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Does a patchbay affect the sound ?
Old 4th October 2004
  #1
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Does a patchbay affect the sound ?

Stumbling over bushes of cables and reconnecting connectors in the dark side of the rack every day, I got a hint that there is something called patchbay which could make my life much easier. On the other hand I heard an opinion that adding these extra connections to the chain may influence the sound in a way (a tiny loss of quality). What is your experience ? Are there patchbays of different (sound) quality ?
Old 4th October 2004
  #2
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Re: Does a patchbay affect the sound ?

Ivo,

> Are there patchbays of different (sound) quality? <

Any patch bay that changes the sound of audio passing through it is by definition defective.

--Ethan
Old 4th October 2004
  #3
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Ethan,

thank you for your optimistic remark :-)

Since I have no idea about different possible types of patchbays, may I mention my basic setup to get some advice which direction to go ?

I have

a pair of Millennia Origins, 2ch Millennia HV-3B, 4 ch AD and 2ch DA Lavry Blue, Lexicon PCM****, Lynx L22 + LS AES, Goldpoint SAX 2 attenuator (1 input, 2 outputs), Adesigns Atty, power amp, 2 passive monitors a pair of Genelecs. 2 pairs of mics used at a time.

Usually I change connections between
1) mics and preamps
2) Direct output vs . main output of Origins, also direct inserts to EQ and comp sections
3) Lynx L22feeding either Lexicon or speakers when monitoring

etc. (cannot estimate all this now)

Any suggestion ? (for totally neutral XLR patchbay)

(are there also patchbays including AES -EBU connections ?)
Old 4th October 2004
  #4
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 

Patchbays are great for convenience but they are subject to physical phenomena which can effect the signal passing through them- oxidisation, ground loops, crosstalk. they have to be built well from the start, and maintained. I can't tell you how many times I've been working on something & though, hmmm, that doesn't sound like it should, or like it did yesterday- and a twist of the ol' TT connector (with acccompanying loud crackles) brought everything back. And then there are the long hours spent tracing down hums & buzzes, finding a single strand of wire reaching over from one jack to another, or even a strand of cobweb with metal particles on it from a nearby filing operation. So yes, they can effect the sound, you just have to be diligent to keep it to a minimum.

Without addressing the the subject of differences between cables & connectors, which as we all know could lead to a long & contentious debate.
Old 4th October 2004
  #5
Gear Maniac
 
John Peacock's Avatar
 

Patchbays can be great. The trick is to make sure they are working for you and not against you. A great deal of time should be put into arranging them in a way that makes sense. And you probably won't get it right on the first try.

My philosophy on patchbays is to use them for anything that you can imagine ever wanting to re-route. However, normalize the path of the things that you use regularily. Like my favorite vocal chain (pre, comp, eq) is normalized together. No repatching is required unless I want to change the signal path. Then normalize your outputs to your converters or tape machine. I actually use mostly half-normalized conections to achieve an even cleaner signal. For example, I half-normal a pre output to my board for monitoring, then patch the pre output to my converters for recording the shortest signal path.

You should be able to use any pro-level patchbay for digital signals, but do not use the same one that you are using for analog signals. There will be cross-talk from your digital signals to the analog ones.

Also, be prepared to buy/make cables. XLR patchbays are not as common or practical in many ways as TT or TRS patchbays. So don't just expect to just plug and play.

-Jp
Old 4th October 2004
  #6
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Switchcraft's Avatar
 

does anybody have an opinion on those 100 dolla holla patch bays with the IC boards in them. You know the ones that are mondular and you can flip to get halfnormalled isolated fully normalled etc. Do those degrade the signal. I use one and have hear people say they are terrible, but it works and i dont think it sounds bad but never took the time to AB signals.
Old 4th October 2004
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Some crosstalk and it can get real crowded if you use a lot of adaptors, metal to metal.
Old 4th October 2004
  #8
Moderator
 
