In my time of being a complete gear nerd, I've looked at hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of studios of all levels. One very common piece among these studios is a reamp box. After doing loads of research and actually using one, I decided reamping is the best way to get the perfect guitar tone in a studio setting. In this article, I'll demystify reamping and even give insight to some cool tricks.
What is reamping?
Reamping starts with tracking via DI. This can be done by plugging your guitar directly into your interface, or by using a DI box like the Radial JDI into your interface for a higher quality signal. You can then later send that squeaky clean DI track out of your interface into your amp. However, the outputs of an interface are at line level which is about 18dB higher than your guitar. If you send that line level signal straight into the amp, it will overload instantly. A reamp box chained between the interface output and the amp will bring the line level signal down to instrument level and make your amp react much more naturally.
Why would I reamp when I can just record the guitar amp right away?
There are a few reasons that reamping is becoming essential. The first being that this is a massive time saver for clients in the studio. It's easy to track with a software amp and then mic up a cab later without them having to be there. When clients are in the studio, they don't want to be waiting around for the engineer to find the perfect placement on the perfect cab with a specific head. They want to go into the studio and make music. Reamping allows engineers to get the perfect tone without the band waiting on them.
Another big reason, especially in heavy music, is editing purposes. The easiest way to get a heavy sound is tight playing. Many tracking engineers will edit every guitar note to the grid. If you have ever seen a DI track against an amp track, you will notice that the transients (or hits) are visible on the DI track, whereas the amp track looks like a brick. Distortion heavily compresses sound and makes it impossible to see transients, so the DI track is necessary for editing.
Lastly, there are economical and time-saving reasons to reamp. What if the original amp track was not very good or just does not fit in the mix at all? You might be stuck with using a sound that's not ideal. The reamping solution? Many engineers will record DI and an amp track as the same time. Then you can go back and record the best sounding amp for the project.
What are some good reamping solutions?
Radial Engineering ProRMP - $99.99
The most popular reamp box is made by Radial Engineering. These boxes are built tough and will last a lifetime. The ProRMP is very popular in heavy music because it sounds less smooth, but a bit more aggressive than other boxes. It is also very affordable, coming in at only $99.99.
Radial Engineering X-Amp - $199.99
The X-Amp is an active reamper that has a stereo output. An advantage of using active reamp boxes is if you need to run long cabling, the active power source will not degrade the signal at all, whereas the passive may lose some high end. The dual outputs on this make it a great option for running into two different amp heads for tone blending while keeping the signal in phase.
Reamping isn't just for guitars. You may have read some stories and seen some videos of people reamping drums, vocals, keyboards and synths. Reamping these instruments can add interesting effects and depth to a mix that otherwise wouldn't be attainable. It's especially effective on drums if the amp is in a very reflective room. Running a mono signal of the close mics (kick snare and toms) through the amp and recording through both a close mic and a room mic can make your drums sound massive. Adding distortion to the close amp mic can add a cool effect and even give you more headroom as well.
Reamping is a lot of fun, but there is a lot of information to take in. If you're interested in reamping and have questions, don't hesitate to give us a call!
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