REV 2.1

Rev 2 of the Empirical Labs Arousor Plug-In

ALL NEW Expert Panel allows access to additional controls for finer adjustment of Arousor's BLEND control.

The Broadband Saturator in the Soft Clipping section uses a novel approach to allow amazing control over peaks.

The Parametric sidechain EQ allow unprecedented control over Arousor's detection circuit.

Allow just how much the compression reacts to the low end in your mix. Makes for some very powerful low end.

The unique AtMod™ Attack Modification Control changes the shape of the initial attack, and can lengthen attack times in a different manner than the ATTACK control.

Distressor users will feel right at home. There's no other compressor plugin that nails ELI compression like the Arousor does. With new features already, and new features coming, you're looking at the evolution of Compression from Empirical Labs, the creators of the Distressor.

It’s been 20 years since Empirical Labs released its first compressor, The Distressor.  From those early days on, Empirical Labs has been bombarded with requests for a great compressor plugin for those working in the box… and it had to be one with the creamy sound and ease-of-use of our own award winning hardware compressors.  We are sure you will find the 20-year wait worth it!


For many years, processing speed, sample rates and copy protection were limiting.  Things have changed.  Digital Technology can now come very close to having all the wonderful non-linearity and “warts” of the best analog gear.  We say “close” because most of Empirical Labs’ analog gear will pass 150KHz easily, and that is something that is impossible with current digital technology.  But hey, who hears above 20KHz?  ::Spock Eyebrow Raise::  But it is difficult getting everything right up to that 20KHz, especially at sample rates of 48KHz and below.


As this plug-in does all kinds of non-linear stuff, we had to employ a variety of techniques to minimize common digital artifacts found in almost all digital compressors/limiters etc.  Unfortunately, these techniques are costly as far as processing, and one has to streamline certain DSP processes for less CPU load without sacrificing any audio quality.  Ironically, sometimes stuff that is hard in Analog is easy in Digital, and sometimes stuff that is hard (or impossible) in Digital is easy in Analog.


Arousor is compatible with Mac OS
Arousor is compatible with Windows
Arousor is compatible with Avid Venue

Venue Arousor compatible with Venue Ver 4.61 and above.



An iLok Gen 2 or higher USB dongle is required to use the Arousor

Since it’s release, the Arousor™ has been a premium performance, premium priced plug-In.  Some, especially part-time recordists and home-recording enthusiasts were apprehensive about spending $199 for a single plug-in. So it is with great pleasure that Empirical Labs is now offering an easy subscription plan for our Arousor plug-in.

We give you TWO LICENSES to use in two different places, on two different iLoks.

(Licenses must remain in the same iLok account)

Contact for technical support.


• WINDOWS 7 - 10 now fully supported.

• AAX-DSP for the MAC and WINDOWS, and a new Venue version, qualified by Avid

• Greater efficiency, especially in Pro Tools AAX. 1/3rd of the CPU usage.

• Greatly increased Bargraph accuracy.  Makes matching a Distressor sound much easier.

• Preset Sharing Function - Works across all platforms and makes it easy to share.

• Backwards Compatible with Rev 1.0.  Won't "break" your past mixes.

• Graphic and Interface Improvements - New colors, and 3d Depth

• Our first "Expert" Button appears for the BLEND Section.  Offers Dry Lvl Trim, below.

• New Dry Lvl Trim control, allowing perfect Dry and Compressed level matching.

• Even more Presets, some from Famous Engineers

• Refined markings for matching Distressor Detector settings.

• Higher resolution readout on Det BP BW.  Reads to .01 places.

• More support for Control Surfaces, including new Venue systems, like S3L and S6L.

These hidden Expert Panels are going to thrill Arousor users many times over the next few years. The BLEND section now has an EXPERT Button that brings up a panel with a new control to allow perfect matching of levels between Compressed and Dry (un-compressed) signals.


• Empirical Labs Classic Knee Compression in a plug-in… Finally!

• Foolproof operation – It is almost impossible to get a bad sound.

• Empirical Labs Famous White Knobs, with parameter readout and direct entry.

• Proprietary Empirical Labs Detector modeling.  High resolution.

• Broadband Saturator, controllable by user.

A novel approach was used to allow amazing control over peaks.

• Unique AtMod™ Attack Modification Control.  Changes the shape of the initial attack, and can lengthen attack times in a different manner than the ATTACK control.

• HP Sidechain EQ

• BP Sidechain EQ

• Rivet, a brick wall ratio great on room mics, and for skimming peaks.

• Linkable with the stereo version.

• BLEND Control – Mix in the dry signal with the compressed one.

• 18 Lock n Load Presets, finely tuned and named intuitively.  More coming down the line.

• More backwards compatible features coming.



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2. DRUMS Default - 5-8dB Gain Reduction

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3. Drums PUMMELED KIK SN preset 10-15dB Gain Reduction

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4. Drums RIVET Extreme 20db Gain Reduction

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5. Drums RIVET Extreme - Blend at 2

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6. Saturation ONLY (Dial set at 8)

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The 300 $ question...

June 12, 2018

Reviewer: Robert Gagl from Munich, Bavaria Germany


As I had 3 different distressor plugins in my arsenal of compressors already, I had to ask myself the 300 $ question: Do I really need "another" one? Now, that I own four distressors, the answer is YES!  Arousor plays in its own league. It is not just another one - it is the perfect one. Just grab the demo and you will find out what I mean...


