How to Record – Lesson 16: Patchbays – Warren Huart: Produce Like A Pro

Hi it’s Warren Huart here – hope you’re
doing marvelously well Today we’re at LARS – which is the Los Angeles
Recording School It’s part of the Los Angeles Film School
And the have a wonderful audio program here and my friend Jason Macdonald let us come
here to do a lesson on patchbays Now the reason why I came here is because
my 4000 patchbay as you’ve probably seen on the background is like a spider’s web of annoyances
And frankly I looked at it and thought to myself – if i start pulling that thing apart
– it’s gonna tell me about a week to figure out how to patch it all back in together
It’s kinda permanently patched in the way that I like to mix and track and I’m a little
afraid of it It’s been set that way for several years now
So Jason very kindly let us come here and use his SSL Duality
And it’s a beautiful console – its a newer version of my 4000 and it’s a very flexible
console with tons of different ways to route Has a center section here where you can route
in all kinds of different ways – you can send pre-fade, post-fade, you know – you name it
And all of that is available over here on this lovely patchbay
The great thing about this patchbay – is it allows us full access to everything the console
can do And everything that all of this equipment
that all of this equipment over here can do You’ve got Pro Tools inputs and outputs, you’ve
got multi-effects that appear on here Compressors, EQ’s, external mic pres, you
name it Even some keys and DI inputs and outputs
And the two different live rooms, the left and right of the console – everything comes
up on this patchbay A student can come in here – learn this patchbay
and this basic principle of these patchbays can be applied to any other commercial facility
anywhere in the world It’s very well laid out and it’s a good
way for us to talk about how patchbays work And I can show you basically how my patchbay’s
laid out and how any patchbay that you are gonna get is laid out
Also great tips for you – you know because if you want to turn your private studio into
a commercial facility You’re gonna want to like take some of these
tips here So let’s get started in the patchbay
Here the mic lines are feeding from the live rooms I think
There’s two live rooms here – a slightly larger one which is to my left – is where
they probably do drums etc. And then over to the right – guitar overdubs,
vocals, pianos, etc Probably even drums in there – it’s big
enough for a smaller drum kit And get a nice tight live room sound
Okay so you got mic line inputs here – which there’s 48
And then channel inputs there Normally this would be normalized, which means
if you don’t actually break it So if i take a cable here – I don’t need
to do this – basically this you know is plugging input 1 into channel 1
If it’s normalized – which i’m sure it is – those will actually always be connected
unless I break it So say for instance I wanted to use a different
mic pre other than the one that comes in the console
I would then come out of the mic line and go into the X81 here
There’s a mic input here – like this And then I could either chain a compressor – say
we use the kick in and I wanted to put a little compression on it
I could come out here – with outputs on the bottom – and go to the input of say the
160x Which is typical for me I use the 160 a lot
And then come out of the 160 so then I would come back in to my line input which they’ve
labeled monitor input I suppose they labeled it like that because
– you know if this was in mixdown – that’s another way of talking about it
But that’s our line input on here so it could even be called
More typically line input – so come back in here
So once again let’s do this slowly Our mic lines are from our mic panels
So mic output here Mic line output 1 is from our kick drum
We’re gonna take that – follow all the way down here to our mic pre here – which is the
X81 Which is a Vintech Neve simulation
So the input is on the top and that’s coming out here to the 160 – dbx 160X
Into the input on the top and the output here going into monitor in
Which is actually line input You’ll see that more commonly written as
line input And that is breaking the normal
Otherwise channel 1 here – mic line output you know coming here from the panel
So this is the panel here – would normally be normalized
So pull that – now it’s going straight to input channel 1 on the console
which is over here That’s very typical on any console
And the reason for that is – it makes the most amount of sense – you know if I’ve got
a console like this and you know for me personally when I’m doing drums
I like to try and use as many of the same mic pres as possible So if you have a really nice class A – or
a nice console like this SSL here It’s nice if you can get all the drums going
through it because every pre is the same The transient response time will be the same
