No worries mate
Tier 1 here (399/1000), here.
Just got my unit. I had my doubts so I wanted a bit before paying the balance of my tier 1 unit.
I’m impressed, this thing rocks and was worth the wait!
Long version below…
I’m very impressed with :
- Build Quality
- Screen image quality
- Sounds (hey, this is what counts, right!?)
- Whole Ecosystem (although, some nice improvements could be made)
- Overall Ease of use : I managed to accomplish much more than I could with the Kemper, Fractal and Helix without diving into the manual
- Packaging, manual, etc. was a nice touch
No so impressed with :
- Touch screen quality (it’s pretty picky, I feel like an old person that is trying a touch device for the first time)
- No SPDIF output (no surprise here, but still one of the big point that might make me keep the FM3 over the Quad Cortex)
Need to try :
- Neural Capture on my amps and compare with the real deal
- Test the Quad Cortex with a SS amp and FX Return of a tube amp, through a cab
- Spend a bit more time comparing with the FM3
- Test Recording and Reamping
Note, I’m a tube amp guy first and foremost and will always have my tube amps.
But where the whole modelling / capturing thing comes handy for me is : Recording, Reamping, Quick alternative for jam (Modeller in backpack > carrying a head to the jam spot), quiet night practice (headphones)
I’ve been through many devices these past few years : Helix LT, Kemper (x2), Axe-FX III, FM3, etc.
But in the end, I spend most of my time on my amps. I still need and want a all in one device and right now the one I’ve been using as such is the FM3. But the Quad Cortex might take the crown here.
I just unpacked the QC, registered it to my internet connection and started an update download (it was on CorOS 1.01 on delivery I believe). That was some 90 minutes ago. Since then it has failed twice only getting up to one third of the status bar. Now I’m at 70% and keeping my fingers crossed …
I’ll get back with information if it was worth the wait when I’m done with waiting for the update to complete …
I’ve had my QC for a couple of weeks now (thank you cool dude on Reverb that didn’t scalp me) and I am absolutely in love with this thing. For some background, I have been a Kemper user for over a year. I got tired of the workflow being flipping through profiles to find something good and over time realized that I am a knob tweaker so a modeller vs a profiler makes more sense for me. Luckily the QC does both.
The presets are solid and there are so many of them to work through - they are a great way to see what the unit is capable of, but building your own presets is where the QC really shines. The GUI is great and super intuitive, although I will agree with the feedback on the touch screen. Seems pretty finicky and I’d rather just use a computer editor if it stays that way.
We all know that the depth isn’t there in the FX, but this thing is an investment. I trust that Neural will continue to expand and eventually it will be able to more closely compete with the AxeFx stuff.
I originally planned on capturing my favorite Kemper Profiles via the QC, but after playing with the QC more there aren’t too many Kemper profiles I feel the need to capture. I will be selling my Kemper shortly.
Also…I am using a Morningstar MC-8 Midi Controller and I can’t recommend it enough. I have it set to be able to toggle through footswitch A-H as well as toggle between preset/scene/stomp mode and open/close gig view. Makes getting to work much easier.
I am happy to answer any specific questions!
I got my unit on Friday and this is my first impression after spending a few hours with it. Keep in mind I have only scratched the surface:
-Construction/fit and finish are incredible
-Amps sound excellent. The captures and models are as good or better than any digital device I’ve owned including the kemper, helix, axeFX. Very HD sounding and I love it.
-Feels great. No delay or disconnected feeling whatsoever from the device.
-There are some very quality captures and presets on the cloud
-The cloud. Its very clumsy at the moment. I don’t want to use a phone to browse it, I want to browse it next to my daw in a window. It needs a preview for patches and captures. As it stands now the device is not connected directly to the app and you have to guess at patches based on the name. Needs indicators for how how much gain the patch has etc.
Just let me download everything and arrange it the way I want. Phones are cumbersome and make my neck hurt.
-No editor. With all the other things that make this great, the lack of an editor makes it non-ergonomic and sort of a pain in the ass to use. I’m sure a great one is in the works, and it should be one of the highest priorities. I don’t want to look away from the PC to mess around with knobs. For a lot of people that is fine, but for an equal number of people its a hassle.
Lack of the ability to directly connect to and manipulate the unit with a PC is going to cause people to not choose it as often as some of the other available devices.
Let me start with a major rant. I noticed that when my QC is connected to my Yamaha DXR10 monitor via output 1 and I turn the unit off, it creates a ground loop that produces major noise, which is really annoying. I was worried about that and checked the forum if anybody had the same problem. It turns out yes and that that person contacted support for help. I don’t have the exact wording at hand, but the reply from NDSP was that the grounding of the unit takes place via the XLR outputs. It was then further said, that the ground noise is what you have to expect when turning the unit off when the power plug is still connected. To resolve the problem you either use the standby function or disconnect the power plug.
