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Patchbay Layout

Hi

Ive been working on a layout for my first patchbay. Its gonna be a switchcraft or redco with dsub connectors.
Main interfaces is the Zed R16 mixer and the RME UFX. My "studio" is one room only, in my livingroom so its basically just me messing around playing, recording and mixing. Im sharing my layout here in case anyone wants to take a look at it and share some feedback. It would be nice to have other peoples opinion and advice as i have not much experience with patchbays.


Comments

djmukilteo Mon, 04/06/2015 - 14:41

Hey there Earthless, just saw this on the other thread.....I think that looks like a good start, but I'm not completely clear on all your equipment you have and how it will all be used still. There can be certain things that don't need to be "patched" and just left connected to certain devices all the time. I was thinking about the ZED's 16 "insert" send/return points? That could be something that you want on a patchbay....I suppose if you wanted to change things over to the RME that works and doing both would add even more patch points and it looks like you have all your bases covered for inputs and outputs.
Just some thoughts/questions. I'm sure someone will be along shortly with even better assessment of your layout..:cool:

Earthless Tue, 04/07/2015 - 15:55

djmukilteo, post: 427666, member: 35891 wrote: Hey there Earthless, just saw this on the other thread.....I think that looks like a good start, but I'm not completely clear on all your equipment you have and how it will all be used still. There can be certain things that don't need to be "patched" and just left connected to certain devices all the time. I was thinking about the ZED's 16 "insert" send/return points? That could be something that you want on a patchbay....I suppose if you wanted to change things over to the RME that works and doing both would add even more patch points and it looks like you have all your bases covered for inputs and outputs.
Just some thoughts/questions. I'm sure someone will be along shortly with even better assessment of your layout..:cool:

I had to skip the 16 inserts as well as effect send/return on both preamps and also preamp line inputs, along with some IO on the UFX.
So its far from perfect, but as you say hopefully a good start :)

Earthless Thu, 04/09/2015 - 14:58

Have been thinking about monitoring options here. I have two main outs that i want to use. Main out from the Zed R16 and XLR outputs 1 and 2 on the UFX. My monitors are active stereo pair and has xlr inputs (A77x). Right now monitors are connected to UFX and its fine as long as i have my computer on, but when using only the R16 without computer i obviously need to listen to the main outs. Should i connect all outputs to the patchbay and switch between them manually as i like?

Earthless Fri, 04/10/2015 - 03:03

Boswell, post: 427830, member: 29034 wrote: When I'm using a similar setup to yours, I usually take my computer outputs (from the UFX in your case) into a pair of the stereo jack inputs on the Zed R16 and my monitors from the Zed's main outs, then there's no patch cable changing needed.

When you say you "take your computer outputs into a pair of the stereo jack inputs...", is this done via a patchbay?

Boswell Fri, 04/10/2015 - 04:43

No, go direct from the UFX outputs to one of the Zed-R16 stereo inputs (probably ST3 or ST4). You then have push-button control of whether the computer outputs are sent through to the monitors. If you use a little bit of care to match the levels, you can do instant comparisons between the generated analog mix and the computer replay.

Earthless Fri, 04/10/2015 - 15:16

Ok, seems like a good idea to use stereo input 3 or 4 on the R16 like you said. I will try this.

The thing that confuses me most at the moment is that if i get a 96point patchbay with db25 connectors on the rear i will need
breakout cables with 8 jacks or xlr. So i have been trying to figure out if i can use trs jacks on the in and out of the gibson echoplex and mesa boogie studio preamp. Theres nothing in the manuals on this. And if i understand this correctly its ok to use a guitar preamp like the studio pre or avid 11R connected to the patchbay. But mic preamps with phantom power should be avoided right?

Kurt Foster Fri, 04/10/2015 - 15:40

Earthless, post: 427883, member: 48963 wrote: i have been trying to figure out if i can use trs jacks on the in and out of the gibson echoplex and mesa boogie studio preamp. Theres nothing in the manuals on this.

if you stop and think for a second .... picture a 1/4" input jack .... 2 terminals right? insert a trs jack and what do you have? tip connected to the tip terminal, sleeve connected to the sleeve terminal and what is the ring connected to? nothing! it "floats. this is fine. ts into trs ok. trs into ts, not so good.

Boswell Sat, 04/11/2015 - 04:10

Earthless, post: 427885, member: 48963 wrote: So if i use a dsub cable with TRS jacks from the patchbay, i can connect these TRS ends to all processors whether the sockets on the processors are balanced or not?

