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Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

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Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby paulsmusic » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:18 am

I've just acquired an Audient ASP4816, and consequently need to expand my patchbay and connectors. I've been using a Samson S-Patch Plus, and have been looking at the Signex CPT96. There's quite a price difference between that and the Signex Pro series, which has solid palladium contacts, and I wondered what the difference between the two models is, in terms of signal quality?

My other option would be to get another Samson S-Patch Plus, and I do like the fact that it has the switches on the front panel to change between normal, half-normal, and through modes. TBH I can't make head or tails of the Signex manual, and am not sure how you do swap between the modes!

Regarding connectors, I've been looking at options from Hosa, such as the DTP-803:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/HosaTech-DTP-8 ... B000068OAT

These are much cheaper than the Klotz and Nuetrik looms I'm currently using, and, again, I wondered what the difference might be in terms of signal quality? Many thanks!
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby ef37a » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:51 am

The difference in signal quality is going to be zero when everything is new and clean but jack switches are rather notorious for failing o becoming noisy over the years due to tarnishing. Palladium will not oxidize or tarnish and is harder than brass and much harder than Gold.

However, in a domestic situation if people do not smoke and there are no open fires these days, 'gumming' up of electronic gear is largely a thing of the past?

In any case, a once a year take down and wipe of the jacks with a plastic scouring pad and wipe of WD-40 and you are sorted!

"Yer pays yer money....?

Dave.
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby The Elf » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:01 am

The adavantages of the normalisation switching goes way beyond any marginal connection difference IMHO. I've not had a single problems with any of my S-Patch bays- and mine are getting on now.
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:57 am

paulsmusic wrote:There's quite a price difference between that and the Signex Pro series, which has solid palladium contacts, and I wondered what the difference between the two models is, in terms of signal quality?

It's not about signal quality, it's about long term reliability. As Dave says, Palladium contacts won't tarnish and corrode, and they are extremely hard wearing. so the contacts remain clean and functional long after cheaper alternatives are getting scratchy and unreliable. The longevity of a patch-bay depends on how much use it gets as well as the quality of the air in the room -- specifically dust and smoke.

In a pro studio where connections are being made and unmade all the time the better reliability of Palladium contacts can make a real difference. In a project studio with much lighter usage the extra cost may be much harder to justify.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Bantam (TT) patchbays. If you don't have the space for sufficient quarter-inch bays then you have no option, but long experience in broadcast installations tells me they are far less reliable and also much less convenient -- you need a special adaptor cable to plug something straight into the front of the patch bay, for example.

Type A quarter-inch bays aren't as good as the professional Type B (PO316) bays, but they are a lot more affordable, a lot more convenient in a project studio (you can plug a borrowed synth or FX unit straight in the front with standard cables) and -- if you choose wisely -- more reliable than bantams IMHO! As always, you do get what you pay for!

And don't forget to budget for a sufficient number of patch cables of sufficient lengths to span the patch bay! Rean make a range of reasonably affordable and well-made moulded patch cords with nice cable, in A, B, and TT formats. (eg: https://www.canford.co.uk/Audio-patchcords-and-patchcables )

TBH I can't make head or tails of the Signex manual, and am not sure how you do swap between the modes!

The different normalling configurations are established by putting blobs of solder on dedicated split solder pads on the PCB supporting the top row of jack sockets. It's a far more reliable solution than switches or reversible cards, and it's very simple to implement during installation (assuming you have a soldering iron handy). On the downside, you do need a soldering iron and solder, and it's slightly more fiddly and time consuming to reconfigure if you change your mind.

Of course, if the installation is designed properly there shouldn't be any need to change the patchbay configuration until the studio undergoes a major overhaul... I use the Signex CPJ48 patch bays and have found them to be excellent. They can also be labelled in a professional way whereas most of the cheaper alternatives are pretty naff in that regard.

Regarding connectors, I've been looking at options from Hosa, such as the DTP-803:

Lots of people make D-sub-jack breakout looms. One of the best value I've found for fixed installations is the CPC one HERE This is half the price of the Hosa one!

I wondered what the difference might be in terms of signal quality? Many thanks!

Again, it's not signal quality but reliability... and it comes down to the mechanical quality of plugs, mostly. So the cheaper ones may not last so long if constantly plugged and unplugged, but in a fixed installation they're fine. I'd just disconnect one or twice a year and give them a quick wipe over with Deoxit to ward off any tarnishing...
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby paulsmusic » Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:48 am

ef37a wrote:In any case, a once a year take down and wipe of the jacks with a plastic scouring pad and wipe of WD-40 and you are sorted!

Great advice Dave - thanks!
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby paulsmusic » Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:54 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Type A quarter-inch bays aren't as good as the professional Type B (PO316) bays, but they are a lot more affordable, a lot more convenient in a project studio (you can plug a borrowed synth or FX unit straight in the front with standard cables) and -- if you choose wisely -- more reliable than bantams IMHO! As always, you do get what you pay for!


Thanks for all the helpful information Hugh. So, what is the difference between a Type A and Type B patchbay? I am thinking I might get another Samson S-Patch Plus.

Also, I just had a look at the Rean A-Gauge patch chords, and wondered what the difference is between the stereo and mono cables...are the stereo cables balanced, and if so, is it these I should be using?
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:00 pm

paulsmusic wrote:So, what is the difference between a Type A and Type B patchbay?

