PLEASE HELP. I cannot get a decent tone from my QC, at all

Hi Guys,

Thanks for your responses I really appreciate it.

I thought I would upload some audio for you guys to hear what I’m hearing…

Rh QC audio (6.3 MB)

OK so I am using an Orange TH30 Combo, US Fender Strat with Custom shop fat 50s pickups, neck pickup. Mic is SM57, audio interface is SSL2. All audio recorded into logic at about -12 dBfs.

The recording of my amp is what I am trying to capture… But I feel like I’m having problems with any sound from the QC…

For my problems with a capture…following a barrage of different tests with NDSP, they recommended I tried the following signal path to see if the tone was changing compared to my amp straight;

    • Guitar > Input of the amp > Mic > Quad Cortex Input 2 > Quad Cortex XLR Out > Input of your audio interface.

Compared to the amp straight, there is a slight loss of low mids and high end, but nothing that bothers me at all… So the problems in my eyes, is not any difference in gain or whatever between the QC and my interface, as NDSP are suspecting. There is no major change in tone putting the QC between my amp and the interface.

Next up, I set up the QC ready to capture, following their guidelines. I had my guitar into Input 1, 1/4 inch Capture out to the amp, sm57 mic back into Input 2. However, I also had an XLR out of Out 1/L, into my interface to record what I am hearing (BEFORE PRESSING ‘CAPTURE’).

This is when the change in tone occurs, I can already hear a bright, brittle, scratchiness to the guitar now. I recorded 3 different recordings, with different Input Gains for Input 1. One is at 0dB, the next at +9dB (giving about -14 on the level metre), There is clearly something wrong here, in my opinion… Files names - (QC Just before capture etc.).

The last step was to capture the amp, with an instrument input gain of 0dB, mic Input Gain of 0dB (as this sounded best earlier…), impedance of 1M (also tried different levels and this marginally sounded better). I then saved this capture and set up a preset with it, and recorded this into logic.

As you can tell, sadly it is way off my amp… File name - (QC CaptureFeb 25th).

Or am I being unreasonable? Is this acceptable when capturing a cab with a mic?

Additionally, I recorded the following preset for a factory capture on the QC -

Orange Range Stormverb 3 412 Range PPC V30 03

Does this sound right to you guys…? Because it really doesn’t to me… It sounds wrong and bizarre…

In my mind, I strongly feel that there is something wrong with the input of the QC. Or maybe I’m being overly sensitive…?

Anyway as ever, really appreciate your help and advice :slight_smile:

Thanks for your time!


Just listened to the recordings.

It sounds like an out of phase recording. But out of phase with what ? I’m wondering…
Can’t remember if there’s a phase invert on the input 2 of the QC. But if there is, try that.
Is the phantom power off ? (since you’re capturing with a 57)

Also, try keeping the input and output of the QC while capturing at 0db (that way you should have unity gain with your gtr straight in the amp)

Check what this person tried : First Capture experience

Apparently the ground lift solved the capture issue

Hi thanks for this, interesting but this made no difference to me. In fact turning the ground lift on gave me loads more noise…

There is no phase switch… And you can’t get a tone through if you switch on phantom power, which is off with me…

Input 1 and 2 gain are at 0 dB… even though NDSP told me to have these at ‘just below clipping’. I have tried every gain setting combination imaginable, all unusable, especially just below clipping which sounds like Guitar rig 1 without a cab. Awful.

I might have to sell this thing, I cannot use it for anything.

1 Like

hi I hope you are well, I was wondering if you’d have a chance to listen to the recordings, no worries if not, I’m seriously confused over here… Thanks for your time!

