A phrase commonly muttered in frustration during troubleshooting situations is “check the patch cable.” This may be a thing of the past if CM Automation has its way. The company’s PM-216 Automated Audio Patchbay ($699), a 16-channel MIDI-controllable, memory-recallable, 16-source/destination automated patchbay gives cordless a whole new meaning.
The PM-216 is a single rackspace patchbay with an outboard power supply. The unit has two methods of program and patch changing: The first is MIDI control and the second is front panel control. On the left hand side of the front panel are four buttons and a light. The status of the patch light determines the functions of the other three buttons. If the patch light is on, the other buttons are referred to as the STORE, DEC and INC buttons. If the patch light is off, the other buttons are referred to as the SOURCE, DEST and ON/OFF buttons.
The two digit display, the 16 in lights (top row) and the 16 out lights (bottom row) provide visual feedback during configuration and programming. The main function of the display is to show the current patch. The display also changes appearance or flashes for certain operations.The audio specifications of the PM-216 are impressive: a bandwidth of 3 to 100 kHz +0 dB, -1 dB, a dynamic range of 126 dB (0.004% THD) and a stated maximum level before clipping of +26 dB.
I used a TASCAM DA-98 and two TASCAM DA-38s to test the patchbay. (The testing unit was outfitted with TASCAM’s standard D-sub connectors.) Using prerecorded multitrack tapes, I ran the PM-216 through a variety of patch changing and track bouncing applications.
The patch changes were seamless, void of any audible noise floor during switching. Of the two methods of program and patch changing, I found the PM-216s ability to navigate through routing configurations much easier with a MIDI controller than with the seven variable modes of the front control panel. The onboard RAM is a strong feature that allows the user to store and recall patches at will. Once the buffer is full, the MIDI system abilities are useful for long term storage.
The unit proved very flexible in its applications. The PM 216’s ability to copy, backup and restore patches is a definite plus. Personally, I preferred MIDI control to front panel control. All in all, the specs listed in the manual lined up in my testing. The strengths of the automation make this an effective tool in the right scenario.
Contact: CM Automation at 818-709-4732