So I've been writing more content on the Quad Cortex lately, and I thought it would be helpful (hopefully) to chime in on the most pressing question about this device: Is the Neural DSP Quad Cortex worth it?
My straightforward answer: No, it's not.
And I'm going to highlight several reasons for this.
First, I want to address the Quad Cortex itself, and then the broader trend toward large-format, multi-effects pedals and amp modeling.
Why do we need to digitally capture amps and take them with us?"
Why the Quad Cortex is not worth it
The Quad Cortex is very expensive, because it does primarily three things: Digital amp capturing, amp modeling, and effects processing. Paying the $1,699.00 to obtain one assumes you're going to use all three of these features.
It's a lot of money for a single device, even if it can replace your entire rig.
But even then, do you really want to do that? Why do you need to capture amps and take them with you? This rationale would apply to the Kemper Profiler as well.
Pros do not do this
The idea that we should have access to 100s of amp types and sounds is really odd to me, because all the great guitar players that are household names, and most of the good guitar players I know personally, do not set up their rigs this way.
Instead, they find an amplifier they like and they use it for years, sometimes decades.
And this is because we get used to our gear. We break it in.
So instead of having a device that has put all its energy into giving you a gazillion different sounds, why not niche down into one very specific sound that you can make your own?
Like an old pair of jeans
For all the gear I've tested (and it's a lot), I've always come back to the same amp, the same guitar, and the same five pedals, just like an old pair of jeans. I don't need to deviate from that, because it's my sound. I've never once felt the need to "capture" somebody else's amp.
Because those amps aren't part of the ecosystem I've built to accommodate my playing style.
The Quad Cortex takes advantage of this attention deficit mindset that so many people struggle with today, not just in the area of guitar gear but in a wide range of consumer choices.
Therefore, it's not just limited to the Quad Cortex
The Guitar Rig Super Computer
The Line 6 Helix, Kemper Profiler, Boss GT series, and a growing roster of similar processors are all in on this trend.
They all put more sounds, bells, and whistles at your fingertips than you'll ever use.
And if you do manage to use all of them, there's zero chance that you're going to be proficient in any one sound or category. You become a jack of all trades and master of none. The only difference is that this time, you've spent a crap-ton of money on a piece of gear that intentionally makes you a non-specialist.
Maybe I'm out of touch, but I would not recommend this approach.
You should be getting very familiar with your sound and gear, spending most of your time in that context. And while there's nothing wrong with trying different sounds, it's something you experiment with on occasion.
It should not be your normal process.
For those reasons, I'd recommend avoiding the Quad Cortex and similar effects/amp processing monstrosities.
I don't typically write opinion pieces like this, but I might do more of them, especially if people disagree with me.
That's basically my favorite thing in the world.
If you agree, great. But if you think I'm a goofball? I sort of like that even more. Leave thoughts in the comments section below, and keep it mean (but civil).