So here’s my situation. Over the last couple of years I’ve recorded a whole bunch of stuff that I really like, but I’d like it a whole lot better if I had used my actual amp – a Marshall DSL50 – instead of software simulations. In fact, if I’d used my real amp I’d probably be able to say I have about 60% of an album’s worth of guitar parts already recorded. So it finally dawned upon me: dude, you totally have to get into reamping.
Reamping is the process of taking a pre-recorded guitar signal and sending it to an amp. Now, you can’t just do this by taking a line out from your mixer and feeding it to your amp – the impact of the level mismatch would be rather catastrophic for your tone – so you need a device to convert the low impedence signal from the mixer into a high impedence one for your guitar amp. Perhaps one of the most famous proponents of reamping is engineer/producer John Cuniberti, who is best known for his work with Joe Satriani. Cuniberti was so into the whole idea that he invested a pile of time and money in developing the ReAmp and making it available for players everywhere.
If you’re planning to record a dry guitar sound to be reamped later, you either need to use a direct injection (DI) box or, in my case, a recording device that has this feature built in. I use a Digidesign M-Box Pro.
Radial offers three reamping devices: the rackmounted JD7, the active X-Amp and the passive ProRMP.
The JD7 is a signal splitter which can drive up to 7 amps, and can be used either in a live situation with your guitar or pedalboard plugged straight into it, or in a studio situation for reamping. Radial says: Front panel control makes selecting amplifiers, ground paths and polarity (phase reversal) easy. The JD7 utilizes a newly developed Class-A audio signal path that has been optimized for use with electric guitars and is 100% discreet (no opamps or chips) producing the most accurate and faithful signal at each output. To eliminate such problems as 60 cycle hum caused by ground loops without signal degradation, the world’s finest audio transformers by Jensen® are employed.
The Radial JD7 also features a 600-Ohm balanced direct output to allow the engineer to record a dry guitar track or to use the JD7 as a direct box. A balanced input allows a pre-recorded track to be sent back into the JD7 which can then drive amplifiers, effect pedals and other devices.
The X-Amp is designed purely for reamping, unlike the wider splitting functions of the JD7, and can drive up to 2 amps at once. Features include balanced line level input with LED peak indicator and level control, Class-A circuit topology for optimal reach and frequency response, direct and isolated guitar amplifier outputs, 180º polarity reverse to bring both amps into phase, and dual ground lift options for noise-free operation.
The ProRMP is the simplest reamping device offered by Radial, and it’s limited to one amp at a time (hey, you can always record a second pass through a different amp). It still has a ground switch and a level control though. I think I’m going to go with the ProRMP because it’s in my price range and has pretty much all of the features I need (ie: it reamps and it has a level control).
The original and best known, this is the Reamp designed by John Cuniberti. The Reamp uses an ultra high quality custom transformer designed for one purpose with MuMetal shielding. It has a ground isolation switch and a precision trim adjustment designed to mimic guitar output levels. Interestingly, different colours have been used for the Reamp over the years, including a run of 50 in purple after Prince wanted one, and a run of 50 in Neve grey when Cuniberti was spending a lot of time working on a Neve console.
Tweak Head Technology
Tweak Head claims their ToneFRĒQ Jr can be used as a reamper, but it’s also designed as a gain boost and buffer. Not much is really said on their website about the device’s reamping capabilities, but of the buffering effect they say: Imagine that your sound is like water passing through a large pipe with a half open valve. ToneFRĒQ Jr Ignition will fully open that valve allowing the full potential of your instrument sound to transfer to your amp or modeling device. Your once incomplete signal now has a full range of fundamental and harmonic content and detail. Ignition actually makes your inexpensive cables sound better by essentially defeating the effect of capacitance inherent in them.
Radial X-Amp Active Reamplifier Standard for $199.99 from Music123.