Re-amplification Box? This term provokes merely an uncertain shrug from most people, but its exclusive origin is the modern guitar recording process, as utilised in recording studios. In order to optimise the procedure described below, the Palmer company has brought out DACCAPO, a small, orange-coloured box, which really delivers!
What exactly does re-amping mean? The normal process for professional guitar recording is generally as follows: In consultation with the producer, the artist selects a combination of guitar, FX pedals, amplifier, speaker cabinet and microphone which are best-suited to a particular part, then records it. The artist’s performance is a joy, his timing perfect (for a change…). But afterwards it becomes apparent that the 6L6 amp was putting out too much low end, the overdrive lacked a little gain, or the microphone was too close to the centre of the speaker cone, and in the context of the track it sounds unexpectedly nasal.
At this moment, good advice is expensive. EQ can compensate for any missing bass, but as far as the distortion is concerned, the die is cast. Do another take? Then the artist is annoyed, especially since the performance was very good and the additional studio time will now eat into the budget. Cometh the hour, cometh the re-amping box, which duplicates the signal chain without the guitar signal.
This is achieved by a parallel recording of the clean guitar signal directly onto an additional track, which in playback mode enables the use of a new combination of FX pedals, amplifier, speaker cabinet and microphone. In order to get this signal back out of the computer and optimise it to go into an amp, you need – you guessed it – a re-amplification box!
“Why a separate box?”, you may wonder. Just take the signal from the interface and put it straight into the amp, no? Now, keyboard-players may see it that way (as do most sound engineers, unfortunately…:-) but you may forgive them. When they think of overdrive, keyboardists immediately think of too little headroom, and for them the “typical Strat sound” is with the pickup selector in position 4, straight into the desk. In order to get the analogue chaos theory that is guitar recording back into the amp at the perfect level, a special solution is required, the Palmer DACCAPO.
The aforementioned device features a balanced XLR input, switchable to -10dBV and +4 dBV, and a ground lift, which is very useful if your recording equipment and the guitar amplifier have different grounding points. So far nothing out of the ordinary. The design highlight is an inconspicuous rotary knob labelled “Level”, located next to the isolated output jack. “What’s so special about an output level control?”, the keyboard player wonders. Thanks to the interaction between the individual components, the input level of the signal is essential for all of the following components. Without this control, our re-amping would, in the worst case scenario, sound like a thin weedy fart or a big fat turd.
Probably our magazine’s shortest practical test: Everything was perfect! The Palmer DACCAPO does exactly what it should, perfectly. Unspectacular but nevertheless a key element in the signal path, without this product, perfect re-amping is unimaginable. The level control can be used to drive valve amps nicely into compression, and if necessary to boost the output of vintage single coils, without increasing background noise. Feedback won’t occur, of course, so there is no need for a noisegate. By the way, the Palmer DACCAPO is a passive device, so no power supply is necessary. And incidentally, as is always the case with Palmer, construction is of the highest quality.
With the Palmer DACCAPO, the German manufacturer has introduced perfect re-amping control to its ranks. Haptically unremarkable, nevertheless it has all of the essential features for perfect re-amping. Retailing at under 80 euros, it offers excellent performance at an extremely moderate price.
If you are an engineer and wave this device at your clients, most will probably just notice its bright colour. But the experienced pro will take you in his arms and weep for joy!
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