Distressor "British Mode" Option
another upgrade & option for your Distressor!
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.
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
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.
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).
* 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.
NOT RETURN YOUR DISTRESSOR TO THE FACTORY FOR UPGRADING UNTIL YOU HAVE AN
"OPTION UPGRADE NUMBER" and a service date scheduled! Contact Empirical Labs directly for info and
retail price is $200 per Distressor for both mods ($400 for a stereo
pair). This includes a brand new EL-8X
front panel, turning your EL-8 to an EL-8X.
say about the British Mode Modification
who have come to love and depend on the sound of the Distressor, the new
British mode turns it into a new fun loving animal.
flick of a switch, the Distressor becomes more aggressive and stressful on any
instrument you desire.
should win the "t**s" award for coming up with such a nice but nasty
box. - Michael Brauer
while ago, I spoke to Judy there about the Stereo Image Link & the British
Mods. Both are major enhancements to the Distressor, the British sound being a
kind of hard drug! You hear it once, & then you can't imagine using a
Distressor without it... J
Distressor is an automatic gain (or volume) control device (AGC in engineering
terms) designed for pro audio (music) applications. Basically, it electronically
controls the volume of just about any source in a very pleasing, and
"musical" manner - adding fullness, intelligibility, and especially
in the Distressor's case - excitement. This type of device is often called a
"limiter" or "compressor" by audio industry people. Its
most probable uses will be in recording studios, live sound situations, movie
sound production, and radio broadcast production.
analog compressor/limiters the Distressor is a digitally controlled audio
device and actually incorporates several products into one by utilizing digital
controls to switch totally different circuits in and out. Years of beta testing
and redesign went into the Distressor as will be the case with all Empirical
offering a wide range of control and unique features, the Distressor offers a
warm, vintage sound by using a custom designed gain control circuit. This
"warmth" or vintage sound has become an important issue in the last
15 years, as the super clear and linear digital technology does very little (or
nothing) to soften "harsh" sounds nor emphasize the bass frequencies
in music sources. Older analog tape, vinyl records and tube equipment on the
other hand, could not be prevented from coloring the sound, often to the frustration
of recording engineers. However, many people have now realized that this
coloring can be extremely pleasant and "musical".The current digital
technology is often referred to as "cold" and "brittle"
among other terms, although we prefer the term "unforgiving" to
describe the negative side of the "linearity". The Distressor offers
several modes that color the signal, even without compression (or gain
control). These extended modes were designed to allow emulation of some very
old and some very expensive vintage gain control units (compressors &
limiters) and deliver a classic "knee" sound all its own.