Reamping Basics

How I reamp my guitars (and other stuff)


What is Reamping?

Take a pre-recorded DI guitar part and pipe it through an amp and record the result– this is the fundamental of reamping. The benefit being you can take existing parts and craft your amp tone later down the line. If at any point you need to change it, provided you have the original DI tracks still, you can reamp it again to sit better within your mix.

My main use for reamping isn’t processing a take after it’s been recorded– I use it for live tracking. With a nice clean DI signal into your audio interface, you can throw on any effect you’d like, pipe it to the reamp box output, and record the result from the loadbox. This way I’m able to get, for instance, my delay synced with the project BPM without having to have a MIDI capable delay pedal. This setup allows you to use all of your plugins and effects in the box while still getting the faithful tube amp sound.

Reamp boxes and Load boxes

Big difference.

Reamp boxes are capable of taking an output from your audio interface and stepping it down to the correct level for use with a guitar amp input.

While it is possible to go straight from your audio interface into your amp, you run the risk of feeding it too hot of a signal. For this reason, reamp boxes are necessary. They are essentially transformers that feed your amp the correct level of audio it requires.

A loadbox, on the otherhand, provides the amplifier output to an input on your audio interface.

On a typical guitar amp, you’ll have the speakers connected directly to the output of the poweramp section. With a loadbox, you can insert it between your poweramp and cabinet speaker to capture the direct audio straight from the amplifier. The output is stepped down to line level and then can be manipulated or recorded however you’d like.

Loadboxes are unique in that they provide the poweramp the same amount of electrical resistance as your speakers do, so you’re able to retain the original characteristics of your amp and its particular breakup.

Diagrams

A typical reamp signal chain

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My convuluted signal chain

%%{init: { 'securityLevel': 'loose', 'theme':'base', 'themeVariables': { 'darkMode': 'true', 'lineColor': 'white', 'fontFamily': 'Source Sans Pro', 'primaryTextColor': 'black', 'primaryColor': '#ffffff', 'tertiaryColor': '#ffffff' }}}%% graph LR A[Instrument] ==> B[DI Box] B ==> C[Audio Interface] C ==> D[Reamp Box] D ==> E[Amp] E ==> G[Load box] G ==> C H[MIDI Foot Controller] --- C H --- E

Effect chain

*Please note I use REAPER, so your chain may be a bit different. I’ll explain the functionality of Reainsert and how it plays a vital role.

%%{init: { 'securityLevel': 'loose', 'theme':'base', 'themeVariables': { 'darkMode': 'true', 'lineColor': 'white', 'fontFamily': 'Source Sans Pro', 'primaryTextColor': 'black', 'primaryColor': '#ffffff', 'tertiaryColor': '#ffffff' }}}%% graph LR A[DI Channel Input] --- B[Pre-Amp Effects] B --- C[ReaInsert] C --- D[IR Loader] D --> F[Master Buss]

In this capacity, ReaInsert is taking the signal from the previous FX and sending it through a physical hardware output on my Audio Interface to the Reamp Box. From there, it is listening to the return input from the Loadbox, et voilĂ ! You just combined in-the-box plugins and your analog tube guitar amp. Nice!

ReaInsert specific tips

  • Since your guitar DI signal will be mono, set the L and R input channels to the same input, do the same with the output (listening) channels.
  • You can take advantage of the send and return volumes– the send volume gives you a nice amount of +XdB to push your amp a bit.
  • If you change any setting on your audio interface during the session, use the ping test in ReaInsert to keep track of your delay compensation.

Final Thoughts

Reamping is a game changer. You could theoretically record an entire track with dry DI guitar parts without having to worry about the amp tone or anything– just focusing on performance. After you get the cleanest takes possible, then go to town reamping and getting the vibe for each part.

It’s also not limited to guitar or bass either– I use it for mono synths, rhodes or any other EP, general saturation or overdrive, and even just taking advantage of the EQ or spring reverb if your amp has it.

Not all systems can handle reamping in realtime however, so make sure to do some latency tests having the signal make the full trip and outputting to your speakers. There will inherently be some lag time as the signal has to travel through all of the equipment, but using ReaInsert, you’re able to compensate for said delay. If your system can’t handle realtime reamping, don’t worry! You can still use the tried and true method of recording your DI parts dry then reamping them.

That being said, it can be a little overkill if you’re just looking to record some guitar parts, but if you’d like to have some flexibility in how you process those parts, a reamp box (and a loadbox) will give you some fantastic options down the road.

If you’re gonna plunk down the dough to invest in this kind of setup, I highly suggest getting a high quality ACTIVE reamp box. Even with the ground lift option enabled, passive reampboxes can still be noisey. The active models have more advanced circuitry to reduce the noise.

Even in my home studio where I painstakingly ensure all of my audio cables are shielded, separated from power and data cables, and unaffected by EMI, I still got a level of noise on my first passive reamp box I deemed too loud. I happen to be really particular with digital noise, so maybe you won’t care as much as I do– in which case, a passive reampbox may be acceptable to you.

Best of luck!


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