Perspective from an Axe Fx III user

Interesting. I can’t tell the difference between Ares and Cygnus even one slight bit lol. But cliff seems pretty proud of it, so there must be some magic that other people can hear but I can’t :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


@UglyBunny: On the one hand you write: “I agree that it’s not fair to compare to the Axe Fx III - so let’s compare it to the FM3” On the other hand: “I can’t tell the difference between Ares and Cygnus even one slight bit lol.”
You pretend to be a “professional gigging musician” and you can’t hear the difference between Ares and Cygnus? :rofl: :rofl: Sorry but you are not believable to me. For me you are just someone looking for your “big stage” here. :guitar:

@Michael75 - please don’t be a troll. There’s no need for your ill-placed conjectures. I don’t pretend to be anything. I don’t need to prove to you that I’m a gigging musician and what “big stage” could anyone possibly hope to find by posting on some random gear forum?

If you can hear the night & day difference between Cygnus and Ares, then good for you. I can’t. For the record, most people only describe a difference in feel, not sound. To me, the Axe III has been wonderful since I figured out how to dial it in nearly 3 years ago. It’s gotten better, I guess, and certainly more features have been added, but I wouldn’t call it night and day.

Please; scroll on by if you don’t have anything constructive to add to the conversation. If you do, then please do so without presuming things about me and being rude. I’ve done nothing of the sort to you and I made it VERY clear from the beginning of this post where I was coming from with my assessment of the device. There’s no trolling on my end, no looking for my “big stage,” just the opinions of one random cover band guitarist who’s been using the Axe Fx III for years and gave the QC a shot after being delighted with their plugins; please stop attacking me as if I were beneath you in some way. I have nothing but love for you, man, but you gotta leave the personal attacks at the door and come at me respectfully so we can have an adult conversation. I’ve said nothing - save for my predictions about updates - that can’t be verified by simply using the devices.

I’ll say it again: I think the QC has a brilliant UI and, as hardware, has some serious, serious potential. But how long will it be before that potential is realized? I hope for all the users’ sake I’m wrong about how long it’ll take before this is where it needs to be functionally for me to buy it again, but my experience in the industry leads me to believe I’m probably not too far off. The fact that in over a month there’s only been one minor update addressing some tiny bugs that not everyone would have noticed is troubling to me, but let’s hope they eventually ramp up to substantial weekly/biweekly updates. Of course, I have to add, if this is aimed more at the Helix crowd (simpler controls, fewer overall options, less customization, lower price-point, etc.) then all it really needs to do is bulk up on its model offerings and it’s there. But the scuttlebutt that this was/is going to be an Axe Fx killer and rise to be the king of the heap will take significantly more effort to achieve, IMO.


I am right here with you, Ugly Bunny. Igot my Quad cortex and though the amp modeling is good, it’s not a game changer. I own a FM3 and was hoping for the QC to replace it. Neural DSP created the QC for many applications. So i applied the QC in 1. recording aspect, the QC narrow won out between it and the FM3. 2. in the 4 cable method setup, The FM3 blew it away. 3. straight into a PowerStage 700/ 4x12 cab, The FM3 blew it away. 4. FX processor only/ tube amp FX loop, the FM 3 blew it away.
The QC only did well was in recording aspect. Even Neural DSP plug ins sound better than this version of the QC. alot of the QC amp models seem as though a blanket is covering the cab. the QC doesnt pair up well with an tube amp for the 4 cable method. it lacks the headroom and its not transparent. it colors the original signal with a digital tone, especially when pushed. and the FXs from the QC are not vibrant and lack richness. I sent the Quad Cortex back. Like all other amp modelers out there, when you layer 4 guitar tracks, of course its going to sound killer. But the QC needs more work. like OUTPUT 1 & 2 has a loud hum when powering down that affects what ever is plugged into it, but output 3&4 doesnt? Midi Upgrade that need to occur so that it can be even to the other modelers. Im sure Neural will bring out updates to get it on track, but he QC is only decent for recording. The factory captures where ok. a little beefy with limited tone shaping. all the other applications you might as well go get a Helix or something in that price range.

