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Stereo Pair/Dual Channel with British Mod and Image Link Feature.
The DerrEsser is a multi function dynamic filtering device, in an API 500 series module format. In its basic “DS” mode, the DerrEsser is an effective, level insensitive de-esser, which is a device that will adjust the high frequency gain on overly trebly or spiky vocal, or other source. By using a crossover technique, and dividing the audio up into a high frequency range and a low frequency range, the DerrEsser can use its Voltage Controlled Amp to turn down comparatively high or harsh high frequencies in an extremely musical manner. However, unlike other de-essers, the device is not limited to just de-essing, and allows for multi use of its circuitry
Besides Bypass, there are essentially four modes of the DerrEsser:
DS Mode – (Bypass Button IN, all other buttons OUT). As a de-esser in the DS mode (HF Limit OFF), one can set the threshold to tame harsh S’s (sibilants) that result from an overly bright singer or from EQ’ing to make a vocal sound aggressive and clear. In this mode, the dyamic action is “level insensitive”, as the detector circuitry compares the High Frequency content to the low frequency content, Overall signal level doesn’t matter at all. When there is enough HF compared to LF, the threshold is exceeded and the DerrEsser starts to turn down the frequencies above the crossover point set by the Frequency control on the front panel. Again, great care was taken to ensure this DS section meets the Empirical Labs reputation for originality and ease of use. We use the latest technology VCA, specially selected for glitch free, distortion free, and noise free performance. The time constants were carefully selected and the corner frequency is user adjustable with a high performance active crossover.
HF LIMIT – (Bypass Button IN, HF LIM IN, all other buttons OUT). In this mode, the DerrEsser looks at the general level of the High Frequencies only. Think of it as a high frequency compressor. If there is enough high frequency content to exceed the threshold, then gain reduction occurs. It IS level sensitive, but responds much more to high frequencies. This mode can also act as a de-esser but is more of a general high frequency smoothing device.The HF limiter is probably the first carefully tailored soft knee HF limiter in existence. We believe both the DS and HF LIM modes offer the highest performance of any similar device
HIGHPASS – (Bypass Button IN, Listen IN, HP/LP OUT, HF LIM doesn’t matter). By using the “LISTEN” Function, the user can employ the superb filter circuitry inside the DerrEsser to process their audio. With the LISTEN button IN, and the HP/LP switch OUT, the user will be hearing the high frequencies that are being controlled with the dynamic/compression circuits. The corner frequency is adjustable by the Frequency knob. Once the LISTEN switch is engaged, all bargraph LED’s should light as indication.
LOWPASS – (Bypass Button IN, Listen IN, HP/LP IN, HF LIM doesn’t matter). With the LISTEN button IN, and the HP/LP button IN, the user is now listening to the low frequencies, those not affected by the VCA and dynamic/compression circuits. This is a 12 dB per octave filter whose corner frequency can again, be adjusted by the Frequency knob.
While all versions of the EL8 “Distressor” have the same sound and basic abilities, the EL8X has a couple of added features that bring it to the next level of “Distressing”!
The two additions to the EL-8 in the EL8X are the “British Mode”, and the “Image Link” modifications. During the 1970’s recording engineers would often find new and exciting ways to “misuse” various bits of equipment found in recording studios of the time. This was especially true of the UREI 1176LN.
The original 1176LN had 4 buttons with which you could select the compression ratio. There was 4:1, 8:1, 12:1, and 20:1. Boredom (and probably some elements of substance abuse) led some engineers of the time to push all 4 buttons in at the same time the unit would produce an exceptionally cool (and until now) unparalleled aggressive texture to the audio. What was actually happening was that the 20:1 and 4:1 compression circuits were both engaged at the same time (it was just easier to get all 4 buttons to stay in than the top and bottom button, and frankly it wasn’t until the “recreation clones” started to come out that anyone bothered to examine the science of the “multi-button” trick.
Some say this practice started in New York studios, others say it started in the UK. As Empirical Labs is based in New Jersey, nothing “New York” is worthy of acknowledgement (smiley face here); hence the feature is called “British Mode”.
Image Link gives the EL8-X an additional capability when using two units in stereo. The original EL8 employed a rather unique “summing and phase detection” method to achieve stereo lock, and while this added a “thickening” component , it was not always the best complement when an engineer wanted to maintain an absolute “left/right” balance at all times.
The Image Link takes a more traditional approach to locking two units in stereo so the “left/right image” will hold true. Additionally, you can combine the two settings to gain a 3rd and absolutely unique to the Distressor capability. This capability combines the phase related aspect of the original link function with the additional “Image Link” function for perfect “left / right” balance in addition to the “thickening” factor created by the original circuit.
The Distressor EL8-XS (with the S at end) is simply a pair of tested and matched units for use as Stereo compressors. They can, of course still be used as two separate mono units
The concept of British Mode came from an unusual setting on the classic UREI 1176LN 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.
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.