Re-amping to Enhance Your Tracks - dummies

By Jeff Strong

Sometimes you want to change tracks that you already recorded. The most common way to do this is by EQing, or adding effects in your recording software as you mix. However, other times you may want to get creative.

And old standby process for this is called re-amping. Re-amping is a process in which you play your already recorded track through speakers or an amplifier, mike it, and record it back into your system. Re-amping can be done for a variety of reasons, but the three most common are

  • To add effects: Say you plugged your guitar straight into your recorder and recorded dry (without effects). Now as you’re mixing, you want to spend some time getting the perfect guitar sound. You can use re-amping to add the effects from an amplifier or stomp boxes.

  • To add ambience: Many home recordists use drum samples or drum machines for their drum tracks. Or, if they’re lucky enough to use live drums, they may not have the best-sounding room in which to record awesome drum tracks. One fix is to re-amp your drum to add ambience.

  • To alter tonality: Re-amping can be great when you want to add some extra punch to a snare drum or more depth to a kick drum. Adding a live snare drum to a wimpy drum machine snare can take your song to a new level.

Re-amping is easy. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Solo the track(s) you want to re-amp.

    You don’t have to solo, but you want only your chosen track playing when you re-amp.

  2. Set up a microphone in your room.

    This mic will record the re-amped sound. The mic you choose depends on the sound you’re going for. Play around with different mics and mic placement until you get a sound you like. For example, a Shure SM57 is a great all-around mic for placing a few inches in front of your amp for a gritty sound.

  3. Create and arm a track for this mic.

    This track will record your re-amped sound.

    If you’re using an actual guitar or bass amplifier or stomp boxes, you’ll need a re-amp box to connect the output of your track to the amp or box. This allows the signal out of your recording system to be compatible with the input of the amplifier or stomp box. A re-amp box will cost around $100. A popular option is the Radial ProRMP.

    If you’re planning on miking the sound coming out of your studio monitors or PA speakers, you don’t need a re-amp box.

  4. Play the sound through the speakers/amp, and adjust the mic, effects, and so on until you get the sound you want.

    This is the fun part, so take your time and play around.

  5. When you have the sound you want, press Record and record the re-amped sound back into your system.

    You can then mix this track to the original to get the final sound you want.

There will be a difference in the timing of the tracks due to the time it take the sound to come out of your system and the new track’s sound to get back in. This latency will vary and may not be a problem, but for re-amping drums it will be problematic unless you adjust the position of your re-amped track after you’re done recording. The easiest way to do this is to find a short-duration note (again, easy to find in drum tracks) in each track (the original and re-amped ones) and then click and drag the re-amped track to match the original.