TonyBelmont's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Switchcraft
does anybody have an opinion on those 100 dolla holla patch bays with the IC boards in them. You know the ones that are mondular and you can flip to get halfnormalled isolated fully normalled etc. Do those degrade the signal. I use one and have hear people say they are terrible, but it works and i dont think it sounds bad but never took the time to AB signals.
They work, but they wear out pretty quickly compared to an Audio Accessories bay.This sounds weird telling someone named Switchcraft about something that is made by Neutrik.... heh
Old 4th October 2004
  #9
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De chromium cob's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Switchcraft
does anybody have an opinion on those 100 dolla holla patch bays with the IC boards in them. You know the ones that are mondular and you can flip to get halfnormalled isolated fully normalled etc. Do those degrade the signal. I use one and have hear people say they are terrible, but it works and i dont think it sounds bad but never took the time to AB signals.
Those Neutrik PBs work very well and havent given me a problem in the past 3 or so years. Theyre so cheap you can keep an extra to rob cards out of should you ever need to.... I use them with mogami patch cables- avoid the hosa ****.
Old 4th October 2004
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Dan-O's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by John Peacock
You should be able to use any pro-level patchbay for digital signals, but do not use the same one that you are using for analog signals. There will be cross-talk from your digital signals to the analog ones.

-Jp
My apologies, could you explain this further?
Old 4th October 2004
  #11
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Berolzheimer
And then there are the long hours spent tracing down hums & buzzes, finding a single strand of wire reaching over from one jack to another, or even a strand of cobweb with metal particles on it from a nearby filing operation.
Heat shrink helps with that.
Old 4th October 2004
  #12
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by John Peacock

You should be able to use any pro-level patchbay for digital signals, but do not use the same one that you are using for analog signals. There will be cross-talk from your digital signals to the analog ones.
I think that you're wrong.

AES/EBU and SPDIF have specific wiring requirements. Any "pro level" patchbay will probably NOT have 110 or 50 ohm wire in it.

Regarding cross talk, I think that you're wrong about that too.
Old 4th October 2004
  #13
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Re: Does a patchbay affect the sound ?

Quote:
Originally posted by ISedlacek
Stumbling over bushes of cables and reconnecting connectors in the dark side of the rack every day, I got a hint that there is something called patchbay which could make my life much easier. On the other hand I heard an opinion that adding these extra connections to the chain may influence the sound in a way (a tiny loss of quality). What is your experience ? Are there patchbays of different (sound) quality ?

A patchbay is beenfiecial because one can work much faster in setting up chains of gear with one than without one (unless one has an army of assistants). Sure you add resistance and the current gets ****ed with as it passes through solder joint after solder joint so of course it will affect the signal. What did you expect? Why wouldn't it? Most likely though, the difference will be minimal unless your setup is messed up.

If you know how to solder and like doing it then get a TT or long fram patchbay. Otherwise just pick up any $100 patchbay and when it starts to crap out throw it out (or recycle it) and get a new one.

There isn't all that much to patchbays. It just eases connections. Also, in some studios it is impossible to get behind racked gear so in those situations it is a necessity.

If you're spending too much time recabling, just go get one.
Old 4th October 2004
  #14
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Frost's Avatar
 

Re: Re: Does a patchbay affect the sound ?

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Ethan Winer
[B]Ivo,

Any patch bay that changes the sound of audio passing through it is by definition defective.

Does that mean that all wire is broken? I think all wire changes the sound a little. I spent last night comparing interconnects from preamp to amp in my mastering suite. They all sounded very different. Adding another connection will certianly change the sound. By the time you mix, compress, eq and replicate a disc, it probably wont matter much tho.

Frost
Old 4th October 2004
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Berolzheimer
Patchbays are great for convenience but they are subject to physical phenomena which can effect the signal passing through them- oxidisation, ground loops, crosstalk. they have to be built well from the start, and maintained. I can't tell you how many times I've been working on something & though, hmmm, that doesn't sound like it should, or like it did yesterday- and a twist of the ol' TT connector (with acccompanying loud crackles) brought everything back. And then there are the long hours spent tracing down hums & buzzes, finding a single strand of wire reaching over from one jack to another, or even a strand of cobweb with metal particles on it from a nearby filing operation. So yes, they can effect the sound, you just have to be diligent to keep it to a minimum.