The captures reminded me of working with a Kemper; even after you capture the profile, you still have a little wiggle room if you adjust the gain and EQ. It was cool, for the little bit I tried. I definitely think this could be a Kemper killer. Once it’s more fully developed I could see someone going for this over the Helix or the KPA.

@UglyBunny: You are apparently very sensitive. :see_no_evil: I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. :love_letter: I can’t find out that I was rude or a troll. I just couldn’t imagine that such an intense fractal user and professional (you have written that, not me) musician like you couldn’t hear the difference between Ares and Cygnus but here expresses himself accordingly negative about the QC and reduces it to its smallest details. But it’s Ok when you can’t hear the difference. Everything is possible. For this reason I now perhaps understand why you think Fractal is better. But please also respect my opinion. Personally, I find it rude to the host Neural DSP to post a list of updates from Fractal here. Everyone can have their opinion, but I also think there have to be limits. Remember that this is Neural DSP and not a Fractal forum. You should accept that here are also guys who like the QC and have other opinions than you… :sunglasses:
oops … they just released CorOS 1.0.2 … hopefully it won’t be the AXE FX killer … :joy:

Once again, you’re being rude and condescending. Will you stop? It has nothing to do with sensitivity - it’s just common decency. If making fun of people makes you feel good about yourself, then there’s nothing I can say that will make you change your mind.

Frankly, I don’t understand what being a gigging musician has to do with being able to hear minute differences between firmware. Again - it’s not night and day (to me, at least, and many others). But since you can hear the difference so clearly (clearly enough to denigrate me for NOT being able to hear the difference), then good for you. I can’t. It’s not a big deal.

I’m not knocking the QC for its “smallest details.” I’m saying why it didn’t work for me in my professional workflow that includes numerous lines of automation, utility usage, and customization; and I was specific; they are also not small details; they’re significant gaps in necessary functions.

You have yet to present an opinion to respect, other than being rude to me and presumptuous about who I am and what I do with myself as a musician.

I very much respect others’ opinions. I welcome them - but once again you take to personal attacks and trolling this thread. Just stop. Yours are the only comments that don’t bring anything constructive to the table. Treat me like an adult and with respect or don’t comment. You’re not forwarding the discussion at all.

My posting of the release notes was simply to show the level of depth available and regularly attended to and updated. It wasn’t “rude” at all. But I assume that’s just your attempt at trying to reflect my words back at me, as if it’s a direct and relevant analog to my pointing out your unsolicited rudeness.

This isn’t a wasp’s nest; this is a forum for a wonderful company that makes great products. I’m not going to presume that everyone here is a fanboy and has blinders on to other options on the market. That’s why i felt it perfectly reasonable to bring my experience and concerns and conjectures. Is my conclusion that the Axe Fx III is a better unit for me? Absolutely. But I do hope that the QC gets to a point where it would dethrone the Axe for my workflow. I love the UI and the internet connectivity. It’s got a lot of great things going for it and I’m going to be following its development VERY closely.


I think the perspective is very different depending on whether it’s your first foray into a high end multi effects or whether you’re coming from previous experience with Fractal, Kemper or Helix…

If it’s your first, you’ll no doubt be very impressed and you should be, if it was mine I’d be beside myself! However, I started out in modelling before Fractal introduced themselves to the market… I owned the very first Ultra in Australia, (well before FA started shipping to Oz) and then upgraded to the AxeFX2 and then onto the AX8 (because a floor unit was always my preference). I’ve also had Amplifire, as well as the Kemper Stage which I sold to buy the QC.

Buying a product “sight unseen” is always a risk but I felt confident based on the hype from Neural that the QC was going to be incredible… and I hope that one day it is but for me right now it falls WAY short of what a high end unit of this kind should be. There’s lots to love about it and I’m enjoying it immensely but as @UglyBunny intimated, as a gigging musician there are too many compromises.