on every single one – so those drums tend to hit really percussively and conclusively
However there might be instances where you want to try a different mic pre
You know a Neve or a Neve simulated mic pre like that will have a little bit more girth and bottom
end So it might be nice to do that on the kick
in particular So if we have one or two you know – kick mics
– we might want to add those The snare as well – it might be nice to get
that kind of extra girth But that is a typical way that you would set
up your patch bay Next here is the Pro Tools outputs
now obviously these again will be normalized to the monitor inputs – line inputs
So when you’re mixing – if you just want to use the console compression and EQ
And then do stuff in the box You know putting some additional EQ and compression
on everything – great just leave it as it is
However if you want to do a similar thing – let’s just say you wanna hear some hardware,
some real compressors, some real EQ’s exactly the same process
We could take the Pro Tools output here of say 1
maybe we’ve summed all our kick drums together onto one
There’s not many good 160 simulations to be honest – I’ve known a few dbx ones
Let’s say it wasn’t recorded with the 160 and we wanted to hear it – we could do the
same patch So we could go into the 160X here – and again
because we’ve broken normal we’ll come out the output here and then
back into the line input – the monitor input here
Great – so exactly the same process – were patching the 160 in to use for compression
We pull it – it’s normalled – bring it back in and we’ve inserted it through the hardware
If we wanted to – we could do exactly the same process using the channel insert sends
So we could do it on the channel – like such So we could just literally use the consoles
EQ, compression, everything And if we wanted to insert effects – or compression
and EQ – we could do exactly the same thing Exactly the same patch – the thing about using
the Pro Tools output is we can get a little crazier because we can sum and bus stuff in
a different way to what we might do with the console
So you could do unique things and then come back into the console in a different way
So there’s a lot of flexibility – that’s really the bottom line with patchbays
And the whole idea of the patchbay is having all of these amazing different ways to get
in and out with signal So you can do all sorts of crazy stuff – there’s
no rules If you wanted to sum – you know take a stereo
pair on Pro Tools here You know – whether it be 1 and 2, 13 and 14,
15 and 16 – whatever And do something inside of Pro Tools – and
then have that go through some different compression and EQ which is available
And then bring it back in to line inputs – you could do that
Then you’re doing things inside of Pro Tools and you’re not necessarily using the console
because consoles are fantastic but each of them work in different ways
This one in particular – we were talking about earlier – is all assignable but not on the
channel strip Its assignable through a matrix system in
the middle there – and let’s just say you have a particular way of working and you have
the session that you’ve opened up from a different console
You might not have all of that available but you may have already done bussing and hardware
inserts and all sorts of crazy stuff like that
So the great thing about having a really – you know comprehensive patchbay like this – is
you’ll be able to simulate things and move easily from one studio to another
That’s the great thing about professional studios – is they try to cover every eventuality
Typically and professionally – sends are always on the top and returns are always on the bottom
I have seen them around the other in some places
Usually – you know people who have built their own studio stiff
But typically we would take a channel insert send and that would be in this – on a mixdown
You know I don’t personally insert like that when I’m tracking
I would want that to come out of the mic lines into a compressor – back into a channel input
when I was tracking But you could insert if you wanted like that
But I wouldn’t advise it – this would be a mixdown situation
So the direct outputs on the channel here – same thing
And on this particular console – or this SSL – it is assignable so we could make these
whatever we wanted to They could be pre fade or post fade
You know – I probably typically would – because you’ve got inserts here – I would only really
see a necessity for this if i wanted to do something post fade
Because this is already – I would insert and then have fader control of compression
The audio signal would be compressed – and I’d want a fader control over it
So maybe I would insert an effect there but maybe i would want something
You know – post fade on a mix – that could be kind of fun
You know – having a volume ride going into another compressor to do a specific effect
or an EQ or distortion or whatever However – this is all once again – all personal
