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Old 2nd May 2003
The Distressor's "daddy"
Dave Derr's Avatar


Thats actually a good question, Mad John, and I think I have an answer... might not be a good one but...

First, you are not alone in using the Distressor as a mixdown buss compressor - others may chime in here on that. The main limitation or gotcha of using the Distressor for a mixdown compressor is the attack time - its extremely fast. This will give a "squashed" sound unless you keep that knob on 10.5 probably... or else use one of the tricks below.

Second, the original link, the "Phase Link" didnt lock the left and right image together, to prevent Image shifting between the left and right channels. As most of you know there is the option now of the "Image Link" which does indeed lock the image of the left and right channels by keeping the gain reduction on both channels identical. The EL8X version comes standard with this, as well as coming with the British "Animal" mod.

A couple of tricks that I have seen used for Buss compression with the Distressor.

1) Use 2:1 ratio with the slowest attack and a fast release (under 5 on the release). 10:1 Opto may be usable some.
2) Submix the Distression in gently underneath the "dry" mix to keep the transients
3) Use the Det HP to keep the mix from pumping with the sub frequencies
4) Dont overdo the compression unless you submix it up under the dry mix. More than 2 - 3 dB of compression will start to sound squashed.
5) Dont be afraid to use 1:1 with no Gain Reduction to add the soft clipping "heat" of the Distressor

The Fatso has a dedicated ratio called "BUSS" that specifically slows the attack up above 100mS. This is key I think.

Anyone else have any tips or experiences with one compressor over another for bus compression. I loved the SSL or Alan Smart compressors when I had them available, which wasnt often enough. Conversely, these were really great cause of the slow attack on the whole mix, I think. The opposite extreme would be an LN1176 which also destroys mixes because of the fast attack. The Digital compressors are also pretty good in Pro Tools for buss compression, but then, often lacked the character most folks love for individual tracks. Comments?