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How to use Patchbays Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 28th December 2010
  #1
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DanDaMan's Avatar
 

How to use Patchbays

Hi there fellow slutz,

I've been mixing and mastering for about 3 years now, and I feel that I am relatively good at what I do (Not that I'm trying to be big headed, but I think that my work is OK). The only problem is, I do everything ITB, and can't really remember the last time I actually used analogue gear. Because everything is ITB, I don't know how to use a patchbay properly. I think I know how to patch between gear but I don't think I know how to get things out of the desk INTO the patchbay. I also don't know how to get it out of the patchbay back to the desk.

I also vaguely remember my tutor from college saying that patching things as inserts during recording is fairly difficult.

Cheers heh
Old 28th December 2010
  #2
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NF Audio's Avatar
Basically, without writing an essay, every input and every output on every piece of gear in your studio (console line ins, console inserts, console auxiliaries, outboard in and out... everything) is connected to the rear of the patchbays.

This makes it possible to patch from the output of any piece of gear into the input of another... make sense?

Now where it gets slightly more complicated is normalling/half-normalling. I'm not going to go into great detail here, because you can google this concept. Simply put, some gear you want connected all the time. An example might be that you want the line outputs of your audio interface always connected to the line inputs on your mixing desk. You would connect the line outputs of the interface to a top row of a patchbay, and the line inputs of the console to the bottom row. You set these channels of the patch bay to half normal, and now when nothing is patched into the front of the bay, they will be automatically connected together.

These kinds of things are often hard to explain in words... just try to do as much research as possible and I'm sure the penny will drop!

Regards,

Nick.
Old 28th December 2010
  #3
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DanDaMan's Avatar
 

Cheers Nick Means a lot heh
Old 29th December 2010
  #4
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Boschen's Avatar
 

NF above has a helpful post.

I've soldered up a few patchbays. They have general conventions in layout, but they can be setup however you want them, and so are often/usually inconsistent in arrangement. Last one I worked on had a physical layout that reflected the console and rack gear below the bay, and nice color coded labels which facilitated intuitive patching. What is mildly annoying is when you have to guess at unlabeled jacks on a bay.

You're probably already familiar with the jargon of tip /ring/ sleeve, and how balanced and unbalanced cables work at the root level of a patchbay. This becomes relevant in insert world, where one part of the cable sends signal, and a different part of the cable returns it. You likey won't be inserting too many things into a channel while tracking anyway, maybe a comp or eq. Mixdown will see heavier use of the outboard processing.

So on the bay, you'd look for the insert sends for the board channel of whatever you're tracking, say a vocal. You plug a patchcord from that into the compressor (or verb or whatever) input, then plug the output back into the return of that same channel. You'll know it's working when you see signal hit the comp, and the meter on the channel; and you'll hear the effect on the signal.

It goes deeper than that, but you'll have to actually get your hands dirty in a bay. If you had a mix session in an unfamiliar studio coming up, you could ask to get in on a recording session before the setup and watch the tracking engineers work the instrument mics and DIs through the bay, and set up headphone mixes. That's a good way to learn a patchbay.
Old 29th December 2010
  #5
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DanDaMan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boschen View Post
NF above has a helpful post.

I've soldered up a few patchbays. They have general conventions in layout, but they can be setup however you want them, and so are often/usually inconsistent in arrangement. Last one I worked on had a physical layout that reflected the console and rack gear below the bay, and nice color coded labels which facilitated intuitive patching. What is mildly annoying is when you have to guess at unlabeled jacks on a bay.

You're probably already familiar with the jargon of tip /ring/ sleeve, and how balanced and unbalanced cables work at the root level of a patchbay. This becomes relevant in insert world, where one part of the cable sends signal, and a different part of the cable returns it. You likey won't be inserting too many things into a channel while tracking anyway, maybe a comp or eq. Mixdown will see heavier use of the outboard processing.

So on the bay, you'd look for the insert sends for the board channel of whatever you're tracking, say a vocal. You plug a patchcord from that into the compressor (or verb or whatever) input, then plug the output back into the return of that same channel. You'll know it's working when you see signal hit the comp, and the meter on the channel; and you'll hear the effect on the signal.

It goes deeper than that, but you'll have to actually get your hands dirty in a bay. If you had a mix session in an unfamiliar studio coming up, you could ask to get in on a recording session before the setup and watch the tracking engineers work the instrument mics and DIs through the bay, and set up headphone mixes. That's a good way to learn a patchbay.

Cheers Boschen, You're a star Thanks for you're help. I think I'm beginning to understand already thanks to you and NF. Any other info would be greatly appreciated (if you think that anything needs to be added)
Old 15th May 2011
  #6
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DanDaMan's Avatar
 

How do,

Sorry to beat a dead horse, but I just thought I'd share a Sound On Sound article which I stumbled upon.

