I've contemplated buying a patchbay (PB) for years. It took me a while to try & understand the "nomal" "half normal" & " thru" modes that are offered on these items. I thought i understood it enough to purchase one, yes there are cheaper PB you can buy but i decided to go for the Samson as it had the configuration switches on the front of the unit. My research noted that some PB have these on the top so only accessable with the unit not rack mounted. Or leaving space above to access within the rack. Other types have you physically remove & rotate modules from the back. So i paid slightly more to make my life & configuration easier. I'm glad i did. It's a solid item, very well made & looks great. Step one was planning all my output & input connections for the PB. I did this in MS Excel but a pen & paper would work too. If you've never used a PB before i would recommend this route. I have a 16 channel mixer & lots of synths. As i don't require them all making sound at once i decided to only bring channels 1-8 from the mixer into the PB. Normally Top row are outputs from gear & the bottom row are inputs (when using the patchbay in a "nomal" or "1/2normal"). So on the PB 25-32 correspond to my 1-8 mixer inputs. Directly above these i have connected some of my main synths & modules on the PB that is 1-8. These are configured as "normal" so connect directly into the mixer. I plan to have my outboard effects connected at the opposite end of the PB. Again these will be normal. My mixer has high gain inputs on channel 1& 2 so i want to bring the channel inserts from the mixer to the PB so i can patch together a compressor etc when i'm recording guitar or bass. This should leave some unused space on the PB in the middle. I'm probably going to run my other synths into the PB set as "thru". I can then just patch them into a mixer channel by the use of a patchlead when required. This patchbay has certainly changed my life. I can't believe i didnt buy one sooner. No more fumbling around the mixer jacks trying to plug something new in anymore. I have a synth output PB1 which is normaled into PB25 this goes into my mixer channel 1 by default. I picked up my guitar the other day & took the 1/4" jack & plugged it into PB25 - bam - guitar breaks the synths connection & lets me input the guitar into mixer channel 1. Just great & speeds up your workflow. PROS: Brings inner calm & happness to your studio. Killer piece of kit!!! CONS: I think i need another Samson S-Patch patchbay ! You can almost double the amount of cables required in your studio.
Featuring all the 'usual suspect' modes (Normal, Half normal and Thru), the S-Patch Plus is a reliable 1/4" TRS patch bay for little money. All inputs and outputs are balanced (but will naturally work just fine with unbalanced cabling as well), and there is no apparent degradation in audio fidelity, at least when running short cable lengths between all connected devices.
If you're finding yourself piling up on hardware effects, routing everything through one or more patch bays will help immensely when experimenting with your FX chain. The sheer routing possibilities can be somewhat mindblowing at first, so you may want to start off your patch bay planning by jotting down all the units (e.g. audio interface, hardware compressors and EQs, FX pedals etc.) that you'll want to include in your future routing scheme, before you start running cables. This will save a lot of time and grief when it's time to actually hook everything up. After a week, you won't be able to work without it. I deliberately left a couple of inputs and outputs 'empty', thus creating a 'testing ground' of new toys available on the front of the rackmounted patch bay. This way, I can also simply insert guitar pedals directly to the bay's front, adding more creative effects on a whim without having to worry about what's connected to the back.
My only gripe - and indeed, this is a first world problem - is that there is precious little space to label the ins and outs. But that's what you get on a 48 point device in 1U size. Oh, and while the unit itself won't set you back much, factoring in the expense of all the cabling will. But alas, such is studio life.
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