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Patchbay Setups for Keyboards/Synths
Old 7th February 2009
  #1
Gear Addict
 
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Patchbay Setups for Keyboards/Synths

Hi, I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for the best way to setup a patchbay for different keyboards/synths (with balanced and unbalanced outputs) to go into either a DI or the Line Input of a Pre-amp.

Would something like the following work?
Synth (balanced out) -> TRS---XLRM -> XLRF---DB25 -> TT Patchbay -> DB25---XLRM -> Pre-Amp (Line in)

Synth (unbalanced out) -> TS---XLRM -> XLRF---DB25 -> TT Patchbay -> DB25---XLRM -> DI -> XLRF---XLRM -> Pre-Amp (Line in)


Will going from an unbalanced TS out to an XLR connection and then patching using a TT Patchbay cause any issues? Or is it better to use a dedicated 1/4" patchbay for the unbalanced keyboards? Something like the following:

Synth (unbalanced out) -> TS---TS -> 1/4" Patchbay -> TS---TS -> DI -> XLRF---XLRM -> Pre-Amp (Line in)

Basically I only have one DI and one Pre-Amp, so would like to be able to easily patch different keyboards/synths into them.

Thanks!
Maru
Old 7th February 2009
  #2
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dan p's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The less connections the better!


Dan P
Old 7th February 2009 | Show parent
  #3
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Reptil's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
I kept unbalanced synths on one end and balanced mixer, fx and other outboard seperate. one is on TS/minijack bays, there is a DI transformer and amp stage that has xlr inputs and outputs in TT where the balanced stuff lives. the converter can be adressed from both TS and TT.

you can wire it together, but some balanced gear doesn't like to be connected to unbalanced inputs. (and some does)
also keeps the workflow neat and clear.
Old 4th December 2011
  #4
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JblKid95's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Okay I have the 1 ring gold instrument cables from mogami, I was thinking of getting a patchbay with a duet. Patchbays seem to be all balanced. I want the best and clearest connectivity I can get. Do I go ts from board into patch bay and then trs into the duet from patchbay?????? Also I'm looking into CM automated patchbay because it would be easier to dial in, dbx 48 point, or switch craft... I am hearing loads on digital versus analog, can someone pls clarify which one is better. Thank you
Old 4th December 2011
  #5
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omegaomega's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I'm also interested in doing something similar.
Basically all of my synths are unbalanced, but I have bought balanced multicore cables and balanced patchbays.
My mixers are all balanced.

So if I connect my unbalanced synths with balanced cables to a balanced patchbay and balanced mixer inputs would this be a problem?...
Also should I get balanced or unbalanced short patch cables for the front of my patchbays?...

I hope this is not hijacking the OP's thread, but I thought it's better to ask here than start a new thread...
Old 4th December 2011
  #6
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JblKid95's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yeah this is def. something that needs to be clarified... i have a feeling that in this matter even the most hyped gear guys really don't know... its feels like a grey area. I am also not looking for "what works" I am looking for which sounds the best! Best connection, in terms of achieving the highest quality with these products
Old 5th December 2011
  #7
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
The issue, IMHO, is not with balanced and unbalanced signal but rather with levels.

Synths are line / instrument level, you can't plug it into mic inputs of your preamps.

If your preamps have DI, then you can hardwire your synth / patchbay to the preamps DI input. However, this will create a problem if your preamps cannot use both DI and mic input at the same time.

Alternatively, you can bring a separate DI box inputs / outputs onto the patchbay but that will be eating up your patchbay ins and outs

I also don't know of an elegant way to do this and have asked around many times without any satisfactory answers!
Old 5th December 2011 | Show parent
  #8
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oldgearguy's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by KennaOkoye ➑️
Yeah this is def. something that needs to be clarified... i have a feeling that in this matter even the most hyped gear guys really don't know... its feels like a grey area. I am also not looking for "what works" I am looking for which sounds the best! Best connection, in terms of achieving the highest quality with these products
The most hyped gear guys *do* know. It's just that the answer is longer than 1 or 2 simple rules.

What I would do to be sure is to make up some test cables - unbalanced (T/S) to alligator clips, balanced (XLR or TRS) to alligator clips, then connect the gear one at a time to the patchbay using various combinations. Clip T to T (or pin 2 of XLR), then clip S to S (or pin 1 of the XLR) then try clipping R (or pin 3 of the XLR) to S or leave it floating.

So now you have a synthesizer patched into the back of the patchbay. Now patch that connection into the mixer channel and test. Listen for good level, lack of ground hum, good signal to noise. if there is a problem, try disconnecting R (usually ends up being worse) or S (floating the signal ground).

Take good notes and do that for all your synths. When your synths sound good in the mixer channels, now start patching into effects. If you normally use Aux Sends on the mixer only, there should be no issues. If you patch synths directly into effects, start patching and start making notes of what sounds good and what doesn't.

