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Why normal a patchbay?
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Kyleseglin
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2nd January 2014
Old 2nd January 2014
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Why normal a patchbay?

I'm trying to understand why one would want to normal a patchbay and I was hoping someone could help me understand. I've researched it and I get how it works, I'm just trying to figure out why.. I'm upgrading to a 32 I/O interface and plan to get a tt/db25 bay, and I'm trying to figure out if normalling would be useful for me
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2nd January 2014
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Normalling allows you to have equipment that is going to be connected to each other most of the time connected without having to use a bunch of patch cables. Example would be mic lines from the studio coming into the patch bay and being fully normalled to the console's mic pres. It would be a pain to have to patch each microphone into the mic pre when you could just normal your patch bay for the mic lines to automatically show up at the mic pres.
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2nd January 2014
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Couch nailed it. It's so that you don't have to drag out patch cables for the everyday, pedestrian situations. And by full normaling, you still have the option to go as crazy as you want. Say in your studio, in the live room the wall panel (where you plug in the microphones), is mic input 1-8. In the control room, you have 1-8 normaled into mic pre's 1-8 on your 36 channel console. This is satisfactory for drums. But, maybe later in the session, you're doing vocals in the same room and you want to use an outboard pre for channel 1. Easy!
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2nd January 2014
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For me normaling is most useful in line level applications.
Most common are buss out to "tape" in and "tape" out to "tape" in on console.

Of course, if you don't have a console it doesn't apply.
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2nd January 2014
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Yes, and also very useful for the sends! You may full normal 4 of your sends to the headphone/cue mix, which is obviously best for tracking. But when mixing, if you wanna use those badboys for effects, go for it!
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2nd January 2014
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I have a 16x16 hybrid setup and have most channels normalled to outboard so I don't need a cable to patch in an outboard EQ or compressor. If I want to track into an EQ or comp, I need to patch it with a cable from a preamp which is also on the bay.
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2nd January 2014
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Normal your DAW IO Out on top to the DAW IO In on bottom. This way when you use your DAW hardware inserts you have signal flow with no gear patched in.
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2nd January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins View Post
Normal your DAW IO Out on top to the DAW IO In on bottom. This way when you use your DAW hardware inserts you have signal flow with no gear patched in.
I don't get this. Why would you do this when you can just choose not to use a hardware insert and spare your signal from a needless conversion round trip?
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2nd January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
I don't get this. Why would you do this when you can just choose not to use a hardware insert and spare your signal from a needless conversion round trip?
There is no needless conversion. When you select that you want a track to use a hardware insert it is then routed to the DAW Output, which is then routed to the patch bay which then gets routed back to the input and back to the track in the DAW. Now it is doing a round trip through the DAC with no hardware but you can still hear the track. People, including myself, patch stuff in while the track is playing. If it is not normalled there will just be silence until the hardware is patched.

This also allows you to hear what the DAC is doing to the track and it is also easy to bypass the hardware processing by unplugging a patch cable to the return (if it is "half_normalled").

Basically, by normalling these you get the added feature of still having the track audible and hearing the DAC effect. By not normalling this, you lose the track until the patch is made and you don't hear the DACs effect by itself unless you patch from the top to bottom.

To be clear, the hardware insert in the DAW is not selected unless you want to use it. So no conversion unless you want to use hardware.
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2nd January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillSimpkins View Post
There is no needless conversion. When you select that you want a track to use a hardware insert it is then routed to the DAW Output, which is then routed to the patch bay which then gets routed back to the input and back to the track in the DAW. Now it is doing a round trip through the DAC with no hardware but you can still hear the track. People, including myself, patch stuff in while the track is playing. If it is not normalled there will just be silence until the hardware is patched.

This also allows you to hear what the DAC is doing to the track and it is also easy to bypass the hardware processing by unplugging a patch cable to the return (if it is "half_normalled").

Basically, by normalling these you get the added feature of still having the track audible and hearing the DAC effect. By not normalling this, you lose the track until the patch is made and you don't hear the DACs effect by itself unless you patch from the top to bottom.

To be clear, the hardware insert in the DAW is not selected unless you want to use it. So no conversion unless you want to use hardware.
Hmmm. I just don't see why you'd ever want a track doing a conversion loop unless you are actually hitting some hardware, in which case why not just normal the hardware to the DAW's I/O and then patch it in and out at will with the hardware insert plugin? Of course with a console this would change.
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3rd January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
Hmmm. I just don't see why you'd ever want a track doing a conversion loop unless you are actually hitting some hardware, in which case why not just normal the hardware to the DAW's I/O and then patch it in and out at will with the hardware insert plugin? Of course with a console this would change.
You never WOULD want a track doing a conversion on the insert without hitting the hardware. That would be silly wouldn't it?

