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The Truth About Patch Bays - Four Common Configurations Explained

Aug 31, 2022

What is Patch Bay? Do I need One?

If you ask yourself the following questions, you may be ready for a patch bay in your studio. 

Do I constantly find myself moving my interface in and out to plug in different instruments? Or crawling under my console to plug something in to channel 4, etc.? Maybe a guitar one day, a keyboard the next, Then the output from my Avalon channel strip the next.
What if a client wants to play some music from their phone or laptop? How do I plug that in so we can hear it on the studio monitors? Yep, You might need a patch bay.

Patch Bays are pretty easy to set up, and once configured the way you like them, they can last forever. And a patch bay can help make your workflow more creative, faster, and more efficient.


Here are the four most common configurations of any patch bay:

  • Fully Normalled:
    All this means is the top and bottom row is always connected. You can break that normal connection by jacking in either the top or the bottom jacks on the patch bay.
  • Half Normalled:
    This means that the top and bottom rows are always connected. You can break the normal by jacking into the bottom row only. The top row will not break the normal.
  • Parallel:
    Often called a "Mult'.  Meaning, multiple jacks doing the same thing at the same time. Like multiple outs from the master fader on your console. 
  • Open:
    No connection between the top and bottom. All this means is that that particular jack is not being used. It's open.

When you are designing a patch bay for your studio. You should try to think of every scenario that could possibly come up in the future. Make sure you think of everything. 

Draw things out on a piece of paper. Follow every signal flow situation and keep in mind any scenario that could possibly come up.
I know. That sounds terrible. Having to think of things that have not happened yet. Or things that could go wrong, etc. 

It is pretty simple if you understand what, where, and when you need any of the gear in your studio and how you might use it in different situations.

When you draw it out on paper, it makes thinking of all the different scenarios simple.

If you have any questions about how to set your studio up with a patch bay, there is tons of information on YouTube about it. 
There is also an excellent module in my LPR101 course and a quick mini-course about "Signal Flow," which is the basis of what we do. 

Find more info about each of those here:

LPR101 Full Audio Engineering Course
LPR BAsics of Signal Flow Mini-Course

Also, while you're there. Check out my LPR Membership and Community - A great place to learn and grow continually while interacting and sharing with the other members of the community. A great support system built in.

Thanks for listening - I hope you are safe, happy & healthy.

Happy Mixing, my friends!