. grab a Distressor - this is the Swiss Army knife of compressors, a literal Chamelean that can give you all of the above. From Gentle to Agressive this compressor gives you it all and that is why it has become a staple in studios today. (Don't for get the harmonics and the NUKE button - fun for days!!!!)

By Matthew F on June 20, 2017

* Required Fields

Share Your Opinion

The best gear advice always comes from those who use it the most. That's where you come in! Let the pro audio world hear your voice with a review of the Empirical Labs Distressor EL8 Compressor/Limiter . Once you submit your review, please check your email and verify your address to have it posted.

How do you rate this product?
I would like to thank VK for the wonderful sales assistance, service and prices. This was my first purchase with you and it won't be my last. I only wish I'd discovered you years ago!
Matthew R.
I had two Grammy wins this year - Ray LaMontagne & Carolina Chocolate Drops. Both made with help from Vintage King!
Ryan F.
In almost 20 years in Pro audio buying, never did I receive a unit so well packed and exactly as described. Works flawlessly. The whole process has been so smooth. I will never hesitate to do business with you guys in the future and will recommend you to everyone I know.
Martin C.
This was my first experience buying something from Vintage King (although I surf the "used" categories on the website frequently!), and, despite being on the other side of the world, I had absolutely no trouble and everything went very smoothly.
Phil T.
The speed of delivery exceeded my expectations! I was VERY pleased that my shipment arrived in time for a scheduled vocal tracking session. The packing insured that my order arrived safely. And the sales staff responded quickly to questions regarding the product.
James P.
Thank you so much! Vintage King has been so fair and easy to work with. I can't thank you enough. It feels good to trust such a hefty purchase to folks who are so helpful and knowledgeable. Vintage King is a sound designers dream store.
Noa L.
You guys have excellent customer service and I am excited about the next upgrade I complete on my fifth recording facility. I've been in the studio business for forty plus years. The salesman I worked with at Vintage King was the best of the best. You all rock!
Robby T.
I would recommend Vintage King to any one looking for top-class gear, unbeatable customer service and the best prices on the map!
Jake D.
My experience with Vintage King was excellent. The order was here fast considering it was out of stock. The sales person had SKB send it to me directly and I couldn't have been more pleased.
Michael D.
From the minute I placed my order I was kept well-informed through each step in your process. Even though I was buying a comparatively modest piece of gear, your attention to detail made me feel like I was purchasing a six-figure mixing desk.
Thomas W.
I am a new customer of yours. You guys provided me the absolute best deals in ordering all the equipment to power my brand new recording studio. Your customer service is amazing and i will always deal with you from here on out.
Rob M.
Thanks for your great service and getting this out today. You guys really are the Kings!
Alan B.
Better than expected! Truly impeccable service. Your team was professional, knowledgeable, provided speedy delivery above and beyond standard. Vintage King Audio is definitely my go to for all of my audio and information needs.
James O.