When you are mixing and set up in insert in the DAW, you do not want the track to go silent while it is playing. It is also good to hear what the DAC is doing before you patch in the hardware, in-case there is any issues etc... By having it normalled, the signal flow is uninterrupted even with no hardware patched in. You would never print the conversion without the hardware patched in. Also, it is easy to bypass the hardware by pulling out the bottom patch if you want to A/B something.

If it makes you feel better, every studio I have worked in has it set up this way. It is just more flexible.
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3rd January 2014
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Bill, I am a bit confused here as well...

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When you are mixing and set up in insert in the DAW, you do not want the track to go silent while it is playing.
Ok, so I get, in principal, what you're doing with the patching here. But, you still have to stop playback and change the routing on the track. So you're going to get silence no matter what -- unless your DAW is routed out to the patch bay full time, hence Aaron's complaints of a DA/AD loop.... I guess... I dunno, I'm confused again, lol.

At any rate, I never ever patch during playback. If I want something re-routed and thrown to outboard, I stop the track, reassign the output of said track in the DAW, patch it up, then create a new track to record my outboard.
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3rd January 2014
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I'm confused, what do you mean when you say to normal the bay to the daw I/O? I'm working with a 32 ch I/O interface, a 96 pt bay and a few hardware compressors, eqs and pres.. What would you do in this instance I'm trying to understand..
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3rd January 2014
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Rather than trying to explain it again, I made a video.
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3rd January 2014
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Thanks for the video. Looks like it works for you so that's what matters.
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3rd January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyleseglin View Post
I'm confused, what do you mean when you say to normal the bay to the daw I/O? I'm working with a 32 ch I/O interface, a 96 pt bay and a few hardware compressors, eqs and pres.. What would you do in this instance I'm trying to understand..
In your case, I would wire 24 of the DAW IO to the patch bay half-normalled. The DAW output will be on the top and the DAW input will be on the bottom, for each channel. The signal will flow freely from the top to the bottom with no patch cable. The signal can only be interrupted when a patch cable is plugged into the bottom (see video on previous post). Use the remaining 8 DAW channels for master outs, monitor outs and any gear that you want hard-wired to the DAW (like a master buss chain or reverbs).

I would also wire all of your mic pres NON-NORMALLED (so the signal never flows from top to bottom creating a feedback loop) into the patch bay. Output on top and LINE in on bottom (for now plug the mice directly into the MIC input on the pres).

Also wire your hardware (compressors, EQs etc..) into the patch bay NON-NORMALLED.

Now you can do things like:
* When tracking, patch a pre into a compressor, EQ, then into any channel on the DAW.
* When mixing select a DAW channel and patch it into a compressor, EQ etc… and back into the DAW.
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3rd January 2014
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When you say daw I/O you're talking about the i/o of the interface right?

Half normal vs normal?
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3rd January 2014
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How you choose to do normalisation depends very much on what you do (most often) in your studio. Tracking in a live room? Normal pre outputs to the DAW inputs. Mixing with a selection of outboard effects? Set up inserts as BillSimpkins has shown. Have a mastering chain you use most of the time but want the flexibility to change on occasion? Normal DAW outputs 1 and 2 to the first unit's inputs, the output of that to the input of the next, and so on.

If most times you sit down to work, you don't have to plug up a bunch of patch cables, you're doing it right.
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3rd January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyleseglin View Post
When you say daw I/O you're talking about the i/o of the interface right?

Half normal vs normal?
Half-normal means the link between patchpoints is only broken when you plug a patch into the lower socket (a full normal patchbay would break the link when either socket has a patch cord in, which really isn't very useful.)
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3rd January 2014
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So would a completely half normalled bay hurt me in anyway?
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4th January 2014
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I think I'm going to do as bill recommends actually, and half normal 24 of my 32 I/O.
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4th January 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyleseglin View Post
So would a completely half normalled bay hurt me in anyway?
You want the hardware (compressors, eq, reverbs etc..) to be fully NON-NORMALLED else you can blow it up from a feedback loop.
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4th January 2014
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Hi
On an install I get the client to imagine the whole studio setup without the patch to begin with, so all mics, tape/DAW monitors and outboard arre hooked up for a 'standard' session.
Not drop in half normalled patch points for ALL the interconnects, thus giving you a setup where no patchcords are needed.
Now add all the bits that are racked up using non normalled jacks (as Bill points out).
I would tend to put say a comp in and out on adjacent points not one above the other, it takes more space but can be less confusing.
You could also 'parallel feed' units, say alternative comps or EQ so you then only need to sort out the output routing.
Don't forget you can have no normal, half normal and double normal, where you need 2 cords to actually 'break' the normal path.
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4th January 2014
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