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I can’t figure out patchbays Summing Mixers
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Thread Starter
I can’t figure out patchbays

I feel stupid even asking, but I can’t figure out exactly how patchbays work and the specific type I need. I’ve done some searching around, but all the info I’ve found seems to skip the basic points that still confuse me.

Here’s my setup and what I’m looking for:

I have an Apogee Ensemble that will be running into a Dangerous Audio 2-bus analog summer. I also have a few outboard compressors (specifically a pair of Distressors, and a few 500 modules: a pair of 1176 clones, an LA-2A clone, and an as-of-yet-unpurchased stereo bus compressor—probably the Serpent SB4001). I’d like to have a patchbay that will allow me to place these compressors on my inserts as they’re going into (or after??) they reach my Dangerous 2-bus, and then back into the Ensemble. I also currently have 6 different outboard mic preamps I’d like to work into my signal chain at least when recording.

I’m looking for the simplest, cheapest style and/or brand/model patchbay that will let me accomplish this in a reliable and relatively efficient manner.

Can anyone provide me some guidance as to what I should be looking at? Will a simple TRS on both sides patchbay do the job (a la something like this: The page you were looking for doesn't exist (404) Or should I be looking at something that does DB-25? Or something else? Any advice anyone could offer would be much appreciated.
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Addict
 
Deuce 225's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by franktree View Post
I feel stupid even asking, but I can’t figure out exactly how patchbays work and the specific type I need. I’ve done some searching around, but all the info I’ve found seems to skip the basic points that still confuse me.

Here’s my setup and what I’m looking for:

I have an Apogee Ensemble that will be running into a Dangerous Audio 2-bus analog summer. I also have a few outboard compressors (specifically a pair of Distressors, and a few 500 modules: a pair of 1176 clones, an LA-2A clone, and an as-of-yet-unpurchased stereo bus compressor—probably the Serpent SB4001). I’d like to have a patchbay that will allow me to place these compressors on my inserts as they’re going into (or after??) they reach my Dangerous 2-bus, and then back into the Ensemble. I also currently have 6 different outboard mic preamps I’d like to work into my signal chain at least when recording.

I’m looking for the simplest, cheapest style and/or brand/model patchbay that will let me accomplish this in a reliable and relatively efficient manner.

Can anyone provide me some guidance as to what I should be looking at? Will a simple TRS on both sides patchbay do the job (a la something like this: The page you were looking for doesn't exist (404) Or should I be looking at something that does DB-25? Or something else? Any advice anyone could offer would be much appreciated.
Simply put - a patchbay allows you flexibility in routing the audio signal(s) from your DAW (Protools, Logic, Cubase etc..) to your outboard gear and back to your DAW or to another external recording medium i.e. tape player, CD Burner etc.. To get the benefit of your Dangerous Two Bus, ideally you would have a minimum of 16 inputs on your patch bay. You can get by with less, but then you are not taking advantage of your Dangerous unit. The Apogee Ensemble only has 8 inputs I believe and depending how old your unit is the physical cabling requirements can vary.

A good patchbay and decent cabling aren't cheap but they are worthwhile if you want to maximize your investment in your Dangerous unit. My recommendation is to call the guys at Vintage King in Detroit and tell them exactly what your setup is and they can give you some options for moving forward.

Hope this helps...
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Addict
 
Wizzomixer's Avatar
My simple set up, as I don't have a lot of outboard, may help explain. This is a TRS both sides patchbay. The sockets in green are all fully normaled with the top row connected to the bottom. The blue ones are straight through. Patch cables enable routing of anything to anything if I wish to temporally change any of the setup.
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I can’t figure out patchbays-copy-new-patch-14-05-18.jpg  
Old 6 days ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Several years back I had a Tascam patch bay that had connectors failing on it. I did some research and found out all modern patch bays use the exact same connectors. Paying more for a patch bay based on brand name it a waste of money because all the connectors are the same type.

After pricing the connectors up it was apparent I could buy a new patch bay cheaper then repairing the old one too.
I wouldn't up buying a Behringer 48 point and its worked properly ever since.

Of course you can buy vintage patch bays with metal connectors, many are custom built for a specific studio and the back of the patch bay is hard wired into the studio's "Snake" and not simply plugged in. The connectors on the old ones came from Telephone Patch bays, the kind like you see in old movies where you had an actual operator running the switch board connecting calls.

