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Half-normal Patchbay ninjitsu
Old 17th June 2009
  #1
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Storyville's Avatar
Half-normal Patchbay ninjitsu

So, this is my first time doing ground up patchbay work. I have a half-normal patchbay, which can be opened up and switched around to work in isolated in-out fashion.

The rig is an mbox, running 4 channels in and out, and a 5/6 TRS channel output only. Outputs 1-2 are the mains. The output of Mbox 1-2 will always be hardwired to a monitor mixer. Everything else is variable. The question is, what is logistically the best way to both (a) create a simple and intuitive scheme, and (b) maximize the number of possible simultaneous inputs and outputs.

The half-normal setup creates all sorts of possibilites, and presents some potential hazards.

For example, say the A row is In, the B row is Out. If there is a Compressor on patch 6, the A Back and B Back are connected. If a signal is connected through A Front, it will hit the Compressor, then go out B Back which will continue to feed A Back and create a feedback loop.

Now suppose A is Out, and B is In (a more common scenerio). Let's say MBox 1 & 2 will be patch 1 and 2 respectively. A Back is output of Mbox. B Back is feeding the monitor mixer, to the monitors. Say you want to run a previously recorded guitar track to an outboard processor, then back into channel inputs 1 & 2 on the Mbox. If you go into B Front of 1& 2, you will loose your monitor feed.

A third option is to have the Ins and Outs of the Mbox on seperate patches, but that sort of kills the simplicity and intuitiveness of the patchbay.

Hopefully that all made sense. Anybody have any thoughts to help a ninja out?
Old 17th June 2009
  #2
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Storyville's Avatar
half normal bump
Old 17th June 2009
  #3
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
SFor example, say the A row is In, the B row is Out. If there is a Compressor on patch 6, the A Back and B Back are connected. If a signal is connected through A Front, it will hit the Compressor, then go out B Back which will continue to feed A Back and create a feedback loop.

First, outputs are ALWAYS on the top row. Inputs are ALWAYS on the bottom row.

Feedback loop??? Or are you talking about GROUND loops? On a piece of gear like what you are suggesting - "compresser" - you use ins and outs that are NOT normaled. Like tie lines. Normaled/Half Normaled uses are for things like a tape machine feeding a console input. Console group outs feeding a DAW input. Etc. NOT the output of piece A feeding into the input of piece A.
Old 17th June 2009
  #4
Gear Head
 

I'm in the process of setting up my first patchbay as well. what other gear do you have that you want hooked into the PB? drbill is correct – you wouldn't normal your compressor (ie: input should not be connected directly above the output). they'd be in adjacent slots. list out some of your other gear and i'll see if I can help. best thing is to start drawing out diagrams. it'll help you picture the signal paths.
Old 17th June 2009
  #5
Gear Head
 

here's a modified version of my diagram with your Mbox. All connections on this diagram are made in the back of a half-normalled PB. so A1-A4 are always connected to B1-B4, unless something is plugged into the FRONT of B1-B4. So for example:

You want to run your stereo synth > compressor > MBox for tracking:
• connect A1&A2 to B7&B8 (on front panel) to send synth to compressor
• connect A9&A10 to B1&B2 (on front panel) to return compressed synth to MBox

Or to run a recorded DAW track to your outboard compressor:
• set track outputs to MBox 3/4. Create new track set to inputs 1/2.
• connect A5&A6 to B7&B8 (on front panel) to send track to compressor
• connect A9&A10 to B1&B2 (on front panel) to return compressed track to MBox

Old 18th June 2009
  #6
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Storyville's Avatar
Devices are:
1. Mbox
2. 2 Channel Vintech Preamp
3. 2 Channel Phoenix DRS2 Preamp
4. Joemeek Compressor
5. UA 6176 Preamp & Compressor (joint/split)
6. Furman Reverb Unit
7. Guitar Pedal Spring Reverb Unit
8. Custom made unmarked Mystery Preamp (2 Channel)
9. Reamp
Old 18th June 2009
  #7
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Mike Brown's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
First, outputs are ALWAYS on the top row. Inputs are ALWAYS on the bottom row.

Not always!

They should be always like that.... but they are not.
Old 18th June 2009
  #8
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Storyville's Avatar
Well, that's exactly why I posted up. No upside down patchbays.

Right now I have a semi-convoluted system.

A1-7 are outs of preamps.
A8-9 are outs of compressors.
A10+ are for outboard effects.
somewhere are A are going to be the outs for Mbox

B1-4 are either going to be the ins for the MBox
B5-7 are open
B8-9 are ins for corresponding compressors.
B10+ are ins for corresponding outboard effects.

