Play Video

“The Arousor is a compressor plugin without equal!  Instantly exciting and instantly musical. There’s no turning back!” – Greg Wells

The Arousor is the only classic knee compressor plugin made by the creators of the Distressor, Empirical Labs. It’s been well over 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!


Attack Modification

Fine tune the attack curve of the compression envelope with AtMod. The attack modification knob slows down the initial slope of the attack envelope to add just a little bit more of the transient back into the track. Whether it’s to get a little bit more snap on the snare track or more thump on the electric bass, the AtMod will let the transients through without losing your desired amount of compression.

Colorful Saturation

Add some vintage-style harmonic distortion to any track with the soft clipper. Whether you are looking for subtle or extreme amounts of total harmonic distortion, the soft clipper knob merges both of the distortion settings on the Distressor to grant the user complete control of total harmonic distortion without having to adjust the input level of the Arousor.

Advanced Detector Sidechain

Dial in exactly where you want the compression to trigger with 2 bands of sidechain EQ. This advanced detector sidechain EQ expands both of the preset detection filter circuits on the Distressor into a controllable hi-pass and parametric sidechain. Control the exact point on the frequency spectrum where you want compression to be triggered without losing any low-end.

Rivet Mode

Get maximum gain reduction with the Rivet mode along with all of the ratios you know and love from the Distressor. Modeled after the Distressor’s Nuke Ratio, Rivet provides the steepest compression ratio a compressor plugin can provide to slam room mics and more.


As of 6/29/2022, all* purchases of Arousor include the Arousor LT.

Click here to read more about Arousor LT

*Gobbler subscriptions not included

What's New in Rev 3

  • Two OPTO Modes based on the time constants of a classic and a modern LA2A
  • Soft Clipper Expert Panel that allows for introducing more second harmonic distortion and the ability to place the compressor input before or after the soft clipper circuit.
  • Detector Sidechain EQ now includes a listen mode to hear what frequencies are affecting the compression detector.
  • Two new ratios (6.5:1 and 7:1) can now be accessed by enabling “ALT” mode in the ratio section.
  • The GUI can now be enlarged to double its original size for more comfortable editing.
  • iLok Cloud activation is now available rather than just iLok USB activation.

Click here to read more about what’s new in Rev 3


"It was immediately like greeting a friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years! Oh how I remember that sound, and the Arousor plug-in has taken it a step further. Allowing me to re-create the “SPANK” I was using with the EL-8 during the 90’s and 00’s, but with the detector sidechain EQ, giving me the flexibility to get deep into controlling how much spank and how I want to blend it.”
Tom Lord-Alge
Sum 41, Goo Goo Dolls, Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, etc.
“I didn’t think the Distressor could be ‘improved’, but now Dave has come up with the Attack Modification and the Soft Clipping controls, not to mention the crazy sidechain options…”
John Paterno
Robbie Williams, Lustra, Robben Ford, Bonnie Raitt, etc.
“The plugin is a game changer ITB. I have for a very long time been a fan of the Distressor on snare and now I have that again. Nothing compares and on the mix I'm doing I went from feeling really good about it… to killer.”
Jacquire King
Artic Monkeys, James Bay, Modest Mouse, etc.
"The Arousor is a compressor plugin without equal! Instantly exciting and instantly musical. There's no turning back!"
Greg Wells
Katy Perry, Twenty One Pilots, OneRepublic, etc.
“Wow - right off the bat - I love this thing. All the sonic characteristics of the best hardware, only more control, more color options. Handles every approach toward compression with great style, character, and when wanted, excitement. The attack modification and side chain eq are fantastic additions. Like three plug-ins in one. Plus, the x-factor…it just sounds great.”
Bob Power
A Tribe Called Quest, D'Angelo, Bobby McFerrin, etc.

Try the Arousor for Free for 15 days.

• Download the Arousor Installer at the link the link below.
• Install the Arousor and click “TRY” the first time it is opened.
• Activate the Arousor to an iLok USB or iLok Cloud.


Own It

Buy the Arousor on our store.

• When you purchase the Arousor from our online store you get 1 license with 2 activations when you redeem your activation code.
• Get free upgrades and support.
• Activate the Arousor to an iLok USB or iLok Cloud.

• Includes Arousor LT license in a Locked Group (as of 6/29/2022).


Hear the Difference

↳ Drums - Dry

↳ Drums - Default Preset (5-8 dB Gain Reduction)

↳ Drums - PUMMELED KIK SN Preset (10-15 dB Gain Reduction)

↳ Drums - RIVET EXTREME Preset (20 dB Gain Reduction)

↳ Drums - RIVET EXTREME Preset (Blend set to 2)

↳ Drums - Only Saturation (Soft Clipper set to 8)


Join the Community

Share presets, tips, experiences, and more on our forum

Follow the Arousor Thread on Gearspace


Not anymore! Now, you can activate the Arousor to iLok Cloud!

Arousor Rev 3 is free for all current Arousor users. All you have to do is download the latest installer from the downloads page.

Yes and no. The Arousor is more of an evolution of the Distressor than it is an emulation because it has much more advanced features like the AtMod and the Soft Clipper.

User Reviews

243 reviews for AROUSOR

  1. Chris Thompson

    As a distressor owner I have been waiting for a plugin that comes close to doing what the hardware unit does. Along comes the Arousor that takes everything I like about the hardware and adds features that make it even more versatile. With the attack mod, sweepable side chain, and the ability to control how much harmonics are added, I dare to say I am liking this better than the hardware. I am bummed that there is no OPTO mode on the Arouser right now, but hopefully that is added in a future update.

  2. Stephan Hawkes

    This plugin really took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting much from it at all but after an hour of demoing it across drums, bass, guitar and vocals, I had completely re-shaped a mix in ways that simply were not possible before. I have used it on every mix since and clients have really noticed a difference between their pre/post Arouser mixes!

    I’ve got quite a few nice hardware comps and many quality compressor plugins and none of them do what the Arouser does for my mixes. It’s a creative tool that is unlike anything I’ve ever used and the extended features are just awesome. I previously owned a nice matched pair of older Distressors and I’d take this plugin over a 100% accurate Distressor plugin any day.

    Thank you Dave for daring to think up this wonderful plugin!

  3. Dimiter Ganchev

    It does something I’ve never heard before. For the first time in my career as I mixer, I’ve heard a plugin bring life and excitement to any instruments – a whole new mood and vibe of the players 🙂

  4. Peter Larkin

    Incredible flexibility from this plugin without instance fatigue. Works great to shape a sound or just a little blended as a parallel compressor on individual tracks or buses. I’ve also been using the Arousor in 1:1 with compression off just for the saturation alone, which has been really cool on guitars and anything needing a little spice, but not compression. Really happy with this plugin!

  5. Justin Perkins

    I owned a pair of Distressors years ago and used them on nearly every recording session. I since sold them now that I’m 99% mastering. Now and then I take on a special mix project and and up until now I always missed that classic Distressor sound and flexibility for mixing. It’s like no other.

    I just happen to be starting a mix project right now and I’m thrilled to have a software option that is so similar to the Distressor but with some updated/modern twists…possibly even better than the original Distressor, not to mention that now I can have dozens of them inserted on a mix if needed.

    I would say that ELI nailed it with this plugin. Nice work.

Add a review