Re-Amping process for ‘Drought Breaker’

Last weekend I managed to squeeze a bit of time in to do some re-amping on ‘Drought Breaker’. You may be asking yourself what is re-amping? Essentially it’s a two stage process that results in your computer playing the pre-recorded original sound that came directly out of your guitar through to your guitar amplifier. It’ll sound as if you were playing it live right there.

Here’s a short video from this session where the computer is playing my previously recorded performance through my amplifier:

Benefits of re-amping

There are multiple benefits for doing this. A huge benefit for me is being able to record multiple takes at a quiet or even silent volume (with headphones). Once you have you have the final track that you’re happy with you can then turn up that amp and record your ‘perfect’ track. This way you can pick a time to turn your amp up when the neighbours are out.

Another benefit is it allows you to experiment with amp settings or pedals to find the right tone. This is awesome if you’re recording on your own, you can have both hands free, have the guitar part looping and dial in the right sound for the final performance.

Once you have the right tone coming out of your amp you can then experiment with mic placement to capture the right tone to your track. Again you’re hands are free to nudge mics, record test takes to listen back to and even re-record the same performance again at any time down the track.

Another advantage is comping your guitar tracks together (cutting together a single take from the best bits of multiple performances). It’s much easier to work with a clean DI signal where you can see the peaks.

How to re-amp

First you run a guitar cable from your guitar directly to your audio interface. You may need to use a DI box between the guitar and interface, in my case I use the instrument input on my interface which is an RME Fireface UC. The idea is you’re recording just the unaffected pure guitar signal (a DI track).

The next step is to play back the DI track through an output of my interface that will run to the guitar amp. To do this we need to have a re-amp box between the interface and the amp to get the correct impedance.

That’s essentially it, sounds easy – right?

Set-up problems

Well I had a few problems setting this rig up however now it’s set up it works amazingly well.

I’ll keep this short but hopefully it might help someone out there. The first issue was my old audio interface didn’t have a +4 dBu output, the old M-Audio Firewire 410 just didn’t have enough output for this purpose.

Once I had my new audio interface the second issue I had was running a TRS cable out of my audio interface into the Little Labs Red Eye. I was led to believe this would be OK but it didn’t work in my case. I wound up trying a TRS to XLR with the XLR connected to the Line Level In on the Little Labs Red Eye.

Prior to that I was checking settings on the software side (make sure you have +4db output set correctly), I checked I was sending a direct mono signal with no plug-ins interfering… you really need to examine every piece of your chain to make sure you’re getting the purest signal from your guitar, to the computer and from the computer to your amp.

What’s next for ‘Drought Breaker’

I still have some more re-amping to do. I need to get the right tone for the intro and record that section and then re-amp and record the clean ‘funk’ guitar part. Then… it’s onto mixing 🙂

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