NAMM 2010: Pro Co RAI Reamping Box, Whiteface Rat, iGate audio gateway

One of the NAMM booths I made a note to return to today is ProCo. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Rat – even though I’ve never owned one, I’ve reviewed a few and the way they respond when beefing up an already overdriven amp is nothing short of kickass. Here’s some news on a few new products Pro Co are releasing this year.

January 15, 2010
“Pro Co Introduces Reamping Box”

–FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—

Kalamazoo, MI—Pro Co Sound, Inc., announces the introduction of the new RA1 Reamping Box to its line of TradeTools™ Audio Interface Devices. The RA1 Reamping Box is scheduled for availability beginning in February 2010. The RA1 is planned to be on display at Pro Co’s exhibit at the 2010 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA January 14th through 17th.

The Pro Co RA1 Reamping box is designed to take line level play back of a dry recorded track and convert it to guitar level. This allows the engineer to take the “best take ” of the day, and feed it through various effects pedals and/or amplifiers. This process is also useful for recreating/adjusting microphone placement for an impending session.

The RA1is built with the highly acclaimed Pro Co MBT-1 Microphone Bridging Transformer. It features a three-way pad circuit for the correct level in each situation. “This is a great solution for the small environment studio owner who wants to use real amp tone (as apposed to modeling) for the creative process,” commented Les Batts, a product manager at Pro Co.

A studio utilizing the reamping process will typically record a reference track through a direct box (such as a Pro Co DB1 or DBA1). The reference track is played back through the reamping unit into the amp and or effects chain of choice. An engineer who reamps will likely have a collection of amplifiers and or effects pedals for a broad tonal palette.

January 15, 2010
“A Legend Returns”

–FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—

Kalamazoo, MI—A legend returns. Pro Co Sound, Inc., announces the re-issue of its world-famous ’85 “Whiteface” RAT distortion pedal. The Limited Edition ’85 Whiteface RAT will be produced in a one-time limited quantity and is scheduled to be available for distribution as early as February 2010. The Whiteface RAT is planned to be on display at Pro Co’s exhibit at the 2010 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA January 14th through 17th.

The Limited Edition Whiteface RAT is a re-issue of the RAT model that was in production at Pro Co from 1985 until it was discontinued in 1989 in favor of the current RAT2. The ’85 Whiteface is characterized by its small, square “indestructible” steel enclosure, which was a departure from the large steel boxes Pro Co had been using to package the RAT prior to that time. The ‘85 RAT is further identified by the RAT logo silkscreened on its face. The Pro Co and RAT logos appear reversed out of a white field that is enclosed by a white ruled box. This is where the term “Whiteface” comes from. The RAT gained worldwide popularity in the late 1980’s when its use was publicized by several major artists, including Jeff Beck.

The 2010 version of the Whiteface RAT has been painstakingly researched and designed to produce a pedal as close to the original in appearance and sound as is possible today. This includes the accurate reproduction of the ’85 RAT circuit and the inclusion of the LM308 chip. The LM308 chip is believed to be one of the main ingredients to the famous ’85 RAT tone.

January 15, 2010
“Pro Co Introduces New iGate Audio Gateway”

Kalamazoo, MI—Pro Co Sound, Inc., announces the introduction of the new iGate Audio Gateway to its line of Portable Audio Player Interface Devices. The iGate is scheduled for availability beginning in February 2010. iGate is planned to be on display at Pro Co’s exhibit at the 2010 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA January 14th through 17th.

The iGate Audio Gateway is a rack-mount universal interface designed to conveniently feed the outputs of various “real world” audio sources into professional sound systems. iGate takes a high impedance, headphone, or line level signal from popular sources like iPods/MP3 players, mono or stereo unbalanced line inputs, guitar, bass or keyboard inputs, and computer audio outputs and converts their (various impedance level) signals into low impedance balanced microphone signals that can be inserted into any professional mixing console. It’s like having an iFace and DB1 all together in a convenient single rack space package. A low impedance microphone pass thru input is also included as a convenience to the operator/user.

The rack mount package makes the iGate ideal for use in studio, live sound, education and corporate audio applications. It is housed in Pro Co’s rugged 19-inch “Unibox” enclosure with easy-to-read laser-etched control graphics on both the front and back panels. Each iGate is hand crafted and tested by Pro Co, in Kalamazoo Michigan, and comes with Pro Co’s no nonsense “Any Excuse, Even Abuse” warranty.

For more info please go to our website or call (800) 253-7360, or visit Pro Co’s NAMM Booth (#6949).

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.