The 'Intonorumori' or noise machines were a family of acoustic sound generators designed by Luigi Russolo to create the palette of sound described in the 'Art Of Noises'. The individual machines were comically basic in appearance: solid boxes of varying sizes and heights each fitted with a huge metal speaker horn.

Luigi Russolo worked at perfecting the Intonorumori for first full scale concert in 1914.

Recording pioneer Les Paul overdubbed tracks using a very primitive approach to Reamping.

Phil Spector's Wall of Sound

Stevie Wonder singing with Motown

Steley Dan in the studio

Recording engineer Roger Nicholls was a true legend having worked with artists such as Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, John Denver and James Taylor. But he was most known for his work with Steely Dan, the Wendell Drum Machine and of course Reamping. Roger passed away in 2011 at the age of 66.

President of Radial Peter Janis & Reamp John Cuniberti

The History of Reamping © Radial Engineering Ltd.

Radial Engineering Ltd. is the owner of the Reamp™ brand and holds the patent for the technology. This was purchased in 2010 from John Cuniberti who invented the world's first application specific Reamping device known as the Reamp.

We recently looked into the history of Reamping and were amazed at the response we received. The following quotes are brief historical accounts taken from letters we received. Many thanks to Frank Wells at Pro Sound News and Mitch Gallagher formerly from EQ magazine for helping us track down these folks.

The Early Days

When we asked recording historian Doug Mitchell (*1), Associate Professor at Middle Tennessee State University the question: 'Who invented Reamping'. Doug gave us this reply: "The process now called 'Reamping' has actually been utilized since the very first days of recording, though it may not have been referred to as such until perhaps the late 1960's or 1970's. From the early days of sound recording, composers and experimenters have used techniques that include what we now call 'Reamping' to take advantage of the recording process and expand upon its possibilities. In 1913 Italian futurist Luigi Russolo proposed something he termed the 'Art of Noises'. Recordings of any sound (anything was legitimate) were made on Berliner discs and played back via 'noise machines' in live scenarios and recollected on 'master' disc cutters. This concept was furthered by Pierre Schaeffer and his 'Musique Concrete' electronic music concept in the 1930s and 1940s. Schaeffer would utilize sounds such as trains in highly manipulated processes to compose new music ideas. These processes often involved the replaying and acoustic re-recording of material in a manipulated fashion. Other experimenters in this area included Karlheinze Stockhausen and Edgard Varese."

The 'Intonorumori' or noise machines were a family of acoustic sound generators designed by Luigi Russolo to create the palette of sound described in the 'Art Of Noises'. The individual machines were comically basic in appearance: solid boxes of varying sizes and heights each fitted with a huge metal speaker. Russolo and his assistant Piatti worked away perfecting them ready for their first full scale concert in 1914.

Les Paul and Phil Spector

Mitchel continues:"With the possibilities presented by magnetic recording the process of what might be termed re-amping was utilized in other 'pop' music areas. Perhaps the first person to take advantage of the process was Les Paul. His recordings with Mary Ford often utilized multiple harmonies all performed by Mary. Initially these harmonies were performed with the re-amping process. Later, Les convinced Ampex to make the first 8 track recorder so that he might utilize track comping to perform a similar function. Les is also credited with the utilization of the re-amping process for the creation of reverberant soundfields by placing a loudspeaker at one end of a long tunnel area under his home and a microphone at the other end. Reverberation time could be altered with the placement of the microphone with respect to the loudspeaker playing back previously recorded material."

"Wall of sound pioneer Phil Spector is perhaps the most widely accredited for the use of the Reamping process and because of his association with the Beatles, is potentially regarded today as the developer of the process. However, Phil was actually refining a process, which had been utilized for decades, and exploring its possibility for use in rock music."

"The process of Reamping is often used in film sound design as well. In order for sounds recorded in a post production environment to match the scene, it is common for them to be re-recorded utilizing Reamping procedure. In film sound this process is also termed 'worldizing'. The history of first use of the term 're-amping' is vague. It may have come into the recordist's vocabulary as early as the late 1960's, but I am not sure when the term was first utilized reamping."

Reamping in Motown

We then posted the same question to Bob Ohlsson (*2) of Motown fame, (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Kinks, Animals, Donovan, Herman's Hermits). Bob kindly answered: "I began doing it in 1968 shortly after we got the sixteen-track machines because for the first time we could separately record direct guitars, clavinets and e.pianos. I had never heard of it being done and am pretty sure I was the first to try it at Motown but I can't imagine lots of others weren't doing the same thing. It seemed like a very obvious thing to do in a world where electric instruments were taken direct primarily to cut down on bleed rather than for tonal quality."

Reamping comes of age

We then contacted Roger Nichols ref(*3) (Steely Dan, Crosby Stills and Nash, John Denver, Roy Orbison, Zappa) and when posed the question: "Roger, I know you have been Reamping for a while, when did you start using this process?"

Roger Nichols: "That would be 1972 when I built the Reamper™ we used on the first and almost every Steely Dan album after that. We used it to play direct guitar tracks back through an amp. We were going through a lot of amps. The speakers would get tired or the tubes would melt or something during a night of guitar overdubs. We would go through one amp to make sure we got the sound we wanted, and then when the right guitar and settings were locked in, we recorded the direct signal and let the amp rest. After the part was completed, we ran the signal back through the guitar amp and it only had to last long enough to print the results to tape. I still have the box around here somewhere."

Commercial reamping begins

Interestingly, when Jensen® introduced the JT-DBE audio transformer in 1980, the application notes on this unit contain a complete paragraph discussing using it to convert low impedance balanced lines to guitar levels. This same application is mentioned in the Radial JDI direct box owner's manual and referred to as 'using the JDI backwards'. In the 1980's, the Whirlwind company also produced a device that could accommodate low-to-hi conversion using a transformer. In 1996, the 1st generation Radial™ JDI was introduced that used the Jensen JT-DBE transformer.

In 1994, John Cuniberti commercialized the process by developing a box that incorporated a transformer and a volume control called the Reamp®. This was developed while working with famed guitarist Joe Satriani. The Reamp converted a balanced signal to an unbalanced one while allowing the engineer to adjust the volume at the amplifier instead of at the mix position. The Reamp quickly became a favourite with studios around the world.
(see Reamp history)

Reamping Goes Active!

Previously, all Reamps were basically passive devices. Then in 2001, Radial introduced the first generation Radial JD7 Injector that had full Reamping capabilities. This included a balanced XLR direct output for recording a clean track and an XLR input used to Reamp the signal from the recording system and feed several amplifiers at the sae time.

In 2003, Radial introduced the Radial X-Amp – the first dedicated active Reamper that would enable the engineer to feed two amps without signal degradation. In order to support John Cuniberti's patent, Radial agreed to pay a royalty for each product that was sold that employed the Reamp process and patent. A few years later, Radial debuted the ProRMP passive Reamper as a means to provide the growing number of home enthusiast with a more affordable tool.

In 2010, John Cuniberti contacted Radial president Peter Janis and offered to sell the Reamp brand and patent. The sale was finalized at the end of the year and officially announced at the 2011 NAMM show. Radial has since launched yet another Reamp for the 500 series rack frame called the X-Amp 500.

* References
(1) Doug Mitchell, Associate Professor MTSU Department of Recording Industry
http://www.mtsu.edu/~dsmitche

(2) Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery Recording, Project Design and Consulting Box 90412, Nashville TN 37209

(3) Roger Nichols Mastering 11461 SW 93 St. Miami, FL 33176
http://www.rogernichols.com