To me this is a „ground loop by design“ and is an absolute no go. I just can’t wrap my head around why a hardware design like this is released as a final version. I actually ask myself why the unit was not designed with an internal power supply with an IEC power cord and a mechanical switch that would turn the unit on and off in the first place. A proven design that works flawlessly with the Fractal Audio FM3, which I also own. I kind of fancy the standby function on the QC, but would trade that feature any time for a real, built in power supply and a hardware power switch.
That said, I’m not a big fan of wall warts altogether and I will have a pedal board flight case custom built for the QC, a Fractal EV-1 expression pedal, a small expression potentiometer pedal and a special space for a housed Mean Well 12V 8,5A power supply that will be connected to an IEC receptacle with a power switch on the outside of the case. I’ll have the wall wart with me in case of an emergency.
So I gave away, that I’m keeping the unit …
I’m a meat and potatoes player and play blues and rock, coming from 70’s/80’s rock and hard rock. I’ve been using modelers for the past couple of years and don’t have any real tube equipment anymore. I do not record. In my 40+ years of playing I had a lot of great tube amps, the best of all being the last one I had - a Mashall JVM410 head with a 2x12 cabinet loaded with 25W Greenbacks. This amp had all the Marshall tones of the decades, was abolutely easy to use and dial in and had a brilliant footswitch that worked with any standard mono guitar cable. But it was as heavy as a wheelbarrow full of bricks …
Over the years I always had the same rig in form of pedals. A Univibe type pedal, an overdrive, a chorus, a rotary speaker pedal and a wah wah - and the amp/cabinet. I was always happy with „standard“ non boutique pedals and used them all in front of the amp. For amps that did not have an on board reverb I also had a reverb pedal.
So basically that is what I set up in the QC on two rows - a gate (it was there when I copied the preset ) wah, vibe, drive, amp, cabinet, chorus, reverb, graphic eq (just in case I need major adjustments in a live environment) and another graphic eq that is set flat, that I use only for a 3dB volume boost for solos. All in stomp mode, no scenes, no other presets. I’m happy with one good preset that works for me and where the amp really cleans up well with the guitar’s volume pot. I will have other presets, but they will be the same except for the amp/cab for some variety One day I’ll gig with a 2203, the other I’ll use a Friedman HBE and yet another day I’ll use a Bassmann set to „explode“ (need to capture that one though …).
(There will comparisons with my Fractal FM3 and also with pedals I used to own)
HARDWARE AND HAPTICS - apart from the introductory issue with the ground loop I really like it ! Ok, some say it is built like a tank and it really is, but more like a „desktop“ tank. The FM3 is also built like a tank, but it’s the „put me on the floor“ type of tank. The large hard rubber boots on the sides of the FM3 are great physical protection and their grip keeps the unit from moving around while using it. And it has the small handles for lifting it up. So the built like a tank quality clearly goes to the FM3 for me - at least when the units are used at a live gig.
I love the screen and the ease of use !! It took me a while to get used to it, but I just love moving the blocks around with my finger, editing them and actually looking at them because they are big and bright, at least bigger and brighter than on the FM3. And I love moving a block into the trash can - how cool is that ! No more left, right, up, down, edit, enter, exit, save etc, etc. buttons. And no need anymore for an editor. Editing on the FM3 without the desk top editor was a major pita. Editing and making necessary adjusments on the FM3 on the fly at a gig was a major pita. Ok - Fractal introduced the „performance mode“ which allowed for quick changes of any item assigned to it - but that again was a major pita to programm without the editor. Clear winner: QC !
The switches on the QC work well for me, although I think they could have been designed/machined to tighter tolerances to get rid of the wobble they have. But the dialling in and the actual switching works flawlessly and I am sure they will have a long life.
One thing that really bothered me at first was the missing second volume pot that you can assign to any output. The FM3 has two conveniently located volumes that control out 1 and out 2. My standard usage is out 1 to the pa, turned all the way up. Let the guy at the desk have at it. Out 2 goes via a separate lane to my dedicated FRFR monitor and I can adjust the volume separately. BUT - on the QC I really can get along with long pressing the out 2 block and then adjusting the offset to the main volume wheel setting, which is all the way up. And I can assign a second expression dial to the lane output, which makes this even easier.
THE SOFTWARE - I don’t want to compare the software to the FM3 software, because you just can’t. Fractal is galaxies ahead and if you’re in to component level tweaking the FM3 is your choice. For a meat and potatoes guy like me the QC is a gift ! It’s a complete rig and I can stomp away anyway I like ! We have all read the wish list and even posted our requirements, but the ones that really stand out are turning on/off the wah via software, assigning switches to multiple blocks and/or functions, double tapping switches, long pressing switches, assinging a toggle function to a switch, mixing preset, scene and stomp buttons any way you like in one preset, dialling through presets with the upper right switch dial, setting tempo with the lower right switch dial etc.
