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I am in the process of building a studio in my good friends home. The studio is about 900sqft, it has a large live room, 2 iso booths and a large control room. The studio is being built to be as soundproof as possible, double wall construction, two layers of drywall with green glue, etc... The framing is pretty much complete but now I have reached the point of trying to figure out how to best run all of my signals to the control booth. I was considering running different snakes to each room that all end up at a patchbay in the control room. I have looked at some dbx patchbays that have TRS connectors. My confusion comes when I search for snakes. I can't seen to find any that have a box that is XLR female to TRS (for the patchbay). I think I might be thinking about this the wrong way. I really don't want to solder if I don't have to, although I have a little experience in doing so. Am I thinking in the right direction here? I just don't want to buy a bunch of sh*t that ain't right. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


bouldersound Mon, 07/09/2012 - 13:13

Using TRS for mic connection might not be a good idea. Keep it XLR. There are [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.sweetwat…"]XLR patch bays[/]="http://www.sweetwat…"]XLR patch bays[/] available though they're less common than TRS.

Will there be a bunch of different mic preamps in the control room or do all the inputs go to one kind of preamp (mixer or interface)? If there is only one kind of preamp then there is probably no need for a patch bay before the mic preamps.

epting Mon, 07/09/2012 - 18:08

bouldersound, post: 391410 wrote: Using TRS for mic connection might not be a good idea. Keep it XLR. There are [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.sweetwat…"]XLR patch bays[/]="http://www.sweetwat…"]XLR patch bays[/] available though they're less common than TRS.

Will there be a bunch of different mic preamps in the control room or do all the inputs go to one kind of preamp (mixer or interface)? If there is only one kind of preamp then there is probably no need for a patch bay before the mic preamps.

We have PreSonus 24.4.2 mixer and we are shopping for preamps. I know that I want to have plenty of room for the studio to grow. This is the first studio I have built and to be honest I never has enough money to be able to consider doing this until recently. I have a lot to learn about equipment.

cruisemates Mon, 07/09/2012 - 18:25

I assume your mixer has mic inputs. This will be good for tracking drumsets and bands and such. As far as outboard pres go, I would probably use my board to track whole bands and drums (multiple mic situations) to the recording device, and then keep maybe one or two (a stereo unit perhaps) outboard pre-amps for doing overdubs. These days most things are overdubbed and I believe you will find that as time goes on you will only be using one mic (or two) record to one mono (or two stereo) tracks at a time.

Therefore you really do not NEED a patchbay, you just need a simple way to insert that special pre-amp when you want to use.

Patchbays were really invented for the days when user need to interface with console - for example, when you wanted to insert something after the mic pre-amp for recording (a limiter) or during mixdown after the tape return before the day of plugins when every effect was outboard. Yes, there was a time when you needed a separate box very every limiter and noise gate you used in a session. You also had physical ECHO units (like plates that weighed over 100 pounds).

These days all "patching" is done "in the box" meaning in the computer interface. All the mixer does is give you hands on control for what is in the box, and you will possibly find it easier just to use the mouse most of the time anyway. The days of needing a big physical mixer are just gone - unless you get one with a specific sound you are looking for.

So, bottom line, patchbays are complicated, waste a lot of time in setting up a studio, and will go largely unused. Don't get me wrong, I loved the old analog days when understanding your patch bay was half the trickery of being a good engineer. But things change. These days you almost never record anything through an effect (we rarely did even in the old days) and in the mix outboard effects make even less sense because we have all of these plugins. Plus you have to worry about analog to digital conversion time lags, etc.

I would just by an XLR snake first (that is how they come stock) and go straight into the console. Then if someday you decide you need a patchbay you can cut the ends off and hard wire it to the bay.

OR - if you shop studios that are shutting down - THAT will be the place where you will find a snake already hardwired to some kind of patchbay. A good old-fashioned analog studio.

epting Mon, 07/09/2012 - 22:39

Thanks for the info cruisemate. I was considering a patchbay mainly because we are going to have multiple rooms. I failed to mention earlier that we are also going to run a snake upstairs to the vaulted living room so that we may record anything from drums, parties or friends jamming by the fireplace, as well as having the live room, control booth and two isolation booths downstairs. I was thinking that a patchbay would be a lot easier to route the signals to the board without having to going behind and change the inputs. Basically, we are going to have way more inputs than we will probably ever need, at least that's the idea. So my thinking hasn't been so much about preamps and other outboard equipment as much as it has been around mearly routing the signals from each room with ease. Like I said before, I'm new to this and want to make the right decision. I hope that the studio will grow quite a bit in the future and I want to be prepared for that before we drywall the rooms.

