Empirical Labs Fatso EL7X


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The Fatso is a recent addition to the Empirical Labs range of new-technology outboard gear which takes compression, harmonic generation & tape simulation to a new level. It has seven levels of compression, eight levels of warmth, and a switchable transformer which can be used in hundreds of combinations

The Fatso in this auction is the new EL7X which replaces the old Fatso Jr. The EL7X adds a new compressor type – Eleven, an homage to the 1176 in 20:1 mode – and has improved control logic and a revised power supply

In my tests I found the compression side to react really nicely to varying input levels. Unity gain in bypass is approximately input 4, output 4 so there’s plenty of opportunity to overdrive the input & push the compressor harder. Warmth is subtle on sources that are already harmonically complex, such as drums, but more noticeable on purer sounds. As with the compression side, there’s plenty of control range available and warmth can be pushed to generate quite extreme effects. In conjunction with the spank setting in the compressor it’s possible to generate full-on drum squashing with lots of movement but without the obnoxious high-end distortion some devices create when provoked

Overall, I found the Fatso to be smooth sounding and hugely appealing. It manages to be controlled but wild at the same time. It’s hard to wrong-foot it and create something that sounds like a mess but I’m sure it’s possible if you work at it! I have to hand it to Dave Derr – the Fatso takes the Distressor and builds on it to create another unique, must-have piece of outboard gear. And it has two separate channels with a stereo link function so is ready for duties on the 2-Bus

The Fatso and Distressor have forced a revision of my Top Ten Compressors List

“In a word, the FATSO is a very good answer to what a lot of people loathe about digital recording. It smooths out the sharp, brittle edges to exactly the extent you choose, and fills in the hairline cracks just right. I use one on almost every mix I do. I could easily use one and quite possibly two more.” – George Massenburg

“People used to have to hunt for old, expensive gear to get the kind of sounds that the FATSO gives me.” – Ed Cherney

“The winner of the highly-coveted I’m Going to Write a Check Right After the Show award was picked up by Empirical Labs for their FATSO processor. You too can add girth, breadth and depth to your masters, and it sounds soooo fine” – Craig Anderton

“One additional point I want to make. Although the FATSO is marketed as an analog tape emulator, its uses are not limited to digital recording. Its various effects have a wide enough range (subtle, musical, extreme) that you may find it essential even if you are an analog- snob with nary a plan to record digitally” – Tape Op Review

“Let me first start off by saying that the FATSO was my single biggest game changer out of all my gear… The FATSO does exactly what it’s advertised to do and it sounds amazing doing it. It makes the signal huge, adds glue and takes away harsh frequencies”

Inputs and Outputs are balanced on XLR connectors and jack sockets. Each channel has a TRS jack insert and there’s an external link facility to allow multiple fatsos to be linked. Compression is displayed on a horizontal LED ladder meter in a very similar way to the Distressor and there’s a similar display to show warmth. Power input is 110 / 220 Volt (internally switchable like the Distressor) with a standard IEC power socket

Standard rack-mounting 1U device

Product page


Tape Op Review (old Fatso Junior)


Gearslutz Reviews (old Fatso Junior)


Mix Review (old Fatso Junior)


Youtube 2-Minute Review


Youtube 2-Minute Tones Fatso


Youtube Fatso demo



In excellent, used condition. There's a tiny bit of rack rash but otherwise the front panel is unmarked. The pots & switches have been cleaned & lubricated. Tested & working 100% and the Fatso sounds fantastic! UK, US or Euro power cable supplied on request. Photos are of the item in this auction

Vintage gear All vintage gear will have case scratches and marks. It may also have, or develop, noisy pots and switches. I make my descriptions as accurate as possible and note any existing defects. I test each item before shipping, and and supply a test sheet for it, but please understand that vintage gear will not be perfect and adjust your expectations accordingly

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