To reamp in studio means to take a recorded track, played out of a speaker, and re-record it using different microphones and mic placements to achieve new tones.
You might reamp a track to add amplifier distortion, EQ, compression, or natural reverb. Typically, the goal when reamping is to “warm up” dry tracks, which often means adding complex, musically interesting layers. By playing a dry signal through an amplifier and then using room mics to capture the ambiance, engineers are able to create new layers and blend wet signals with the original dry recording to achieve a new sound. Another reason you might want to reamp something is the flexibility it gives a production team to focus on the performance rather than the tone. In other words, you can focus on the performance while the musician is at his or her best and then take your time to reamp something by moving microphones around the room, changing amps or adding effects as needed after the performer has left.
Professional recording equipment uses a high-level, typically balanced, low-impedance signal. Conversely, most amps are designed for low-level, unbalanced, high-impedance signals, so patching right from pro-audio to guitar gear can cause an impedance mismatch. In addition, connecting the two systems directly can also create a path for noisy ground currents to flow into the audio paths.
To solve these issues typically a reamp box is used. At Hybrid Studios, we like to use Radial’s JCR Studio Reamper. It features both XLR and ¼” TRS input connectors, variable output level, and a three-position filter that lets you tame excessive highs, warm up the lows or simply bypass if you want to revert to the original circuit. Radial’s Reamper uses a passive design with a custom wound transformer and circuit. Using a transformer helps eliminate ground noise; transformers allow signal to pass from the input to the output without a direct connection between the grounds.
At the end of the day, reamping is a valuable tool that allows engineers to create new and interesting layered tones, help fill out a mix, or free up time to focus on a musicians’ performance.