Tech Tip: How is an Audio Patch Bay Used?

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A patch bay enables you to change the signal flow among the devices in your studio without having to crawl behind all your gear and unplug/replug your cables. In addition to eliminating that hassle, patch bays save wear and tear on the jacks of your equipment. Audio patch bays are switchboards for rerouting audio signals; there are also MIDI patch bays for—you guessed it—rerouting MIDI signals.

Nady PB48 Patch Bay

The very affordable Nady PB48 Patch Bay will help clean up your snake’s nest of cables and eliminate the constant plugging and unplugging of gear that can trash your jacks.

An audio patch bay is a panel which contains rows of input and output jacks. On rack-mountable patch bays used in home and project studios, there are typically two rows of jacks on the rear panel and two rows of jacks on the front panel. Devices such as mixers, processors and recorders can be plugged into the patch bay.

Patch bay jack sizes include 1/4" (balanced TRS or unbalanced), RCA, and TT (Tiny Telephone, used in some commercial studios to save space).

Patch bay jacks are arranged in vertical pairs. A jack on the upper row of the rear of the patch bay receives a signal from the output of a device. The jack immediately below it, on the bottom row of the rear of the patch bay, sends the signal to the input of a device.

A pair of patch bay jacks can be normalled, half-normalled, or de-normalled. Next week we'll describe each of these patch bay modes.

Learn more with our expert Audio Cable Buying Guide.

Tags: Cables

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