Because I started my studio on a tiny budget and without much professional experience, I never considered installing a TT (tiny telephone) patchbay, though sometimes I wish I had! Instead, I have 14 rackspaces (soon to add more) of 1/4'' TRS patchbays. Over the years, I've thrown out and given away a handful of 1/4'' patchbays, like the Re'an/AP Audio model, as I'd had so many problems with them. I've also passed on great deals from Behringer and TASCAM because the units weren't balanced. My favorite budget 1/4'' bay over time has been the Neutrik series, and with the NYS-SPP-L, they finally got all of it right. The 24 top/bottom front jacks are on a PC card connected to the back jacks (pretty standard design for budget bays), and if you pull the card out and flip it you'll change the normalling. The single grey jack indicates the jack that will break the normal; if the grey jack is around the back, the normal remains broken and signal flows front to back. If the grey jack is in the front, plugging in to it will break the normal and plugging in to the black jack will create a mult. It's simple to set up and easy to figure out what's happening. Improvements over older models include metal instead of plastic on the outer jack surface (where the sleeve meets) to increase the life of the jacks and a removable front plate (two small screws) so the unit can stay racked in place while you flip cards. Older units required removal of the rack screws to reconfigure, and they would fall apart if you were moving the bay. I always keep an extra patchbay around for spare cards in case of problems, but I haven't had any trouble with the new models yet. As far as I can tell, this is the best budget 1/4'' TRS patchbay out there, and Neutrik's upgrades actually made a lot of sense. I'm hoping this will save a few people the grief of dealing with some of the lesser patchbays available.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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