Newbie Needs Help: Connecting Patchbays and Mixer...what cables & wiring

Discussion in 'Patchbays' started by Shaun Johannes, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. Shaun Johannes

    Shaun Johannes Active Member

    Hello:)

    I'd just like to confirm whether my thinking is correct or not.

    I'd like to wire a 24-channel analog desk to a patchbay for outboard gear and then route it back to the desk.

    I wish to record the signals dry during the tracking process but would like to mix OTB and use my outboad gear in conjunction with any plugins. I'd like to use some FX like reverbs just for monitoring purposes during the tracking process.

    Per channel the connections are:

    Line input - Balanced 1/4"
    Monitor Output - Balanced 1/4"
    Insert - unBalanced (?) 1/4"
    Direct Output - Balance 1/4"
    XLR Input

    My proposed wiring for the mixer is the following:

    Line Input - returning signal from the patchbay after FX
    Monitor Output - Uncertain
    Insert - Signal from patchbay for FX during tracking/Uncertain
    Direct Output - Signal to DAW interface (DIGI 003/MOTU)
    XLR Input - from sound source via live room patching

    I'm sure about what needs to happen for tracking via the mixer as I'll use the XLR for the signal and the Direct Output to the DAW interface. I'm just very uncertain as to the use of the Monitor output and whether to use the Insert or Line input for returning FX.

    I'd really appreciate any and all help in this regard:)

    Sincerely

    Shaun Johannes
     
  2. natural

    natural Active Member

    Need more info on the monitor out function. Need make and model of console.
    Typically the monitor out is on the master section which is a bus that could go to headphones etc. Each channel would have a monitor knob that would send signal to this bus.
    LINE IN can be for FX returns
    INSERTS - If there's one jack, then typically the tip is the send and the ring is the return. (Although some manufacturers reverse that. Consult your manual.)
    So you would have a TRS plug in there, on the other end at the patchbay, the tip wire would go to one jack (the send) and the sleeve wire goes to another jack (the return)
    Use the inserts for things during tracking. Compressors, gates, eq, that sort of thing. These usually work pre-fader.

    It would also be good to have the line outs going to the patchbay as well as the inputs to your DAW also at the patch bay,
    The 2 could be half-normalled behind the scenes which would allow you to cross patch any line out of console to any line in of DAW. Also allows inserting some device post fader.

    Wiring patchbays teaches you a lot about yourself.
    enjoy the lesson.
     
  3. nicko

    nicko Active Member

    I don't have time to give you a full patchbay layout, nor have you really provided enough information, but I can explain some patchbay conventions and concepts so you can work it out for your self. A patchbay system is a fairly individual need... so just try to wrap your head around how it's done and plan, plan, plan! It will be good for you to design your own layout.

    So you need to think about how you work MOST of the time because this will determine what you "half normal" into what. "Half normal" refers to a patchbay mode in which when nothing is connected on the front of the patchbay the top rear connector is automatically connected to the bottom rear connector. If you connect something to the front bottom connector the connection between the rear connectors is broken. Whatever you plug into the front bottom connector is now connected with whatever is connected to the rear bottom connector. If you were to plug something into the front top connector the connection between the rear connectors is maintained but you get a split of the top connector.

    If you can wrap your head around that then you'll see that it makes sense a lot of the time to have outputs on the top row of a patchbay and inputs on a bottom row.

    FOR EXAMPLE:

    If you were to connect all of your DAW outputs to the top row of a patchbay and all the line inputs of your mixing desk to the bottom row with the patchbay in half normal mode your DAW outputs will be connected to the mixer automatically without plugging anything into the patchbay. This would be an appropriate set up if you were doing mostly mixing.

    The unfortunate thing about most cheap mixers is that you can't have mic and line connectors plugged in at once, as the line connector bypasses the mic connector. This limits the flexibility of a set up somewhat.

    Have a think about what I've said here and start a plan. Post it up here and I'll make some suggestions.

    Nick.
     
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I've wired more than 16 48 jack bay's into my 24 track console and you want to use a single jack bay? Okay, I lied, I have a 36 input console with 24 output to the multitrack. Patch bays are sort of like Lays potato chips, you can't eat just one. You want your control room to be versatile with a jack bay, you need quite a few. Otherwise, it's not worth having even one because you'll constantly be plugging things into and out of the back of the jack bay. That's counterproductive and not terribly professional. And the ones that we used professionally don't have jacks on the back, they are hardwired. It's hard enough to keep the front ones from going intermittent on a regular intermittent basis. So what the heck, you should have least 4 48 jack bays. One for your multitrack output & line inputs. One for your 24 outputs to your recorders 24 inputs. One for your 24 in/out inserts. One for your effects, dynamics processing, etc.. Don't even think about putting microphones on those consumer units. Plug your microphones directly into your console via a microphone snake box. As nicko indicated, some inexpensive mixers will interrupt the microphone preamp if there is a connector plugged into the line input. This is not always the case especially if your console has microphone/line selector buttons. Then you usually see 2 separate inputs that allow for microphone input along with multitrack monitor return if the console was designed with recording in mind and is not your run-of-the-mill inexpensive PA board. And if you don't have multitrack return monitoring you still may be able to pull it off by utilizing your inserts to feed the microphones to the multitrack recorder while returning the output of the multitrack recorder back to the inserts. But there's too many variables for this generality to be made here based on your supplied information.