Professionals use the quarter-inch Type-B, or Post-office / PO316 plugs and sockets. These were designed for manual telephone exchanges, so are capable of thousands of reliable operations everyday. The plugs are generally made of brass and the tips are smaller than the body and very rounded. An example is shown in the top of he image below.

Image

The A-type is the type of plug used for guitars and headphones, with a much larger, triangular tip. As shown in the bottom of the image. The construction is much cheaper tha the B type, and the sockets are much simpler which makes them less robust and less reliable under heavy use.

Although both A and B types have the same shaft diameter, the larger tip of the A type plug causes damage to the contact springs if inserted in a B socket, and the smaller tip of a B type Makes for an unreliable contact if inserted in an A socket! So these are totally incompatible plugs and sockets and must never be cross-patched!

I am thinking I might get another Samson S-Patch Plus.

Fair enough. The Elf is a big fan of them. I don't like them because of the switches and the labelling arrangements, but that's just me being a fussy geek.

Also, I just had a look at the Rean A-Gauge patch chords, and wondered what the difference is between the stereo and mono cables...are the stereo cables balanced, and if so, is it these I should be using?

Stereo and balanced connections both require three contacts (tip, ring, sleeve), whereas mono and unbalanced connections require two contacts (tip and sleeve). So if you're using balanced interconnections you would need the 'stereo' TRS type of Rean patch cord.
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby paulsmusic » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:15 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
paulsmusic wrote:I am thinking I might get another Samson S-Patch Plus.

Fair enough. The Elf is a big fan of them. I don't like them because of the switches and the labelling arrangements, but that's just me being a fussy geek.

Thanks Hugh. In your opinion is the Signex a better patchbay? I must admit, I am put off slightly by the prospect of soldering!
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:35 pm

To be honest, I've not had a close look at the Samson's construction, but I know The Elf uses them extensively and has never complained about them, so they must be alright. I've heard complaints about the Neutrik one, and the cheaper makes with reversible cards are not great.

The Elf particularly likes the accessible normal switches, and if you're frequently making substantial changes to the equipment installation that could be handy... But how many of us do that? For me, those switches are redundant, in the wrong place, and in the way of the labelling!

The Behringer patchbay is similar to the Samson but the switches are on the top panel, so they are hidden when in use, but accessible when needed and no need for a soldering iron. And there's more room for labelling.

But I went for the Signex partly because they are very well built, but also because -- provided you can use a soldering iron -- it's a bit more versatile. You can link adjacent sockets for parallel splitters, for example, and there are options for linking grounds between top and bottom sockets, or not. Another big factor is the sensibly-sized plastic sleeve above each row of sockets to slip in a label strip, which is simple, easy, and looks professional.

I believe there is someone on eBay that makes labels for the Samson, with switch cutouts etc, but they don't appeal to me... Fussy bugger that I am!
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby paulsmusic » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:41 pm

Really helpful update Hugh - thank you! If I can find the label templates on Ebay for the Samson, I think that could be a deal-breaker...
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:43 pm

Here are a couple of my Signex patch panels with large, clear labels above each socket in the traditional, professional arrangement.

Image

I have a template I made in Coreldraw, and I print whatever text and colours I want onto Matt heavyweight paper, cut out with a slide-guillotine, and slot into the sleeve on the signex panel.

Here's one of the Samson label arrangements:

Image

And one of the suppliers: http://store.mixperience.net/patchbay.html
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby paulsmusic » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:48 pm

Looks good! I've found the guy on Ebay that makes the labels

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Custom-front ... SwLnBX80Q0
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 11, 2020 2:56 pm

Ah yes. I couldn't find him just now... It would be worth asking The Elf what he uses.

Some of these custom labels are stick-on, ad some are magnetic plastic strips. The latter would probably be easier to replace, but I guess are more expensive.

Because I grew up with pro patchbays, I'm fussy about where the labels are in relation to the sockets, and how that are colour coded and marked... For me, being old, with reducing eyesight, and tainted by experience, the Samson panel doesn't leave enough space for labels, and they end up being too small and in the wrong places.
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby paulsmusic » Sat Jul 11, 2020 3:57 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Ah yes. I couldn't find him just now... It would be worth asking The Elf what he uses.

Elf...do you have a labels supplier?!

I was thinking, isn't it an advantage of the Samson to have the switches on the front, if you want to stack them in a rack. Presumably you wouldn't be able to get to the switches on the Behringer if they were stacked?
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Re: Patchbay and Connectors - Quality of Signal

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Jul 11, 2020 4:35 pm

paulsmusic wrote:I was thinking, isn't it an advantage of the Samson to have the switches on the front, if you want to stack them in a rack. Presumably you wouldn't be able to get to the switches on the Behringer if they were stacked?

Yes, you'd have to slide the patch panel partially out of the rack, or have a blank panel above to access the switches... Awkward, maybe, but possible.

However, how often would you need to change the normalling? You'd only need to do that if you completely changed what you have plugged in the back, which only happens with a major reorganisation with replaced, added or removed equipment. How often do you expect to do that?

If you spend some time planning you should be able to come up with a patch layout solution that works for your regular connection needs, and that wouldn't then change unless you changed the installation in a pretty radical way! So you plan, you configure the normalling, job done.

And those front panel switches sit there in the way on the panel, never to be touched.... Hmmm. ;-)

I should add that while I think the Behringer arrangement makes more sense in some ways, I have no idea how well-made and reliable the Behringer patchbay is in co parison to the others we've discussed.
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