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Old 10th August 2018
Lives for gear

Patchbays in general, and particularly ones that let you normal or half-normal on a per-pair basis - preferably with a front facing switch per pair, are probably the most unsung hero piece of kit in all of music gear.

Half-Normaling is like a Y cable where one side is always connected and you optionally plug into the other side any time you want to split the signal. Like: right before an effect unit, where the source signal comes in, and one side always forwards to the effect IN, and the other side let's you grab the source pre-effect and do something else with it in parallel, out to a different effect or whatever... where the action of plugging in the patch cable does *not* interrupt the original path... it's an optional AND circuit.

A Normaled version is an OR circuit... where the patch cable interrupts A and goes to B instead.

And with both Normal and Half Normal turned off, the Patchbay is just cable ends that don't go anywhere by default.

All of which are immensely useful in a studio situation, whether it's just a few pieces of gear or dozens. Most every professional studio in history is chocked full of lots of them, configured as needed based on what they find most convenient.

Sometimes it's just to "relocate" rear mounted jacks to a more easily accessible location, such as a rack mount EQ at the bottom of a big rack across the room.

The choices one makes in setting your Patchbay generally won't be obvious on day 1, and instead surface X-days/weeks/months later after you've undone and redone some patch a dozen times and want to make that more convenient.

And for the ~$200-500 one (and the associated cables) cost, as compared to the (often) thousands of dollars spent on the gear plugged into it, it's cheap cheap...

If someone wants to plug both CV and Audio signals into the same Patchbay but keep them easily separated, make sure the normal and half-normal are disabled and plug all of the CV along the top and all audio along the bottom row, or the inverse. There are many ways to do all this, it's just an example...

One thing to watch out for is how the sources behave when *they* have a cable plugged in (which in this case would go to a Patchbay), because each source will have its own plain/normal/half-normal behavior and sometimes you have to keep things plugged into the Patchbay but leave the cables hanging at the source end, so that the mere act of hooking up the source to the Patchbay doesn't interfere with your most common use case for that particular source.

Easier than it sounds, and super flexible. And once you're in the habit of imagining and making patches using a patchbay your options increase, as in the case of creative uses of parallel processing (much like the idea of a Wet/Dry knob or a DJ crossfader on steroids), say - source A goes to a Fuzz and an Overdrive and after all that you're fading between or blending clean/fuzz/OD as you please (or a thousand other examples).