MadMax Tue, 07/10/2012 - 07:04

Where in NC are ya'? I'm in the GSO area: 336-525-2177

You really ought to consider wiring things correctly, by running a pair of decent sized conduit (3"-3.5") into a UL rated box. (I used 16"x16"x6") Then run multicore cable from a patch panel in the CR to panels in each room. I would plan on 8-16 XLR input connections and a pair of XLR outputs, as well as headphone, Cat6 and midi. If you are doing/planning on video, you should make the panels large enough to add those connections as well... putting gonzinta's in one conduit and gozouta's in the other.

I went with a DB25 type TT patchbay system. There are plenty of different types, db25, punch down, solder and wire wrap. Many consider the solder type to be more reliable, but they are mighty tedious. There is another type that I would consider, and that is the type that uses TE's Mate-N-Lok connectors. This more or less tying you to ADC, as AFAIK, they are the only one's making this type of patchbay with the connectors integrated into the bay itself.

Gimme a shout if I can help you suss any of this out... and you can see a bit of detail on patchbay hell in my build blog over in the Studio Construction forum.

thatjeffguy Tue, 07/10/2012 - 09:12

Patch bays are great if you have several rooms and several pieces of outboard gear. I currently use five 12 channel XLR patch bays. They give me instant access to every in and out in my system. I have two ISO booths plus a live room, and three outboard preamps and one outboard compressor.
It's a pain-in-the-butt that every piece of outboard gear has it's inputs and outputs on the rear panel where you can't easily get at them. Bringing those forward via patch bays only makes sense.
Definitely go XLR for your patch bays, not TRS


audiokid Tue, 07/10/2012 - 09:20

I'm torn between everyone here. I'm most likely one to the most seasoned digital geeks members here but I have been going more and more OTB each year I learn more about hybrid this last decade. So, I have been looking at new ways to patch hardware. I kind of agree with cruisemates (Paul) ,Max and Jeff but not because people are going more ITB, I don't really agree with that part from a pro level ( but this was posted in Home Recording so... ). I think 100% ITB is the budget way around sound engineering and why it wins in numbers but hybrid is the real deal so, I am now looking at the new patchbays like SSL XPatch, Dangerous Liaison and the new SPL MasterBayS These new hardware routers are the coolest way to go for both mixing and mastering. Personally, I think we should be paying attention to the mastering process to better our recording and mixing in todays DAW world. Mastering as we once knew it is slowly phasing out.

The new way to engineer and patch is a mix of Mastering Gear in a hybrid setup IMHO. I don't waste my time or money on gear that is good enough as a plug-in and don't waste my time or money goofing around with plug-ins that degrade or make audio sound like digital crap.

Maybe another way at looking at this :)

MadMax Tue, 07/10/2012 - 09:22

Sorry to disagree, but XLR patchbay's make no sense in a studio environment in all honesty.

If there is a panel on one one end (in the room), it's likely to be a solder connected multicore, and the other end is whatever makes the most sense, but using a multicore snake with XLR's on the control room end just doesn't make sense from both a space or cost standpoint. I can only buy 2-4 XLR's for what a single DB25 costs, that handles 8 connections. I can completely set up 48 channels of signal on a mate-n-lock for what 8 channels of XLR costs... or I can spend a few dollars more for a GOOD quality 96 point (3RU) solder connection or screw terminal and not be stuck trying to figure out how I'm gonna have to deal with 8-12 of these larger, less dense, XLR patchbays.

bouldersound Tue, 07/10/2012 - 11:05

MadMax, post: 391428 wrote: Sorry to disagree, but XLR patchbay's make no sense in a studio environment in all honesty.

I think "a studio environment" is too vague a term to allow for simple one-size-fits-all routing solutions. For most people I would question the need to patch mic signals before the preamps, but in the OP's case there are multiple rooms and the possibility of outboard preamps. The XLR lines to the control room could outnumber the mic preamps. He need XLR routing flexibility.

MadMax Tue, 07/10/2012 - 15:11

Me thinks that there's some loose canon terminology afoot...

I'm referring to this as a "proper" signal flow;

Source->Mic->XLR Mic Cable->
[XLR Input Panel->Multicore signal cable->XXX connector] ->Patchbay THEN Patchbay internal routing (preferably TT for maximum density of connections) THEN [XXX connector->outboard gear with proper connector (TRS/XLR/Bare wire/DB25/Etc)]

Individual panels IN THE ROOMS typically have 4, 8, 16, 24, etc, XLR female connectors on the panel... appropriate to the size and placement of said panel in the room. These panels are mounted to a box recessed in the wall, with at least one (again, preferably two) conduits run to the control room, where all the cables can be routed to a central location in a rack, where the patchbay is located.

Using an XLR patchbay (a patchbay whose connectors are XLR Female on one side of the patchbay) are generally not used in studio environments as they have a very low density of connections for the amount of rack space. XLR patchbays are used in VERY small studios with one, or two rooms and/or low counts of hardware I/O - or they are used in fairly flexible live rigs... although, I have yet to see one actually used in either situation.