Hi. Just chipping in here as I have had a similar experience to @rhdaniel I play live a lot so maybe in all the ‘noise’ it gets a bit buried but I always felt my Strat and Tele sounded thin and harsh through the QC. Using any preset really, 3rd party as well.
Last night I used my 335 at a gig for the first time. Wow, night and day. Sounded great. So for some reason, my QC setup just isn’t working well with single coil guitars. I big generalisation I know, and I am sure I must be doing something wrong. But this ain’t my first rodeo and I can’t help thinking it should be easier than it is to get a decent tone, live at volume. And the 335 test kinda shows to me that something isn’t right.
BTW, tried a Fractal FM3 a couple days ago and wow, instant Strat bell chime but not harsh and metallic sounding, clear but warm. I am seriously considering switching, which is a real shame as I have invested a lot of time into the QC. Hmm :thinking:

I agree humbuckers will always be quieter but I can split mine and I still have zero noise. If I do noise gate fixes it. I only had an issue when I put in a block for an external pedal on certain presets. Only certain ones oddly. Removed it and took away the noise. But I wasn’t using it. I’m sure if I put my pedal in turned down the mix it would’ve been fine.

Hey there. It isnt ‘noise’ so much as just a harsh tone that seems prevalent on any ‘thinner’ sounding pickups. Strat, Tele even my PRS in split coil mode. Yet a Gibson hum bucker sounds great. Which I actually think is also sounding ‘thinner’ than it would normally but the slight reduction in body to the Gibson hum bucker sound creates a great tone in the overall band mix. But I just cant seem to do the reverse with single coils IE, give them more body so as not to sound so harsh. Again, it is certainly something I am doing wrong BUT, I dialled in a superb Single coil tone on my Strat with a Fractal FM3 in no time at all. I am sure by spending ages tweaking or with the help of a super experienced sound tech it can be done on a QC, but I have neither of those at my disposal. To sum up, I dont think it should be this hard.

Mark, you will get this. You do not need an experienced sound tech. If you could could figure out the Axe FX this is easier. There’s something off. If it’s not user error than its maybe as I said be a technical issue. Can you possibly try if u have one using just an amp’s return fx into L3 using a guitar cable? Then take your guitar cable from ur guitar and stick it in input one of the quad. Then start it up. Try that if possible. I do not use a computer and I love that. Now I bought one used. It had an issue after awhile. Fixed for free. But I like it so much I bought another back up. So is it possible to try the amp return thing? Btw not every amp sounds the same . What about a Duncan power block? Also, there was a small update this week 2.0.1. Did u update it?

Have you tried putting your QC into your interface, opening your DAW (Like Logic) and looking at what frequencies are pushing through a graphic equaliser?

This is a really good way to identify what frequencies are super loud compared to the others and either adjust the EQ on your amp capture, or add an EQ before.

All profilers are notorious for harsh high ends, I would always recommend you do a harsh cut for everything above 5000Hz as a standard; it really helped me!

Hey @jackrmesser, thanks for that, thats a cool idea.
I will hook it up and try that out tonight. Glad you said about profilers being known for being a bit harsh. I was beginning to think my ears were deceiving me. But when I played same thing through a Fractal I felt it must be right. Also, interestingly, I have a Moer GE300 modeller pedal, which is a super cheap (but pretty good) copy of a helix type thing. And I have to say, even that sounds better, when comparing like for like amps out the box, than my QC. I will report back…

No problem, I would recommend trying to downloading a Neural DSP preset and seeing if you get the same results, if you don’t - you know it’s the rig you where using before. If you get the same problem, then you need to try a different guitar, different cable, etc until you figure it out.

Can you share an audio file of a quick recording so we can understand what you are actually referring to the issue being?

Your Moer GE300 is a ‘Plug+Play’ type modeller: you plug your guitar in, flick a few switches and voila you have an ‘Ok’ sound. The Quad Cortex is WAY more in-depth & better sounding, it’s a fact - if you’re not getting great sounds out of it then it’s usually down to user error, you just have to be incredibly patient with it. (I used a Positive Grid Bias head before and that was very much plug+play).

Single coil pickups are not really the best at being hot-overdriven (unless you have single coils designed for it), they are notoriously high-end harsh, hiss and pop.

Just wanted to check in and see if you got this resolved?

Downloading a Neural DSP preset allows you to trouble shoot in a variety of ways:

  1. If it sounds awful straight away, you know it’s either your guitar, your cables or your unit has a problem.
  2. If it sounds ‘ok’ (appreciate it might not be a tone you want), then your issue was your rig originally.

