AMPED! ON REAMPING
In search of a quick fix for your mix? Reamping is NOT it.
But that’s okay. As we been re-discovering at BB4, reamping can be the perfect way to get your creative juices flowing in a mix session. A quick primer: Reamping is the two-step process that starts with the recording of a dry or clean track. Next, the track is recorded again, this time by sending the clean track back through amps and effects.
As you can imagine, reamping is more complicated than simply placing a plugin on the synth in your DAW. Getting reamping right is all about mastering the physics of your studio by selecting the right microphones, amps, and the best spot in the room to put them.
Playing with Space
We started having fun with reamping recently when we needed some unconventional string sounds. Our concept was to explore what would happen when we reamped the string recording as if it were a kick drum, in search of a vintage grainy sound.
The room we picked in this case was the BB4 lounge/live room, which features its own custom four-tier diffusor. It’s a semi-reflective space which immediately sounds great to the ear but you usually have to tone the presence down in the mix, so we put down rugs. Then we set up three of our favorite drum mics, the AKG D112, Electro-Voice RE27, and Shure Beta 52A, and positioned them so that each microphone would capture the lows, mids and highs as the string recording played out through Avantone monitors we had wired up in the room.
What we heard from that initial setup was clear and beautiful. But things got especially interesting when we twisted the speaker so it was partially facing into the diffusor. Next we angled the Shure Beta 52A in there so we’d get the early reflections when the strings hit. The result was an even more interesting sound, which gave us yet another choice to consider — we had been originally looking for something grimy and old-time, but what we got was more other-worldly.
As you can see, reamping is a deep hole to go down, with endless sonic variations that can come out of experimentation. It’s an excuse to reach for mics that you wouldn’t normally use, pointing them at odd angles in front of speakers that you may have put on the shelf. We even got up on a ladder to listen for fresh sonics, and we put mics up there when we liked what we heard.
The best part of reamping is that it forces you to really listen: Play the material through the speaker, then walk around the room to find the perfect spot where you hear it the way you like. Get up on that ladder, or duck down low. To do it right, you have to get physical.
All those options just may make you mental, but that’s perfectly OK! Not only does reamping liven up your tracks, it also gets you to experiment with sound in a whole new way. If you’re prepared to take your time, reamping can reinvent your mixes.
Ready to reamp? Join us at BB4.