There was some logic to why it's being setup that way, with the outs of the MBox being somewhere around A10, and the ins at B1-4. I don't remember what it was though, and it seems a bit strange to me now.
Old 18th June 2009
  #9
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theblotted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cleft View Post
here's a modified version of my diagram with your Mbox. All connections on this diagram are made in the back of a half-normalled PB. so A1-A4 are always connected to B1-B4, unless something is plugged into the FRONT of B1-B4. So for example:

You want to run your stereo synth > compressor > MBox for tracking:
• connect A1&A2 to B7&B8 (on front panel) to send synth to compressor
• connect A9&A10 to B1&B2 (on front panel) to return compressed synth to MBox

Or to run a recorded DAW track to your outboard compressor:
• set track outputs to MBox 3/4. Create new track set to inputs 1/2.
• connect A5&A6 to B7&B8 (on front panel) to send track to compressor
• connect A9&A10 to B1&B2 (on front panel) to return compressed track to MBox

or if you use the compressor as 2bus comp or just really often in general, you can normal the MBox's Out 3-4 to input of Comp, then output of Comp into MBox In 3-4.

this way you don't have to patch every time, and you can still use diff chains like other outboard (with or without the said Comp) by repatching.

my photoshop skills are limited, but this is the basic idea:
Attached Thumbnails
Half-normal Patchbay ninjitsu-fixedpatchbay.jpg  
Old 18th June 2009
  #10
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theblotted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
Devices are:
1. Mbox
2. 2 Channel Vintech Preamp
3. 2 Channel Phoenix DRS2 Preamp
4. Joemeek Compressor
5. UA 6176 Preamp & Compressor (joint/split)
6. Furman Reverb Unit
7. Guitar Pedal Spring Reverb Unit
8. Custom made unmarked Mystery Preamp (2 Channel)
9. Reamp
if i were you, i'd just normal the most used preamp into MBox, and make the rest parallel. less headache, faster workflow.
Old 19th June 2009
  #11
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Storyville's Avatar
The way I would LIKE to do it, is connect the Mbox Out 1-2 directly to the monitor mixer (and then into the monitor). I'd leave A1-2 inactive. Then run 3-4 outs to A3-4 on the bay. I'd use B1-4 as the Mbox Ins 1-4. Then continue down the A row with the outs of the pres. The B row of the pres would be inactive, as there is a snake running into the ins. The keep it going with the processors. Any two bus work can just be sent from Pro Tools master outs 3-4, and then retracked. It might not be the best way to conserve space, but it makes everything very intuitive to have all the devices A OUT in line with B IN.
Old 19th June 2009
  #12
Gear Addict
 
TC Custom Audio's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
First, outputs are ALWAYS on the top row. Inputs are ALWAYS on the bottom row.

Feedback loop??? Or are you talking about GROUND loops? On a piece of gear like what you are suggesting - "compresser" - you use ins and outs that are NOT normaled. Like tie lines. Normaled/Half Normaled uses are for things like a tape machine feeding a console input. Console group outs feeding a DAW input. Etc. NOT the output of piece A feeding into the input of piece A.
What about east coast versus west coast? I prefer console/tape machine outputs on the top row and inputs on the bottom row. For outboard, I prefer the opposite arrangement. I believe this is west coast style.

I'm not making this up. Please, somebody stop me if I'm way off base.
Old 19th June 2009
  #13
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theblotted's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Storyville View Post
The way I would LIKE to do it, is connect the Mbox Out 1-2 directly to the monitor mixer (and then into the monitor). I'd leave A1-2 inactive. Then run 3-4 outs to A3-4 on the bay. I'd use B1-4 as the Mbox Ins 1-4. Then continue down the A row with the outs of the pres. The B row of the pres would be inactive, as there is a snake running into the ins. The keep it going with the processors. Any two bus work can just be sent from Pro Tools master outs 3-4, and then retracked. It might not be the best way to conserve space, but it makes everything very intuitive to have all the devices A OUT in line with B IN.
you should do what you feel is most intuitive and comfortable. you'll work faster, and won't let the technical side bother you from being creative - which is what this whole thing is about... making music.

you don't have much gear, so you're okay... for now.

i started the same way like that too. but i soon realized that when i started to acquire more outboard - i needed to conserve space, and figure out ways so that i don't have to patch/repatch so often (esp w/ pre's and most used pieces).

really depends on how fast you get slutty hehheh
Old 19th June 2009
  #14
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sannytown View Post
What about east coast versus west coast? I prefer console/tape machine outputs on the top row and inputs on the bottom row. For outboard, I prefer the opposite arrangement. I believe this is west coast style.

