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Quick, dumb patchbay question...


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Hey all,

 

I'm going to get a Samson S Patch Plus for my studio, and I have a quick question about balanced/unbalanced cables and patch cables. I read the manual, and this topic wasn't covered.

 

I'm using it for line level synths, and most of these instruments use 1/4" TS instrument cables (unbalanced). The patchbay is balanced, and the end destination will either be my Mackie compact mixer or my RME Multiface (both of which can receive balanced TRS or unbalanced TS connectors). The patch bay is simply there to allow me to quickly divert these instruments away from the Mackie and send the signals directly to my RME.

 

So given that the signal is fundamentally unbalanced, I would presume that the cables leaving the patch bay should also be 1/4" TS instrument cables. I'm not certain what I should use for patch cables on the front. Should they be 1/4" TRS, or 1/4" TS since it's an unbalanced signal? Does it even matter?

 

Is there anything special I should consider for the front patch cables? I'm going to have them made, so is there any construction you would recommend (i.e. foil vs. braid, a special connector, etc)?

 

Thanks in advance for the help.

 

 

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You can go unbalanced TS cables on both sides (front/back) of the patchbay. There's no advantage in running TRS cables from the bay to the Mackie if you're feeding the bay's inputs unbalanced signals.

 

I have never seen that Samson patchbay before. I kind of like how they did the normal switches on the front panel. Are they recessed a bit?

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Good question Phil (and thanks for the answer to my question).

 

I don't have it yet, so it's hard to tell if they're recessed. I've read in many forums that it's a really robust unit. I won't be swapping cables much, so I expect it to last a long time.

 

I looked at the hard-wired approach (long frames, bantams, etc.), but for my small studio and changing needs, it's more effort than it's worth. I'll just stick to simple 1/4" jacks for now.

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If you use an unbalaced TS cable, it will tie one of the balaced lines (the R of the TRS connector) to ground resulting in the rest of that particular signal path being unbalaced.

 

If I was doing it, I would use balanced lines from the patch bay to the destinations making the front of the pach bay ready to accept either balanced or unbalanced inputs without the need to think about it.

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If you use an unbalaced TS cable, it will tie one of the balaced lines (the R of the TRS connector) to ground resulting in the rest of that particular signal path being unbalaced.

 

If I was doing it, I would use balanced lines from the patch bay to the destinations making the front of the pach bay ready to accept either balanced or unbalanced inputs without the need to think about it.

 

It's definitely the better approach, and one that will allow for the use of balanced sources if he should ever want to go that route, but if he's certain he's never going to be using balanced sources, there's no advantage to it either.

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I used a Tascam patch bay I bought used for a long time. Then the plastic jacks started to become intermittent so I tried cleaning them with contact cleaner. Big mistake. The jacks started to disintegrate within 6 months. The Jacks are made of some PVC material instead of metal or Nylon and the contact cleaner wiped them out.

 

After some research I found you could buy the jacks but the cost is prohibitive to repair the unit. The jacks in all your budget units that have the red and/or white plastic jacks are all the same stuff. All your budget patch bays use them. Your expensive and vintage bays use the good telephone jacks that will last a lifetime but many of those have to be Hard wired.

 

I bought a Behringer Bay based on price. The build is as good as any others I've seen.

 

For patch cables I went cheap and bought a couple of dozen of the molded plastic type, both TS and TRS. I have others that I made myself that have the metal ends for pedal boards. I don't do allot of patch changes so the plastic ones hold up find for me. They are color coded which makes it easy to identify what's going on too.

 

My Patch Bay is used to connect all my studio mics to my interface. The back side has the ins from snakes and mics and preamps that are semi fixed throughout the studio. The outs on the patch bay connect to the multi channel interface.

 

When nothing is connected to the front of the patch bay, the back connections are straight through.

When I want to connect other gear to the interface to multitrack I simply plug into the front and the fixed studio mics are disconnected.

Sure makes life easy.

 

I only use 16 mics so I have 8 open patches which I use to connect some rack compressors and effects units. I can for example loop my Kick of snare drum through a compressor and beef them up when tracking or loop guitars or vocals when multitracking. I haven't had any issues using the plastic connectors with hum or decreased frequency response. The wires are short in any case. I do get one that fails occasionally and just throw them out and get another. You can buy them by the dozen for like $5 so I'm not worried about having the highest quality cables there.

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Hey guys.

 

Any special recommendations for patch cables?

 

Quad mic cable? Foil? Braided?

 

 

Not particularly... did you have anything in particular you were considering?

 

Can you solder? If so, you can always roll your own and maybe save a few bucks with some connectors and a spool of decent wire... :idea:

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Audiopile.net, who advertises here, has solid, quality cables as well as components for DIY, at very reasonable prices, and is an absolute pleasure to deal with. Mark's a long-time regular contributor (as "audiopile") over in Live Sound, and as such is very much available for suggestions and questions.

Edited by Craig Vecchione
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You cant make your own cables cheaper then you can buy them. I used to be able to do it because I worked in the business and could buy cable and connectors at wholesale costs. Now the cost of cable and decent connectors is prohibitive at most vendors. I occasionally find deals on EBay where I can buy quality connectors in bulk but you risk getting burned. The last batch I bought looked exactly like Switch craft but wound up being cheap Chinese counterfeits.

 

The problem with Cheap connectors is they are riveted and held together by pressure. As soon as you heat them the cheap plastic insulators melt and the whole plug gets loose and gives you connection problems. The better connectors are one piece construction or have Bakelite insulators which don't melt when soldering. These usually cost between $3~5 each now. Anything cheaper isn't worth buying. You may get it solder but a few tugs on the sleeve and they fail. Definitely not something you want to use on a patch bay.

 

For pre made cables and quality connectors you can buy on ebay and just go pot luck for quality. http://www.ebay.com/bhp/guitar-patch-cables

 

 

I been using Monoprice connectors because I can get something decent and not have to worry about it. These are $3 each. I cant get the same quality and build my own cables for that price any more. http://www.monoprice.com/category?c_id=102&cp_id=10244&cs_id=1150901

 

These are the right angle type.

 

 

 

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These are fifty cents more because of the gold plating. The shortest in the straight cables is 1.5'. The shortest in the right angle are 8"

 

54941.jpg

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I finally got my patch bay up and running. It's a great piece of gear. Very easy to use and flexible, and now I can route my synths to the Mackie or to my Multiface with the quick change of a patch cord. I really like the switches on the front for Normalled, Half-Normalled, or Thru.

 

I had tons of Gepco 5522M wire, so that's what I used for most of the wiring. It's a braided, two conductor cable with a drain wire, and it's been a good balanced cable for me (most of my studio uses 5522M). I went with low profile Neutrik TRS connectors (NP3C-BAG). They are a bit narrower for getting into smaller spaces (like a patch bay), but they are still quite larger than your average plug.

 

It's hard to believe I've gotten this far without a patch bay given how useful they are, but I don't have a lot of outboard (and I only have 4 hardware synths), so it hasn't been as necessary for me as it would be for some.

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