FEATURE: Reamping devices

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).

Reamp

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.

Shopping links:

Radial X-Amp Active Reamplifier Standard for $199.99 from Music123.

NAMM 2009: Radial introduces 4 new pedals

Radial Engineering pedals have been high on my lust-list ever since I heard Eric Johnson using them, but I’ve not had a chance to try them yet. At NAMM this year they’ve introduced four new models, the London, Hollywood, Texas, and Twin City. I wonder if they’ll change the names for Australian release to the Melbourne, Sydney, Dubbo and Albury/Wodonga.

Here’s the press release.

Radial Engineering Ltd. is pleased to announce the launch of four new Tonebone® pedals, the London, the Hollywood, the Texas, and the Twin-City. All of the Bones features dual-mode functionality in a compact enclosure and employ standard Boss-type 9V power supply.

According to Tonebone President Peter Janis: “Today, the trend with guitar players is all about using effects pedals… they want to access all kinds of tones and make creative decisions on the fly. They also want to use pedalboards and eliminate the problems associated with batteries. This is what the Bones are all about.”

Bones™ Hollywood Distortion
The Hollywood is a dual channel distortion pedal that features three drive settings for low, medium and high drive tones. At low distortion settings, the sonic signature is reminiscent of old American made amplifiers while at higher gain levels, it encompasses the type of tones reminiscent on would expect from Carlos Santana and Steve Lukather. The Hollywood is very dynamic which means that it cleans up just like a real tube amplifier when the guitar level is turned down. Each channel features separate level settings for rhythm and lead and is enhanced with a mid control called ‘cut’ designed to cut through the mix and increase sustain for solos. Requires standard 9V power supply.

Bones™ London Distortion
The London follows the tradition of the British half stack by employing three gain stages to produce huge bottom end and fat sizzling tones. Even when driven to extreme, the bottom end stays clean and distinct. It features a variable drive control with independent level control on each channel for crunch rhythm and lead. A very powerful EQ, combines with the ‘bite’ switch that sets the overall character plus a ‘kick’ switch that adds midrange to produce a huge array of tones than span 40 years of British rock. Requires standard 9V power supply.

Bones™ Texas Overdrive
The Texas is high-performance overdrive pedal that delivers ‘vintage’ style TS9 tones reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan all the way up to the ‘metal madness’ of today’s extreme players. Because of the dual channel configuration, one can set the first channel for a smooth rhythm and the second to extreme scream for soloing by setting the bite switches to suit. Each channel features individual tone control and level controls. Like having two pedals in one! Requires standard 9V power supply.

Bones™ Twin-City ABY Amp Selector
The Twin City is a superior quality ABY amp selector that allows the player to select between two amplifiers and combine them without any loss of signal or without any of the clicking or popping switch noise that is common in most pedals. This starts with Radial’s unique Drag™ control load correction circuitry which counteracts the effect of the internal buffering circuit to deliver a natural tone. To eliminate buzz and hum from ground loops, output B is transformer isolated and equipped with a ground lift switch. To ‘phase align’ the amplifiers, output B also features a 180° polarity reverse switch. Easy to see bright LEDs make amp selection easy. Requires standard 9V power supply.

For more information, contact Radial Engineering:1588 Kebet Way, Port Coquitlam, BC V3C 5M5. Tel: 604-942-1001 Fax 604-942-1010

For more information, visit their web site at www.radialeng.com.