taste You’ve really got a million different ways
of doing things here – you know You could insert compression here – you could
also have compression on a channel output which is pre or post fade
It really is completely controllable to you So the Pro Tools input here is our Pro Tools
input However, it is normalized – so just like the
mic lines here coming from the panels are normalized to the channel inputs
The channel inputs are normalized to Pro Tools input 1
So here I’m selecting on the top one where I’m selecting – whether I want to use
You know – if i stay like this it uses the SSL mic pre – if I break the normal I can
then select a different mic pre The same thing here is on Pro Tools input
So I could break the input or it’s just normalized to Pro Tools in
So if i wanted to come out of the channel out here – once it’s assigned on the console
I could come out of a direct output assigned pre or post fade – maybe in this instance
post fade And come out of this channel output and do
another compression or EQ or something And the reason which is nice for this is – let’s
just say I’m already using these things – I’ve done something
I’m tracking and i’m not happy it might be a quick and easy fix to just insert
something else you know Someone might come in and put in a piece
of rack gear and I just might want to compress lightly
After doing a few fun things down here – it gives me one more quick option without having
to unpatch like 5 cables – 6 cables I could just add another compressor or an
external piece of equipment and then go into the Pro Tools input
Again a lot of flexibility on a patchbay is a good thing
Okay so next here we have track bus outputs now there are the bus outputs from the console
They’re assignable obviously from the console from each individual channel – from wherever
you want it to be The way that this particular studio is set
up – is the track bus outputs are normalized to the Studer inputs
They have a 24 track Studer – an 827 – which is a great machine
It’s the last machine they make – they did also make a gold model above it but essentially
the same machine So It’s an 827 – you can assign these obviously
from any channel anywhere on the console This particular SSL is assignable in a very
unique way from – you know like an old Neve analog console
Which the bus assignments would be – you know assignable on the channel
This one you can sit there and assign all kinds of craziness and really go nuts on it
but you’re gonna see this kind of thing quite often because here in the modern world
we’ve got a tape machine and Pro Tools So the way they’re doing it is they’re
coming out of the channel bus assignments Which of course could be multed for many channels
– you know they could have three kick inputs printing down to one
Because obviously it’s a 24 track machine So if they’re recording a live band with a
lot of inputs – they could have some fun multing things on the console and then printing into
the Studer and because it’s only 24 ins – in this day
and age It’s not very many inputs – you know in the digital world
I grew up as a kid that was a lot – we aspired to having 24 channels
“Wow you’ve got 24 channels – that’s incredible”
Now of course it’s like “oh you’ve only got 24 inputs”
Anyway so again – normalized and you could break that normal – you could go in
You could do compression before going in too you could do all the compression and EQ
you want using channel inserts and all that kind of fun stuff
And then do it again going into the Studer the Studer could have a different you know
set of EQ and compression going into it That could be set up permanently – you could
do all kinds of fun stuff So you know – again a lot of flexibility and
very useful to have next is our mix insert – so we have three
mix busses on the SSL here SSL’s always had this facility – it’s
one of the great things about SSL mixing Like with a drum mix – quite often you could
either bus it and have a drum mix come in on a pair of faders
But what a lot of people do is have that drum mix come up on a certain stereo fader and
then compress and EQ then And then fold that back into the main mix
What is typical is – you know A is your stereo mix bus and these other two mix buses here
B and C You know B could be my drum mix – so I could
have that go to a stereo mix and do the same thing – come out of that SSL stereo mix
And go into some compression – so I could do some external compression or limiting
And then that inside of the SSL bus matrix would be folded into A
Again – the SSL would probably have a 4000 bus compressor
But if you did want to try a different bus compressor – you could do the same thing on
mix bus A here You could use another external compressor
and EQ etc. – a lot of flexibility there And of course this is normalized – so it’s
always going to come back regardless of this But once you plug in here you break the normal
– and you can go into whatever fun stuff you want
