Welcome back to Signature Sound’s article Mondays! I’m your host, Jambot, and joining me today to bring you another gear review is former Signature Sound studio manager and audio engineer Deborah Reeves. Today we will be taking a look at the Empirical Labs Distressor both in form and function. Let’s do it!
The Empirical Labs Distressor is a multi-functional tool, but it is most noted as a compressor that adds 2nd and 3rd order harmonic distortion to any signal, thereby emulating tape saturation and “warmth” from tube compression. This is a great unit because you can use it simply for compression, or you can really push it to add some crunch and distortion to your sound. The Distressor can mimic classic gear like the 1176 and its even order harmonic distortion really takes you back to that classic 60’s and 70’s tube saturation sound.
This unit is terrific because it has several modes that allow you to color your sound without using compression. You really get your money’s worth as this piece will allow you to capture and emulate the sound of several vintage pieces of gear that would cost you thousands of dollars otherwise. The Distressor can do wonders to your bass sound, add extra crunch to guitars and really allow you to push your signal in any application depending on how much warmth or distortion you are looking for.
The only drawbacks to the Distressor are its price point (hovering right around $1,300) and the fact that if the unit fails, it is fairly complicated to open it up and start fixing by soldering. However, considering all the functions you can perform with this unit and vintage pieces of gear you can emulate, the price could be much higher and allows you to save yourself money in the long run.
I hope you enjoyed our review of the Empirical Labs Distressor, and if there is a particular piece of gear you would like us to review, please let us know on twitter @iamjambot and @_signaturesound and it could be the topic of our next article! Special thanks to Deborah Reeves @deborosaurus for her help with this review! Make sure to stop by my website for music production at www.iamjambot.com and contact me to setup your next session at Signature Sound.