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What does Fatso Jr. do? Distressor vs. Fatso Jr.? Saturation Plugins
Old 22nd April 2007
Gear Addict

Thread Starter
What does Fatso Jr. do? Distressor vs. Fatso Jr.?

I am a big fan of the "tape" sound. I still have my 488 Tascam 8-track, which I will use again eventually. Unfortunately I've been spoiled by the convenience of the digital recording. I hear Empirical Labs Fatso Jr. immitates tape. How close to tape does it actually get? Also does the Distressor do the same thing (+ something else, hence the higher price) or are they two completely indipendent units? Thanks.
Old 22nd April 2007
They are brothers born years apart...

The Distressor is a fully featured compressor with just about every comp envelope you could dream of. It does the 1176 and La-xx thing really well (doesn't really quite sound like them, but it can react very similarly), along with subtle compression and extreme blow up the room sounds from it's NUKE settings. The coloration functions on the Distressor are switchable in and out, and they range from subtle to depending on the ratio of the comp, outright aggressive.

The FATSO has a few different types of coloration - "saturation generator" (from what I remember is always ON) which to me sounds a lot like a softly saturated tube, "warmth" function which sounds most (but not completely) like saturated tape, which is able to be dialed in in different amounts, and tranny which is subtle low frequency stuff like you hear when you drive a preamp like a Neve (sort of). There are only four 'best of' compression settings on the FATSO, sometimes they work, sometimes not, IME they work maybe 50% of the time to good effect (hey I'm picky about my compression settings).

The online manuals at Empirical Labs are very thorough and can explain far more than I can.

They really are quite different, there could be two Distressors and one FATSO in a rack and they won't step on each other's toes more than 20% of the time.
Old 22nd April 2007
Gear Addict

Thread Starter
Thanks for your very comprehensive reply. Are there other tape emulation devices hardware/software worth looking at?
Old 22nd March 2013
Gear Head

Resurrecting an old thread just to say I picked up a Fatso Jr. I love what it does to overly harsh cymbals on overheads. It turns "ouch" into a lush "pshhhhh," and can bring out the room ambiance in the OH if you push it hard enough. You really start hearing what it sounds like best when leaving the compressor and warmth off, then just pushing it hard until it starts pinning. If you start pushing the input stage hard enough, you actually start getting compression without engaging the compression knobs. I think it's really compressing all the time, even when the compression buttons are not engaged. It's just more subtle if you don't engage the compression buttons (and better to my ear.)

I was also liking what it did on a poorly tracked bass, the tranny gave the bass more distinction.

Considering the UBK upgrade.
Old 22nd March 2013
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
From the thread FATSO demo on 27th Dec 2005

I found the Fatso & its price frustrating... I found myself circling Dave Derr its designer at trade shows like a shark in bad mood, watching him demo it...... what was pissing me off was I knew it would fix a lot of what was aggrivating me about digital & PT but I didnt like the price...

But I cracked and picked one up a few years back... and dig it..very much.
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