The Dsubs are a diversion - they are just a way of making a connection. You are still left with balanced signals at the the patchbay, and what I and others were saying earlier about balanced inputs and outputs still applies.

When it comes to whether you can use TRS plugs on equipment specified as having unbalanced I/O, it depends on how it's been implemented inside the equipment's chassis, and you would have to check every piece. I've got some effects units that are unbalanced, yet they are fitted with TRS jack sockets with the ring unconnected on the input and grounded on the output, so it's OK to use TRS cables, except when being driven from floating outputs. When driven from non-floating balanced outputs, you lose 6dB, as expected.

Earthless Sat, 04/11/2015 - 08:49

Boswell, post: 427910, member: 29034 wrote: When it comes to whether you can use TRS plugs on equipment specified as having unbalanced I/O, it depends on how it's been implemented inside the equipment's chassis, and you would have to check every piece.

Yes, this is the core issue. For example both the gibson echoplex and mesa boogie studio pre are unbalanced and thats ok.
But even if the devices carry an unbalanced signal it would be for practical reasons best to use a TRS snake to connect everything.
If the patchbay had single jack inputs and outputs it wouldnt be the same issue, then i could just connect the proper cable as i like, but with snakes that have 8 TRS connectors its not so flexible to use if some of the devices only accept TS jacks. I understand its not gonna be a balanced connection no matter. Maybe it would be best to buy a couple of snakes with TS connectors to use with these devices that expects a TS plug. And have the rest of the gear connected with TRS snakes. If only they specified these things better in the manuals..
The scenario is more like: "I know it is an unbalanced signal,but all i have are TRS cables, i know the connection will be unbalanced but will it work, will the device accept a TRS jack ?" Guess ill have to check every piece and find out myself like Boswell says, but it would be nice if the manuals could cover this.

Boswell Sat, 04/11/2015 - 10:38

Earthless, post: 427916, member: 48963 wrote: But even if the devices carry an unbalanced signal it would be for practical reasons best to use a TRS snake to connect everything.
If the patchbay had single jack inputs and outputs it wouldnt be the same issue, then i could just connect the proper cable as i like, but with snakes that have 8 TRS connectors its not so flexible to use if some of the devices only accept TS jacks. I understand its not gonna be a balanced connection no matter. Maybe it would be best to buy a couple of snakes with TS connectors to use with these devices that expects a TS plug. And have the rest of the gear connected with TRS snakes. If only they specified these things better in the manuals..
The scenario is more like: "I know it is an unbalanced signal,but all i have are TRS cables, i know the connection will be unbalanced but will it work, will the device accept a TRS jack ?" Guess ill have to check every piece and find out myself like Boswell says, but it would be nice if the manuals could cover this.

I think you are missing the essential point I was trying to get across: a balanced input connected via a TRS cable to a (TS) unbalanced output will not work correctly. The ring contact on the TRS plug must be connected, either to a signal or to ground.

You could try looking for a TRS (F) - TS (M) adaptor in which the ring (R) is connected to the sleeve (S). Hosa makes most types of adaptors, but I haven't seen one to that specification.

djmukilteo Sat, 04/11/2015 - 11:56

Not sure if this will help you Earthless, but this Rane Note 110 link and Rane's Library has everything you could ever need to know on different TS/TRS/XLR etc, etc....explains all of this. You should have this as a reference...

http://www.rane.com/note110.html

I would say you also need to be aware of things like 1/4" TS guitar instrument inputs and outputs...
One of the things you seem to get hung up on is trying to do "everything" on this patchbay idea.
For example a lot of guitar related patching/loopers/pedals/FX might be on it's own separate patch setup with the final outputs of those instrument chains going to a normalled mixer input patchbay, with a separate patchbay or pedalboard just for that. So this might be the case for your Mesa and Echplex connections.
Most of those large high density D-sub/TRS patchbays are typically used for mics, preamps. compressors, limiters FX and the mixing console inputs as well as the insert send/returns which typically are all balanced items. straightforward clean wiring and interconnects.
So it might also behoove you to breakdown all your instruments and their specific ins and outs and match that up with the appropriate patchbay rather than trying to get something that will do "everything" and end up with a confusing mess of mixed signals, connectors and problems.
If you have a lot of unbalanced stuff it would be better to have a separate unbalanced patchbay to handle those items. Break things down a little and categorize each into unbalanced and balanced inputs. The same hold true for all your outputs....again this gets back to making a list of all the ins and outs you have for each piece of equipment and then sorting them out.

