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Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp

Compressor by Softube

Buy and getFREE

Delightfully brash.

Precisely modelled in close collaboration with Dave Derr, Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp offers high-calibre, one-of-a-kind saturation/compression based on the famous ELI Distressor. A punchy preamp that's available before the CompSat circuitry, and three different emphasis modes—plus NUKE!—enable multi-stage distortion and quick changes to the character of the saturation/compression behaviour. Available for the first time as a native plug-in, Mike-E makes it a total blast to go overboard. And when you do, you’re rewarded with nary a hint of harshness—no matter how far you push it to the extreme. Excess without consequence? That’s rock & roll. And it's what makes Mike-E your man in the box.

Designed by Experts, Built on Legacy

Softube has a long history of modelling professional gear. After nearly two decades working in collaboration with premium pro audio brands like Tube-Tech, Solid State Logic, Chandler Limited®, Weiss Engineering, and Trident, Softube have a solid track record recreating indisputable classics in software form that sound precisely like their hardware counterparts.

Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp is built on this legacy, and Softube took the same meticulous approach they always do – everything needs to be exact, with skilful recording, precise testing, and fine-tuning to sound exactly like the hardware that inspired it or even better. Nothing less.

Them Bones: The CompSat Section

The core of Mike-E is its class-leading CompSat. The bones of the compressor are those of the legendary ELI Distressor, one of the most-beloved contemporary compressors in existence. With its huge control range, novel feature set, and longer attack time, Mike-E employs a custom-designed gain control circuit to give a warm and toasty analogue sound. The killer multi-stage soft-clipping circuit saturator is never harsh. And Emphasis—a multi-stage circuit that emphasizes the high-frequencies before the CompSat circuit, and then cuts the frequencies after it—is there to enhance the tone. Plus, NUKE!

Houdini: The Preamp

The punchy preamp, with its bold and crunchy distortion, is precisely modelled on the line input section of the original hardware. With a unique stepped gain control, it lets you push the CompSat section harder for increased compression and saturation. It also offers the option of distortion before the CompSat section. Mike-E makes it easy to create tons of different types of sounds on as many different sound sources, and it always sounds analogue and musical. It’s those magical elements that make Mike-E so different and so super effective.

Machine Head: The User Interface

Those chunky white knobs. They let you know what you're working with: an intuitive interface—labels to switches. Everything is perfectly placed and dead-simple to use. Everything is right where you know it will be. Softube authentically modelled not only the appearance of Empirical Labs Mike-E but also the care and thought that goes into making it easy and damn fun to use.

Jar of Fly: The Amp Room Module

Included as a module for Softube’s pro audio guitar and bass platform, Mike-E blows the lid off sound creation possibilities in Amp Room. It's a completely unconventional character tool that makes it an unusually excellent addition to the Amp Room toolset. Use it on bass sounds where it's especially bomb.

Say Hello to Heaven

Empirical Labs Mike-E has sharp elbows. It offers in-your-face analogue attitude in a straightforward, modern interface. Of that, there is no doubt. But Mike-E isn’t all cocksure swagger. It boasts a high-performance preamp, a one-of-a-kind compressor/saturator circuit that delivers classic knee compression and varied tonal colouring which replicates the best traits of analogue recording gear, Wet/Dry, and added External Sidechain. To name a few. Stunning sound quality and meaty specs give Mike-E bark and bite.

What it gives you is beefy, punchy drums where you can hear the decay in a dense mix. Fat and harmonically sweet-sounding bass. It will smooth out and warm up an inferior acoustic guitar recording. And can lend credence to vocals in a mix with soft-knee compression and warm, triode-type saturation. Use it to add bite to your electric guitars without any fear of brittleness. Or take the super steep, limiter-like NUKE mode—with its different Attack/Release shapes—and smash drum room mics or anything else that needs the full NUKE offensive. There's so much you can accomplish with Mike-E because Mike-E is so divinely versatile.


Raised by a family of engineers, Dave Derr has gone from a chance encounter at Radio Shack to having his gear used in every major studio and on thousands of records. A rocker in his own right, his name is now synonymous with analogue warmth, but he's not resting on his laurels. On the contrary. The humble genius behind Empirical Labs continues thinking and tinkering and incrementally improving on the already amazing array of products he’s gifted the music industry. Products like Fatso, DerrEsser, and Distressor. It's that work ethic and empirical spirit that has made ELI so well-regarded in the pro audio sphere. Its products are real-world tested and built to get the better of obsolescence. Softube couldn’t be prouder to be part of the Dave Derr and Empirical Labs legacy with their authentic emulations of their modern analogue classics: Mike-E, Lil FrEQ, Trak Pak, and the Empirical Labs Complete Collection.


  • An expert component modelled native plugin version of the Empirical Labs Mike-E hardware
  • Warm and punchy preamp up to +18 dB of gain
  • Hi-Pass and Phase, vintage style 18 dB/octave at 80 Hz
  • Multistage soft-clipping saturator in CompSat section with Drive and Toasty/Warm meter
  • Three emphasis modes in CompSat section (HF, HF2, LF)
  • Compressor in CompSat section based on the Distressor
  • The famous NUKE mode in compressor
  • Ratio presets: BYP, 1:1, 2:1, 4:1, 8:1 & NUKE
  • Attack times in ms: 0.9, 8, 12, 20, 100 • Release times in s: 0.05, 0.1, 0.25, 0.5
  • External Sidechain
  • Dry/Wet mix

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.12-10.15 (older OS versions may work but are not tested, Big Sur compatibility is forthcoming).
  • Windows 64-bit, versions 7, 8 or 10 
  • 64-bit only
  • Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 X2 or newer.
  • Screen resolution 1280x800 or larger.
  • Supported sample rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 kHz, in both mono and stereo.
  • 8 GB RAM or more is recommended, as well as at least 8 GB hard disk space for installation (individual plug-ins take less space, while sample libraries may require additional disk space).
  • A Softube account is required to register and install the software.
  • An iLok account is required for authorisation of the software.
  • Internet access for downloading installer and managing licenses.
  • iLok generation 2 and up, if you intend to use a physical iLok dongle for authorizing your plug-ins (note that an iLok dongle is not a requirement).
  • In theory, any 64-bit VST, VST3, AU, or AAX (11.0.2 or higher) compatible host application should work.
  • The most recent maintenance release of the DAW application is recommended.

However, due to plug-in host differences between DAWs - and Softube's own rigorous testing standards - Softube only officially test their plug-ins and instruments in the most recent versions of Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase, Live, Studio One, Digital Performer, Reaper and Sonar. Softube plugins are not tested in the non-listed systems, but they most likely work as long as the system requirements are met.

Important note: make sure that you always use the latest iLok License Manager. It is not included in the Softube installer but can be downloaded from​

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