What is a patchbay?

mbandgeek

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Location
North Carolina
I have noticed one of these on the sound equipment racks at my highschool. What does it do? I can't find anything on it anywhere on the internet.
 

mbandgeek

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Location
North Carolina
I don't know, but it could be, there are three or four different types.
Balanced
Unbalanced
1/4"plugs
RCA Plugs
That is basically all that i know about them
 

nez

Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2006
Location
new york
maybe it is so that you can combine all of the signals in to one? not sure
 

Foxinabox10

Active Member
Joined
May 1, 2004
Location
Boston, MA
A patchbay is where a bunch of input jacks come in on one panel from various spots around the auditorium and then you use short cables to connect those to a panel of outputs to the sound board, etc.
 

Eboy87

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 3, 2004
Location
Chicago, IL
The patch bay at our school is used to select which hardwired input (located throughout the theater) goes to which channel on the board. We have more inputs than our board can handle, so we just patch in the ones we need.

The jacks are split up into two rows on each unit, one for the input (or output), and which board channel. There are also tie lines, which let you hook two mics in one channel, but I've never used them before. We just plug in a patch cord from the input from the stage into the jack that corrosponds to the channel on the board I want.

Here's a pic, the patch bays are the ones with all of the cables coming out


I'm sure someone else with more experience will be around to answer more throughly, but I think this is the jist of it.
 

tenor_singer

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2004
Location
Orwell, Ohio
Our school has a patch bay and in essence it allows us to reorder the channels on our mixer.

For example... right now we have four wireless microphones running through channels 20 - 24. If I wanted to have them run through channels 1 - 4 I can use my patch bay (which looks very similar to the old telephone operator boards you commonly see in cartoons) to adjust that by plugging a cord into channel 20 on the "output row" and plugging the other end into channel 1 on the "input row". It bypasses all existing wiring and runs that microphone through channel 1.

We also use it to patch in equipment around the stage that isn't normally used a lot. An example of that is our upstage hanging microphones. They hang behind our choir set up area, so I don't use them a lot. When there is an activity that uses the entire stage, I patch them in to one of the free channels of the board.

What it won't do is allow you to use more equipment than you have channels for. It just allows for easier juggling of microphones, instruments, etc...
 

AVGuyAndy

Active Member
Joined
May 1, 2005
There are many different types of patchbays, with many different types of connectors.

Basically, a patchbay will have a few rows of connecotrs mounted on a panel. Each connector is wired to an input or output on a peice of gear. Then on the front of the panel you can change how inputs and outputs are "patched" together by using cable to go from connector to connector.
 

CURLS

Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2004
Ohh and for the kids who want a few extra sound bites. HAHA :)

Decent patchbays usually use brass 1/4" jacks in which case they sometime can have difficulty passing signal when repatched after years of use. You will notice this on i/p and o/p channels with buzz and hum(hint: check your patchbay) A lot of times you can go to your patchbay wiggle the thing and it will go away. However, a much better way of fixing this problem is OBVIOUSLY muting the channel and then taking the jack and plugging it in to what you want and pulling it out BY THE CONNECTOR 5 or 8 times kinda quickly. In turn this cleans the jack, remember to be carefull and not use contact cleaner on the brass jacks b/c they can be damaged over time.

Next topic is types of connections in a patchbay. You almost always have your incoming signals on the top row of a single unit and your outgoing on the bottom. Now there are 3 different types of internal connections that can happen in the back. First is just all open and ready to be patched which is the wisest and most basic. The second and somewhat usefull is half-normalled which means the top bottom pair are already connected internally w/o an external patch and then you can come out of that maintain the current internal patch while splitting it and sending it somewhere else on the front patch. Then the last is just fully nornalled which is again internally already plugged into each other but as soon as something is plugged into one it breaks the connection. VERY TOUGH concept to grasp, until the lightbulb goes off.

Another usefull term to learn while talking about patchbays is mult. Which, is more or less just an exact copy of a signal like a female to two male split or trantechtuals a two-fer (pimp) or threefer(whorehouse). This is use a lot of times in my industry where we have drive lines that get multed to a patch panel on our amp racks.
 
Last edited:

CURLS

Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2004
AVGuyAndy said:
I would say that good patchbays use balanced XLR connections, not 1/4".
Thanks man i changed it to decent connectors, my bad. However, you will find that maybe 90 percent of patch bays are of the male 1/4" kind or Tiny telephone (audio)(video different story) Ya come home from work and doing vdosc training all day and your mind gets a little tired of thinking audio. Thats when ya sit down and have a beer and talk with the olll lady!
 

Eboy87

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 3, 2004
Location
Chicago, IL
CURLS said:
remember to be carefull and not use contact cleaner on the brass jacks b/c they can be damaged over time.
We havn't cleaned our brass patch cords in forever. What kind of cleaner would you use? Our TD just wants to put them in rubbing alcohol.
 

mbandgeek

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Location
North Carolina
can't it also be used to patch in effects to a certain Channel?
 

mbandgeek

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Location
North Carolina
CURLS said:
Thanks man i changed it to decent connectors, my bad. However, you will find that maybe 90 percent of patch bays are of the male 1/4" kind or Tiny telephone (audio)(video different story) Ya come home from work and doing vdosc training all day and your mind gets a little tired of thinking audio. Thats when ya sit down and have a beer and talk with the olll lady!
Wait a second...... Isn't it female connectors?
How do you hook up one of these patchbays anyway?
 

mbandgeek

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Location
North Carolina
So is the top the input, and the bottom the output. Or is it a front and a back thing?
 

mbandgeek

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2006
Location
North Carolina
So it is just used to change the channels of some specific things, and possibly free up some channels?