So the right here is external source inputs on the – again this is very to do with whichever
console it is Now each console can have different inputs
and outputs you know – assignable to it We don’t have to go into the details of this
stuff because whatever this console has available may not be what’s available on other consoles
There may be different inputs and outputs that are available on it
So these are all external listening sources so you know – you could have an input coming
in from an iPod It could be a CD player, if you’ve still
got one – a DAT player – you know you name it
Different external inputs – it’s nice to have those available and obviously this is
designed as a commercial facility but if this wasn’t a commercial facility
I could have this permanently hooked up to different ways of listening – you know my laptop
could be plugged in The computer output could be coming in – there
could be a floating 3.5mm mini jack for different people to plug in their
reference sources – you know as artists come in – it’s a fun thing to have and again
this is available to this SSL But different consoles will have different
external inputs Here’s the mix outputs – so there aren’t
normalled anywhere – which is typical These aren’t normalled to a particular stereo
pair of Pro Tools inputs – but let’s just say Let’s just say A is our main mix bus – we could
come out of A here and go back and find our Pro Tools in
and our last input here is – here’s our Pro Tools in – it’s down here so 47 and this would be post compression if we were running compression on our inserts etc
So here we go – so that’s your patch – so there’s your patch coming out of mix outputs
from the SSL – A left/right Going into 47 and 48 – and that could be our
print input on Pro Tools Now you could also bring in – you know I use
a Lavry for my stereo mix Maybe you could bring in your own Apogee 2
track input – all kinds of fun stuff So that’s how you would get to it – so I would get
to this – you know out of here Again if you wanted to – there’s no reason
why you couldn’t also insert a compressor or EQ across that
Again the similar situation – you may have your compression and EQ set up but you just
want to add a limiter so rather than taking all your chain out – you
come out of here – you come into a new limiter This could go to obviously XLR’s – go into
a limiter – patch in quickly put it in there – or limiter maybe inserted
somewhere in here The bottom line is this gives you a lot of
flexibility to do whatever you want when you’re moving quickly especially as an assistant When you’re an assistant engineer this is a quick way of doing things and not having to sit there you know – when the client
is wanting something done like that And you’re unpatching tons and tons of stuff
to potentially make a mistake – which we all do
This is like “oh he wants to add like a limiter?” boom straight into that limiter – straight
into that limiter Back in – off you go – okay so the monitor
insert sends here, 5.1 So we have left, right, center, Low Frequency
Effect, and Left Surround, and Right Surround So that’s for our 5.1 – now this we believe
is just set up – you know if you wanted to insert some additional compression across
those or EQ Personally – I don’t know if I’d ever need
that but it’s available if you want it This is a whole bunch of fun stuff here – again
just to show the comprehensiveness of this patchbay
You’ve got the main mixers here – again we can come out here – we could go into different
power amps different powered speakers – it gives us a
lot of different ways – if you brought in some different speakers and you didn’t want
to unpatch these You just sat a pair of powered speakers on
top of the ones that are here – we could just come out of that
patch straight into the back of it – so this is just a lot of different ways of doing stuff
So next we have our FX sends – we have two stereo cues
And we have four independent FX sends which are on the console
Now the stereo cues would typically be headphones you know so you create a stereo cue mix
You could have two independant mixes like that – you know 99%
Of the time when you’re doing vocals – you’ll have a board mix that you can send to the
singer And then on his channel – his or her channel
you could then send a little bit more – you know
monitor mix that way – again everybody works differently
Most of the time we’re doing vocals I send the 2 track mix that I’m listening
to and then I give the singer a little bit more on my SSL
That would be one – one of many ways that I could send a headphone mix would be out
of my cues So I could have a stereo cue coming up on
the console – see if you look over here very quickly
See the stereo cue – i could set up a stereo cue – that would be my headphone mix
And then maybe what i could do is send a little bit more – you know of a different one as
well When you fold that back in you won’t have
any phase issues – its coming off the console Theres no digital plug-ins and stuff in the