Without addressing the the subject of differences between cables & connectors, which as we all know could lead to a long & contentious debate.
cant put it anyway better then that.
Old 5th October 2004
  #16
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

Of course patchbays affect the sound. Everything affects the sound, just about. Certainly all cables and connections do.

Ivo, your recording world is just too simple and straightforward to benefit from a patchbay- plus your audio requirements are too stringent. I know you have a very small amount of very high quality kit- just do the plugging and replugging as necessary.

If you had umpteen channels of this and that and all these mics and stuff it would be a different story.f
Old 5th October 2004
  #17
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by vartan k
cant put it anyway better then that.
Thanks Vartan!

FaeFlora, Yep, heat shrink helps a lot- but most of the patchbays I've had to deal with over the years were not built by me or you.

FWIW in my home studio I don't have a PB. Since I don't have a huge amount of gear I made the decision just to patch from gear to gear, so to speak, with short runs of high quality cable- I keep my racks positioned so the backs are open & easily accessible. It looks messy but it's usually just me in there. In the bigger rooms that I've been involved in of course we always build PB's- when dealing with clients efficiency & appearance become much more important.
Old 5th October 2004
  #18
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Berolzheimer
Thanks Vartan!

FaeFlora, Yep, heat shrink helps a lot- but most of the patchbays I've had to deal with over the years were not built by me or you.
Postfacto, you can just pour bondo over everything if you're having problems with shorts and stuff. It keeps the cobwebs off.
Old 5th October 2004
  #19
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 

Hmmm, I wonder what the dielectric properties of bondo are....
Old 5th October 2004
  #20
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Knastratt's Avatar
 

I got tired of the patchbay concept and built an 8 stereo channel router from good material. I use it to switch all instruments in the studio to the input of the mic/line pre and to split the signal to a monitor mixer for zero latency monitoring.

Since I play all instruments myself it works flawlessly. No signal degradation whatsoever. Patching with the flick of a switch.
Old 5th October 2004
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
John Peacock's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by faeflora
I think that you're wrong.

AES/EBU and SPDIF have specific wiring requirements. Any "pro level" patchbay will probably NOT have 110 or 50 ohm wire in it.
Let me further explain. I was not suggesting that you normalize a digital patchbay. There shouldn't be any wires in the bay itself. I would do something like a single rack-space panel punched out and fitted with XLR connectors. Make some digital XLR patch cables. Use those between the connections of the bay. I was basically refering to a "pro level" patch bay to one in which you can solder your digital cables directly to the connectors of the bay itself. I personally would not mess around with things like a "normalled" digital bay. Just leave the cables in if you want it normalled. And a half-normalled conection would be useless with digital signals.

Quote:
Originally posted by faeflora

Regarding cross talk, I think that you're wrong about that too.
No I'm not. But I encourage you to try it out. Light-pipe is not a problem, but SPDIF and especially AES will put some nice little artifacts into your audio path if you are housing them next door. We are talking distances of less than an inch in a patchbay. What do you do think is going through those digital cables? Tiny elves? Magic? Digital signals are strong and relentless, with no dynamic interest.

-Jp
Old 5th October 2004
  #22
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faeflora's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by John Peacock
Let me further explain. I was not suggesting that you normalize a digital patchbay. There shouldn't be any wires in the bay itself. I would do something like a single rack-space panel punched out and fitted with XLR connectors. Make some digital XLR patch cables. Use those between the connections of the bay. I was basically refering to a "pro level" patch bay to one in which you can solder your digital cables directly to the connectors of the bay itself. I personally would not mess around with things like a "normalled" digital bay. Just leave the cables in if you want it normalled. And a half-normalled conection would be useless with digital signals.



