Patch bay questions

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th0mas
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Patch bay questions

Post by th0mas » Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:18 pm

HI

I'm looking to dive into a patch bay. I have a bunch of pedals, some rack FX, a space echo, etc.. and I want to be able to patch a signal path on the fly and then send it to my octatrack or machinedrum to sample, or send to my interface to record.

I just have a few questions.

- Do you just end up spending hundreds of dollars on more 1/4" cables and patch cables? Are there like "patch bay starter kits" I am not seeing?
- Should this also be the point where I start moving my studio to balanced TRS cables instead of all 1/4" mono cables? Can I run half TRS and half mono?
- Any suggestions on brands to avoid or good quality starter 48 point patchbays please send 'em my way

(tried search for a few minutes, didn't find this thread already)

Thanks!

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Michael O.
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Re: Patch bay questions

Post by Michael O. » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:24 pm

1. Unfortunately, there’s no real workaround or alternative and the outlay will be in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on scale and quality.

2. If you’re going to go the distance and get a patchbay, it’s best to do it right- in other words, I’d go trs/balanced, and I wouldn’t use 1/4” at all, but rather Tiny Telephone/bantam. TT is a good bit smaller (i.e. greater functional density per square inch) and more robust than 1/4” jacks and plugs.

3. I’d say the standard is probably ADC, they have a bajillion different variations and are of a very high quality.

So, that all may sound a little disheartening, but there are things you can do to minimize the cost. Specifically, wiring the patchbay (whether solder, punchblock, or whatever) yourself is a huge money saver, as is building the cables yourself. Those two things may sound like a lot I’d you haven’t much experience with soldering, but in practice it could not be easier, and the enduring benefits of the money saved and abilities gained far outweigh the initial monetary cost of a solder station and the opportunity cost of learning the ropes.

It’s a major undertaking, but don’t be discouraged: it will cost a lot in terms of time and money, but time is money in a very real sense, and having a well thought out and installed patchbay enables one to ultimately save an immense amount of time and headache compared to crawling behind a rack and manually rerouting everything every single time you want to alter a signal chain.

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dubonaire
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Re: Patch bay questions

Post by dubonaire » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:58 pm

For a different perspective, I have a Samson S-patch plus 48 point 1/4" balanced patchbay. http://www.samsontech.com/samson/produc ... atch-plus/

A good feature of the Samson is you can configure the normaling from the front with 3-way mode switches.

I bought 24 1/4" TRS patch cables and the Samson from Amazon (I need to buy everything online where I live). $120 for the patchbay and $50 for the cables. But you are unlikely to ever need all of the 24 cables at once anyway.

Maybe I have bad ears but I can't tell any difference in the signal going through the patchbay or not. It is, after all, just a couple of additional connections in the signal path. As for durability you'll never come close to wearing them out.

A good tip is to make a spreadsheet of the patch connections at the rear. All you really need to remember is everything comes in the top row and goes out the bottom row. Outputs of gear to the top row, inputs to gear from the bottom row. There are plenty of resources on the web about how to use the different normaling options.

I use balanced TRS and XLR cables in the studio. Some will say you don't need them but I have none of the noise problems that seem to plague many people.

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SyndieBot2000XL
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Re: Patch bay questions

Post by SyndieBot2000XL » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:24 pm

I wouldn’t bother going unbalanced - you’ll introduce a *lot* of noise (really a LOT, impossible to exaggerate this) into your system, and you’ll likely be mismatching impedances all over the place to boot. I set up an unbalanced patchbay about fifteen years ago: it didn’t last very long. So much stray buzzing and noise, it finally just wasn’t worth the headache - I did get pretty damn good at soldering 1/4” tr cables though :hihi:

A couple years ago I decided I wanted to try again and do it right this time - all balanced connections end to end, impedance matchers for the unbalanced stuff - it sounds gloriously clean and I can patch whatever kind of crazy signal chain I need without noticeably degrading the signal. Of course within a couple months of getting this finished I started my way down the eurorack rabbit hole and never recorded anything again ahhahaha :deadbanana: :deadbanana:
It began as a mistake.

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GuyaGuy
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Re: Patch bay questions

Post by GuyaGuy » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:37 pm

th0mas wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:18 pm
- Do you just end up spending hundreds of dollars on more 1/4" cables and patch cables? Are there like "patch bay starter kits" I am not seeing?
You can buy TRS cable snakes which can make things easier and cleaner depending on how your rack is set up. I have a combination.
th0mas wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:18 pm
- Should this also be the point where I start moving my studio to balanced TRS cables instead of all 1/4" mono cables? Can I run half TRS and half mono?
You should go balanced whenever possible. Of course not all devices are balanced so you might end up with a combination of devices.
th0mas wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:18 pm
- Any suggestions on brands to avoid or good quality starter 48 point patchbays please send 'em my way
The Samson S-patch plus 48 that dubonaire suggested. Definitely. With others you have to take out the module and flip it to switch it to normalled for example. The switch makes it so much easier to set up and change if you need.

Also: Invest in a label maker to label your patchbay. Also useful for labeling the cables in the back.

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dubonaire
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Re: Patch bay questions

Post by dubonaire » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:45 pm

GuyaGuy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:37 pm
th0mas wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 5:18 pm
- Do you just end up spending hundreds of dollars on more 1/4" cables and patch cables? Are there like "patch bay starter kits" I am not seeing?
You can buy TRS cable snakes which can make things easier and cleaner depending on how your rack is set up. I have a combination.
Yes agree I use snakes as much as possible.

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th0mas
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Re: Patch bay questions

Post by th0mas » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:54 am

Thanks everyone!

My buddy is giving me 4 patchbays for a beer and the condition I take all of them, so I'll start there. I need to assess how much of the gear going into the patchbay is even balanced at all, but will start to move to TRS where it will be a complete circuit to my interface.

I'm already dealing with guitar pedal impedance issues, so I am only planning on patching up the pedals that are decent at it, like the eventide space.

Thanks!

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