I'm not making this up. Please, somebody stop me if I'm way off base.
LOL I've never heard of that, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I'd be second guessing all the time with that setup. I'm on the West coast BTW. Outputs have always been on top on the studio's I've worked at to the best of my memory.
Old 19th June 2009
  #15
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblotted View Post
really depends on how fast you get slutty hehheh
Agreed there. I used to do things to save rack real estate, save money, save time, buy less bays, consolidate multiple i/o onto one bay. 20 years, thousands of feet of multipair, countless burned fingers and multiple patchbay revisions later, I FINALLY decided to do it 100% no compromises. It cost a LOT of money. If I had it done, it would have run me $30,000+. But I will never have to do another patchbay again. I may ADD to it, but it is organized, there is no compromise or illogical layout and it's all elco now so I'm finally happy.

Patchbays are a beautiful thing. Keep in mind that however you wire it, as long as you bring all the i/o up on the bay, you can always patch around it. happiness
Old 19th June 2009
  #16
Gear Nut
 
bonneybear's Avatar
 

I always put my inputs on top and outs on the bottom, makes more sense to me and mimics the actual signal flow, 1/2 normalled must be used for inserts. I also have recently have hooked a non normalled bay up this way. Top row back has mic pre in,and studio snake, so when no cable is inserted the snake feeds the pre. When a patch cable is inserted it breaks the connection of snake to pre and give me access directly to the pre. the bottom row is the pre output. I'll let you know how it works...
Old 25th January 2010
  #17
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payne104's Avatar
If youre sending audio out to that nice of compressors you should probably invest in better ad/da than just using the mbox to convert
Old 25th January 2010
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

omg this is stressig me out right now too

I am awaiting some more gear and figuring the patch process. So far I have rotated the pod on the back of the mackie onyx 1640 so all I/O is facing up right below my 2 rows of patch bays. This way I didn't need to eat up any patch points for the mixer I/O. Now I have 6 channels of comps all with SIde chain inputs, an stereo effects unit, apogee duet, 8 in 6 out summing mixer, 12 in 12 out converters, a a couple preamps with insert points, a presonus monitor station and 2 sets of powered monitors. Right now everything is half normalled. I have not got it all set up yet so I can't say its right but I am trying to figure out if half normalled will be a problem. My concern lies mostly in the monitor / monitor controller patching
Old 2nd October 2010
  #19
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drumdrumdrumdrum's Avatar
 

I've been doing a lot of research on here about patch bays as I'm upgrading from a TRS nutriks to a ADC punch type TT PB.

I've had a couple of revelations about signal flow.

It makes complete sense and is a lot simple to just think of wiring up my studio as if there was NO PB. So I snake all my keyboards to my mixer, run all my stage boxes into my pres etc etc. Than all I do is cut my snakes half way! I then feed the ins of the snakes into the top of my punchs of the ADC and the other end of the cable I just cut into the bottom. This has really helped me understand what snakes I need and how to patch.

Also never realized that TRS stands for: Tip, Ring, Sleeve. lol

Wiring for dummies...........

Thanks for the thread guys
Old 2nd October 2010
  #20
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Stitch333's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Brown View Post
Not always!

They should be always like that.... but they are not.
Whoever tech wires inputs over outputs should be fired immediately.

We use half normals at the studio mostly for monitoring.
1-32 Apogee outputs are half normaled to 1-32 Dangerous inputs.
We'll patch out of the apogee half normals to create a good monitor mix
in the aviom system.
Otherwise, I've always found a regular ol' patching bay is fine and handy.
Old 2nd October 2010
  #21
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DarkSky Media's Avatar
Ouputs on top and inputs below here, with the signal paths moving downwards (occasionally L to R also) through the rack of bays. thumbsup
Old 2nd October 2010
  #22
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Marcocet's Avatar
Now don't get me wrong, I think patchbays are the greatest thing since zombie jesus but...

It kinda sounds like the patchbay is making your rig MORE complicated as opposed to LESS. There are only a few pieces. You could just plug them into each other. A patchbay only really becomes useful when you're talking about so many points it would be impossible to keep them all straight in your head. I would ditch it and just get to work!

Either way good luck.
Old 13th October 2010
  #23
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drumdrumdrumdrum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcocet View Post
Now don't get me wrong, I think patchbays are the greatest thing since zombie jesus but...

It kinda sounds like the patchbay is making your rig MORE complicated as opposed to LESS. There are only a few pieces. You could just plug them into each other. A patchbay only really becomes useful when you're talking about so many points it would be impossible to keep them all straight in your head. I would ditch it and just get to work!

Either way good luck.
Great advice for this case
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