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Patchbay routing question

I bought a cheap Neutrik patch bay so I don’t have to keep unplugging things at the back of the mixer. I don’t have a ton of gear, but I always have one too many things to plug in.

I hooked it all up, but when I plug my guitar into the input (bottom) on the front panel, nothing is sent to the mixer. If I plug it into the output (top), I get a really quiet signal.

But if I plug it into the front panel output (top) , and plug another cable into the input (bottom), then it works just fine. Is this normal behavior?

The patchbay is half-normaled.

Here’s the diagram:

Around the back, I have the output from my guitar pedals entering at the bottom (in), and the patch-cable to my mixer’s input running from the top jack.

I understand how the bay works, and how half-normal routing works. But I also think i might have it hooked up wrong.

The idea is that can just jack straight into the mixer to practice, without firing up all the pedals.

Comments

  • I think writing that post may have helped me work out an answer. If I flip the modules inside the bay, so that the top row is normaled, instead of the bottom, then it works.

  • edited May 20

    With patchbays, both the top and bottom of each pair of plugs are going to share the normalled/half-normalled/thru setting. It’s not based on front/back.

    It sounds like it’s fully normalled instead of half-normalled. I’ve never used a Neutrik but all patchbays I’ve ever seen have some way to change the setting of each top/bottom pair independently (my Samson patchbays have a switch on the front, for instance).

    Also, through the patchbay, are you plugging the guitar into a pre-amp or just straight in the mixer? Most
    mixers aren’t equipped to fully amplify an instrument-level signal (such as a guitar).

  • @mistercharlie said:
    I hooked it all up, but when I plug my guitar into the input (bottom) on the front panel, nothing is sent to the mixer.

    Here you're saying that you've got the input to the mixer on the bottom.

    Around the back, I have the output from my guitar pedals entering at the bottom (in), and the patch-cable to my mixer’s input running from the top jack.

    Here you're saying that on the back the input is on the top.

    Patchbays are just pass-throughs from the equipment. They are also set up so outputs are on top and inputs on the bottom. Therefore, the output of your pedal should be connected to the top connector on the back of the patchbay and the input of your mixer to the bottom connector on the back.

    Half-normaling means there's a connection from the rear top to rear bottom jack without a cable plugged in. If a cable is plugged into the top front (output), it doesn't break the connection to the rear bottom, it splits the signal.
    Plugging a cable to the front bottom (input), breaks the "normal" connection of top rear to bottom rear.

    If I plug it into the output (top), I get a really quiet signal. But if I plug it into the front panel output (top) , and plug another cable into the input (bottom), then it works just fine. Is this normal behavior?

    What's happing here is that since your mixer input is connected to the top on the rear panel, because of the half-normalling, when you plug in to the bottom, it's breaking the normal connection and you're trying to plug your guitar into your FX's output.

    When you plug into the top front it's connected to the Mixer input, but the FX output is also still connected. This is mixing the signals, but with the likely impedance mismatch, etc. you're getting an attenuated signal.

    When you plug into both, the normal connection is broken and you hear guitar to mixer correctly.

  • Thanks!

    That fixed it. I had my rear connections upside down. I switched those and everything works as it should.

    Thanks for the great explanation. I was getting confused between patchbay in/outs and gear in/outs.

  • @mistercharlie said:
    Thanks!

    That fixed it. I had my rear connections upside down. I switched those and everything works as it should.

    Thanks for the great explanation. I was getting confused between patchbay in/outs and gear in/outs.

    Glad to help! It's best to think of the patchbay as a group of extension cords coming from your gear (and ignore the concept of normalling). So whatever is plugged into the rear port (top or bottom) is what you get from the front port (top or bottom). If an output from your FX box is plugged into the rear top, then the front top is that same signal coming out from the FX; it's just extended from the FX box to this convenient location.
    With an un-normalled patchbay you could put outputs and inputs wherever you want, just matching front to back. With normalling you get patches for "free", but you have to obey the convention of outputs on the top and inputs on the bottom (unless you flip cards around, etc, but it's better to follow convention).

  • Yes, I’m usually good with circuits and the like. I should have just thought it through instead of following (and misinterpreting) instructions.

    @CalCutta said:

    It sounds like it’s fully normalled instead of half-normalled. I’ve never used a Neutrik but all patchbays I’ve ever seen have some way to change the setting of each top/bottom pair independently (my Samson patchbays have a switch on the front, for instance).

    It’s half-normalled. I got my wiring upside down. :(

    Also, through the patchbay, are you plugging the guitar into a pre-amp or just straight in the mixer? Most
    mixers aren’t equipped to fully amplify an instrument-level signal (such as a guitar).

    The mixer has two XLR/jack combo inputs that can accept a guitar direct. No worries there!

  • @aplourde said:
    Patchbays are just pass-throughs from the equipment. They are also set up so outputs are on top and inputs on the bottom. Therefore, the output of your pedal should be connected to the top connector on the back of the patchbay and the input of your mixer to the bottom connector on the back.

    >

    One small correction: Not all patchbays are designed this way. My Samsons allow inputs or outputs on top or bottom.

  • edited May 20

    Yeah, I have Samsons because routing is so easy. You can change the settings per top/bottom pair easily. I keep inputs to interfaces on bottom and outputs from synths on top. Then use smaller 1/8 cables for routing between devices or toggle normal. It's like a modular. 😊

    Another bonus patchbay tip: spreadsheet.

    Seriously. When I started using them, lots of recommendations for having a sheet for reference if you're working with lots of interfaces or old rack synths with multiple outputs. There are easily found templates out there.

  • @CalCutta said:

    @aplourde said:
    Patchbays are just pass-throughs from the equipment. They are also set up so outputs are on top and inputs on the bottom. Therefore, the output of your pedal should be connected to the top connector on the back of the patchbay and the input of your mixer to the bottom connector on the back.

    >

    One small correction: Not all patchbays are designed this way. My Samsons allow inputs or outputs on top or bottom.

    But is that just when it's set to non-normalled "thru" mode? When you set it to a normalled mode can you reverse the I/O or do you have to follow convention of the outputs going into the top rear jacks and inputs connected to the bottom rear jacks? E.g. if you have an output on the rear bottom and input on the rear top and have it set to half-normal, will a plug in the top front break the normal? Or will it mix the signals from top front and rear bottom and potentially cause the impedance / level issue mistercharlie saw?

    All patch bays can be set to a non-normalled mode, then they are just jack extensions for whatever is plugged in the rear and you can set them up however you like. The issue, and the need to follow convention, is when you're using the normal function.

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