Switchcraft has long been an industry leader in both quality and innovation when it comes to audio connectors. It’s a name synonymous with delivering on professional audio solutions: guitarists laud their jacks, plugs and switches and sound engineers and studios revere their direct boxes, cable assemblies and patchbays. The company’s distinguished history dates back to 1946, and has undergone a number of evolutions – most recently being acquired by HEICO Corporation in 2011 as part of their Electronic Technologies Group. Unchanging, however, is Switchcraft’s commitment to forward- thinking design and exceptional performance. For quality meets quantity there’s no better example than their studio equipment range.
Recording sound relies upon the functionality of the equipment at hand. Flexibility, consistency and performance are all non-negotiable. This is the approach that Switchcraft takes to signal routing, each one a binding principle that dictates everything from the manufacturing to the usability of their StudioPatch Series Audio Patchbays.
The use of a patchbay provides a studio with a greater level of organisation and control. As a central audio connection area, it enables the volume of all the studio gear to intersect in a single location using a uniform set of cables and connectors – more than handy for any recording studio! Where the StudioPatch Series differentiates itself from standardised patchbays is with its use of EZ Norm technology, which allows signal flow to be altered at the front of the console using a plain old screwdriver. Long gone are the days when soldering points at the rear of patchbays were the only means of configuring your signal flow.
Another pivotal feature is theeasily accessible grounding switches that customise the ground setting of each channel – either vertically strapped or isolated – with the mere flip of a switch. It’s a straightforward solution to the problematic, ground-loop induced hum that can in ltrate, and terrorise your system. At the forefront of the line is the StudioPatch 9625, which boasts 48 channels (96 TT/bantam jacks) and comes with a DB25 I/O panel for easy front-of-rack access. For professional and home studios alike, it covers all bases.
In a studio environment gear tends to break. It’s a simple, albeit, unpleasant reality. The complicated and often chaotic nature of recording doesn’t always lend itself too kindly to sustainability and longevity. The likelihood that it’s going to burn a disparaging hole in your pocket, significant. Durability, then, is a primary objective of pro-audio connector manufacturers, with Switchcraft. No exception. Their line of cable assemblies fit this brief with flying colours: all of their breakout cables feature all metal XLR 1⁄4” ends and premium double-shielded multi-pair cabling. Essentially, they resemble something closer to a bulletproof tank than a linking cable assembly.
Readied for extensive, multi-channel use, the Standard DB25 Breakout Cables interconnect with a plethora of audio systems including patchbays, splitter systems, stage boxes and I/O panels. It’s clever engineering that prides itself upon leaving no stone unturned. Sometimes the issue can be the instrument itself: basses, keyboards, acoustic guitars and other instruments all typically produce an unbalanced signal. Combating that weak signal – the muddiness, buzz or even radio frequency interference – can’t be achieved by merely lifting the instrument at the mixer, that is, without boosting all those unwanted frequencies. Enter the DI and bass player’s saving grace. The more than handy box is a long-time product of Switchcraft’s, and in recent times has undergone a facelift in ingenuity with the 314DI AudioStix.
The newest member to the product line, the 314DI is a pocketsize version of Switchcraft’s standard DI Box series. It fulfils the essential function of a DI, converting the unbalanced output of instruments with line-out level to balanced, mic level signals that can then be connected to audio consoles and mic pre-amps. Yet, it does so with the added bene t of a 1/4” Feed Thru allowing connection with multiple devices, such as an amp and a tuner, or two amps, while the DE Series Locking Male XLR ensures balanced, mono, mic level output – all within a compact, seriously small package. It’s a welcomed addition to the AudioStix line, which already offers audio solutions for connecting the audio output of a laptop or MP3 player to a PA system with the 318 AudioStix, and the option for permanent installation into a wide range of custom racks and wall plates.
On the other end of the scale Switchcraft’s 900 Series Instrument Direct Box revolutionises the DI with new capabilities, notably its Phantom Lift component. An unprecedented option for live sound engineers, the ground circuit can now be swiftly disconnected from the box when controlled remotely using +48V phantom power from the console. In practical terms, if things start to go awry with an off frequency during a live set, the phantom power sends it to ground, immediately nullifying any protruding buzz. For a real-time problem of this gravity, this is a solution that speaks of ingenuity and innovation in volumes. Often what we’re looking for when fulfilling our studio or live sound requirements is gear that performs effectively and, in doing so, makes the job easier.
Take the Switchcraft SC600 Dual Adaptor Box, for instance. The multi-purpose, remarkably adaptable unit replaces a host of commonly used adaptors in one clean swoop (14 to be exact). Each of its two panels contains a 1/8” stereo jack, a 1/4” stereo jack, two 1/4” mono jacks, and two RCA jacks. While the ability to use any of its included connections as both inputs or outputs allows the SC600 to function as a passive splitter, sending audio from one device up to three devices with different connections. In a nutshell, it’s one size fits all.
In such an expansive and accelerating technological climate studio equipment and professional audio practices are constantly being reinvigorated, redesigned and reimagined. At the forefront of audio connection design is Switchcraft. Their comprehensive, long-lasting, and unequivocally versatile studio equipment range is a product of an organisation that is engaging with the audio production industry; one that understands its in and outs, and is uncompromising in its pursuit to break new technical ground.