Re-Amping can be used to help recording artists in many aspects of production both in DIY Home Recording and in professional studios. What makes Re-Amping special is that it removes the constraints of having to capture the perfect amplified sound with the best performance at the same time.
What is Re-Amping?
Re-Amping is the process in which you record a track and then re-record that same track while sending the signal through an amplifier and/or effects, thereby manipulating the sound of the track. When you Re-Amp, you record the performance first and work on the volume and aesthetic of your track later on.
What are the Benefits of Re-Amping?
One of the main benefits of Re-Amping is that you can take your time to dial in and create the color and intensity of the sound that you want for your track, usually so that it sits more suitably in the mix. Also you can work quickly when you are warmed up and fresh to capture a performance without worrying about finding the perfect sound with your amp or with your room and mic positions.
You can experiment with the sound of your track through microphone placement, using various amps, effect pedals, tape-delays, reverbs, EQ etc. A uniform and distinct sound quality can be created for an entire album by Re-Amping. Perhaps you record a perfect lead guitar line but the overall color of the sound isn't cohesive to the rest of your mix, this is a perfect situation to Re-Amp.
You can Re-Amp any instrument, from vocals to drums, and many producers are finding ways of making unique recordings through Re-Amping. For instance, replaying drum parts through an amp in a large stairwell or silo and recording the dynamic echoes and reverberations as an interesting color for a song, or just a particular part of a song.
Another benefit of Re-Amping is when it comes to home recording. When you record at home, sometimes you can't be very loud. For instance, it is the middle of the night and you are inspired and have time to record an electric guitar part but you don't want to wake up the neighbours. You can record your track directly to your DAW while monitoring with your headphones, then the next day take that clean signal and play it back 'out loud' through your amp.
How do I Re-Amp?
You will need either a Re-Amp Box, or a DI Box, or you can even use a Headphone Pre-Amp to send the recorded track to the amp through the output channel and at the same time an input channel to record the amp. First, you can record 'performance' tracks until you feel you have captured the right one, or you can also 'comp' together several takes to create the perfect track. Next, you play that track back through an amp, perhaps on a loop, and experiment with the volume, EQ, reverb, filters, and the overall basic sound of your amp until you find the tone that you want. Last, you record that track Re-Amplified, and then listen back to it with the rest of your mix and see if it gels.
Re-Amping is a cool way to experiment with creating interesting sounds. For example, I have made 'field recordings' of birds with my cell phone, then put the wave file into my DAW, played the track back into an analog tape machine and recorded it onto the tape. Next I play the tape machine through effects pedals and a then a guitar amplifier and record the amp with a microphone while messing around with the speed of the tape machine thus creating unnatural warbling effects. In the end, the sound I put into my song is unrecognizable as a 'field recording' and and yet the overall feeling of the sound can be a very effective atmospheric tool when put into the mix of the song. I also like to Re-Amp background vocals with a spring-reverb amp, especially the louder, talking or yelling parts of background vocals.
There are a few things to watch out for when you Re-Amp. One problem I have discovered with Re-Amping is that you might get very annoying electricity clicks on your Re-Amped track. Even if you double-check that all your cables and wires have solid connections, odd clicking sounds still occur and they can appear at different parts of each Re-Amped track that you record. One trick to solving this problem is to record several Re-Amped tracks with a consistent amp sound and then 'comp' those tracks together with the parts that are free of random clicks.
Another troubleshooting element to look out for is that you want to make sure that the sound wave you are Re-Amping has a strong enough overall signal. For instance, if you re-amp a very thin or quiet sound wave, like the sound of one guitar string being plucked, you can boost the signal to your amp through effects pedals, compression plug-ins, or simply make the volume of the wave file louder with your DAW. If it is possible, raise the volume of your 'weak' signal before it is Re-Amped rather than only making it louder with the amp itself. The reason is, the louder you make your amp to boost a small sound wave, the more amp 'hum' you will hear in the recording.
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