As far as how a patch bay can be wired, involves some basic logic which can be difficult for people who lack an education in electronics to understand.
The connectors of a patch bay have switching capabilities which route the signal to other connectors depending on which ones are being used. Its also based on the type of patch bay you use too.

Example, in my setup I have 16 studio mics and DI signals from amps coming into the back of the patch bay. 8 for drums, 8 for instruments and vocals. The other connection in the back of the patch bay feeds the interface inputs. When there is nothing plugged into the front of the patch bay its like the patch bay isn't even there. Its a straight through connection just like having all my mics plugged directly into the interface.

When I plug into the front however, the path from the mic to interface is broken. I can use one plug in the front which disconnects the one mic and connect another studio mic or instrument. I can also use both plugs and insert an effect unit in series with studio mic normally wired. I can add several effects in series or single effects to each mic, the choices are the same as simply connecting a mic directly to the units. The patch bay simply makes that job a whole lot easier because all my 8 channel snakes with the color coding are connected in the back and they stay connected all the time. I'm not screwing around trying to figure out which wire is which in a dark studio and kinking out other wires accidentally.

The back is wired in fairly permanently and when I record a full band I simply pull all the plugs out in the front. Then when I add vocals or multitrack I start "patching in" gear and preamps in the front as needed. All my front panel connections are clearly marked with the In's and Outs or the gear connected so its simply a matter of connecting stuff using short cords.

Look at it this way, if you had a switch box to connect your gear together you'd have to think draw a map and think through the connections so your switches work properly. A patch bay is pretty much the same thing. In and out wires typically remain connected and like a telephone operator you connect different devices to the main wiring buss so they make connection with different mics and pieces of gear.

The thing is there is no fixed way of doing this. There are some do's and dont's along the way. You wouldn't want to connect two mics together, you wouldn't want to connect the outputs or inputs of two devices together, or combine the inputs/outputs of an interface. In other words you don't want to damage you gear making improper connections.

Beyond that you have to know how the patch bay connectors switch and know what can be connected using jumpers. The rest is simply drawing up a blueprint.

If you have an extensive setup and want the flexibility or using hardware pre and post recording, then you likely want three patch bays. One for the inputs, one for the outputs, one for the hardware effects. Then you can jumper between the three of them. In my case, I only use hardware tracking and never use it mixing. I have the ability to loop outputs through hardware but I've already tried it and found its easier to just do all that stuff in the box.

I'm first and foremost a musician who writes and records music. I spend enough time mixing as it is. If I was being paid to mix full time then I'd pull out all the stops and have all options available. For my own stuff, I've already done the experimentation and know what my music needs and have no need for options I no longer need or use.

Don't let that discourage you from doing anything you want, just realize the cabling to wire everything up becomes expensive. You have to double your on hand cables and have good patches too. Since its cheaper to buy cables then it is to build your own these days I'd simply make up a list of must have cables and try places like Monoprice to buy them. Audio-Cables - HDMI Cable, Home Theater Accessories, HDMI Products, Cables, Adapters, Video/Audio Switch, Networking, USB, Firewire, Printer Toner, and more! They have everything from low cost 1/4" to XLR, adaptor etc.

Another good place to look is Parts Express - Parts Express: Speakers, Amplifiers, Audio Parts and Solutions

As an added selection, these Patch Bay snakes are handy as hell. Musician's Friend Hosea makes several different types, 1/4" TS, TRS, RCA, XLR etc which can be used on the back of the patch bay to provide semi permanent wiring. The connectors are only molded plastic but they are well made and once things are connected its not like you'll be constantly disconnecting and tugging the cords loose. They do provide low noise and they are color coded which really helps allot. For a cost of $15~40 you cant touch that buying separate cables of any kind.

It costs money for sure but I've used some of these cables for 20 years and they are still like new because they remain connected all the time. All the wear and tear is on the patch cables in the front. For those I use a combination of high quality cables and throw away's . These are typically a buck a piece and can last a year ow two with mild use. Musician's Friend
I keep a dozen on a hook within arams reach and when one goes bad I throw it away and use another.