Needless to say, I was utterly gutted to see that the 1.02 firmware contained additional cabs that I simply don’t need when it should have contained auto engage for Wah, fixed Modulation FX and more flexible switching options… c’mon Neural, these things should have all been in release one!


Yeah, I was happy to see additional content, but the fixes we extremely minor, IMO, given that it’s been over a month since their last update, which itself was quite insubstantial.

Exactly. Like, when the FM3 came out, I bought one but immediately returned it. I was sorely disappointed. I was expecting an Axe Fx III in a small footprint, which it was not (I mean, it IS, but at the time I was making huge kitchen sink presets on my III and it couldn’t handle them). There were so many people blown away by it, but these were people who had never had a professional multieffects pedal before, or were moving up from something like the HX Stomp or whatever. From that perspective, it was mindblowingingly good and immensely powerful and versatile. Coming from the other end, of course, it was too limiting. I now have a different reason for not owning an FM3 (I’m still waiting on the improved pitch block/virtual capo of the Axe III to be ported), but it would be otherwise ideal for my workflow without having to drag around a rack case AND an FC6. Enter the QC: I was truly hoping it would be what the FM3 couldn’t be, but I was wrong. People that are excited for it and love it are completely justified; it’s a wonderful and fantastic-sounding piece of kit, but when you’ve developed a workflow and have gotten used to being able to do literally anything you can imagine because almost every possibility/eventuality has been thought of and implemented, it’s difficult to go back to limiting yourself.

I could easily have stuck it out with the QC and gone back to manual changes during my live sets and lived without the bells and whistles I’ve come to rely on, but I had to ask myself if that’s what I really wanted. I have a drive to constantly innovate and improve and it just felt that, workflow-wise, it would have been a step backwards.

All that said, I TOTALLY get how if you’re not enmeshed in the FAS ecosystem and your needs are a bit less complicated than mine, the QC is absolutely perfect and full of goodies to explore - and it will only get better. In a way, I kind of wish I didn’t have the needs I do so I could just have fun with the QC and not have a need to expect and demand and be disappointed… It really is a very cool unit :smile:


Relative to “flattening Cygnus”, it’s instructive to remember that FAS and NDSP take two distinct approaches to recreating sounds.

FAS = Digitally reproducing the tangible hardware source to mimic it’s output. They’re VERY skilled at this and provide “amp guys” with a familiar transition to the digital world.

NDSP = Digitally reproducing how the sound is heard by the observer. As a experience design professional, this approach offers two POTENTIAL benefits. One, reducing complexity for the user, with same results. Two, focus on the ends, not the means, often produces what people want.

My QC shipped from Sweetwater this morning. I will soon have a more informed opinion on NDSPs fledgling approach.

Note: I have owned or have immediate access to every modeler since the AX8/Helix Floor days, sans Kemper. Sorry Kemper, you’ve been lapped by everyone.

Happy playing ladies and gents.


This has always been the head-scratcher for me. On one hand, I never mess with the power tubes, diodes, etc or really 80+ of the amp parameters. On the other hand, being able to adjust the variac on any amp to get just the right touch of sponginess in the power response is a dream; same with being able to apply a Mesa 5-band EQ to any amp, for instance, and adjust the input and output dynamics. If the preamp overdrive just doesn’t feel quite right, back the input trim off a hair. It’s ridiculous how detailed you can really get if you want to, but you never have to. If you want only three knobs in your tubescreamer? You got it. Want to swap diodes and tweak 50 parameters? You got it :rofl:

That’s why I was initially drawn to the Helix back in the day; it didn’t seem so complicated or intimidating. But then I feel like I wasn’t getting what I needed out of it; I felt like i had to try too hard to coax tones that I liked out of it. I think if QC can bring the ease of use of the Helix but with a much nicer UI and possibly some of the deeper features of Fractal’s parameters, this could be a hit to both crowds :slight_smile:


Here’s my 2cents (never tried any fractal product though):

Plugged in my guitar to QC. Played the first chord. A huge smile. Scrolled through some presets. Even more smiling. New riffs, new melodies, new ideas of songs emerge. Had to plug the USB to my laptop to write things down. Mac recognized it without any hassling, just used QC as a sound card and boom. Okay, it took 20 seconds to realize the logic of changing the output from 1/2 to 5/6 in USB but it’s the same logic as in routing what ever hardware.