    Drowning in patch bays
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  5. Shaun Johannes

    Shaun Johannes Active Member

    Hey guys:)

    Thanks SO MUCH for the detailed information. I've luckily got my mind around the patchbay settings (normaled, half-normaled, thru) but thanks so much for the explanations as its easier to wrap my head around it!!

    To answer Mr Anthony:
    I intend to buy the Toft ATB24 and the MOTU 24 i/o interface but I would also like to keep using my DIGI 003 and Focusrite OctoPre MK II setup for Pro Tools projects from other studios (8 analog, 8 digital & 2 SPDIF).

    I will run XLR into the desk from the live room patchbays for instruments, synths, etc and via the direct output per channel send the signal to the Motu interface to track DRY...I'll only use some FX like reverb for monitoring for the performers but I'll use the master FX insert to route it to the channels. I will use the 24 DAW outputs to bounce the signals back for the mixing process and take the signals after FX via the Line Input on the channel...I am aware of the fact that I'll be using the mixer's preamp stage twice but I think the Toft sounds nice anyways:) Unless you think it is a bad idea?
    I intend to have a similar setup with the DIGI 003 setup but will still use the TOFT as the preamps are significantly better than the DIGI!!

    I'm still ironing out the specifics but I'm making some headway thanks to y'all:) I'll post an idea of what I'm thinking later...

    Peace & God Bless:)
     
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Shaun, are you here to ask for advice or just to describe what you're trying to think through? Most of us don't utilize hardware effects on the inserts. That's what effect sends are for on your console or in ProTools, etc.. The effects that we utilize most of the time on inserts are specific to that particular input, which is generally some dynamics control maybe a little EQ. But since your inserts are a single channel and most effects devices are stereo output, what exactly are you thinking? This is why when we are doing 24 track mix down we generally need more than a 24 input console for all of the stereo effects returns. Some consoles have specific effects returns to the stereo mix bus but generally, you'll want more. And that's why you'll utilize more than 24 inputs on your console. I frequently have all 36 inputs going on my console for a 24 track mix down. That's because I am returning a Lexicon PCM 60, PCM 70, Yamaha SPX 90-II, Alesis Quadra-Verb, Effectron II's times 2, Lexicon LXP-1 times 2. There, how's your math? There's 16 effect returns so I'm utilizing my additional 12 inputs along with my dedicated 4 FX returns. If I need more returns, I have to go to a sub mixer when I'm doing analog work. This doesn't include the numerous dynamic range compressor/limiter/downward expander/gates that are on specific tracks via the inserts. That's a lot of patching if you're doing analog work. And even if you are doing most of it ITB, you still may need some of this hybrid workflow to get just the sound you're looking for. Nothing is a one-stop shop when it comes to the production of music.

    If you already have a Digi 003, then all you really need is the microphone preamps. The line input A 2-D converters on your 003 are probably just as adequate as the 24i/o. So what kind of mishmash are you trying to accomplish?? Some of this gear is rather redundant. Worried about going through the TOFT preamps more than once? Do a listening test. Back in 1979 I had to make some significant recordings through a Yamaha PM 1000 PA board. I hated this thing! While the audio wasn't horrible going through once to the multitrack it was terribly degraded with a second pass through. I never really had that issue on an API, Neve, Harrison, Auditronics desks because they were designed for that purpose. PA stuff is just designed for a single pass through. So those are a real intrinsic difference between the design philosophy of recording versus PA equipment. And yeah, those Digi design microphone preamps are truly the finest in mediocre underwhelming sound. It's that lovely "Cwispy Cruntch" of those propriety based Digidesign crapo designs that make me want to stay away from their stuff. So you're just using that 003 as a control surface now? Smart, very smart.

    "XLR into the desk from the live room patchbays" sounds like trouble to me. I have XLR microphone inputs on my patch bays but I can tell you that's a dangerous thing (not a physical hazard). Mine are there for a specific purpose since I do on location work. I wouldn't put that into my fixed base studio however. If I did, I would utilize a custom XLR patchbay that includes no switchable normaling. It would require XLR normaling. We used something similar to that at NBC-TV since we needed to plug microphones in from various locations in the studio and have them come up on your console in specific places. And you're talking about doing things as if you're going to do the same thing each time? It won't generally happen like that. It will to a point. Reverb for the performers during overdubs/tracking is frequently supplied from the effects returns which are then routed to cue/headphone fold back sub feeds. And how many headphones are you going to be feeding simultaneously? Most 4 channel consumer headphone amplifiers are generally inadequate in real studios. Great for your bedroom. And aside from some really high end ethernet-based headphone systems, there really aren't any decent multi-distributed headphone monitoring systems that are commercially available. I built plenty utilizing 60 to 100 W per channel amplifiers. Kind of like the reverse of a microphone snake. With a power amplifier at one end and headphone boxes with headphones at the other end. The headphone boxes have a resistor network along with a volume control inside and allows one to put out 100 headphones if you needed to. Provided you have 100 headphone boxes to go with the 100 headphones. A lot of custom fabrication in that respect. So basically you're talking about analog recording & mixing utilizing a computer digital recorder. A nice hybrid system. It's what I do. Mixing in the box is cool especially when you need those incredible computer capabilities. But I do like mixing through my analog console because, it sounds great. And since your Toft was designed for recording, you'll be in good shape.

    Great minds think alike
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  7. Shaun Johannes

    Shaun Johannes Active Member

    Duly Noted Remy:)

    I'm sorry for sounding like I'm just thinking out loud...I intend to re-read your post later today and really think through my needs & ideas.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help and advise me...

    Sincerely
    Shaun
     

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