Patchbays Let You Treat Your Studio Like A Modular Synthesizer

The latest once upon a synth video takes a look at a piece of gear that’s not the most exciting tool in studios, but often one of the most frequently used – patchbays.

The video looks at how patchbays can be used to bring all the connections in your studio to a central location. This makes it fast and easy to connect the outputs and the inputs of any device in your studio, streamlining your workflow and making it easier to experiment with new audio paths.

Video Summary:

“I go over how I use patchbays in my small home studio to generate new ideas. I cover the basics of how they work and then I go over some examples of how I use them in practice. This is not so much a tutorial on how patchbays work technically but it’s more a showcase of how they help inspire creativity.”

14 thoughts on “Patchbays Let You Treat Your Studio Like A Modular Synthesizer

    1. In my experience it does not, but it can depend on the quality of the cable you use, and the lenght of these cables (the cables in the back of the patchbay). When you can, use balanced connexions, and try to use short unbalanced cables if they are required (most synths expect unbalanced cables for their output, but it really depends on the specific models). If you run your synth via six or seven fx pedal, imagine that the signals travels through lots of meters of cable. You better have good cables 🙂 ! Again, here, I’m using, Cordial and Sommer cables, most of them unbalanced, and i have no problem. I avoid to cross audio signal with powercords, Usb, so all the power cords, usb, midi, digital signals are cascaded at the left of my rack and the audio on the right of the rack. Simple trick, but it can avoid problems !

    2. As loulow indicates good patch cords are much more important than the patch bay. The additional mechanical connections adds a small degree of parasitic resistance and capacitance to the circuit, but it’s minimal compared to the rest of the analog signal path.

      Also, of great importance is to ensure that you manage ground loops through patch bays as well. In this last regard, the injection of noise into the circuit is more worrisome than an additional connection or two.

      Finally, use of balanced line instead of unbalanced line reduces the number of issues when dealing with patch bays.

      Every big studio in the world uses patch bays. They must be doing something right.

  1. That Samson patchbay , seems to be the most popular affordable model but we can’t find it anywhere in Europe. Does anybody know what happened? Are there any really good alternatives at that price range?

    1. i would say Neutrik Rean is the most popular patch bay … at least you can find millions of them on ebay as well as different variants of the socket module cards

    2. The Samson is nice because it allows you to change the routing with a simple front panel switch. Also, it’s clean and cheap. Keep searching!

  2. It took me years to realise how useful patchbays are. But once I figured out how how they’re not just for routing sounds before a mixer but inside & after it, my little mind was blown. Stuff like send a group out to a compresser & return to a spare channel for parallel compression(!), use FX inserts to send & return signals via samplers(!!), get a 2nd patchbay for FX devices so the first is just instrument ins & outs (!!!).

    Then I spent a fortnight’s mortgage payments on cables & my face melted off.

    1. Yeah, there’s are ton’s of tricks incorporating reprocessing through mixing boards. The most ubiquitous are side-chain compression techniques. My favorite is remixing the output of a well-known mono synth back into its source mixer via the external input 🙂

  3. I am a bit confused about connecting phantom powered signals. Could you connect the ouput of the DI box to the samson instead of going through xlr patchbay?

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