Rocktron Patchmate Loop 8 Floor
By Michael Hodge
As our Pedal Boards keep growing, there is a need to keep everything organized and our signal paths as pure as possible. Buffers, Quality Power supplies and features like True Bypass all contribute. (There are of course pros and cons about True Bypass vs Buffered pedals). The Rocktron Patchmate Loop 8 is all about making your pedal board the best that it can be. By putting your pedals in loops your signal bypasses unused pedals in the chain keeping the signal clean, and allows preset combinations as well as midi control for those new multi function digital pedals.
At first look I was reminded of the Custom Audio Electronics Bob Bradshaw Rig in my studio rack. It is still the king of custom controllers and comes with a hefty price tag that you would expect. Bob has actually worked with Rocktron on several of their product designs.
The Patchmate does some of the same type of things all on the pedal board and is a flexible, less expensive alternative.
The Patchmate Loop 8 can be configured with eight mono or four stereo loops.
You can also add a second Patchmate if you have a more complicated setup. The unit can also control MIDI and amp channel switching if you like. Patchmate is expandable and can be controlled by one of the other Rocktron MIDI controllers or even a laptop.
Adding the Patchmate to your pedal board takes a little planning. For starters you will need to get some extra patch cables. It will take 9 extra short cables to run from the loop ins and outs on the unit, and 16 more send and return cables for your pedals. I suggest you use custom ones to keep things neat and organized. After laying out your pedals on your board where you want them, setting up and wiring the Patchmate is pretty straightforward. There are two inputs on the side of the unit. One of them is buffered which is the one I used. This signal shows up at two outputs back of the unit ready to run into the first loop via a short patch cable. I sent the other to my tuner. I put my Monsterpiece pedal in the first sloop since it has to see the direct guitar signal to be happy. Out of that loop I hit an EGO compressor and then a KLON which both usually stay on, followed by a WAH and Volume Pedal. Starting with the second loop I added the crunch and distortion pedals followed by Modulation, Delays, and finally a Reverb pedal. If you have more pedals than loops, you will have to make some tough decisions. I got spoiled with my Bradshaw rig, which has 16 Loops and 2 mixers. You could however do something similar by adding a second Patchmate or use the Rackmount versions with a midi switcher on the pedal board.
Using presets can be powerful especially since there are eight to a bank.
Pressing the Store/Preset switch turns on preset mode where 8 presets can be saved. These presets are combinations of pedals turning on and off all at the same time. This is very useful and will allow for instant patch changes that would normally take several steps to turn on and off individual pedals. Presets can also recall MIDI patch changes as well, saving you the pain of scrolling through numerous presets to get to your favorites. In addition Patchmate has MIDI IN so it can be controlled by external MIDI devices as well.
Rocktron has a history of making unique products that are fantastic for guitar players who are controlling MIDI and audio. The Patchmate is flexible, well built and thought out. It's nice to be able to turn on and off multiple pedal combinations with one switch. On my wish list would be a way to configure it with four mono and two stereo loops. Alternatively one could hook two Patchmate together with eight mono on one and four more on the other. I'd love to see an additional Tap tempo switch, which would however take up more space, and also for the loops themselves to be "Normaled" into each other with the in and out jacks as secondary options.
The Patchmate also comes in a rack version, and Rocktron has a number of products that can be combined with each other. If you are serious about your pedal board, or are thinking of touring, the Patchmate is a great investment and will make your world organized and professional.
The Patchmate currently lists for $499.00. I think it's worth the price, with all the features, and is comparable to other switchers that do less. For more information go to http://www.rocktron.com/patchmate-loop-8-floor.html
Michael Hodge is the music director and guitarist for Lakewood Church in Houston, TX.