BRITISH MODE

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.

IMAGE LINK

The original Distressor stereo link function used a summing and phase detection method, which allowed slight stereo image shifting.  Although frequently desirable for its phase correction, and its “thickening” on open room mics and other stereo sources, this approach can sometimes be a problem on stereo program material where the producer/engineers want to maintain absolute left/right balance at all times. With the new “Stereo Image Link” option, the EL8-X now has three link options - the original “phase” link, the new Image Link and the combination of the two, phase and image linking - something never before offered on any compressors or limiters.

GO STEREO                                                               

For many Distressor owners, one is never enough - in fact, one extremely successful engineer has twelve of them!  For those who want (at least) a stereo pair, ELI offers the EL8-S, a pair of Distressors that are matched at the factory, and come with the cables you need to lock them together.  If you want the Brit Mod and Image Link options, an EL8X-S package is also available.

Empirical Labs EL8-X Distressor British Mode

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Distressor EL8-X British Mode

Mono Compresser with "British Mode 

DIGITALLY CONTROLLED, ANALOG KNEE COMPRESSION

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 (although we prefer “unforgiving”).

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 Distressor is available in either its original form (EL8), or in a modified version (EL8-X) with two additional functions  - British Mode, and Image Link.

Specifications
Freq. response
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
.02% and 20% depending on distortion mode and release times set on front panel.
DC coupled output
High quality input caps.
Input impedance
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.
Shipping info
12.1 lbs mono, 24.2 lbs Stereo pair. Mono box dimensions 22.5" x 18.5" x 3 1/4".
Stereo Pair box dimensions
22.5" x 18.5" x 6 1/4

THE DISTRESSOR "BRITISH MODE" OPTION

WELCOME TO ANOTHER UPGRADE & OPTION FOR YOUR DISTRESSOR

 Basic Description - The original concept of the "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, very aggressive sound that had some elements of the units 20:1 ratio, but with an unusual knee and new envelope shape. Somewhere along the line, someone called it a "British Mode" and the name has stuck. It is also called "all buttons in" and some other intuitive names.

 The Distressor has the advantage of being able to apply this "aggressive" nature not only to the new British ratio (1:1) but also to all the ratios since a separate switch is installed, which can be enabled with any ratio.  One should keep in mind however, that an attack below 3 or 4 is required to maintain the LN1176 character.  If you go above an attack of 3 you will also incur a rise in some grunge (distortion) and see the THD indicator lites come on a lot more. The Distressor will no longer behave smoothly, nor like an 1176.

 How to use the new British Mode Option for the first time

Put the unit in the 1:1 ratio and turn on the British Mode Switch (flip it up and the LED should be lit). That enables it. To sound like the 1176 the only constraint is to keep the attack well under 4 on the Distressors - their attack can go much longer than the 1176. Now you will find that the unit has a new attitude! The attack and release will generally be more aggressive and the unit will get in and out of the way very quickly. Interestingly, the unit will be slightly less colored when not compressing.

 Tips

Use this ratio to "skim" peaks. This means that most of the time it may not be doing anything, but when it does "hit" the signal, it will smoothly push back the signal and then get right out of the way again. If you are hitting the Gain Reduction all the time with the British mode on, you are going to be really "squashing" the signal. On the other hand, the Distressor will sound fairly subtle when compressing all the time in 2:1 mode, especially with a slower attack (>6).

 Tricks

* Vocals! - This is a great final compression during mixdown. When not working it is very transparent, but when a vocal pops out and hits the compression, the British mode will get in and out of there quickly and smoothly. When you are really compressing a lot, breaths and background noises will become very loud (pushed up). There is not much you can do with this except gate before compression maybe or, mute or erase the noises and breaths out that you don't want to hear. Remember that breaths are natural and can add a lot of excitement sometimes, so don't gate or erase them by default. If you can, back up a vocal track before you start trying to punch out breaths and noises etc.