Empirical Labs Awards

Empirical Labs Inc. (ELI), designs and manufactures professional audio signal processing equipment used in recording studios, live sound, broadcast studios and other audio production facilities all over the world. We also produce plug ins for digital audio workstations (DAWS) and software for digital signal processors.

ELI was started in 1988 and functioned mainly as a recording studio and electronic consulting firm. The founder, Dave Derr, was also employed at the time by Eventide as an audio engineer where he was part of the core design team for the H3000, H3500, and DSP4000. His experience at Eventide proved invaluable for his later work. While working alongside Ken Bogdanowicz and Bob Belcher (both now at Soundtoys), Dave was exposed to state of the art engineering and the modern world of digital signal processing (DSP).


The first Empirical Labs product – the Distressor – was designed in 1994, tested and revised for several years, and released in 1996. With over twenty thousand units sold, it has unquestionably become a modern classic. In 1998, Empirical Labs closed the doors of the recording studio to focus on the growing signal processing business. Later that year, the company picked up and moved to a larger facility to meet their increased production requirements.

Assembling the Distressor

Today, all Empirical Labs products are still manufactured in the USA and rigorously calibrated and tested by hand.  We take great pride in the quality, workmanship and robustness of everything that leaves our factory. It’s important to us that our gear works as well years from now as it does the day you open it for the first time.


Our philosophy is extremely simple, but very hard to live up to: "We want to make products that work a little easier, a little better, and a lot longer - and make sure they’re fun to use."


The word "Empirical" in its most positive interpretation means, "fashioned from experience".  Design by textbook typically yields generic products, which are rarely as exciting as those born from a lot of thinking, tinkering and field use. We consider real world use to be one of the best resources in developing innovative, user-friendly and robust designs. Before final release, all our products are extensively tested in the environments for which they are designed.


Another major goal of Empirical Labs has always been to make our products less prone to obsolescence and be easy to update, modify or repair. Instead of entire new products that may be outdated in two years, we’d rather make a few great products that can be supported and upgraded for decades.


With tens of thousands of our products in the field, Empirical Labs wants to thank our enthusiastic customers for their part in our success. Because of their involvement through word of mouth, magazine reviews, Internet groups, and album credits - almost two thousand units were sold before we ever placed our first ad. We don't take our customer support or our luck for granted - but we also work hard to offer a superior product and superior service.


As one customer kindly complimented, "You built a better mousetrap, and the world has beaten a path to your door".


Again, thanks to all our customers and industry friends!






Empirical Labs Headquarters

"We want to produce products that work a little easier, a little better and a lot longer - and make sure they're fun to use."


Judy has been with E​mpirical Labs ​since 1996. She met Dave (Derr) in​ ​1992 while recording at his studio, Studio E.   ​She had been managing ​a ​small office​​ for several years​ as well as performing with her band , The Judy Saiya Group​.


At the time Dave ​had just finished designing a little box called "The Distressor​. He had kept in touch with her because he thought she had " a cool voice and wrote really good songs". . When asked if she might consider working at ELI, she jumped at the chance!​  This opportunity would help ELI grow and allow her to stay in touch with the music business in general.


​Twenty one years later she still loves what she does and feels incredibly lucky​ to be part of the Empirical Labs' success story. ​ She appreciates Empirical's customers​, and distributors and strives to provide the best service in the business worldwide. Judy and Dave decided early on that they wanted to be known as a "good news company"​ after being continually frustrated by the poor customer service people tend to receive in general.


​Outside the office Judy's main passion is playing guitar and songwriting. She still performs from time to time and has been recording at Sound Spa Productions​ in Edison NJ. She is currently looking to place some of her songs with other artists as well.  Besides music, her interests include, ​​​boating, ​​being with family and friends, horseback riding,​ and real estate management.


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