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Why your studio needs a patchbay

Every professional studio has a patchbay. So there's at least one good reason to have one in your home studio. If it's good for the professionals, it must be good for you too. But there is still a 'why?' hanging here...

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Every professional studio has a patchbay. So there's at least one good reason to have one in your home studio. If it's good for the professionals, it must be good for you too. But there is still a 'why?' hanging here...

Recording studio equipment comes in all shapes and sizes, with connectors usually around the back with a variety of different connector types. If all of this equipment was connected together using point-to-point cables, then there would simply be a mass of cables all round the studio. Also, to re-configure the equipment for creative purposes would require the use of adaptor cables, and then it would be tricky getting round the back of the equipment and keeping track of what was connected to what.

So a patchbay is used, which consists of row upon row of identical connector sockets, of the kind known as 'GPO jack' or 'Type B jack' (which are the same). Usually there are 24 jacks to a row, and a studio may have anything up to twenty or more rows. (Broadcasting studios may have over a hundred!). Sometimes 'bantam' jacks are used, which are smaller. There can be up to 48 bantam jacks in each row.

Now, all that is needed is to connect the equipment to the patchbay through cabling that can be permanently installed in trunking or conduit. One piece of equipment can be connected to another using standard patchcords very easily.

The most-used configuration is set using 'normaling' where certain jacks are connected behind the panel. So even without a single patchcord inserted, the studio can function fully. And when you want to alter the configuration for a creative effect, you just plug in a patchcord and this overrides the normaling for those particular two connectors.

So if pro studios find it effective to connect all the equipment through a patchbay, then you will too. You will be amazed at how much time is saved (or released for further creativity to take place).

The other good reason is that if you become familiar with patchbays now, you are one step closer to professional practice. Which will be important if you want to work in a studio in the future.

(In the UK, a patchbay is also known as a 'jackfield')

By David Mellor Monday May 8, 2006
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