Then for the other stuff I buy 6 packs of the metal connector type for around $35 SATRX-10 | Black | 10 Foot | TRS to TRS | Patch Cable | 6 Pack – seismicaudio
Old 6 days ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Several years back I had a Tascam patch bay that had connectors failing on it. I did some research and found out all modern patch bays use the exact same connectors. Paying more for a patch bay based on brand name it a waste of money because all the connectors are the same type.

After pricing the connectors up it was apparent I could buy a new patch bay cheaper then repairing the old one too.
I wouldn't up buying a Behringer 48 point and its worked properly ever since.

Of course you can buy vintage patch bays with metal connectors, many are custom built for a specific studio and the back of the patch bay is hard wired into the studio's "Snake" and not simply plugged in. The connectors on the old ones came from Telephone Patch bays, the kind like you see in old movies where you had an actual operator running the switch board connecting calls.

As far as how a patch bay can be wired, involves some basic logic which can be difficult for people who lack an education in electronics to understand.
The connectors of a patch bay have switching capabilities which route the signal to other connectors depending on which ones are being used. Its also based on the type of patch bay you use too.

Example, in my setup I have 16 studio mics and DI signals from amps coming into the back of the patch bay. 8 for drums, 8 for instruments and vocals. The other connection in the back of the patch bay feeds the interface inputs. When there is nothing plugged into the front of the patch bay its like the patch bay isn't even there. Its a straight through connection just like having all my mics plugged directly into the interface.

When I plug into the front however, the path from the mic to interface is broken. I can use one plug in the front which disconnects the one mic and connect another studio mic or instrument. I can also use both plugs and insert an effect unit in series with studio mic normally wired. I can add several effects in series or single effects to each mic, the choices are the same as simply connecting a mic directly to the units. The patch bay simply makes that job a whole lot easier because all my 8 channel snakes with the color coding are connected in the back and they stay connected all the time. I'm not screwing around trying to figure out which wire is which in a dark studio and kinking out other wires accidentally.

The back is wired in fairly permanently and when I record a full band I simply pull all the plugs out in the front. Then when I add vocals or multitrack I start "patching in" gear and preamps in the front as needed. All my front panel connections are clearly marked with the In's and Outs or the gear connected so its simply a matter of connecting stuff using short cords.

Look at it this way, if you had a switch box to connect your gear together you'd have to think draw a map and think through the connections so your switches work properly. A patch bay is pretty much the same thing. In and out wires typically remain connected and like a telephone operator you connect different devices to the main wiring buss so they make connection with different mics and pieces of gear.

The thing is there is no fixed way of doing this. There are some do's and dont's along the way. You wouldn't want to connect two mics together, you wouldn't want to connect the outputs or inputs of two devices together, or combine the inputs/outputs of an interface. In other words you don't want to damage you gear making improper connections.

Beyond that you have to know how the patch bay connectors switch and know what can be connected using jumpers. The rest is simply drawing up a blueprint.

If you have an extensive setup and want the flexibility or using hardware pre and post recording, then you likely want three patch bays. One for the inputs, one for the outputs, one for the hardware effects. Then you can jumper between the three of them. In my case, I only use hardware tracking and never use it mixing. I have the ability to loop outputs through hardware but I've already tried it and found its easier to just do all that stuff in the box.

I'm first and foremost a musician who writes and records music. I spend enough time mixing as it is. If I was being paid to mix full time then I'd pull out all the stops and have all options available. For my own stuff, I've already done the experimentation and know what my music needs and have no need for options I no longer need or use.

Don't let that discourage you from doing anything you want, just realize the cabling to wire everything up becomes expensive. You have to double your on hand cables and have good patches too. Since its cheaper to buy cables then it is to build your own these days I'd simply make up a list of must have cables and try places like Monoprice to buy them. Audio-Cables - HDMI Cable, Home Theater Accessories, HDMI Products, Cables, Adapters, Video/Audio Switch, Networking, USB, Firewire, Printer Toner, and more! They have everything from low cost 1/4" to XLR, adaptor etc.

Another good place to look is Parts Express - Parts Express: Speakers, Amplifiers, Audio Parts and Solutions

As an added selection, these Patch Bay snakes are handy as hell. Musician's Friend Hosea makes several different types, 1/4" TS, TRS, RCA, XLR etc which can be used on the back of the patch bay to provide semi permanent wiring. The connectors are only molded plastic but they are well made and once things are connected its not like you'll be constantly disconnecting and tugging the cords loose. They do provide low noise and they are color coded which really helps allot. For a cost of $15~40 you cant touch that buying separate cables of any kind.

