It doesn’t matter how large or small your studio is, you have a mix of both analog and digital gear, and if you want to be able to access everything quickly and efficiently, then you need some sort of patchbay. Designing the signal flow and wiring of a patchbay takes some thought for sure, but something that’s almost always overlooked is how to properly label the jacks on the bay after the wiring is completed. That’s where a brilliant piece of software called PatchCAD becomes a great resource.
PatchCAD has templates for all the major audio and video patchbays, so you can quickly and easily design professional looking labels for them. There’s a nice set of design tools for the text formatting, and a number of built-in selections to make things go fast, like Auto Fill, Auto Number, Fully/Half/Not Normalled, and Paralleled. You can also get accurate, to-scale previews to make sure that everything looks the way you think it should.
Now you might be thinking, “This sounds like something that’s only useful to wiring designers,” and if PatchCAD was expensive, you’d be right. The fact that it’s only £9.99 (about $13USD) makes it almost a no-brainer, since you know that once you’ve added one patchbay, it’s only a matter of time until you add more. Plus, it’s so much easier than trying to measure things up to print out on your word processor (trust me on that).
The only drag is that its Windows only, so us Mac users will have to use it on a Windows emulator like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion for the moment until a Mac version comes available. You can find out more on the PatchCAD website, or watch this great video from James Ivy at Pro Tools Expert that shows you just about everything you need to know.