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“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

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
Arctic 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).



Pay Monthly or Annually.

• $4.99/month or $49.99/year

• Get access to AROUSOR at a low monthly price!

• Includes AROUSOR LT

• iLok USB or iLok Cloud Required

$4.99/month or $49.99/year


Pay Monthly towards a Perpetual License

• $9.95/month, 20 Payments

• Pause or Cancel at any time

• Includes AROUSOR LT

• iLok USB or iLok Cloud Required

$9.95/month for 20 months

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. Gabrielle Perez

    I have not had experience with the original distressor but I have had many engineers tell me this is their in-the-box go to. Using it is a dream, If I could describe this compressor it is STRAIGHT FORWARD. Seriously, it will let you know what you are doing and I love its ability to basically work on everything with a great color and color control!


    Although I don’t know the hardware, I found the compressor to be very versatile and very useful for vocals. Great tool, congratulations ELabs.

  3. Jason Sawyer

    Great compressor. Excellent on drums and bass particularly. Compared to other VST compressors, I find I can get a lot more punch without compromising the tone. The side chain eq is an excellent addition, and the blend is great, although it seems that most of the time, blend at full sounds best, unlike with other VST compressors.

  4. JRG Roberts

    I never used the hardware, it post-dated my professional engineer days. I have used other top end compressors, and I can get some goooood sounds out of this plugin, which has a broad range. All I want now is a Proto 500 😉

  5. Andris Kiss

    I had one distressor. I looked into buying more, but in the last 4 years I slowly started moving away from analog as I work now now 100% itb. I was afraid to sell my distressor as it is the best ever comprressor in the world. looked into buying this plugin. I can confirm it is exactly the same taste and tone as a real distressor. For me it’s even better with the extra functions. My dustressor got a happy new home and I’m even happier than ever as I could have 100 distressors in my project. Great job!

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