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Author Topic: Patchbay for Live Install?  (Read 2441 times)

Taylor Gonzalez

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Patchbay for Live Install?
« on: December 29, 2015, 04:54:16 pm »

Hi All,
I have seen a couple of Installs in Performing Art Centers in my area that have patchabys. They are used to take all of the inputs throughout the venue and allows you to patch them into the limited 24 inputs on the console. The Patchbays I've seen are Bittree, I've found them on eBay for pretty cheap and seem to be a better alternative to 1/4" patchabys.
My question is, do any of you have insight on Patchbays in a live enviroment?
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Craig Hauber

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Re: Patchbay for Live Install?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2015, 07:44:28 pm »

Hi All,
I have seen a couple of Installs in Performing Art Centers in my area that have patchabys. They are used to take all of the inputs throughout the venue and allows you to patch them into the limited 24 inputs on the console. The Patchbays I've seen are Bittree, I've found them on eBay for pretty cheap and seem to be a better alternative to 1/4" patchabys.
My question is, do any of you have insight on Patchbays in a live enviroment?
I have had lots of success over the years installing patchbays as you describe.  Many are still in use after 25 years and the secret seems to be to use nothing but quality parts and don't cheap out!
Bitree makes a good bay, but I've been using Audio Accessories and ADC for years.  If you have the room I recommend 1/4" longframe as they are much easier to work on -more space between parts, more room for labels and much stronger and abuse resistant in the long term.
(and in a bind a 1/4" TRS cable can save the show!)

Having a large space for them also helps in making a quality assembly that will last longer and be more serviceable. 
Preferably their own rack-frame with plenty of room to secure wire looms and in a way that entire jack bays don't have to be yanked out of the rack front for initial assembly or servicing.  Leaving blanks between bays helps also (as well as a good place for future labels)

The only problems with bay installation I have is when the client wanted them crammed in tight places with no cable access and the act of jamming so many wires in a small place compromised the reliability -and when servicing you could screw up working connections just trying to access the trouble!  (especially with punch-downs vs solder)

Also don't buy used bays, some of them may be 30+ years old with jacks that may be used to death right next to jacks that never have been used ever -both can cause problems.
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Craig Hauber
Mondak Sound Design
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Caleb Dueck

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Re: Patchbay for Live Install?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2015, 05:34:09 am »

Digital consoles with higher I/O counts and soft patching have made many (not all) patchbays obsolete.  Unless absolutely necessary, many times today patchbay = higher cost and more potential failure points.
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George Dougherty

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Re: Patchbay for Live Install?
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2015, 10:50:26 am »

Digital consoles with higher I/O counts and soft patching have made many (not all) patchbays obsolete.  Unless absolutely necessary, many times today patchbay = higher cost and more potential failure points.
+100, by the time you purchase additional cabling and pay for the labor to wire up a patch bay, you've likely almost paid for a digital snake.  It often also buys better sound quality and ease of use (though that's arguable depending on the system and the users involved).
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Jordan Wolf

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Re: Patchbay for Live Install?
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2015, 11:20:33 am »

Nowadays, I prefer a patchbay for just-in-case use - being able to patch around a dead/malfunctioning piece of gear without opening up the rack and moving wires all around is a blessing.


- Jordan Wolf
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Jordan Wolf
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"We want our sound to go into the soul of the audience, and see if it can awaken some little thing in their minds... Cause there are so many sleeping people." - Jimi Hendrix

Hayden J. Nebus

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Re: Patchbay for Live Install?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2016, 11:08:30 am »

Digital consoles with higher I/O counts and soft patching have made many (not all) patchbays obsolete.  Unless absolutely necessary, many times today patchbay = higher cost and more potential failure points.

I, for one, still find patchbays invaluable and a prudent design choice. Having networked I/O and traditional copper tie lines available on the same jack field provides unsurpassed flexible signal routing. Tying DSP outputs to amp inputs via a normalled bay allows for supplemental scramble-patching, or emergency analog drive. Spare patch points can be employed for useful doo-dads like output splits, isolation transformers, pin 1 lifts, and polarity inverters.

I too reccomend Audio Associates. Their products are well built and have a service life that will measure in decades if well maintained.
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Craig Hauber

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Re: Patchbay for Live Install?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2016, 07:51:05 pm »

I, for one, still find patchbays invaluable and a prudent design choice. Having networked I/O and traditional copper tie lines available on the same jack field provides unsurpassed flexible signal routing. Tying DSP outputs to amp inputs via a normalled bay allows for supplemental scramble-patching, or emergency analog drive. Spare patch points can be employed for useful doo-dads like output splits, isolation transformers, pin 1 lifts, and polarity inverters.

I too reccomend Audio Associates. Their products are well built and have a service life that will measure in decades if well maintained.

And when your considering a performing arts center, an auditorium or a large church, you want a clean versatile install -which usually means floor pockets or wall panels throughout the stage and venue.  You would still need some kind of infrastructure wiring to integrate them to a digital snake stage box or rack.

And with our current fickle electronics marketplace, today's awesome "industry-standard" digital snake system is next years unsupported obsolete landfill mass.  I wouldn't consider (at this time) building digital snake heads or stage racks into the walls! 

Maybe in the future, or maybe turn the pockets into more like a "cupboard" where you can set your flavor-of-the-month in network audio interfaces into the space and plug it into infrastructure category wiring/fibre/coax whatever
 -which even then you would need a patchbay for that anyways.
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Craig Hauber
Mondak Sound Design
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Patchbay for Live Install?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2016, 07:51:05 pm »


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