Yaaaaaaaay! The *UAD* Distressor finally dropped! :D

Wow. Did anyone see that Universal Audio released a distressor? This has got to be one of my top 3 favorite compressors EVER. My first question was if it was the same thing as the Arouser, (which Empirical Labs own version of that plugin). I picked up the EL Arouser several months ago and have bene using it ever since. The UAD is $300, which is really a lot, for a single compressor, but I’m going to be watching closely during black Friday


Here’s my suspicion. An educated guess on the UAD distressor vs the EL distressor. I’m very familiar with the sound of the hardware units, and I have no doubt the UAD is going to be more true to the hardware unit. I found myself parking the Empirical Labs plug on the 3:1 and 4:1 the majority of the time, which to me, sounded more like the 2:1 and the 3:1 on the hardware unit. And overall, it didn’t quite have the magic the hardware unit does on the 6:1 and 10:1. I suspect that UAD version will shine on these settings, particularly because UAD is specifically hyping the famous 6:1 and 10:1 settings in their advertising. For those of you who have never used the hardware unit, those are sort of the equivalent of the ‘all buttons in’ mode on the 1176. In the fact that everybody seems to love them.

I also suspect the Nuke setting will be much more detailed.

But wait a sec…how is it possible that UAD would actually create a more authentic Distressor, than EL who MADE the Distressor? Something to keep in mind is that EL states that they didn’t exactly WANT to carbon-copy the hardware unit. I dunno. To me, the carbon copy would have been appreciated.

I think UAD is just killing it with hardware emulation. Apart from them, I would say there’s only a small handful of plugins I really admire for their authenticity. The Boz Bendeth compressor, the Waves DPR 402, the Kush Clariphonic, and the Slate Red 3…for example. I have the 15 day trial version downloaded and installed. I won’t have time to try that UAD Distressor until Tuesday, but I’m looking forward to putting it through the ringer on a rock mix coming up.

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I’d love to get my hands on a good plugin that emulates the 1176 or some of the other classic hardware compressors, especially for the purpose of using with vocals and drums.

Is there a particular instrument that you think these kind of compressor/ limiters are especially suited to, or would you consider them generally “all-purpose”? Are they good mastering compressors/ limiters?

No, their attack time is too fast. You could use it for mastering, but it’s not what they’re made for. The attack time of an 1176 is in microseconds as opposed to a lot of compressors having milliseconds.

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Both Waves and UAD both do a nice emulation. The Purple MC77 too. If you just want to experiment with something that resembles an 1176, stock Avid BF76 in pro tools will at least help you feel it out. Native Instruments makes an 1176 but I’m not impressed with it. Slates 1176’s act more like distressors with fixed settings than 1176’s in my opinion. That doesn’t make them bad, it just makes them not real 1176’s.

Yes, I recall using them at least once on all of the following: piano, synths, kicks, snares, toms, overheads, rooms, racks, floors, bass, guitar, vocals, backup vocals, horns, strings, percussion, mandolins, dulcimers, banjos, glockenspiels, pipe organs and accordions. You will hear over and over again about how versatile the 1176 is. They’re amazing.

Here’s the deal. Ok. The real scoop. You really should ask what does an 1176 NOT work, and WHY? There are two sort of dimensions or realms to this compressors.

Super transparent clean in a fun non-stale musical way. And nuke-it. They enhance detail in an awesome amazing way, and they nuke in an awesome amazing way. So show me an instrument that does not respond to one of those two settings, and that’s you’re candidate for a different compressor.

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Dillon almost nailed it. He just hit the one major weakness of the 1176. It doesn’t do 2 bus well. Like he says, it is inherently fast. Its not hard to slow it down. BUT…as you slow up the attack, the slew rate and knee don’t tend not to cooperate. The curve just doesn’t play as nicely with the 2 bus as a Red 3 or a G comp in my opinion. Once you slow it down, its hard to dial in, and sometimes you just can’t.

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Good stuff guys! :+1:

Woooohoooooo! This compressor shines!!! But…not really. Sort of the opposite in a good way. Its nowhere near as exaggerated and in-your-face as the EL Arouser. If your’e used to using the Slate 1176 and Slate FG-stressor, you’ll probably open this up and be like…‘its not doing anything!’. First impressions here, it took me a moment to adjust to how analog this thing sounded. What I mean by that, is digital emulators (like the UAD neve 1073) tend to do what you IDEALIZE them doing, not what the hardware units ACTUALLY do. So I was caught off guard at first, on how long it took to re-evaluate the controls and re-adjust to what I’m used to making a distressor do in real life.

The UAD distressor is (as I thought it would be) a little more true to the hardware unit. But whats crazy is how clean this thing is. The UAD version does the best job I’ve ever seen at preserving the raw natural image under some pretty heavy compression settings.

I have it on a female vocal right now. For those of you who use other distressor emulators, the Dist 2 vs Dist 3 not only varies the amount of distortion, it changes the harmonic emphasis. I usually start at Dist 2 with the HP engaged, then ramp up from there only if there’s a need. I was reminded on the UAD version how the attack/release knobs are not as cut and dry as on a stock compressor. There is a lot of other stuff changing under the hood when you turn the release knob. Partly dependent on the GR, and the att/rel knobs also work differently as you change your ratio settings. Sort of like interactive EQ on a guitar amp or Pultec clone.

This is a really strait-forward plugin for anyone familiar with the hardware. The problem is that the hardware is not strait-forward. To really know a distressor, you need a LOT of time to experiment, and you DO need to read the manual.

I’ll mention one other thing I like about this UAD Distressor. They nailed the optical mode.

Input - Distressor (as a compressor) -> 2nd Distressor (as optical limiter).

The optical mode on the Distressor was really designed to emulate other optical limiters. Since we have a ton of optical limiter plugs, there’s really no reason to reach for a 2nd Disterssor when you can just reach into your plugin library and grab a Waves La-2A. There is a noticable audible difference between the UAD and the optical mode. Once I dialed in the UAD distressor, I then went back, muted it, and attempted to matched the Slate distressor as closely as possible. When the input was hitting at 4-6db in the softer parts of the verse, the Slate was pegging at almost 15-17db. I tried adjusting the gain on the Slate to where the output was cranked, and the gain input was backed off to 4-6db of GR. Doesn’t work. The harmonics and warmth disappear. Its not just a matter of the Slate meters calibrated inaccurately. The entire signal chain in the Slate unit is flawed to where the whole thing digs into the source too hard. I don’t think the Slate is capable of producing the same level of warmth and distortion as the UAD is while preserving the clarity. At that point, its somewhat debatable whether the Slate distressor is really a distressor on a functional level. Doesn’t make it a useless plugin, it just makes it not really a distressor.

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Interesting findings, Jonathan… Thought you might find this video informative:

That’s a great video! I wish all his videos were like this. It’s way better when he’s more laid back.

Interesting indeed!

Definitely accounted for this…check that one off the list.

Here’s where I’m a little lost. I tried to make the settings match by ear. I couldn’t get the Slate version to give me the same amount of transparency and the same amount of control both at the same time. I have no scientific way of doing this. I did it just like trying to tune a guitar. I got in the ballpark and nudged the dial until it went too far, then backed off and went the other way etc… On that video, Steven showed he could make the make his unit almost identical on the default settings. Point taken…my question is if that was supposed to be a blanket claim for all ratio settings in all modes?