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Neural DSP Quad Cortex review

This piece of hardware modeler is so complex and versatile that it’s kind of hard to do it justice in a review article form. If you are interested in a great modeling amp that features a huge number of amps, cabinets, and impulse responses, and that’s also a great capture machine, make sure to read on!

About the author

I’m a guitarist, composer, and music producer. Over the years, I garnered a lot of studio experience, as well as impressive touring mileage. My theoretical and practical knowledge of guitar gear and audio design is what I rely upon delivering my take on different pieces of gear that I review.

testing the Neural DSP Quad Cortex modeler
Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict on the Quad Cortex 4.8

The Quad Cortex is first and foremost a really compact unit. It is an all-encompassing modeling amp that is sophisticatedly put together with an impeccable design.

It can be a slick addition to your studio setup or a handy tool for any traveling musician. Better yet, you can use it for vocals, keyboards, and pretty much any instrument you want besides its originally intended usage.

In terms of software, you can count on regular updates that make for a truly great user experience. Finally, whether you use the stock models and impulses or you are capturing your own, you can count on a very reliable piece of gear that delivers upon your highest expectations.

What I like

  • Incredible versatility in all possible areas.
  • Equally adept for both studio and live situations.
  • The combo XLR/TRS inputs allow for the usage of different instruments.
  • Regular updates.

What I don’t like

  • Although fully justified, the price may be a turn-off for some.
Buy Neural DSP Quad Cortex at: Sweetwater


Use these jump links to navigate to the desired section of the review.

Features 5.0

One of the coolest features here is that you can capture your own dynamic gear. By that, I mean that you can’t capture your wet and modulation gear, but rather your amps, cabinets, impulse responses, and finally your boost, drive, overdrive, and fuzz pedals. Just to name a few, of course.

Better yet, you can use the cloud to download and share different presets within your community.

You are also getting a vast amount of different modelled guitar and bass amps, created by Neural DSP. Besides that, you have an incredible number of neural captures of real guitar amps.

What I found extremely appealing was the highly precise tuner that can be set at different frequencies. So basically, all of you new-age types could use 432 Hz tuning to realign your chakras. You can also use phantom power for mic use or sound capturing.

The meat and potatoes of this section would be the three (four) modes in which this modeler works. The first one I am going to cover is the Stomp mode. It’s basically the mode in which you use every switch as a separate pedal of choice.

Next up is the Scene mode. Its main function is to have multiple pedals assigned to a single switch. So, basically you would pick the pedals, put them in a desired order, and choose that scene by clicking on a specific switch.

The Preset mode really does what it says on the tin. By clicking on a certain switch, you would dial in the preset that is assigned to it.

Finally, the Hybrid mode is used to combine different modes. That is done by assigning different modes to particular switches. Quite a handy (or rather footy, get it?) feature, I might add.

Controls 4.6

Touchscreen controller

First things first – the touchscreen controller. At the top of it, you will find the name of the preset you have dialed in. In the middle of the screen, you can see all of the active blocks of pedals, amps, cabinets, and effects. On the left, you will find the vertical input list.

Neural DSP Quad Cortex screen and interface
Image: Higher Hz

The vertical axis on the right-hand side is the place where you can set your outputs. The cool thing is that you can use the multi-output option to send your signal to different outs at the same time.

If you swipe down on the browser screen, you will access the page from which you can see all of your hardware and software connections. You can further customize your user experience, set all the input levels, as well as do the calibration of your pedals.

By swiping up, you can access your global EQ which is placed at the end of your signal chain, so it affects the whole of your sound. You can also use the browser to access your captures, downloads, and shared presets and captures.


Now onto the knobs and buttons! When dealing with the power button of the Quad Cortex, keep in mind that it is really sensitive. However, the cool thing is that you can change the sensitivity of the button. You can also use it to engage stand-by and the very useful screen-lock mode.

Neural DSP Quad Cortex buttons and knobs
Image: Higher Hz

The ever-present volume control knob is also within this package. The eight knobs that occupy a large part of the interface are both switch and rotary buttons. These are used to dial presets and manage browsers.

The other two knobs are the “bank up – bank down” controls. They serve the purpose of changing between different sound banks.


Finally, let’s go over the connection panel. You are getting two stereo send and return patch holes. You can use them to do all the routing you want.

The much-needed capture connections are also to be found in the connections panel. For all of you bedroom guitarists, the convenient headphones output is also present.

Neural DSP Quad Cortex inputs and outputs closeup
Image: Higher Hz

As far as the main outs go, there are four in total: two XLR and two TRS outputs. Concerning the MIDI connections, you are getting the MIDI In and MIDI Out/Thru.

There are two available ports for connecting your expression pedals. You can use your software to further calibrate your expression pedals.

The USB port allows you to connect your Quad Cortex to your computer if you want to use it as a recording interface. Finally, you have your expected 12 V power supply socket at your disposal.

Effects 5.0

In the available blocks, you can engage almost any effect imaginable. The standard EQ section allows for the manipulation of the treble, bass, and mids.

The noise gates are available, and you can put them wherever you desire in your signal chain.

You can dial in any type of driven sound you desire, as well as use different cabinets and speakers. As far as other dynamic effects available, you are sure to find some high-quality compression tools.

The wet effect section is full of great reverb and delay options, so you can create some lavish soundscapes.

The pitch manipulation section offers a wide variety of great effects such as a mini-voicer, pitch-shifter, poly-octaver, as well as the wham effect.

The modulation section is also full of incredible real pedal captures that can come in quite handy.

Build quality 4.5

Aside from the fragile power button, this unit is absolutely durable, compact, and sturdy. The impeccable design allows for an awesome-looking piece of gear.

Who is the Neural DSP Quad Cortex for?

All in all, the Quad Cortex is an incredible solution for almost all of your sound design needs as a guitar player. If this baby is in your pricing range, don’t hesitate to check it out and buy it if it suits your needs!

Buy Neural DSP Quad Cortex at: Sweetwater

Video demo

Watch this video by my colleague Fabio where he puts the Neural DSP Quad Cortex modeler to the test.