Patchbays

I haven't read it all the way through yet, but it looks interesting so far. Hopefully this should help other people who are in my position (if there are any)

Enjoy heh
Old 16th May 2011
  #7
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choinga's Avatar
 

I just went through this excersise on my own as well. It was complicated at first and I felt like a putz for not getting it as I'm a pretty 'technical', but then there's that ah-ha moment, and it all makes sense, and it's pretty simple.

For me, I'm an ITB person as well - but I do have a couple nice pieces of external gear (Portico Compressor and EQ, CraneSong Trakker and my beloved UA 2192). The main thing I wanted to be able to do, quickly, was change my tracking scenario to a final print scenario so that I could run my mix out of my 2192's DA, into my Portico's for some more analong mojo and then back into my 2192's AD into a stereo track. Since my 2192's DA is connected to my Coleman unit for monitoring, you can only imagine what a freggin nightmare it was trying to re-cable all of that everytime I wanted to print a mix. With a patch bay, it's moving a few cables around (like 5 seconds worth) and I'm done.

After working through several scenario's - I realized the most common/logical place to start is an XLR bay. These are just straight through jacks that expose the inputs of your mic-pre's so you have an easy way to get to all of those from the front. Just label all the L/R inputs to all your mic-pre's on the XLR bay.

Now, on your patch bay...starting from the top left (OUTS are ALWAYS on TOP and INS are ALWAYS on BOTTOM) start with your outs from the mic-pre's. On the bottom you jack the "IN" for where your mic-pre is most commonly connected...in my case it's one of the inputs on my 2192. And so on... You'll want to use normal or half-normal for all of these type connections. The thing is, you want to have your patch bay wired up so that you really aren't patching anything for 75% of the usage scenario's. It's just when you want to mix up a mic-pre, or track with a compressor or EQ that you'd start patching.

For compressors, reverbs and other effects you'll want to use a 'thru' connection. You don't want the output flowing into the input all the time so you make sure that the top/bottom aren't connected. Then, when you want to wire one of them in - you just come from the outputs of your mic-pre on the patch bay, into the compressor and the patch out of the compressor to wherever you want the signal to go next.

So, I have my standard tracking configuration wired up as the 'default' on the patch bay (output of my Aurora GTQ2 into my Trakker and then into the 2192's AD). When I want to print a mix, I pull a few patch cables out and re-route the output of my 2192 to the input of my 5033 then out of there into the input of my 5043 then out of there and back into the input of my 2192. Now, in Sonar I can arm a stereo track and record my mix back through my analog gear and fully utilize the DA and AD of my 2192 when printing the mix. (and the difference in doing this is EUPHORIC!)

Easy way is start drawing it out first before actually wiring everything up. Think about your most common scenario's and then any of the other weird things you do and how you'd have those devices connected.

Hopefully that helps...
Old 16th May 2011
  #8
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DanDaMan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by choinga View Post
I just went through this excersise on my own as well. It was complicated at first and I felt like a putz for not getting it as I'm a pretty 'technical', but then there's that ah-ha moment, and it all makes sense, and it's pretty simple.

For me, I'm an ITB person as well - but I do have a couple nice pieces of external gear (Portico Compressor and EQ, CraneSong Trakker and my beloved UA 2192). The main thing I wanted to be able to do, quickly, was change my tracking scenario to a final print scenario so that I could run my mix out of my 2192's DA, into my Portico's for some more analong mojo and then back into my 2192's AD into a stereo track. Since my 2192's DA is connected to my Coleman unit for monitoring, you can only imagine what a freggin nightmare it was trying to re-cable all of that everytime I wanted to print a mix. With a patch bay, it's moving a few cables around (like 5 seconds worth) and I'm done.

After working through several scenario's - I realized the most common/logical place to start is an XLR bay. These are just straight through jacks that expose the inputs of your mic-pre's so you have an easy way to get to all of those from the front. Just label all the L/R inputs to all your mic-pre's on the XLR bay.

Now, on your patch bay...starting from the top left (OUTS are ALWAYS on TOP and INS are ALWAYS on BOTTOM) start with your outs from the mic-pre's. On the bottom you jack the "IN" for where your mic-pre is most commonly connected...in my case it's one of the inputs on my 2192. And so on... You'll want to use normal or half-normal for all of these type connections. The thing is, you want to have your patch bay wired up so that you really aren't patching anything for 75% of the usage scenario's. It's just when you want to mix up a mic-pre, or track with a compressor or EQ that you'd start patching.