Earthless Sun, 04/12/2015 - 11:18

An excellent piece of reference sheet (y)
The echoplex has instr. and line level inputs and output. And i guess the recording outputs of the studio pre has line level ouputs as well.
I was just trying to focus on the rackmounted gear to start with, so i got a bit uncertain about what kind of snakes i should order along with the patchbay, i wanted to make most of what i need in one order because of the shipping costs.

Ill take your words into consideration djmukilteo and better start with what i know are balanced TRS gear.
Appreciate all your answers here. But i guess we`ve had enough of that unbalanced/balanced issue for a while ;) I hope :)

Earthless Mon, 04/13/2015 - 17:16

Boswell, post: 427870, member: 29034 wrote: You need a pair of XLR(F) to TRS plug cables. The balanced stereo inputs on the Zed R16 are TRS jacks only. If you wanted to, you could use jack outputs on the UFX, when a pair of TRS-TRS leads would be needed. It's just a matter of what you patch in TotalMix.

Hi Boswell, been thinking about this and was looking in the R16 manual. It says the stereo inputs are unbalanced ?

Earthless Tue, 04/14/2015 - 03:40

Ah, i see. Couldnt find anything in the manual, but if you say so(y)
I dont know if u sit in a control room or how youre set up. But you say youre using the main outs on the zed to your monitors, right?
Just wondering in my situation (one room, one pair of active monitors) if it would be typical to use the "main outs" on the zed or the "crm" outputs to the monitors ?

Earthless Tue, 04/14/2015 - 13:16

I just re read what you posted earlier about sending the main outs on the R16 to an external AD (UFX) as an option.
So in that case i would have to use the CRM outputs to the monitors. Is there any special reason you would say its better to use the main outs for monitors? Maybe its just a matter of preference as you say, but after reading about it, it seems that the "normal" way would be to use the CRM outputs. I often feel like falling between two chairs. A hybrid world. Hybrid recording studio/control room. Hybrid analog/digital. Hybrid musician/engineer. Sources of confusion.. Its not a traditional way of thinking anymore, oh well, i suppose the basics are still the same, but still alot of head scrathing.

Boswell Tue, 04/14/2015 - 15:23

The Zed-R16 has both XLRs and TRS jacks on the main outs. If your monitors have an external volume control, use one of the main outs for monitors and the other out for recording. If the monitors don't have an external volume control, it's probably better to go with the main outs for recording + control room outs for monitoring, since the CR outs have a level control on the mixer. Don't forget that the CR outs are taken after the main L+R fader, so set the recording level first on the main faders and then use the CR level as the listening control.

paulears Wed, 04/15/2015 - 01:32

This connection problem could be solved in a snatch if the manufacturers with unbalanced ins or outs simple used 3 circuit jack sockets on the board and connected the sleeve and ring terminals together on the board - then balanced and unbalanced destination would work fine. I have a few devices here that are unbalanced and the output is fed to the socket tip, with the ground on the ring, and no connection to the sleeve at all. These two reverbs, old ones, seem to interface happily to any kind of jack and destination device.

djmukilteo Wed, 04/15/2015 - 13:12

If you take a look at the ZED block diagram in the manual the Main (2Trk 1 out XLR's) were actually designed to be used to go into a separate 2 track tape deck at +4dbu. The same case for the the 2Trk2 outs which are -2dbu. These are post master faders and can be used into any type of 2 channel stereo master recorder, including another A/D converter unit like your UFX.
So this gives you an analog mixdown that could be sent to separate 2 channel A/D conversion.
You could setup 16 tracks on the ZED, mixdown to stereo with all that analog "mojo" the ZED does and print a final stereo master track on a completely different converter or tape deck. (UFX/DAW, DAT, DSD, Analog tape, cassette...etc etc).
The CRM outputs (Main and Alternate) should be used for your control room monitors because number one they have a volume control and a switch to alternate between speakers. i.e. Mid field, Near field. They are also the exact same mix feed that's on your headphones. It also has the mono switch for checking mixes which is not possible on those 2 trk 1/2 outputs. The only reason the Main 2Trk1 outputs use XLR is to make them more compatible with +4dbu XLT to XLR connections to professional 2 track recording mastering decks. You can use XLR>TRS though still +4dbu and balanced. The 2Trk2 outputs are -2dbu level so these would be better used for lower level input to prosumer/consumer type recorders/deck inputs.
Hope that helps....

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