Many affordable patchbays come half‑normalled by default, and to change that you must flip the cards inside. It’s easy enough, but there’s a knack...
Patchbays are the unsung heroes of the recording studio, and even in a modern home‑studio setup they can be worth their weight in... well, maybe not gold but you get the idea! If properly set up, they not only allow you to connect anything in your studio (synths, processors, effects and more besides) to anything else by simply plugging cables into the front, but also to establish a ‘normal’ routing that works even with no patch cables plugged in.
If you want a more detailed look at planning and configuring your patchbay, check out Hugh Robjohns’ excellent article, Patchbays In The Modern Studio (SOS December 2020). He runs through the differences between normalled, half‑normalled and isolated (un‑normalled) setups and their pros and cons, as well as describing some useful utilities such as phase inverters and mults, which you might want to include alongside your gear. In this article, though, I want to share some simple, practical tips for setting up affordable TRS jack patchbays.
I’ve long used patchbays, but it’s only recently, when setting up a new system, that I’ve used Neutrik’s affordable NYS‑SPP‑L1 patchbays; shop around and these can be picked up new for around £55 under $100 each, and you might even find similarly designed models under different brand names slightly cheaper. While I can’t vouch for those, I can tell you that as long as these Neutrik ones are used with reasonable care, they’re perfectly decent and robust enough for a typical home/project studio.
Some slightly pricier patchbays, still at the budget end of the market, feature convenient switches to select for each channel (a vertical pair of jack sockets on the front, and a corresponding pair on the rear) whether the connection is normalled, half‑normalled, parallel or isolated. Samson’s S‑Patch+ and Behringer’s PX3000 spring to mind. I prefer the former,...
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