June 14, 2024

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Mix Engineer Tiago D’Errico utilizes Flock Audio PATCH XT for control and flexibility never before possible with hardware

While music called to Grammy-nominated mixing engineer and producer Tiago D’Errico from a young age, it was performance rather than production that came first. “I fell in love with production after a band I was in got the chance to work on a record with Roy Thomas Baker,” he says, referring to the storied producer whose credits include records with The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Journey. “He’s a genius, and just watching him work and seeing the way he thinks about making a record was fascinating. I was asking a ton of questions throughout the process, and in a way he became my mentor.” Baker epitomized an old-school approach that D’Errico found illuminating. “Everything was cut to tape,  and he was making all the decisions on input,” he recalls. Eager for more opportunities and perspectives, D’Errico landed an internship with another industry luminary who exposed him to a very different style of production from Baker: Rudy Maya. “Rudy was Rihanna’s producer, and working with him was the complete opposite of Roy,” he says. “I got to see how he works in the digital domain to get that pop sound.” With a deep appreciation for the production styles of each of his mentors, D’Errico long sought a way to build a hybrid setup for his own studio that would allow him to bring together the digital and analog worlds. After years of searching, he finally found the centerpiece that he needed: the Flock Audio PATCH XT digitally controlled analog patchbay.


Prior to acquiring the PATCH XT, D’Errico had garnered significant industry credibility for his mix work, which became the focus of his enterprise. “For the past 8 years, 95% of what I do has been mixing only,” he says. Although he has retained a collection of prized outboard hardware throughout his career, industry changes began to impact his ability to utilize his favorite outboard in his mixes. “The speed of production was getting faster and faster in the industry, so I had to deliver mixes faster, too,” he says. “Unfortunately I started relying less on the outboard gear that I loved for years because of that. I just couldn’t have the speed and recallability that I needed. That’s why the PATCH XT blew my mind.”

Hybrid revolution
The PATCH XT—a 192-point analog patchbay with full digital control–builds on the product line Flock Audio launched with the intent of modernizing hybrid workflows like D’Errico’s. “With the PATCH I still have all the benefits of working in the box, but I get to incorporate all of the gear in my studio,” he says. With the PATCH APP DX control software loaded on his desktop and iPhone, he can now easily drag and drop hardware connections like plug-ins within a DAW, and even save and recall his routings with a click. “If I know that a certain EQ would be fantastic on an 808, and I wanna try it, I’ve got PATCH APP already up on my second monitor and with one click it’s in the chain, just like a plug-in would be. No getting up to go get a patch cable and plug it in.”

For D’Errico, the PATCH XT offers powerful functionality that improves his workflow beyond what was possible in the past. “I’m still discovering things that the PATCH can do,” he says. “You can double patch, you can split signals, you can reverse the order of things. Sometimes I find myself stuck in the mentality of working with a conventional patchbay, but this is so much more than that.” The PATCH APP DX GUI has also proven intuitive, providing time-saving functionality. “If I want to add a piece of gear to the beginning of an existing chain I just drag it into the first slot and everything else in my routing moves down automatically,” he says, citing one such example. “You don’t need to keep dragging each individual thing down. Or go get patch cables from a drawer.” D’Errico also notes that auditioning multiple routing options is a snap, something that was so slow with a conventional patchbay as to make true comparisons impossible. “It would take at least 20 seconds to re-patch and compare something with a conventional patchbay, and by then I’ve forgotten what the sound was like,” he explains. “Now I have undo/redo and can go back and forth in a second. EQ before compression or after? It’s just a click away. It’s just insane!”

Pinpoint recall
While the free PATCH APP Classic app that comes bundled with all Flock Audio hardware includes all the routing, saving, and recalling options users need, PATCH APP DX—the premium version of Flock Audio’s control software—incorporates additional functionality that expands the flexibility of D’Errico’s hardware even further. “In the past, I would never touch any of the knobs on my gear because I was afraid of recallability,” he says. “I had four FET compressors and each one had a different setting that it was always set for.” With the PATCH APP DX Remote app installed on his iPhone, D’Errico can now take photos of the knob settings on any of his gear and attach them to his routings within PATCH APP DX for precise setting recalls. “With PATCH APP DX it’s just so easy to tweak and recall,” he says. “I just save a photo on my iPhone, upload it to my routing in PATCH APP DX, and when I recall my routing on the desktop app I know I’ll have all the information I need. If there’s a picture, the app will let you know when you pull up the routing, which is really handy. And as a result, I’m experimenting more with my own gear and getting more out of it.” Color coding options for his individual hardware connections within PATCH APP DX also make his routings easily comprehensible at a glance. “I’m a visual guy, and when I’m working on the fly or pulling up an old session it’s really helpful to know my compressors are all purple and my EQs are all green and they’re right there. It’s so much faster.”

World of possibilities
Reconnecting with hardware has proved reinvigorating for D’Errico and elevated the quality of his work even further. “I’ve been having a blast this past month,” he says. “I’m enjoying my gear again and I can still hit my deadlines.” Recent work that has leveraged the newfound flexibility that PATCH XT provides includes Brazilian singer-songwriter Luan Santana, whose recent appearances on the Billboard Top 50 International have cemented his stardom. “Mixing for him I found myself using hardware pieces in ways I would never use them before, especially with the deadline as intense as it was. I put a 33609 on an accordion. I would never do that before because it wouldn’t be worth taking the time! But when I’m just dragging things in PATCH APP I can try it and if it works keep going.” For D’Errico, this new hybrid workflow is more than an experiment—it’s a paradigm shift. “Once you experience what you can do with the PATCH, you can’t ever go back.”

For more information about Flock Audio, please visit: https://www.flockaudio.com/

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