A Pro's Guide to Re-Amping

Posted by The Audio Hunt

Re-amping is a production technique that is both a creative method used to inspire new sounds and ideas, as well as a way to bring new life to a track that may let down the rest of your mix.

A Pro's Guide to Re-Amping

We have all had that moment when mixing or editing a track. Uh Oh. CTRL+Z won’t save me this time.

In the last two decades music production has moved increasingly from dedicated recording rooms and facilities to homes and hotel rooms, giving musicians and producers the opportunity to work wherever and whenever they feel. In turn, our ideas and techniques in relation to music production have radically changed. We are still moved and inspired by the sounds our predecessors made in their old school recording rooms—with their old school equipment—which is why so many plugin developers offer products that mimic the rooms and the equipment from that era, but we’re no longer constrained to just their methods.

Re-amping is one of those ‘new’ production methods which has gained popularity in the context of this new sense of freedom. I say 'new' because while it's been around forever, it seems to have gained increasing traction and popularity in recent times. It is a production technique that is both a creative method used to inspire new sounds and ideas, as well as a way to bring new life to a track that may let down the rest of your mix. It's also a way to bring 'authenticity' to something that has come from the digital domain (EDM & Techno Producers, I’m looking at you).


Re-amping offers an incredibly versatile way to alter the ‘vibe’ or tone of a recording after-the-fact. When making a record, the line between song writing and recording is blurred, and a tune that starts as a country duet ends as a Pink-style pop rock song. When you’re recording guitars, bass or synths, adding a clean direct injection (D.I) track (for the future purpose of re-amping) gives you an opportunity to alter the mood of the recording later on. You can smash it out while you’re ‘in the zone’, and tweak it later—all without losing the original performance at any stage of the writing/producing/mixing process.

Alternatively, perhaps while you’re writing you have a great vision for the song, but you just don’t have the Vox amp (or microphone, or room) that you know will be perfect, so record with a Marshall, and then re-amp through the Vox later.

How To Re-amp Your Recording

Step 1 - The Initial Recording

The first step is quite simple: make sure you record a good basic sound. Give some attention to record levels: don't record too loud nor too soft. A headroom of 6 dB is beautiful. For guitars, bass and keyboard a D.I box is most probably the tool you want to use. Most D.I's have an xlr-output and a through or link output. The signal on the xlr-output goes to a preamp and then to a recorder; the through or link output goes to the rest of the instrument chain, which could consist of pedals, preamps, poweramps and cabinets.

Step 2 - Preparing the Initial Recording for Re-amping

Spend time to listen to the recorded tracks and edit the best version you can. When editing, take to ensure consistent levels and sound. Perhaps some takes are louder than others or have a somewhat different feel. Take note of the tuning as well.

Keep in mind: If you want a great result, you should deliver great source material, and a performance is a crucial part of that.


Step 3 - Setting up for Re-amping

First of all I should make clear that re-amping doesn’t just mean that you send a recorded signal through an instrument amplifier. As you may be aware, there are comparable techniques like adding reverb to recorded tracks by sending them to a room with a speaker and mixing the original sound with the sound of the microphones in the room.

For re-amping, the recorded signal should be transformed to a signal which fits the amp. Different re-amp devices are available. I prefer a device like the Radial X-amp with a variable level control to work the input stage of the amp and have more control of the amp sound.

Choose Your Microphones

In general I would say three microphones should be enough to do the re-amp job: a dynamic mic, a ribbon mic and a large diaphragm condenser mic. The job of the dynamic mic is capturing the transient and mid highs of the speaker. The ribbon I use to record the "body" of the cabinet. Both the dynamic mic as the ribbon are placed quite close to the amp. I often choose a distance to the amp of 1 meter, but it depends on the critical distance of the room. Of course entire articles have been written on how to mic a cabinet. (read more on the differences here)

My choice for dynamic microphones when recording guitar amps are a Shure SM57, Sennheiser MD 421 or Sennheiser 903. For a ribbon I mostly choose a Royer 121 but also use a RCA DX77 regularly. Regarding LDC's, I am really fond of using a Neumann U67 or U47fet but an AKG 414EB is also great when recording loud guitars.

While you’re setting this up, take a moment to consider where to put the D.I. Directly from the output of the instrument seems most logical but that is not always most advisable; for example, if you want to record some pedal processing with the instrument. Be careful about recording delays and reverbs as it often sounds better when added after re-amping, but sometimes they add to the performance.

Step 4 - Re-recording

When everything is set (and after double checking the levels of the microphones!) press record and reap the reward! What's more to say? Everything regarding re-amping is in the preparation.

Final tips

  • Make sure your start point is 0:00:00:00 for all tracks. Check plugins on inserts or sends. You want to be sure you are sending the right sound.
  • Export every track to be re-amped on its own channel.
  • Be sure that the name of the audio file is clear and simple to avoid confusion.
  • Note tempo, key and number of track to be re-amped in a separate text fill. Note everything that could help to make the sound you are after in the same text file.
  • Likewise, it is very helpful to send a rough mix of the song but without the tracks that need processing. This way there is a reference point.


How To Reamping