THE BLOCKS - The amps and the cabs sound great. I don’t compare these to other modelers and I don’t compare these to the originals either. To me it just has to sound good and tick my boxes. Sofar it all felt great. I especially like the included IRs where you can chose the mics and their position. A great option and a great way to fine tune your overall tone. For me that works way better than turning some kind of „tube transformer ghost tone“ dial and not hearing any difference anyway I even found a cab that I actually like better than my go to MBritt IR of a Marshall 4x12 that I have extensivley used with my (now sold) Axe Fx3 and my FM3. Well done QC !
The Wah. There’s only a Budda and a Bad Horse. The Budda doesn’t work for me. It has a sudden very small range where the filter acts. The Bad Horse sounds great. I like it and I use it. I wouldn’t mind an additional Cry Baby and a Vox for variety though.
The NuVibe. It behaves like a Univibe, sounds good and is definitely workable for me, but I am missing real depth in the tone. I used to have a Sweetsound Mojo Vibe pedal - that pedal was out of this world.
The Drives. They are great, at least the ones that I have so far tried out. Nothing to complain about, they do what they are supposed to … drive the amp with various tonal varieties.
The Chorus. They both don’t work for me and leave a lot to be desired for. I just can’t seem to get a thick, lush and above all „warm“ chorus with any setting I try. I’ve owned a TC Chorus/Flanger, a Boss CE-2, a diy EH clone and the built in chorus of the ADA MP-1 I once owned. The MP-1 chorus was stellar and the best chorus I have ever experienced.
The Rotary. Sub par for me. A tone sucker. QC needs to work on this block. The rotary in the FM3 is outstanding. Insert the block, unbypass it and set the speed - heaven.
The Reverb. I go more for short and small reverbs. Many gigs I have played without any reverb at all, having let the location do the reverb for me. All the reverbs I dialled in worked for me and sounded good. If I like them and use them, they’re great !
Graphic EQ - I still need to check that block. I plan on using it, when I need to make bigger adjustments to the rig on account of the stage or the loction. As a volume boost it does the trick at the end of the lane.
THE CAPTURING - Sorry, I cannot comment. I don’t use that feature yet. I need a Bassman and I would like to capture the Lazy J amp my buddy in southern Sweden owns.
But the comments sofar have all been great. The feature supposedly works really good.
I’m sure that NDSP will be working on their time based effects for any future updates. And I am also confident, that many of the features requested will be implemented over time.
So, was it worth the wait ? Yep, it was. I have my FM3 up for sale currently.
Just thought I’d chime in here, too, since this is more or less a consolitdated thread. I posted the thread “perspectives from an Axe Fx III user.” In short, it’s a great-sounding unit with some cool features and an absolutely stellar UI. In the end, it just didn’t blow me away and didn’t have enough bells & whistles (utilities & functions) to make me hang onto it. I certainly think it’s got immense potential. I may re-buy it in a couple years depending on how it develops. I’m sure there are going to be many, MANY people very happy with it.
I received mine thursday and for what it was advertised as, it fell short and is disappointing. the best thing about he Quad Cortex are it’s amp blocks and tones. But Neural DSP’s own plug ins sound better than the QCs blocks/presets. As i auditioned most amp blocks they seem like were captured with a blanket over the cab. The captured amp blocks sounds bloated in mid range. the only options are Gain, Low, Mid, High, volume for amp sculpting.
I tried it out in the 4 cable method with a mesa and engl amp. The QC performed at a $600 product level instead of a $1600+ product. When the QC hits the input of your amp, the signal is digitalized and sounds Line6-ish. The headroom of the QC is limited. You can access the Input/Output level screen to adjust your “send” outputs going to the amp’s pre and amp’s loop Return but you can shake off the “digitalness” of the QC’s . The QC is not transparent. The effects sound sterile and with out lushness. yes you can hear the repeats of the delay but no richness. midi limitations.
Used it with my Powerstage 700 and 4x12 cab. made some presets for this application. It was ok . it is lacking in the Effects department. I had the output level set at 3 oclock, where my FM3 is at 12:30 using the same power stage. Going thru powerstage and a 2x12 would be good for practice. not for a gig in my book. Why? i would want that Loud Hum from the QC’s output 1 to ever present itself on stage.
I think QC will eventually get software updates to address the short comings it has for gigging/live use. but there are Hardware issues that can not be address thru updates.
Recording application? - I find the Quad cortex on the same level of the Kemper with the same lack luster effect quality. I do find that the Quad Cortex “chugs” a little better and improved pick attack on the strings.
4 cable method - i find the QC on the HX STomp level. Maybe slightly above the HX Stomp effects tones but HX Stomp has better midi implementation. but the same digital colorization of the original amp signal. Its true that most amp modelers are 100% transparent, but there are some that come close. FX8 came close 2015 circa. here we are in 2021.
If i was to keep the QC, i would probaly use the Quad Cortex for practice situations. light and functional. easy to carry around with a 700 powerstage. and a 2x12 cab. I have decided to return the QC. after the first 2 hours i knew that this was my gut feeling. the other 34 hours was spent justifying to keep the QC.