First impression – einfach genial!
I bought this product in hope for a good sounding and easy to use unit. I own a Fractal Audio FM3. QC is the most user friendly unit I have ever tried - einfach genail! This is something the FA should learn from Neural. QC is also very lighter compared to FM3 and has lot more DSP power, you be very creative. With FM3 you can use only 1 amp in the chain.
What is my main problem with FM3, there are so many options and parameters to tweak, I have this constant feeling that I could sound better with some fine adjustment? With QC I have managed to set up the unit and create a patch in 15 min without reading any manual or watching any video, this is pure advantage!
What about the sound?
Happy with the thought that I will sold the FM3 and keep the QC, I set the A/B test. Both units had the latest firmware. I play 40+ years, owned and tried many high end amps (Friedman, Marshall, Mesa, Fender etc), owned digital stuff like Kemper, Helix and currently FM3. I argue that if you really want to test a digital modeler of profiler, you have to test it with guitar cabinet using a linear power amp (no IR). The test signal chain, my favourite Gibson Les Paul, AB switch, one line into FM3 one into QC and into a Matrix GT 1000 FX to the Marshall 1960 AV cabinet. I compared all the amps (same models) that are in the both units (Friedman, Soldano, EVH, JCM 800, VH4, VOX, Fender etc.). I tested from the bedroom to the stage volume.
And the result…
I could not believe and I didn't want to believe what I'm hearing. I was shocked, the FM3 sounded so much better, more fresh, more dynamic, much more real compared to the real amp. Just for the record, I tested the real Friedman amp BE 100 Deluxe, so I know how the real amp compare to FM3. In the end I kept my FM3, because it was so very close considering the feel, response and sound. And the idea to have many other amps that I love and don’t need to spend 20K EURO just for amps, is a good feeling. So, back to the QC sound, with the high gain amps, the QC has some strange, annoying frequencies in mid-range. Even with lowering the minds and EQ cuts, there is this 'nasal' thing going on. With clean amps it' even worse, I felt like having a blanket over the speakers with the QC. I thought I'm doing something wrong, so I checked many videos any read the manual. Tried other settings, options, but the significant difference was always there. In the blind test I could guess 10 times in a row which one I'm playing.
I'm really disappointing, because I wanted to keep the QC for it's simplicity.
Neural marketing strategy?
Maybe the user friendly product that combines two worlds (modelling and profiling) is the USP for the Quad Cortex? I don’t know, but for me, the number one criteria is always the feel and the sound.
I wish Neural could do something to improve the sound quality. With the sound of the FM3, I would keep the QC for 100% even the FM3 feels more robust, but I will not deep into this topic. Simplicity would be the game changer for me.
If the feel and sound is your main concern, I suggest you try Fractal FM9 (you are not limited with just one amp in the row and you have more switches compared to FM3) and QC. Make sure you test it with a quality linear power amp and the guitar cabinet and choose your winner.
If you are looking for a decent sounding product with an unbelievable simplicity and countless options including profiling, the QC is the choice for you.
I will send my QC back ASAP (I know there are many of you waiting for the stock), sell my FM3 and buy an FM9. The 400 EUR + for FM9 compared to QC is nothing if I consider the sound and feel quality from Fractal Audio.
Thank you Thomann, you are the best retailer in Europe, no wonder that all shop in the circle of 500 km around my home, closed their business or they are selling only super low costs instruments.