way – that’s the great thing about analog equipment is
Jim Scott once said it to me – he goes ‘how come I can’t just send from three different
direction in Pro Tools like I can from a console without having to use delay compensation or
time adjustment stuff” That is the one thing about digital that we
always have to look out for is we can get that slight phasing and sometimes delay compensation
when you are running a lot of plug-ins isn’t capable of handling it
because you’re right maxed out – the great thing about using an analog piece of equipment
you know – that’s still great Is that you can send out from all these thousands
of different ways, tons of compressors and EQ and it all comes back in
And there’s no perceptible phase issues – now maybe somebody you know – would argue there
would be but to be honest – the differences are so
negligible you know – compared with the issues I might get inside my DAW doing that same kind
of thing Interesting – they have multi-effects here
so if i was mixing and I used my four FX sends
You know because they have a PCM96, SBX inputs here – I could go into my inputs of my FX
here And then it looks like they’ve got their outputs
set back there As you can see here – on this SSL the FX returns
are back here – they call them echo returns they come up in the console
You could come back on channels – a lot of people like to do multi-effects on channels
becasue when you have faders available you might want to do some fun stuff
It’s so much easier to do it here – you know to have a reverb that is assigned – coming
here And I might want to do like a quick push on
the end of a phrase – you know maybe the vocal’s fading out “ahhh” and I want the verb
to come up I could do a little automation of the reverb
as the vocal is fading You know – it’s really up to you – that
is the bottom line with the patchbay – that’s why we have a patchbay
It’s to have everything available here so we can do all kinds of fun stuff – there’s
no rules If you want to come out of the FX sends, go
into a compressor, into an EQ, then go into a multi-effects, then come back on fader
You can do it – if you want – just come out of the FX send and
Use it to do something completely – you know maybe you’re running out of ways to monitor
“oh no I need another way for someone to hear themselves – another headphone mix”
Use the FX send – that’s what this is for – it could be called an FX send but it could
also be another way to get to John over there Who’s just turned up for the kazoo solo
and he needs his own independent headphone mix – use the FX send
That’s the great thing about the patchbay Here is you know – some stuff which is very
typical and it’s just really here now in these last few patchbays here
This is just to illustrate the flexibility of this particular studio – they have equipment
that is just their equipment So you know – guitar pod – they’ve got a
DI output here You know for DI’s that are hardwired in
here – they have the 960 you know – Lexicon available
The inputs and the outputs available here So here is like different – you know different
ways to get it into multi-effects and keyboards Here this is all available – these are open
inputs which we could patch anything we like in
Here’s the mults – now what are the mults – here’s the mults
Now here’s a trick I always like to do – let’s just say we’re coming out of 24 on our mic line
So this is a panel here – there’s a lead vocal coming in here – I might come out of
this I might go to do something kind of crazy-ish
here – let’s go and find – here it is Mic line input on our external mic pre – so
i’m going to come out of my mic line output the line output there
And now what im going to do – is i’m going to do this
That’s my lead vocal – Im going to go into a mult – like such
Now that mult – now all of these four here are all wired together – I think is the dumb
way of descibing it So now what I want to do is like – that input
these three outputs now These are now three outputs to do whatever
I want to – simple as that I’m going to come out of that – get some extra cables
and I’m going to do some parallel compression Now let’s have a look – what do I have two
of? Perfect – so i have two 1176’s
So im going to go into 1176 – the first one and im going to set up some light compression
And then that is going to come out and go into mult 2 – this might take some re-explaining
Okay now I’m going to come out on the second mult 1 and go into the other 1176 input here
come out of that 1176 back into mult 2 Now I’m setting up these two 1176’s differently
this one 1176 is going to have light compression That is only coming in when the singer screams
it hits when he’s screaming or she’s screaming
The other one is compressing on all of the softer stuff – so basically I’m setting
up compression to happen no matter whether the singer is belting or singing softly
And I set up the output so it’s always giving me a good hot signal – now you might ask why
