Empirical Labs, an Analog Leader, Moves “Furiously” into Digital

Dave Derr, designer of the instant-classic analog Distressor, says his high-end audio company is ready to move “furiously” and “excitedly” into the digital domain.

Dave Derr of Empirical Labs got his start in audio as an analog man at a digital company, testing circuit components for Eventide Electronics’ breakthrough hit, the H3000 UltraHarmonizer.

With over 22,000 units sold, Empirical Labs’ Distressor is one of the best-selling compressors of all time.

When he invented the instant-classic Distressor compression unit, he remained an analog man in what was an increasingly digital world. It was the late 1990s, and in a time before widespread clones of the iconic LA-2A and 1176 compressors, Dave Derr used analog FET circuits to emulate them, squeezing their charms into a brutal swiss army box dubbed the EL-8.

It went on to become, arguably, the most popular boutique analog compressor of all time. To walk into a well-appointed modern studio is to see a Distressor somewhere in the racks.

When I asked Derr about what was to come next for his company, I teased him slightly, playing devil’s advocate as I am obliged to do, in the hopes of prompting a poetic wax about his die-hard love of analog magic:

“Dave – I love the Distressor,” I said, “But tell me: Why should I care about an analog compressor now? And why should I care about one in ten years? Why stay so committed to analog?”

“Actually, its funny you say that,” Derr responded without so much as a pause. “We’re pretty much in the process of going all digital right now.”

“I worked in an digital company – Eventide – for years, and I love digital. For one thing, there’s the consistency and the repeatability. And then, you can do things in digital that you could never do in analog. That’s very appealing….

Click here to read more about Empirical Labs at SonicScoop.

This entry was posted in All Stories, January 2013, Made in New York, SonicScoop, Sub-Feature 4. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
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