The recording studio - PatchBay

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The PatchBay is a grid of connectors each with one socket for every studio connection. This way we can pick up any signal individually and send any signal to any input, by using leads (called bantam [Bantam ] from the name of the connectors they are fixed to). The following are some of the sockets we'd find on a patchbay:


  • Microphone inputs

  • Line inputs

  • Insert-return on the channels

  • Effects rack inputs

  • Multi-track recorder inputs

  • L and R to DAT inputs

  • Monitor Path inputs


  • Auxiliary sends

  • Mix bus output

  • Channel-insert sockets

  • Effects rack modules outputs

  • Group Bus outputs

  • Mix Bus

  • DAT output

In a patchbay the inputs are permanently connected to their corresponding outputs (when such correspondences indeed exist). For example, the L-R stereo output of the mixer's mix bus is always connected to the input of the equipment used to create masters of the recordings made. For example, if we use a DAT [Magnetic digital media ] as our final master media we'd have the following situation:

The recording studio - Example of patchbay usage (1)

Example of patchbay usage (1)

If we wish to record another signal (different to the one coming out of the mixer's mix bus) onto the DAT, all we need to do is connect the new signal to the patchbay's DAT IN inputs.

If we were to effectuate a mastering process on our final mix, we'd need to pass the MIX BUS's signal through the mastering module before recording it onto DAT. To do so we could try out the following:

The recording studio - Example of patchbay usage (2)

Example of patchbay usage (2)

We can see how, by inserting the connectors into the patchbay's sockets, the corresponding connections are broken in favour of the external connections. The modalities by which the internal connections of a patchbay are broken are described in the following section.

11.9.1. Fully normalized patchbays and half-normalized patchbays

The permanent connections inside a patchbay usually link the outputs to their corresponding inputs. Let's take as an example the outputs of the groups that are permanently connected to the recorder's inputs. Suppose we have a mixer with 8 groups connected to an 8-track recorder. The connections are permanent and pass through the patchbay. The following is a possible scheme:

The recording studio - PatchBay connections

PatchBay connections

The diagram shows the connections between the mixer-patchbay-multi-track recorder. We can see how inside the patchbay the connections between the outputs and inputs are permanent. Now let's see how to insert or pick up new signals along this route. We'll distinguish between fully-normalized connections and connections that are half-normalized. If the patchbay is fully normalized, when we insert a jack into any one of the two sockets that connect an output to an input, the connection between them is broken. In half-normalized patchbays, when we insert a jack into the output, the connection isn't interrupted, whereas if we insert it into the input the connection breaks off. The following diagrams show these two different behaviours:

The recording studio - Fully normalized connections

Fully normalized connections

The half-normalized patchbay has a different behaviour resumed in the following figure:

The recording studio - Half-normalized connections

Half-normalized connections

The first diagram (a) illustrates how when you insert a jack into one of the two sockets, the connection between the two is broken. The second diagram (b) shows how if we insert a connector into the output, it transfers a copy of the output signal to the lead plugged into the connector. By inserting the connector into the input (c), the connection between the output and the input is interrupted, and the signal transported by the lead plugged into the connector is routed to the input.

In recording studios you'd generally find that half-normalized patchbays are installed because they are more versatile than fully normalized patchbays.

The following picture shows a good example of a patchbay gathering connections of a complex recording studio:

The recording studio - Example of real Patchbay

Example of real Patchbay


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