No Regrets

January 16, 2018

Reviewer: Andrew Shaw from Dorchester, MA United States


I typically record with distressor. It added a lovely weight and depth to my vocals. I needed a solution for mixing songs that I didn’t record. I tried several obvious choices in the box none came thru like I expected. So I mustered up the money and bought Arouser. It was instant familiarity. Instant gratification! I was worried about spending all this money for one simple plugin, but once I placed it on my vocal plugin chain I instantly had no regrets. Thanks Empirical Labs!


Sonic Bliss!!!

May 14, 2018

Reviewer: Brad Divens/fixintogetmixin inc from Hagerstown, MD United States


Instant magic on my drum groups, bass and vocals!  Using it live on the S6L is a must!  Have a good show everybody!!!

Powerful and AAX DSP!

February 5, 2017

Reviewer: Scott Frankfurt from Woodland Hills, CA United States


Instant improvement to virtually everything I throw at it. Literally my new Default DSP Dynamic processor. Since my name is on the door, I am very careful about which products I get behind. Well done, Dave / Empirical Labs.


A New Classic

April 13, 2018

Reviewer: Daniel Picard from Mont-Royal, QC Canada


I own two Distressors that I have used on almost everything I tracked and mixed throughout the years.  And though I was hoping that ELI would release a software version, I’m glad that they took the time to do it right! The Arousor has the same « magic device » quality as the Distressor : whatever source material it processes sounds better at the output. And the new features (such as the 1.5 ratio, attack mod, soft clipping settings, etc.) make this plugin a true Swiss-Army knife. While I do miss the Opto and British modes, I understand that they should be present in future revisions.


Arousor - Amazing

June 12, 2018

Reviewer: Jerry Boys from Cornwall England


Never really got in the analogue Distressor but this software emulation++ is amazing. First new plug in compressor that has actually got character in a long time.

Instant magic

August 8, 2017

Reviewer: Jesse Alves from Brasilia, Distrito Federal Brazil


I'm not a professional, but I have  almost all the most important compressor plugins. None was so powerful as Arousor. The sound is delicious, and it's so simple to use. What I liked the most was whereas another plugins were subtle, this one doesn't have to be, if you so wish. And if you are heavy-handed, it still is musical.


Finally! A virtual distressor in my mixes!

May 16, 2017

Reviewer: Emiliano Sasal from C.A.B.A., Buenos Aires Argentina


I always use distressors when recording. And since I mix mostly ITB I've been waiting for a plugin like this for years. It's not exactly like a distressor. But the differences are all improvements. And yes, it's expensive. Pero vale cada centavo!

Utterly brilliant

May 16, 2017

Reviewer: Pete Gleadall from London, Greater London United Kingdom


I've had a distressor in my rack since about 1997, so by now I'm pretty used to its sound. The arousor gives me that sound, but I can now have lots of them in a mix !!

I've used it on subgroups and individual tracks and it just sounds great.

Considering what I paid for the distressor, the arousor is a major bargain !!

worth every penny!

April 24, 2017

Reviewer: Rune Zetterström/ from copenhagen denmark


While i was impatiently waiting for my hardware disterssors i bought the arousor plug it's now my goto compressor. so easy to use and the sound that i could bot find anywhere else

There is no other!!!

May 16, 2017

Reviewer: C Fig from KENNESAW, GA United States


I have try so many others comps throughout the years, none of them get close to this. The ability to transform the transient is amazing. Customer service outanding!!! Empirical Labs please make some more.

Even Better Than The Real Thing

May 16, 2017

Reviewer: Gabriel Funes from CABA, Buenos Aires Argentina


Simply sounds amazing!



March 6, 2017

Reviewer: Adam Hawkins


This one plugin replaced four other plugins in my usual lead vocal processing chain.  HUGE time saver, and sounds incredible!

My heart sank when I demo'd it

February 8, 2017

Reviewer: Chris Hesse from Los Angeles, CA United States


Because the last thing I need is ANOTHER compressor plugin. What sold me immediately is variable side chain. It was one of those "why the hell doesn't everyone do that???" moments, kinda like when the mix knob started showing up on effects. The saturation knob is very tasteful, never getting too shrill. The compressor can really versatile, does everything I want it to do and more.  Definitely the best purchase I've made in a long time, hardware OR software

Incredible plugin

June 14, 2017

Reviewer: Tyler Smyth from Los Angeles, CA United States


The amount of uses I've found for this plugin are pretty staggering. Anytime I want a sound to bite back, I use this.

Greetings from Japan

July 11, 2017

Reviewer: KIYOSHI from TOKYO, TOKYO Japan


On behalf of Japanese big fan base for Empirical Labs' products, I am so happy about Arousor after years of waiting. Sounds just great. Hope we will have more pri-sets and fine-tuning in the years to come. Thanks!

Swiss Army Knife

August 4, 2017

Reviewer: Jamie Dockerty from Swords, Dublin Republic of Ireland


Its an absolute swiss army Knife, you can put it on everything and it adds nothing but bliss. Is it worth selling ur kids for 100% Yes!!! Would i buy it again Yes!!!


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