Q: “What is the most popular (or used) patch cable?”
A: Wow, is this ever a loaded question. Because the industry can’t come to a general agreement on the type of connectors we should all use, there are a number of different patch bay and cable configurations. If we had to venture an answer, it would most likely be unbalanced male TS to male TS patch cables. If you’re asking because you’re thinking about building or purchasing a patch bay and want to know the sort of things to start looking for, the real answer is for you to look around your studio and take stock of the types of connectors you have on the back of your gear. In recent years, manufacturers seem to be including both balanced and unbalanced connectors (not always, be sure to check), so your first step is in deciding whether you can use a balanced or unbalanced patch bay. If you can, balanced will allow longer cable runs before signal degradation. Now, in many of our studios, off the shelf patch bay and patch cables from Sweetwater are perfect. In this case, these are almost always 1/4″ balanced (TRS) or unbalanced (TS) connectors. In general, patch cables typically do not need the durability and flexibility of primary guitar cables or microphone cables. They do need good shielding and good sonics, so we don’t mean to infer that you can go cheap here. Plus, cosmetics do not matter a whole lot, since no one will ever see them except you. So, in many instances shorter, well-built cables that are 1/4″ TRS or TS cables fit the bill. Be sure to call your Sweetwater if you have any further questions.