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Old August 23rd, 2006, 08:20 PM   #1
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What is a breakout box?

Okay, I know this question might sound stupid, but I am told that a breakout box is kind of like a router...patches audio/video signals to multiple sources. So what exactly does it do? You see, my job at a local television channel, we have 9 workstations, and not a singal breakout box. Each workstation has a production monitor and a tape deck. What would I need a breakout box for, and what does it do?
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 08:28 PM   #2
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Well it usually isn't like a router because it's just a box with a bunch of connectors on it, not something which actively processes things. The term generally refers to a box with connectors for various things (audio, video) with a cable which runs back to an interface card in your computer. It provides a way to plug things in without dealing with the limited amount of space and tight quarters behind your computer.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 08:37 PM   #3
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Here's an example. A cable would link this to the interface card in your Mac:

http://www.aja.com/html_pop/k3_bp.html
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 08:52 PM   #4
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So I can get by without it?

Can I get by without it if I'm working in a strictly DV environment? When would a breakout box be a requirement?
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 09:11 PM   #5
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You can get by without it, but unless you have audio and firewire in the front of your PC, it will be an annoyance. All it does, is basicly put all of your necessary connections where you can easily rech them. I suppose it depends on how much you like reaching around to plug stuff in.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 11:19 PM   #6
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Maybe you want something like a patch bay? (or jackfield)

They basically let you change connections around / patch things by putting cables into the front of the patch bay. A patch cable connects point A to point B. They are wired up in the back when you install it / set it up.

You can also set it up so things are normalled... point A will go to point B, except when you have a patch cable in it. point A's signal won't go to point B and will go to point C instead. So there's that logic to it.

If you had numerous decks a patch bay would be useful (so you don't have to constantly reconnect your gear for dubs and things like that). It doesn't sound like you're in that situation... but I'm just guessing.
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