For me, it literally took zero minutes to figure things out. Yes, I’m a millenial and have grown with tech stuff but… Still.

As a customer, I’m investing to the thinking and vision of Neural peeps, not only to the product itself. Still everything works and sounds phenomenal. Plus to me the vision looks amazing and Neural has proofed that they can make things work in A+ level.

The best part (for me) is that QC inspires me to play more. It fits to my bag with laptop and cables. I can demo stuff at home (with minimal space available) and finish at the studio with rest of my gear.

I’m aware that I’ve used the product only for a couple of days and I’m on a honeymoon for sure.



Very cool! I’m glad you dig it. Yeah, it was easy to figure out, for sure. I knew my way around every feature without ever having had hands-on also (with the exception of knowing how to try cloud presets). It’s incredibly intuitive. I can’t disagree with any of your 2 cents :slight_smile: I definitely appreciate that not everyone will be coming from gigging with the Axe Fx III for the last 3 years, so that’s the main reason I created this thread. I know it’s making magic and inspiring people across the globe this very minute. I can’t wait to see how big this thing grows. I hope updates are on a weekly or at least biweekly basis and they keep in communication with their customers. Their plugins are incredible; there’s no reason this shouldn’t be.


Same Here, i thought the effects, Reverbs, Delays, ect, were about average, the High gain amps and even some lower gain amps produce a fizzing sound at the end of a note or chord. The ground issues are a real problem, no matter were I plugin it in, just generated a whole lot of noise, unplug the Cortex Noise Gone, touch one of the foot switches with my hand noise gone, it’s beyond me how that released this unit with a wall wart . But I agree with UglyBunny, it DOES NOT come close to Axe, and just so everybody knows Fractal Axe FX III, Mark 2 is about $2000. I had high expectations for the Cortex, but never got that WOW moment, of over 40 hours a tweaking, so sadly its going back can not justify the price for the Cortex when you can get an Axe for about the same price point. I will say that the Cortex has tremendous potential, but it is definitely ready for the big stage. One more thing I think is worth mentioning, there Tech Support responses are basically, cut & pastes of the Manual, and there Bonus tip is to read the manual unbelievable, also NO TECH SUPPORT PHONE NUMBER. his is just one man’s OPINION

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Regarding teething problems, most products go through such stages and it’s fair to sit tight waiting for v.2 or 3 or later if you already got your bases covered. I find it encouraging that things like quality control and such seems already up to par and beyond and that the bugs are a few and far apart, relatively (and updates are starting to happen). So they’ve still got some slack from me…

As for teething problems, Fractal, after all those years, still seems to have their share - The FM3 Launch (for me) has been one of the worst experiences of my music career | The Gear Page

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Oof. Yeah, that was quite a bungle.

Compared to that, the QC is a dream. I didn’t experience any issues like that when I got my FM3 (around the same time), but the difference, if I’m playing devil’s advocate, is that, while not as ironed out, the features were still there; almost all amps, cabs, effects, utilities, I/O options, MIDI implementation, etc. It was more a matter of working out the bugs and refining things, as well as adding in some remaining models to get it in step with its big brother. With the QC, I feel, it’s lacking so many super-user features that I can’t foresee a time when they’ll be there.

Here’s just one small example: In the Axe’s/FM3’s amp block, there is an input boost toggle. You can can not only assign an external controller to turn this thing on or off, you can assign a custom MIDI CC# as well. In fact, nearly EVERY feature or parameter can be assigned or controlled via external. Even if QC implements further MIDI control, how long before it’s nearly as versatile? Will it EVER be as versatile, with the ability to freely assign CCs to any available function? Hard to say. I hope so.

