With ubiquitous products like Digidesign's converters (now Avid) having adopted the balanced 8-channel DB25 connector as standard, these jacks have found their way onto all kinds of pro gear. There are two standard pin-outs for DB25 wiring: Yamaha, which is typical for digital connections; and the more common TASCAM format, which is typical for analog connections. (Check your manuals to be sure for your specific needs.) When it came time to upgrade my patchbays in my mix room (The Farm), I decided to finally switch to DB25 connectors and cables, and I turned to Redco, whom I've trusted for a long time for high-grade, yet affordable cables. The Redco R196-D25PG is a 96-point bay in a single rack space, and the compact size alone is a big attraction for obvious reasons. Every detail of this bay is smartly designed and works beautifully. There are three-way switches on top of the unit for all normalling and grounding options. For normalling, you can select full-normal, half-normal, and non-normalled operation for each channel of I/O. For grounding, you can choose between isolated, vertical, or bus routing. I can't say enough about how smart it is for these switches to be on the top of the unit; you can just slip the bay out of the rack a little ways and make any changes you need in moments. The front TT sockets are solid and smooth, and they are visually grouped in pairs, making stereo patching obvious and easy. There are two slots for labels across the front, and from the Redco website, you can download a template to print custom labels from within Excel -super easy. On the rear, there is a slotted metal plate that extends off the back of the unit to help relieve stress on the cable connections, much appreciated once there are twelve snakes attached. It would be hard to over-emphasize how easy it was to get my racks in order with this bay. I never had to solder a thing, everything worked perfectly, and it was clearly labeled in full color in no time at all. I ordered an assortment of cables, all DB25 terminating in various formats on the other end. What I love about ordering cables from Redco is that you can choose from so many different options, including cable brands (I use Redco's brand), connector types and shapes (L-shaped XLRs can be just the thing in some cases), color-coding, and more. To make things even easier, you can use their website to spec out the exact cables you need, type in your credit card info, and await what is, in my experience, a really quick delivery. You'll be surprised how easy and clear it is to order fully-customized cables on their site. If you do need to talk to someone, they're all well informed and accommodating. It is absolutely true that high-quality patchbays and cabling will best preserve the clarity and bandwidth of your audio signals. In short, the Redco R196-D25PG and Redco cabling are among the best, and music sounds clear and totally solid running through them. If you shop around, it's pretty hard to come up with a better value. (Patchbay $499 direct, cables priced accordingly; www.redco.com)

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

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