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  • Overview
  • Customer Reviews
  • 4.9/5
Try it Free

Get the colorful sound of the world’s most popular compressor.

The Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor is revered in studios the world over as the modern, “must-have” compressor. Versatile with tons of color, the Distressor picks up where the legendary UA 1176 and Teletronix LA-2A compressors leave off — giving you a modern tool that’s equal parts utilitarian and creative, as heard on thousands of hit records.

Included Versions

UAD Native
Runs on your Mac or PC without UA hardware.

Apollo Realtime & UAD‑2
Runs accelerated on Apollo interfaces and UAD‑2 hardware.

UAD Native plug-ins run on both macOS 10.15 Catalina or newer and Windows 10 and 11. Go to our UA Support page for system requirements.

  • Track and mix with the only authentic emulation of the EL8 Distressor — the world's most sought-after modern compressor
  • Radically shape guitars, drums, and vocals with nearly infinite gain reduction variations
  • Harness plug-in-only features like Dry/Wet parallel processing and Headroom for user‑customizable operating level
  • Creatively color instruments and vocals with famous “Dist 2” and “Dist 3” modes
  • Embellish, pump up, or destroy bass, synth, and room mics with custom detector filtering
  • Mix with presets from Joe Chiccarelli (The Strokes), Vance Powell (Jack White), Jacquire King (Kings of Leon), Jimmy Douglass (The Rolling Stones), and more

Want to Try It?

Use this plug-in free for 14 days and find out if it's right for you.

Try it free
This is the fastest and most accurate Distressor emulation out there. -Dave Derr, Founder of Empirical Labs


Learn how to Add Energy to Drums
Learn how to Add Energy to Drums

Learn how to Add Energy to Drums

Grammy-winning engineer Vance Powell (Jack White, The Dead Weather) and the Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor plug‑in.

Shape with the Only End‑to‑End Distressor Emulation

Shape with the Only End‑to‑End Distressor Emulation

The EL8 Distressor Compressor plug-in gives you all the features and tone of the original hardware. Simply compare other Distressor emulations for yourself, and contrast the original hardware’s ultra-fast attack time to quickly hear where most plug-ins fail, and the authentic UAD Distressor succeeds.

Find the Perfect Compression Ratio

Find the Perfect Compression Ratio

The crux of the Distressor are its staggering variations in compression — 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1, 10:1, 20:1 and Nuke — each offering unique sounds. Use the 1:1 ratio to gently warm up synths or strings without compression, while adding musical harmonics. Conversely, the Nuke setting gives explosive excitement to room mics or your entire mix.

Add Color with Distortion Modes

Add Color with Distortion Modes

The Distressor's iconic Dist 2 and Dist 3 modes give you a wide palette of compression textures, letting you shape sources with even or combined even/odd-order harmonic distortion, from delicate thickening to burnished tape to fully saturated.

Focus Dynamics with Powerful Sidechain Controls

Focus Dynamics with Powerful Sidechain Controls

The Distressor’s sidechain control gets rid of unwanted low-frequency pumping — perfect for drum bus processing — while Band Emphasis tames strident vocals and harsh “power region” instrument peaks. You can also harness "plug-in only" features like Dry/Wet Mix for easy parallel compression on a mix bus or instrument group.

Watch The Reviews

      5-Min UAD Tip
      5-Min UAD Tip

      5-Min UAD Tip

      In this video, learn how the EL8 Distressor compressor can transform your mixes into something truly special.

      Customer Reviews

      Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

      Overall Rating


      E. Alexis

      February 1, 2024

      Worth Every Cent

      If you found yourself looking through the reviews for the distressor, you pretty much already have your answer. Yes, it's worth having this in your arsenal and yes, you will probably use this on most of your mixes if not all of them. Great saturation feel, and just a positive element to any vocal or instrument.

      t. fassbender

      February 1, 2024

      this smacked my tracks up

      fantastic compressor, using it daily. a great tool to control dynamics and punch.

      A. Hunt

      January 25, 2024

      This is becoming my go-to comp

      Clean and dirty. Use it on anything

      H. Hamid

      January 17, 2024

      a legendary compressor

      Heard a lot of good things about this compressor that I had to have it in my tool set.

      H. Hamid

      January 17, 2024

      a legendary compressor

      Heard a lot of good things about this compressor that I had to have it in my tool set.

      L. Jáger

      January 16, 2024


      I recommend this versatile compressor.

      n. else

      January 15, 2024

      Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

      Excellent little Compressor. I had experimented with the Kiive unit so though an amateur was familiar with the layout. Though mostly rely on presets with some minor tweaking. Very Satisfied

      H. Powell

      January 14, 2024

      Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor

      The Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Compressor Is a must have for my Studio. I have a lot of different Compressors, but this one is the best. There’s nothing like it for any Instrument

      J. Smith

      January 14, 2024

      One to rule them all

      This thing is fantastic. Great on its own or so versatile to work with many other compressors

      A. Volpato

      January 14, 2024

      The distressor is amazing

      I love the plugin of the distressor. It is amazing, I just wished there was the gain reduction showing on the pro tools mixer. Other than that it is perfect

      Y. Elkayam

      January 14, 2024

      Just wow!!

      This sounds just like the original, and instead of buying a unit and using it on one thing I can put this plug in on whatever I like!! I love love love the mix knob…such a clutch addition.


      O. Gurtovoy

      January 14, 2024

      Very interesting compressor


      M. Mårtensson

      January 13, 2024

      Best software compressor I own.

      I have many software compressors but this is by far the best and most versatile compressor.

      C. Tabatadze

      January 12, 2024

      no words

      just to tasty this distresoor

      C. Tabatadze

      January 12, 2024

      Cool distresoor

      recomenneddd awesome sound

      c. holley

      January 10, 2024

      The Real Digital Thing!

      I have the hardware version. I only have one, so I was never able to place it on my mix bus. Now I can and I love it! Highly recommended!

      W. Krol

      January 9, 2024

      Amazing sound.

      Wide sonic aspect!

      J. Romero

      January 9, 2024

      Very versatile.

      Simple to operate and contains the best of classic compressors.

      An amazing tool.

      L. Morandi

      January 9, 2024

      Compressore mitico

      Assolutamente fantastico rispecchia il carattere e la versatilità delle macchine analogiche Fantastico consiglio vivamente

      L. De Caro

      January 9, 2024


      Plugin maravilhoso , usando muito nas produções.