For compressors, reverbs and other effects you'll want to use a 'thru' connection. You don't want the output flowing into the input all the time so you make sure that the top/bottom aren't connected. Then, when you want to wire one of them in - you just come from the outputs of your mic-pre on the patch bay, into the compressor and the patch out of the compressor to wherever you want the signal to go next.

So, I have my standard tracking configuration wired up as the 'default' on the patch bay (output of my Aurora GTQ2 into my Trakker and then into the 2192's AD). When I want to print a mix, I pull a few patch cables out and re-route the output of my 2192 to the input of my 5033 then out of there into the input of my 5043 then out of there and back into the input of my 2192. Now, in Sonar I can arm a stereo track and record my mix back through my analog gear and fully utilize the DA and AD of my 2192 when printing the mix. (and the difference in doing this is EUPHORIC!)

Easy way is start drawing it out first before actually wiring everything up. Think about your most common scenario's and then any of the other weird things you do and how you'd have those devices connected.

Hopefully that helps...
Cheers for the reply choinga, that's great info
Old 9th September 2011
  #9
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DanDaMan's Avatar
 

I have found some more info on Patchbays, thanks to everyone who posted on this thread. I think that I am starting to get more confident on them now because of the vast wealth of information on this forum

I think it's my turn to share something now:

Burning Grooves | Patchbays explained - Part 2

There's 3 pages of stuff about them, but I've only shown you page 2, because that explains things like normalled, half-normalled, thru & parallel connections.

Enjoy heh
Old 24th April 2013
  #10
Here for the gear
 

I've been studying this. Someone please confirm this is correct.

All your gear gets hooked up in the back. The front panel holes are for doing something different from your normal setup. Just think of how you would hook things up if you didn't have a patch bay. With nothing in front it's like the patch bay is a cable extender. Remember this. Hook things up so signal flows from top to bottom. ie; Take a Mic preamp output and patch into the top rear of the patchbay number 1. Patch a cable in the bottom rear of number 1 into your interface input. You now have a Mic preamp ready to record a vocal because in normal mode your signal flow is always connected unless you patch something into the front in the corresponding number 1. Remember top is output, bottom is input so signal is going with gravity. If want the micpre signal to go somewhere else you plug a cable on the top front into where ever you want it it to go. Then you can bring it back to your interface by patching in the bottom after you send it to say a compressor or something. If you want to use that interface input and bypass the micpre then plug a patch cable on the bottom number 1. This will interrupt the signal chain from the micpre to the interface in normal mode.
Old 24th April 2013
  #11
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octatonic's Avatar
Outputs on top row, inputs on the bottom row.
It is a common mistake for people to reverse this.
Old 24th September 2013
  #12
Here for the gear
My first time setting up patchbays

Hey All,

I am in the processes of opening a professional recording studio. I have the rooms done and installed most of what I will be using for gear in the control room. However, I am having a major issue with my patchbay.

I want to have a compressor (EL-8 Distressor) setup so I can take a preamped mic signal and process it during tracking.

I know this is a contentious issue at best, but I personally like to compress a kick drum mic during tracking or squash a room mic to get beefy room ambiance.

All my signals flow fine to the preamp. Once I take out of the front top jack A of the mic pre to the bottom front input jack B of the Distressor, I get no signal manifesting in the Distressor.

I have the Distressor connected in the back so that top rear input A is the Distressor output and that the bottom rear output B is the Distressor input.

My patchbay is a neutrik 48 point running in half normalled mode.

I hope this is the appropriate place to ask this question. Any help or insight would be much appreciated. I know it is something very simple that I have over looked. And yes, I have double checked all my connections. I think I am getting bogged down in what constitutes input and output on a patchbay. Thanks

Stefan
Old 24th September 2013
  #13
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bogosort's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by conquerallmusic View Post
All my signals flow fine to the preamp. Once I take out of the front top jack A of the mic pre to the bottom front input jack B of the Distressor, I get no signal manifesting in the Distressor.

I have the Distressor connected in the back so that top rear input A is the Distressor output and that the bottom rear output B is the Distressor input.
Hi, welcome to the board.

Just so we're clear, because these things can be confusing to describe, let's say that your patchbay is set up like this in the back:

Patchbay 1A (top) is connected to preamp output.
Patchbay 2A (top) is connected to Distressor output.
Patchbay 2B (bottom) is connected to Distressor input.
Patchbay 11B (bottom) is connected to interface input one.

On the front of the patchbay, you're patching 1A to 2B, yes? From there you'd patch 2A to 11B, which would bring the output of the Distressor to channel one input on your interface.

If that's how you have it set up, then something is physically wrong. First thing I'd do is confirm that the Distressor itself can receive signal. Try plugging directly from your preamp out to Distressor in (i.e., skip the patchbay). If you confirm signal at the Distressor (lights blink and such), then either one of your patch cables is broken, or the patchbay I/O itself is broken. Try new cables; if that doesn't fix it, try a different patchbay channel.

