Tech Tip: Basic Audio Patch Bay Configurations

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In last week’s tech tip, How is an Audio Patch Bay Used, we talked about how patch bays can help clean up your home studio’s cabling and prevent premature connector wear. This week we address the various ways they can be set up to match your signal routing needs.

A patchbay allows you to patch in the audio signals in your studio from a central point and send them to other gear in your recording setup, such as a mixer, recorder, or effects processor. It also has the advantage of keeping all your cabling looking tidy and professional. The majority of patchbays include two rows of connectors, either RCA or 1/4" audio jacks in a single rack space configuration. On the rear, either a corresponding number of jacks or contacts for soldering signal leads can be found. On modular type bays, each group of four forms one module and you can change the configuration either using jumper cables or rotating the modules.

The following diagrams illustrate the most common ways you can set up a patch bay in your own home studio.

1. Parallel

Parallel Patch Bay Setup

In this mode, all terminals of one module are interconnected. This is used to split up and send one audio signal (for example an aux send) to several destinations (such as effects processors).

2. Half-Normalled

Half-Normalled Patch Bay Setup

In this mode, the contacts of the two jacks on the rear are interconnected. When you insert a plug into the upper front jack, the signal routed through the rear path is not interrupted. Only when the lower front jack is used will the rear panel route be split up, so that the two upper and the two lower jacks are connected to one another. This configuration is called "input break" and is used mainly for insert paths. You can easily patch the signal from a mixing console channel at the patch bay without interrupting the signal flow in the channel.

3. Normalled

Normalled Patch Bay Setup

In contrast to the half-normalled setup, the signal route of the rear jacks is interrupted when you insert a plug both into the upper and lower front jacks.

These are the most popular ways to configure a patch bay. Avoid routing digital signals over a patch bay as the pulse signal used for the transmission of digital audio causes heavy interference in analog signals. Also, normalled patchbays can change the impedance of the digital cable route, causing interference in the digital signal. For digital signals, use a patch bay specifically designed to handle them.

Check out the selection of patch bays at Musician’s Friend.

Learn more with our expert Audio Cable Buying Guide.

Tags: Cables


# Bill McDonald 2016-01-09 12:50
Hello , I was wondering if you can help me. I have a MACKIE SR40-8 Console, and a PX3000 Balanced Patchbay. , I also have a M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8 R Interface.. I have a 12 imput and 4 Output Stage Snake in the Live Room. I mainly want to record singer/songwriter and Band demo's . I also want to Track and Mix in Pro Tools 12

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