With the recent announcement of the version 2 update of the "official" Distressor plug-in emulation - the uncomfortably named Arousor. I was thinking about Distressors and the fact that in any picture of the racks in a big studio you're as likely to see multiple Distressors as you are to see 1176s but whereas the 1176 is probably the most emulated piece of hardware in history, there are surprisingly few Distressor plug-ins. Here's a round-up of AAX Distressors.
Empirical Labs Arousor - $249 (on offer, usually $349)
From Cocell Productions, Pensadia SOR8 is a simple, inexpensive Distressor emulation. Easy to set up and with some slight deviations from a Distressor, for example, a different choice of ratios but the flavour is definitely there.
Sly Fi Deflector - $99
Sly Fi is an offshoot of one of my favourite plug-in developers - Kush. The Deflector is a pretty accurate take on the Distressor in terms of features, I'll leave the judgements about the sound of all of these plug-ins to you but in terms of controls and choice of ratios, the Deflector isn't pretending to be anything else!
Sknote Disto - $39
Italian Brand Sknote offer Disto which, rather than emulating a single Distressor, offers a pair of Distressors and a Fatso. With so many compression options and all the distortion possibilities offered by the Fatso this combination would keep most drum busses occupied.
Kush UBK-1 - $149
Another from Kush, I had to include the UBK-1 as it's been a favourite of mine for years and if you want unhinged, excessive compression then UBK delivers. If you set up UBK-11 on Squish you can get a very convincing Distressor snare.
Slate FG Stress - Intro price $199 (reg price $249)
Slate Digital say that the FG-Stress is a faithful digital recreation of one of the industry’s most highly cherished analogue compressors.
Apparently the Distressor has been modelled in every detail which is not as simple as may at first sound due to the Distressor’s unique design meaning each different ratio is essentially a different compressor acting with its own tone and character. In much the same way as the hardware does, the new FG-Stress module can emulate the tone of those driving VCA compressors, vintage sounding optical comps and even the harmonic distortion found in valve models.
FG Stress was released in late September 2017 James' review shows it in action in a mix.
Are there any other AAX Distressor-style plug-ins? Let us know if we've missed any in the comments below.