Well what it does is give me a fat tone all of the time
So now both of those outputs are going into mult 2 – and mult 2 – this now is an ouput
as well Now mult 2 is going to go into monitor input
24 – my line input So now what i’m doing – and that’s normalized
to Pro Tools – I could go straight to Pro Tools if I wanted to
Here I can go Pro Tools in here as well – but it’s normalized so if I wanted to go in
there and use any sort of facility the SSL has – I could do that
but there you go – so let’s go through that again slowly – on why a mult is really cool
and very useful Might take some double explaining – I’m
coming out of my – I’m coming out of output 24
Which is one of my mic panels – so let’s just say that my vocal is patched into 24
on my mic panel I’m coming out of that into a mic pre here
so there’s the mic input here coming out of the line output from that mic pre into
the first mult Can you see that – mult 1 – now that mult
is allowing me to have two outputs So these two outputs are going into two different
sets of compressors – two 1176’s 1176 A and 1176 B – I’m setting up those
compressors in two different ways One compressor is set to compress the softer
vocal – and then it has a nice zero output So it’s printing a nice big fat vocal – the
other one is set to only pick up peaks when the singer is screaming and that’s set to
an output of 0 dB So i just basically A/B it – I can mute one
mute the other and listen And then those outputs are going back into
a mult here – and then that output from that mult is going into Pro Tools
That is one way of using mults – I love it it’s a really quick and easy way – I do
it all the time on vocals parallel compression so I’m printing a big fat vocal sound – you
can use mults to do a million different things the advantage of a mult
It could be anywhere from as mundane as doing an extra headphone mix
“Ah I need an extra headphone mix – how do i get it over to here”
How do i get FX send 1 – because this has 4 FX sends – after I’ve used all of my effect
sends How do i get to quickly add another delay
– okay great i’ll just mult my output from that so when that reverb comes up – the delay
comes up Quickly just take that out – send that to
a delay Mults are a godsend – they’re a godsend
for any assistant engineer when he’s trying to figure out how to quickly get into five
different things at once Because you can mult to a mult – you can do
all kinds of crazy crazy things They are a great thing to have on patchbays
okay that’s a lot of cables So imagine what it’s like if you’re doing
a lot of compression and EQ – this can turn into a spider’s web of cabling
Okay and last but no means least – we have a full available user option here
The panel above here is all the different effects – ins and outs which are particular
to this studio so you could put in all your Different reverbs and delays could be available
– inputs and outputs here They have a lot of comprehensive effects here
Lexicon 400 and stuff – that’s great Down at the bottom – and I think actually
quite nicely – they’ve called it “User Option”
Its 48 inputs and outputs which I’m sure is all available either on a separate panel
which you could plug into XLR’s or a snake that comes out
Because some guy might roll in here one day with his own Pro Tools rig
He doesn’t want to use the Pro Tools rig here he might have HDX as opposed to HD
He might have Apogee converters – whatever he wants to use – and yes you could sit in
here and unpatch everything Or you could just roll his rig in and take
those XLR inputs and outputs and plug it in the back and off you go
Maybe it’s an Elco – some people have an Elco ready to go – they’re so used to tracking
and moving from one studio to another They have an Elco – whatever it is it’s
great if you’re a commercial facility or you’re even a budding home studio guy
And you want the ability to be able to have other engineers come and go – have it available
on a patchbay Have a way for people to come in and out – it
doesn’t have to be a Pro Tools unit – it could be multi-effects
It could be their mic pres – it could be compressors, EQ’s, whatever it is – this is a great thing
to have Hopefully I covered everything in the patchbay
everything that a patchbay does But please of course as ever leave questions
and comments down below Also if there’s things that you do in your
patchbay that you think are more flexible or you know – just let us know
I’d love to have a discussion about this as ever I learn as much from you as you
do for me And thanks again to LARS for letting us come
in and use this – great to be able to come into a place like this
Which is laid out like a commercial facility so that we can see how things are patched
in the real world And please leave some questions below – leave
some comments – subscribe Go to and sign up for
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And thank you ever so much for watching

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