If you have problems with certain effects, pull the manual or schematics and check the input and output wiring recommendations. Make sure if the effects unit is balanced you have the correct hot pin (XLR 2 or 3, depending on age, manufacturer) and you are doing the correct thing with the cold connection (i.e. - some effects say to ground the cold connection if unbalanced and some say float the cold if unbalanced). Sometimes the inputs and outputs have different recommendations.

Once all that is sorted out, solder up the appropriate cabling and then you are done. What I tend to do is keep the patchbay wiring exactly the same for all connections if possible. So if a synth needs to be unbalanced, I will change the wiring in the connector at the synth end of the cable and not at the patchbay. That way, I know that if I change the synth or add a different thing, I only have to look at the synth end of the cable in all cases and I can leave the patchbay in the rack.

Hope that helps.
Old 14th December 2011
  #9
Here for the gear
 
🎧 10 years
Do you connect the separate out of your drum machine in the patchbay too or just the main out goes in ?
Old 14th December 2011 | Show parent
  #10
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oldgearguy's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1tick2julien ➑️
Do you connect the separate out of your drum machine in the patchbay too or just the main out goes in ?
I have the main output normalled to a mixer channel input. I have 14 cables coming from the patchbay that just hang loose by the drum machines. If I want to process the snare separately, I plug one cable into the snare drum output then patch that connection from the patchbay to either an unused channel input or a monitor return. (On the Toft ATB the Monitor Return path can use aux send 5 and 6 and the EQ and it has panning so it's more than just a feed into the master mix bus).

My reasoning is this -- usually I just want to program the rhythm first, so the main out is good enough and only takes up 1 channel on the mixer. Later, when I want to get creative or work on the various elements, I take individual sounds out and process them separately. With only 2 drum machines (808, 909), I would still need 21 extra mixer inputs to have every sound on its own channel.
Old 4th November 2012 | Show parent
  #11
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initself's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgearguy ➑️
The most hyped gear guys *do* know. It's just that the answer is longer than 1 or 2 simple rules.

What I would do to be sure is to make up some test cables - unbalanced (T/S) to alligator clips, balanced (XLR or TRS) to alligator clips, then connect the gear one at a time to the patchbay using various combinations. Clip T to T (or pin 2 of XLR), then clip S to S (or pin 1 of the XLR) then try clipping R (or pin 3 of the XLR) to S or leave it floating.

So now you have a synthesizer patched into the back of the patchbay. Now patch that connection into the mixer channel and test. Listen for good level, lack of ground hum, good signal to noise. if there is a problem, try disconnecting R (usually ends up being worse) or S (floating the signal ground).

Take good notes and do that for all your synths. When your synths sound good in the mixer channels, now start patching into effects. If you normally use Aux Sends on the imixer only, there should be no issues. If you patch synths directly into effects, start patching and start making notes of what sounds good and what doesn't.

If you have problems with certain effects, pull the manual or schematics and check the input and output wiring recommendations. Make sure if the effects unit is balanced you have the correct hot pin (XLR 2 or 3, depending on age, manufacturer) and you are doing the correct thing with the cold connection (i.e. - some effects say to ground the cold connection if unbalanced and some say float the cold if unbalanced). Sometimes the inputs and outputs have different recommendations.

Once all that is sorted out, solder up the appropriate cabling and then you are done. What I tend to do is keep the patchbay wiring exactly the same for all connections if possible. So if a synth needs to be unbalanced, I will change the wiring in the connector at the synth end of the cable and not at the patchbay. That way, I know that if I change the synth or add a different thing, I only have to look at the synth end of the cable in all cases and I can leave the patchbay in the rack.

Hope that helps.

Can the alligator clip test happen with a DB25 patchbay?
Old 12th September 2015
  #12
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Bringing this one back to life as I want to know whether or not people are using new solutions. Flexiblity has been the most important thing for me lately, so this is how I've set things up in last few days:

2 bays, 1 unbal 1 bal
DI input, Guitar FX Input & Output and Synth output (and some input) to the unbal.
DI Output/other usual business on the balanced

I am about to add Radials JD7 reamping unit, in from balanced bay, out to unbalanced as a means to send things from my DAW to guitar fx. I'm hoping it will make an easy process of sending line attenuated malstrom/absynth osc into my voyager for example, or that designing gtr fx chains (with the bonus of multiple outputs) be nothing less than an absolute pleasure. The JDI and JD7 units are/will be in the same rack as unbalanced bay, power cables away from audio, synths all within 4m.

I've had little time to test it, but I've heard no difference between Synth to DI and Synth to Patchbay to DI. It may sound like I'm being a bit Escher about my signal processing, it may sound like I can't be bothered getting off my chair, and good, because it's both.

Anyone else had any experience with using/avoiding this kind of setup?

Last edited by Perotinus; 12th September 2015 at 07:03 AM.. Reason: Pour spelling
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