Well, no wonder then. Derr and Empirical Labs even got into the act themselves, developing the Arousor, which we'll discuss at length below. The SKnote Disto is a good and versatile emulation, but does not perform as well as others. It is a gem. However, if you want to play around with the different distortion types and drive the input hard enough, you can get some gritty sounds that could find use on an FX bus or as a layered distortion effect. The low-end extension (which you may notice on the bass guitar tests) was slightly less “open” with UAD's plugin than with the analog Distressor, but you could easily fix this with the updated Wet/Dry knob UAD have added, or just simply using the internal sidechain. The FG-Stress has a nice top-end sizzle when pushed hard and retained more low-end than some of the other emulations. UAD is a leader in emulations known for their rock-solid quality. High Settings: Input 5, Attack 4, Release 1, Ratio 20:1. Combined with the immaculate timing, I just had to include the new Distressor-style plugin here. Learn More. When you drive them, they don’t react nearly the same way as the analog gain knobs (which give so much of the Distressor's characteristic sounds). You know one of those moments in life when you are in such disbelief that you say something out loud even while sitting in a room by yourself? The plugin is so fantastic that I had to double check with Derr and ask him what he thought. Waves has also added five features unique to the plugin: an MS matrix to separately process the mid and the sides, a Mix control to balance the processed and unprocessed signal, a Noise control to add or remove the modeled noise of the original unit, a Gain Reduction control, … From those early days on, Empirical Labs has been bombarded with requests for a great compressor plugin for those working in the box… and it had to be one with the creamy sound and … Over a decade ago I realized that the ratios of the Distressor were generally quite a bit higher at typical settings than their name suggests. The ratios were purposely offset to be a tad higher so that Derr could introduce lower 1.5:1 and 2:1 ratios. What makes the Distressor unique is the way it makes use of its ratio while giving you an insane amount of control. Since I’ve had this plugin I’ve been using it all the time – I really, really like it.”. This is a plugin made by Derr and Empirical Labs. Please check the fields highlighted in red. Literally within hours of finishing this long, in-depth article, UAD put out a “Brand new Distressor plugin endorsed by Dave Derr.”. Luckily, you don't have to rely on my notes alone. Dave Derr, whom I had the privilege to talk to for this article, is the creator of the Distressor. The Arousor™ is the only Distressor plugin made by the makers of the Distressor themselves, Empirical Labs Inc. It’s been well over 20 years since Empirical Labs released its first compressor, The Distressor. If you are planning to use a Distressor emulation that is literally 1-to-1, this is your new best friend for in-the-box workflow. Before founding Empirical Labs, Derr was an engineer at Eventide, where he helped to make the H3000 Ultra-Harmonizer, a multi-effects unit that, incidentally, also became a mainstay in pro studios. If you’ve ever wanted to get a software version, you’ll know just how many options there are available. So I used metering to level match for input/output. If you try to use the Arousor as a 1-to-1 Distressor plugin (and adjust the settings the same), you will find you have to tweak it to sit as the Distressor does. So he began to shed light on something Derr and team call “Evolutional Technology,” which, for the users' purposes, means that the plugin is entirely upgradeable as the team launches new features, while still being backward-compatible to a session. CAD I literally said, “Holy Crap, they’ve actually done it,” while sitting in the studio by myself. For these tests it is a basic drum room mic setup. Below, you’ll find my notes on each. It is the Distressor on steroids. Oops, looks like you forgot something. You may find this content helpful: To be able to view it. This helped to give it extra character before going into the compressor. That wasn't a big deal in itself, as the ratio curves change with attack and decay settings and there is some ‘play’ in determining a ratio to begin with, especially ones with knees.”, Derr further explained: “By moving all the Distressor ratio names up one, I opened up space for 1.5:1 and a new 2:1 ratio, and made the ratios a little closer to what they actually measure. That’s what happened. The strangest part to me is that the input and output gain knobs are very touchy. You really can match a Distressor pretty much indistinguishably if you need to, with the exception of Opto or Brit modes, which are not enabled yet.”. It may not be an exact emulation, but it has some unique distortion that happens when you drive it hard. Listen for yourself to the audio clips below. Canada, But if you’re in the market for one of these plugins, how are you to tell which one best emulates the original? The only main variation I could hear, which has much to do with the nature of analog and its linear response, is that when linked on a stereo bus the analog version was giving a bit more depth. For these tests the vocals are recorded with a tube mic into the Thermionic Culture Vulture tube distortion/enhancer unit to retain the lower "chest" to the voice. The Disto from SKnote is a good emulation. This can be handy in mixing situations or in production, but is not to be confused as a direct emulation. UAD Distressor (Cost: $299 *must have UAD accelerator/card). High Settings: Input 7, Attack 3, Release 2, Output 6.5, Ratio NUKE. Very hard to quantify, and as we do some pretty wild modifications of the basic compressor circuit [on the Distressor], it is almost a different product when engaged.” This may explain why so many of the other Distressor plugins lack the Brit Mode feature. That is, it can function the same way on all of your past mixes while still getting the updates and new features over time. The SOR8 can be an inexpensive distortion unit with some Distressor-like capabilities for lighter compression thrown in. Hey! I’ve even stopped using an equalizer on [Paramore lead vocalist] Hayley Williams’ voice. It’s fitting that there would be many software plugins that try to mimic all or some of its distinct mojo. U2, The Cure, Dido, Manic Street Preachers, “I compared the BSS DPR-402 plugin to the hardware version, and Waves has done a masterful job: I could get exactly the same ballsy sound out of the two – and the de-essing is actually much more precise in the plugin. It seemed to have much more top-end on vocals than some other emulations and to lose the body of the voice. Compared to the other plugins, the SOR8’s distortion becomes extremely digital-sounding very fast and can be very sharp on the top end. We are huge fans of the Distressor at Influx Studios, where I am a producer and engineer making electronic music and alternative rock. We all know that nothing is as much of a rockstar move as showing up late to the party with a grand entrance. I know it throws Distressor lovers a little bit, but we put a reminder in the Help Menu, accessible by the Square Blue button in the lower right corner. This was a smart move. But before we get to the tests, let’s get you caught up to speed on the original. As such, the Deflector’s distortion characteristics are entirely different from the analog Distressor’s. Peak Control high settings: Input 7, Attack 5, Release 4, Output 6.5, Ratio 10:1. Please enable JavaScript in your browser in order to make this website functional. So the company does have that characteristic covered.