Best Practices for managing Output Levels?

My me-made presets’ output levels are all over the place. I play through headphones 100% of the time and like the big volume knob at 50.

Where should I be leveling the output? It seems obvious to go for the Multi-Out, but that doesn’t seem right, like I should be setting the amp section first, then etc…(?)

For example: my active strat goes into Input1 at about -20db when I pound on the strings. This goes into a simple preset: Jewel Comp (comp @3, all else stock), Captain 50 (stock), Zila Open Gold (stock), Room (stock). This gives me output volume controls at the comp, the amp (master & out), the cab section (2 levels), the HP level, and the Multi Out. PHEW!

What is the best practice here? I don’t like to willy-nilly change this one here, that one there on the next preset. I want to have a system, you know? What do you guys do?

1 Like

Big knob on max for one thing - it’s an attenuation, so leaving it below max will only reduce output level and encourage you to boost all the blocks and presets which probably isn’t what you want.

I start at the preset level and hold down the output on the grid to check that it’s not clipping there. Then I increase level there or in the preset elsewhere until it’s very as close to red as I want. Then I’ll check the global output and adjust the per output levels so they are also near clipping.


It seems really strange to me to crank the big Volume knob to max!

I didn’t know about holding down the output to reach “lane output control”; that’s the output control I was missing. I only knew to swipe down for I/O settings.

1 Like


You may already be aware but extra parameters also come up for the Input block with a push and hold, including the noise gate setting.

1 Like

For some headphones, 100% on the volume knob can be too much. But if you share presets you’ve created by leveling volumes on phones that require turning the master way down, they may seem abnormally quiet for other users

The official word is that 100%= unity level; anything else is attenuating the volume. In the digital realm that may not make much difference tonally, but seems like most users are trying to run at full volume and adjust the levels at other points in the signal chain where necessary

1 Like

also the fact that the QC is barely loud enough even maxed out in many cases. It’s tough to drive most power amps I use at anything less than max

1 Like

OK…uh, so to use my headphones (mdr7506) properly with the QC, I should max the big volume knob and then use the (I guess) virtual HP level control in the dropdown I/O? What’s the point of even having the big volume knob then?

edit I’m not trying to sound snarky

edit2 After messing around with this a bit more, I wish there was a way to see output levels at each device on the grid at the same time (like a little graphic bar on the icon), and the “lane output”, HP out, and multi out, too. It’s a lot things to balance, flipping between touch screens.

edit OK, I think this workflow sounds good incorporating what you guys have suggested. What do you think?:
-Max big volume knob
-HP level control down to -15db keeps the blood from coming out of my ears
-Comp, Amp, Cabs outputs/levels all locally set to 12 o’clock/neutral/0db
-Output volume in “lane output control” adjusted so meter is around -15db when played hardish
-Added OD (Fuzz Pi), adjusted output at device (locally, at the virtual pedal, ??, I don’t know how to say it)

edit4 Is there a way to map the big volume knob to ONLY control HP level?

Not yet but soon. This was mentioned in the August development update:

“It is now possible to configure which outputs the Master Volume Knob controls via the Device Options screen.”

1 Like

sounds like the right approach. Probably most important thing is to compare/balance levels at the volume you will be performing at. If that’s not onstage with amps/cabs/PA, but is only thru HP- you’re good to go. If you ever take it onstage, the levels that seem balanced thru HPs might not be so even anymore. Always best to work from your loudest volumes down

1 Like

I don’t leave the volume knob maxed. I’d rather have the wiggle room to adjust on the fly. I rarely need to though. I also only use a handful of presets, so it is easier to balance volumes between each.

Ah sorry, I missed the headphone part. I wouldn’t usually max it for headphones and often not for home/studio monitors because I also like to have an easy attenuation control. But anytime I need serious volume it’s gotta be max or its just not loud enough.

Well, shit. So leveling everything with the big volume knob at 12:00 is OK for HP’s after all?

Generally, when it comes to master volume settings on digital equipment, I send the FOH a feed that is not connected to the master volume. That way it is at unity (100%) and FOH can expect a relatively consistent volume, all other things being roughly leveled between presets.

I then assign the master volume to my 1/4 outputs for my monitor(s) and set it at about 3/4 of the way up to give myself wiggle room to adjust my stage monitor(s) without overly attenuating the signal they are receiving.

You can’t set things up like this yet with the QC but you should be able to once the 2.0 firmware arrives which is supposed to include the new feature of being able to assign what the master volume controls.


OK, that makes sense. I have a better understanding of how these all work together now.

Thanks for the help, guys.

Not reading all the replies so apologies for repetition. QC user here since the beginning. I also resisted turning the volume knob to 100. But, it’s now where I leave it.

The way I level my patches (important since I play live with a band), is I take a reference patch that I know sounds good live and is representative of my higher gain patches and use that as a baseline.

I always run through a mixer set to about -20dB on the QC’s channel faders and unity on the master level. This gives tons of headroom for FOH at gigs. Anyway, I use an expression pedal as a volume pedal set to about 50% travel (that gives ME lots of headroom to boost solos, compensate for room acoustics, etc). What I aim for is about 75dB on a dB meter placed about 15 feet from the main speakers.

I don’t use the Output Block to adjust volume (that’s what my volume pedal is connected to), I use the output level on the amps to get each patch/scene to around a 75dB average level.

This has worked perfectly for me in the two years I’ve been using this thing. Hope this helps.

I put some thoughts on gain staging in Gain Staging - Quad Cortex Wiki


Is the XLR out sending Line or Mic level signal?

Interesting and helpful, but what DO you use the Output Block for as far as volume? Where do you typically set them? I am running into this issue with a diversity of presets. I probably use mid-gain for most Marshall-esque tones, and invariably those presets are quieter than my clean and “light dirt” presets, and I am trying to balance the amp settings with the Output Block levels for best tones and volume, which can be pretty time consuming. I am finding this lack of a Global volume and EQ to be problematic, but mostly the volume settings. So far I am just playing “live” in my home studio through good quality studio speakers.

I don’t specifically set volume in the output block any longer. I have assigned an expression pedal to control volume. Here’s how to replicate what I’ve done:

  1. Set expression pedal to 50% travel
  2. Pick any of your presets
  3. With a dB meter 10 feet from the speaker, look for 80dB
  4. Adjust dB levels using the output setting on the amp block. I generally hit an open A chord to check levels.
  5. If your preset has multiple amps, adjust the dB levels in their output settings by equal amounts.

Once you’ve done this, you can pick any preset later on to set future presets. It won’t matter what the level is, just set the new preset to the same level as the old patch.