Delightfully brash.

  • A preamp full of crunchy distortion, a multi-stage soft-clipping circuit saturator, and a compressor based on the ELI Distressor—all in one native plug-in
  • Versatile tonal coloring that replicates the coolest characteristics of vintage analog recording equipment
  • Perfectly modeled in concert with Dave Derr and the Empirical Labs team



Included in Empirical Labs Complete Collection

Modern analog flavor, tasty price.
All 3 Empirical Labs products in one bundle. Learn more

Compressor & Saturator / Console 1 Ready / Amp Room Ready

Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp

USD 149 USD 199


Precisely modeled in close collaboration with Dave Derr, Empirical Labs Mike-E Comp offers high-caliber, 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 behavior. 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 modeling 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, we 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 we took the same meticulous approach we always do – everything needs to be exact, with skillful recording, precise testing, and fine-tuning to sound exactly like the hardware that inspired it or even better. Nothing less.


Have a listen


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 analog 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 modeled 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 analog 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. We authentically modeled 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.



This product supports
Extended Features

We love VU meters, Bakelite knobs, and analog quirks. But we want modern precision and workflow. The answer? Softube Extended Features. Easy-access panels with the innovations you need close at hand


Learn more


Say Hello to Heaven

Empirical Labs Mike-E has sharp elbows. It offers in-your-face analog 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 coloring which replicates the best traits of analog 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 analog 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 our authentic emulations of their modern analog classics: Mike-E, Lil FrEQ, Trak Pak, and the Empirical Labs Complete Collection.

Learn more about our partnership with Empirical Labs

What's Included



The expertly-modeled, native plug-in version of Mike-E is a compressor, saturator, and pre-amp in one. It’s a novel and potent tool applicable to many different sound sources. Use it as a robust mix workhorse, an artistic transient shaper, decay shaper, saturator, or classic compressor. Mike-E is stacked with features that help you go overboard while leaving bitterness in the dust.

Mike-E For Amp Room


Mike-E for Amp Room explodes the sound creation options in Softube's luxury guitar and bass platform. Mike-E is an uncommonly original character tool that's totally unique to the Amp Room toolset. Especially awesome on bass sounds, add a little Empirical Labs to your Amp Room arsenal and create mix-ready tones in your continuously growing pro audio guitar and bass system.

Learn more about Amp Room

Console 1 Ready

This plug-in can be used within Console 1, our mixing system. Click to learn more.



Itching to know all there is to know about our Empirical Labs + Softube suite of products? Or just want to get up and running as quick as you can? Either way, we got you covered. Book a private video session with our product demonstration team today. Learn more


Book your session now


In short

  • A preamp, compressor, and saturator in one
  • Available for the first time in native plug-in form
  • Developed in close collaboration with Dave Derr and Empirical Labs
  • Expertly modeled down to the component level
  • Compressor in the CompSat circuitry functions like the famous Distressor
  • Including NUKE mode!
  • With preamp distortion before the CompSat section
  • Featuring three Emphasis Modes and Wet/Dry
  • Added External Sidechain and attack time preset
  • Available as a module in Amp Room
  • Excellent sound quality, beyond easy to use
  • Product features

    • An expert component modeled 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

    All Softube products require a computer with appropriate DAW host software (none of which are included).

    Versions from 2.5.38 and newer of the Softube plug-ins have the following minimum requirements:

    All native versions

    • Mac OS X 10.13 up to 12
    • Windows 10 and 11 64-bit 
    • Mac: Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon / Full Apple silicon support (M1 or higher)
    • Windows: Intel Core i3 / i5 / i7 / Xeon / AMD Quad-Core or newer
    • Screen resolution larger than 1280x800
    • 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)
    • Softube account
    • iLok account
    • Internet access for downloading installers and managing licenses
    • iLok generation 2 and up, if you intend to use an iLok key for authorizing your plug-ins (note that a physical iLok USB key is not a requirement)

    In theory, any 64-bit VST, VST3, AU, or AAX (Pro Tools 11.0.2 or higher) compatible host application should work. However, due to plug-in host differences between DAWs - and our own rigorous testing standards - we only officially test our plug-ins and instruments in the most recent versions of Pro ToolsLogic ProCubaseAbleton LiveStudio OneReaper, and Cakewalk. Softube plugins are not tested in non-listed systems, but they most likely work as long as the system requirements are met. We cannot guarantee a solution for issues in unsupported systems.

    Note: We have checked the basic functionality of our plug-ins, and Softube Central, under Apple Rosetta 2.

    With regards to the different VST formats, we strongly recommend using VST3 as some of our plug-ins have features that are not present in the older VST format. Supported sample rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192 kHz, in both mono and stereo. The most recent maintenance release of your DAW application is recommended. AAX DSP is not currently in active development. TDM/VENUE is no longer supported (old downloads are available on the Legacy Installers page).

    Find the Softube installer you need both Softube Central and individual plug-ins.

    AAX DSP version

    • For AAX DSP you need to meet the above requirements for the Native versions. You also need to have an Avid HDX processing card. For plug-ins available for AAX DSP, see Which Softube plug-ins support AAX DSP?
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