A couple more examples: there are stereo I/O meters for EVERY block in the grid view. There is a scene mixer in the output block. There’s a real-time analyzer for visually tweaking your EQ. There are scene/block/channel/preset edit functions (copy/paste/swap, etc.)

It does seem like NDSP has pretty good QC (no pun intended) - so that’s very promising. Despite my gushing about the FAS features, I really do want the QC to succeed and grow to be the powerhouse it can be and I DO plan on buying it once it’s a bit more all grow’d up :slight_smile:

This is correct, but it was not the first issue of the product. The previous line was carried forward and it was simply an implementation into a new form.

When the FM3 came out people complained that it only had 3 switches. Complaining is addictive. I’ve had the FM3 about 3 times and the Axe 3 twice so far. Great products, but keep in mind what I’ve already noted - Cygnus was released to combat the QC release and the dynamics that it has. It’s not a coincidence.

I considered keeping the FM3 to use for effects until things developed a little more, but decided not to…because it only has 3 switches.

There are definitely more features with the Axe 3, but if you don’t use them it doesn’t matter. If I didn’t look into the QC and try one A/B against everything I would still have my Axe 3 and FC12. I did and since I don’t want to have a bunch of money in multiple devices that accomplish the same thing for me I decided to choose one.

We shall see how the QC progresses. If needed the Axe 3 and FC12 setup will make it back into the fold. Until then the less is more approach is working. I love the Axe 3, got the t-shirt that says so. The QC is awesome though and sounds a little closer to the amp to me, but the dynamics of both are too close to worry about. There is just a little something more that cygnus added to the Axe 3 and on top of that a little more that the QC added to the game.


Also - When the Axe Fx 3 came out there was no midi controller from Fractal for it. So you had this new device and you had to make it work with midi controllers from other companies to utilize it fully.

I went through a Line 6 M9, Randall RF-8, HD500x, Helix to control it via midi. Not optimal, but did what I needed to to make it work live and it was awesome even though it was not the best/easiest way. The FC’s then came out and everything was one with the Fractal universe.

The Kemper also did not have a controller when it came out nor the ability to move effects/stomps around nor the amount that it currently has.

If it does what you need and sounds great then use it and have fun.
The QC just came out.


Speaking as a former Axe FX II owner, I’m like a pig in … ahem… mud, right now. The QC has really delivered.

What I wanted:

  • Excellent neural capture tones that beat the Kemper. I got it.
  • Seamless transitions between scenes, and parameter control within scenes. I got it.
  • A good tuner. I got it.
  • Nice big and bright BPM display. I got it.
  • A decent enough delay and reverb. I got it.

I’m not saying I don’t want any development done on it anymore!! But I could gig with this thing right now, no problem. This is the first time in a decade that I’ve felt like actually dropping the real valve amp and moving over to modelling for my live shows.

I’ve used modelling to some extent on all of our albums, and I use it a lot for writing. But never have done for gigging; not in any meaningful sense.

The valve amps are staying of course. They’re all beautiful devices. Instruments in their own right. But I don’t miss my Axe FX II. I’m gonna sell my Kemper. I’m undecided whether I will keep my Helix or not.


You make a LOT of great points! Question: you write:

Do you have a source on this or is this opinion? I ask because we all know Cliff never sleeps and he’s ALWAYS thinking of new ways to improve his modeling. In other words, I don’t think the two are in any way related, but if you’ve got proof, I’m happy to change my mind.

In any case, you’re right about so many things. The QC is new and needs time to grow, for sure.

As an aside, when I first got my Axe Fx III, I bought the Behringer FCB1010 MIDI controller. So I was learning MIDI, the Axe Fx, AND the Behringer all at the same time lol! You wanna talk steep learning curves?!?