Let us know if you're still having problems.
Old 24th September 2013
  #14
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weezul's Avatar
went through this same rite of passage just over a year ago... no one would tell me HOW to change between normal/half normal/thru. You physically pull the units out and rotate them round!!! Makes so much sense, but at the time... jeez.
Old 24th September 2013
  #15
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BillSimpkins's Avatar
Remember to "un-normal" all patchbay points where you connect outboard gear before you wire them to the patchbay, else you may quick create a feedback loop and fry your gear. Only normal or half-normal patch points where are feedback loop is not possible.

Also, this is a good source Patch panel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Old 10th November 2014
  #16
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foamboy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDaMan View Post
I have found some more info on Patchbays, thanks to everyone who posted on this thread. I think that I am starting to get more confident on them now because of the vast wealth of information on this forum

I think it's my turn to share something now:

Burning Grooves | Patchbays explained - Part 2

There's 3 pages of stuff about them, but I've only shown you page 2, because that explains things like normalled, half-normalled, thru & parallel connections.

Enjoy heh
In this article they refer to the term "open". Is this the same as through? The diagram looks the same,but just confirming.

Thanks,

fb
Old 10th November 2014
  #17
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nosebleedaudio's Avatar
 

Sounds like they really have not been around much...
There are only 3 from what I have seen & wired;
Normalled, half, and none..Like Tie lines..
It ALL depends on what you plan on connecting to a section...
Half norm is common for things like tape returns, where you want to send that track to a compressor Plus to the line ins of the console...
Tape out to the machine would be the same, signal goes to two inputs at the same time, no need of a Mult..
I always have several Mults on a bay..
Old 4th December 2015
  #18
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Open is Thru, UK/USA parlance on a jack field Patchbay so....you'd have:

Normal open (Normal)
Normal half (Half Normaled jacks)
Thru (open or direct input/Output as on back of unit)
Parallel (Multiple tied patch points sending one channel to three)
Phase (Change polarity )
Tie Lines ( To other rooms and or wall boxes and mic preamps XLR strips work best here not TRS)
Stereo (two jacks tied together so you can use a Reverb output in Mono though it's fed stereo)
Etc.

Hope that helps the Atlantic divide!
Old 4th December 2015
  #19
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code green's Avatar
If you're going for an unsoldered, 1/4" patchbay...the Samson is actually very robust and has front-panel switching for normalled, half-normalled, and through.
Old 5th December 2015
  #20
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I would choose a 1/4 TRS Patchbay with the least parts possible so that means no switches, contacts or any mechanical anything save jacks and cards, then you have a ground connection as well as no parts save PCB and TRS jacks for each side. I'd go Neutrik as they a steel, and solid, you can flip the boards, get as Many...grounds as you like....and in 2 years when that $60 buck Patchbay is crackeling, grab another! Cheap TRS jacks and use XLR strips for Microphones phantom power always off. The only extra might be a lacing bar etc. you could use blank one rack unit facials for that though!

Again anything that has minimal parts, so PCB ground, and Jack plugs!
Old 5th December 2015
  #21
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code green's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLastByte View Post
I would choose a 1/4 TRS Patchbay with the least parts possible so that means no switches, contacts or any mechanical anything save jacks and cards, then you have a ground connection as well as no parts save PCB and TRS jacks for each side. I'd go Neutrik as they a steel, and solid, you can flip the boards, get as Many...grounds as you like....and in 2 years when that $60 buck Patchbay is crackeling, grab another! Cheap TRS jacks and use XLR strips for Microphones phantom power always off. The only extra might be a lacing bar etc. you could use blank one rack unit facials for that though!

Again anything that has minimal parts, so PCB ground, and Jack plugs!

I dunno, I've seen Neutrik slagged pretty hard on these forums for their build quality and reliability. For example:

Patchbay - loss of audio quality? Neutrik NYS-SPP-L

high end patchbay with switches for normalling etc?


Meanwhile, the switches on the Samson boards are pretty much set and forget--it's not like I or most people move or would move them around a lot. I haven't touched mine since I first wired my bays...but it made that initial job easier.
Old 6th December 2015
  #22
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Well I can only say that if you have small to medium Outboard then sure a few 1/4 TRS bays might be for you, though in using many and changing configurations on the patch bays when you end up yearly getting and acquiring Audio gear, you need to change the patching around. If not cool, though I wouldn't take to much stock in what's easy to use...learning to use them and getting long results would be my first desire, thus no contact switches, nor anything to make a buzz and stop a ground connect etc...still up to you!
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