It costs money for sure but I've used some of these cables for 20 years and they are still like new because they remain connected all the time. All the wear and tear is on the patch cables in the front. For those I use a combination of high quality cables and throw away's . These are typically a buck a piece and can last a year ow two with mild use. Musician's Friend
I keep a dozen on a hook within arams reach and when one goes bad I throw it away and use another.

Then for the other stuff I buy 6 packs of the metal connector type for around $35 SATRX-10 | Black | 10 Foot | TRS to TRS | Patch Cable | 6 Pack – seismicaudio
Old 6 days ago
  #6
Lives for gear
 
jdier's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by franktree View Post
I feel stupid even asking, but I can’t figure out exactly how patchbays work and the specific type I need. I’ve done some searching around, but all the info I’ve found seems to skip the basic points that still confuse me.
Don't feel stupid. You don't know until you know.

I do not have a drop in easy answer for what will work for you, but here are the places I started with learning about patch bays:

Patchbays 101 — Layout, Signal Flow, Normalling & More

Setting up a Patchbay in your Home Studio by TweakHeadz lab
Old 5 days ago
  #7
Lives for gear
 
James Lehmann's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by franktree View Post
I’m looking for the simplest, cheapest style and/or brand/model patchbay that will let me accomplish this in a reliable and relatively efficient manner.
Simply put, most professional studios will probably have more invested in their patchbays and cabling than you or I have in our entire studios. These will likely be expensive 48-way TT patchbays permanently soldered to multiple looms of XLR snakes heading to/from the main console and racks of outboard gear. By permanently soldering your cabling to the patchbay you reduce or eliminate entirely the possibility of flaky connections - something a fully professional studio simply cannot afford.

If you decide not to go this 'ultimate' route, for the rest of us there are standard A-gauge 1/4" jack patchbays that come in balanced and unbalanced flavours - it looks as if you will want a balanced one, so that's the first thing to check on your shopping list.

You are also going to need a bucket-load of Male and Female XLR to 1/4" Balanced Jack cables to connect your outboard gear (most of which looks like it is on XLR) and a minimum of 24 x 3-way A-gauge patchcables of, I would suggest, 500 or 600mm.

I disagree with one of the comments above that all of these 'lower end' patchbays are created equal. I've tried several brands - Re'an, Deltron, Neutrik, Behringer etc and all of them have failed at various points and all of them can be a PITA operationally - for example, having to flip modules to switch from normalised etc.

BY FAR the best cheap(ish) patchbay I have tried is the Samson S-Patch.



The advantages of the Samson S-Patch are as follows:
  • It is sealed, preventing dust access
  • Because it is built in a solid metal housing (many others are 'open') connecting cables feels much more reliable
  • Crucially, you can select the various normalisation options from the front panel - this feature alone is worth the price of admission
Since you're asking about patchbays generally, I'm guessing you might not be sure what normalisation is but a quick Google and I'm sure you'll figure out what it is and why you might need it far more quickly than it would take me to explain it! The beauty of the S-Patch is that you can adapt it as you go along to your 'normalising' needs - many other models require you to remove it (or in the case of the Behringer the unit above) from your rack which can be a royal PITA.

The S-Patch is probably twice the price of the 'cheapies' but it will save you hassle and time in the long run - time that you can better put into creativity. I wish I'd got rid of my flaky old patchbays 10 years ago and switched to the S-Patch sooner; in a curious way it's actually inspired me to start being more creative with my patching, as opposed to being reluctant to move anything around for fear of introducing a fresh connection problem. Who says patchbays are boring!

Last edited by James Lehmann; 5 days ago at 09:38 AM..
Old 4 days ago
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lehmann View Post
BY FAR the best cheap(ish) patchbay I have tried is the Samson S-Patch.


Could not agree more. I ditched my Neutrik fiddly patch bays and replaced with several Samsons, very nice build quality and easy as flipping to small switch to make them full, half, or thru.
Old 4 days ago
  #9
Gear Head
 

My 2 cents is to keep learning and have patients with yourself.

It took me a long time leaving it alone and coming back to it to get the concept(s).


I feel like an old skool phone operator.
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