I would recommend a Neural DSP preset as they are usually quite simple, but still have a fairly good sound to them; whereas you can’t always trust some of these user uploaded captures/presets.

Equally if you can share an audio file of the short recording so we can hear what you hear and a screenshot of your rig we might have a better idea as to what is going on.

Yes, I agree with Jack, using a high-cut/low-pass filter can be key (when placed AFTER the cab block). I’ve use them on my Fractal, Line 6 and Headrush units as well. Start at 6K and lower it until the sound smooths out but leaves your single-coil sparkle. I like the 8 band parametric, setting band 1 for low-cut to reduce mud (if needed) and band 8 for high-cut, then use the other 6 bands for general EQing. Another trick is to set up a peaking EQ band in your post-cab EQ block. Set it for a very narrow Q and boost it by 5db, or more. Sweep it up and down until you find the area that sounds harsh, then turn it down to minus 5db (or more) to notch out those offending frequencies. Balance between the amount of cut and the Q width until you get what you want.

Mics don’t “hear” a speaker the same way your ears do. If you positioned your real amp at head height and a few inches away from your ears, it would likely sound very harsh (before massive hearing loss). You’re used to hearing a real amp’s speaker from a few feet away and way off axis. In the QC, moving the virtual mics off axis in the cab block can help smooth the highs. In the real world, backing the mic up from the source reduces proximity effect, reduces low end boom and softens highs slightly. The QCs cab block does a great job mimicking this effect. Listen to each virtual mic separately by muting the other mic, so you can fine tune each mic’s position. Also, try changing each mic’s type. Ribbon mics tend to be rounder at high frequencies. Condensers tend to have more extended highs. If you find the sound you want by using one mic, leave the other mic off and boost the microphone you like by 3db to compensate for the volume loss of using a single mic.

Remember that humbuckers, in general, don’t produce as much top-end extensions so they tend to sound smoother. If the difference in your pickups is too drastic, you may need to set up different presets for your hums and singles. It can be tricky but working with these tools can usually get you the results you’re after.

Lastly, remember that what you’re monitoring through can have a big effect on the tone, especially if the speaker or headphones are peaky in the top end.

As with all of my processors, it’s taken me some time to get things dialed in but I’m loving the results with the QC. Best of luck!

Ive been comparing my QC emulations as they come for different amps, to Guitar rig5, and they all sound better in guitar rig, I cannot understand it. I have sent mine off for inspection I’ll report back to you.

Maybe your’s does have an issue.

I just plugged in one of my guitars that I hadn’t tried through the QC (Godin Passion with Fluence singles). Went through all my presets and every one sounded fantastic in all pickup settings.

I can tell you’re frustrated. I hope you get to the bottom of it soon and can start enjoying it.

Hey I have another troubleshooting tip that could help determine if it is a faulty unit or not.

First of all do a full factory reset for the unit, so it is updated and all settings are stock. Then just check if the problem still exists with a factory preset. I assume it still will, but worth checking. Do not meddle with any settings.

Then record a DI guitar signal into your daw. Use the recorded DI to reamp through some quite simple sounding factory preset (a normal amp tone). Record the resulted audio.

Then send that DI track AND the final recording to people on this forum. Just link them here, and also write info on what factory preset you used.

Then people here can use the DI track to reamp through their own QC with same factory presets. If someone here would be willing to go through the extra mile and factory reset their own unit (you can always restore your own backup easily) to run the test as identical as possible, then it would eliminate any guesswork. We could compare if the results sound similar or not.

The only real variable then only remains how hot the DI signal is running into the QC input when reamping. This has to be adjusted by ear (comparing to your final recording) by whoever is doing the comparison test.

If after all this the results sound like night and day, you have a faulty unit and the proof right here. You can then link these results and this conversation to your support email. If after that Neural doesn’t take steps to replace or fix your unit, I think we all would have something to say about that. We are all relying on this company to be trustworthy if anything goes wrong in our units.

Edit: Another simple way to test it is to go back to the store (or any store that sells QC), take out their test unit and see if factory presets sound the same with both units through same guitar and cable. And if they don’t, document the results. Take video of whatever that you can use with Neural support.

1 Like