No I'm not. But I encourage you to try it out. Light-pipe is not a problem, but SPDIF and especially AES will put some nice little artifacts into your audio path if you are housing them next door. We are talking distances of less than an inch in a patchbay. What do you do think is going through those digital cables? Tiny elves? Magic? Digital signals are strong and relentless, with no dynamic interest.

-Jp
Ah ok I understand what you're saying. I was thinking about wiring in and to/from bays. Doh.

I like your suggestion about the carriers of digital audio. Magical tiny pixies! Much better than boring AES data. Pixies!~! Strong and relentless pixies!



Old 6th October 2004
  #23
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Ted Nightshade's Avatar
 

Inexorable pixies!
Old 6th October 2004
  #24
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Timeless's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by TonyBelmont
This sounds weird telling someone named Switchcraft about something that is made by Neutrik.... heh
Ha!
Old 7th October 2004
  #25
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ISedlacek's Avatar
Quote:
Originally posted by Ted Nightshade

Ivo, your recording world is just too simple and straightforward to benefit from a patchbay- plus your audio requirements are too stringent. I know you have a very small amount of very high quality kit- just do the plugging and replugging as necessary.

If you had umpteen channels of this and that and all these mics and stuff it would be a different story.f
Thank you all for your interesting inputs. I think I will follow Ted´s advice
Old 7th October 2004
  #26
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doorknocker's Avatar
Well, I guess you GOT a problem with the 'cable mess' (so do I, though my setup is still restricted to 8 channels)
As far as 'sound loss' is concerned, is there a big studio out there that DOESN'T use patch bays? I guess not, so if it's good enough for them, it should be o.k for us 'upstarts'

So please keep the discussion going brands, setups, XLR patchbays, etc....

Andi
Old 7th October 2004
  #27
Ken
Here for the gear
 

patchbays

patchbays free you to easily experiment with signal paths you may have been either too lazy or simply unable to create before.

no question that a mosses & mitchell 96 point ptachbay will sound great and last a LONG time- but that will cost you i think at least eleven hundred bucks even before you wire it up.

switchcraft 96 point bays are more like three hundred but certainly won't last as long.

the best tip i could give you is to mount the patchbay as vertically as possible. even if no one smokes near your control room, patchbays mounted like this get much less dust accumulated in them. this may seem like a small thing, but you'd be surprised at how much longer your patches will be trouble free when your patch bays are mounted like this - especially the cheaper ones!

keep in mind that if you can't wire them up yourself, a patchbay will cost far more in labor than in parts to get online.

all that said, IMO its the single best thing you can do to make a project studio function like a pro one.
Old 8th October 2004
  #28
urumita
 
7rojo7's Avatar
 

If you want a more convenient situation for your connecting means you could just make a stereo jack patch field with XLR connectors on the back. There are many companies who make pre punched panels for rack mounting, design the signal flow how you would normally use your studio and you could change the routing how you like from the front. You would probably have to wire it yourself, you could use switches (normally part of the jack) to change from isolated to normalled to half normalled if you want. From your gear list it seems that 8 across and 6 down would get you to where you need to be. Use the left half for your mic.>pre in>pre out> converter in>converter out>monitor in and the right side could be used for your various line in, direct in, direct out, mults and passive mixers (expansion)
I have 480 patch point in my studio and it's a relatively small amount to have.
The degradation of sound should be unnoticable to normal detection and the convenience given by such a setup outweighs its faults.
Old 4th December 2017
  #29
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Hello, When I moved into my new studio I inherited a 96 point TT patchbay from Whirlwind. Are these patchbays good quality? Inside are all soldered connections. I noticed that some of the jacks are connected to each other for mults etc. I don't have a need for mults but I do have the need to re-route which inputs are going to the outputs regularly. So basically I would like to reconfigure things back to basic ins/and outs. Anyone have any tips or advice? I've done a little bit of soldering in the past but I'm no expert. I'm also trying to determine if its worth keeping this patchbay and reinvesting the time to do the work. I think the previous owners used it for at least 10 years. Thanks.
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