NAMM 2024: “An important moment in the evolution of the Quad Cortex”: After years of waiting, Neural DSP has finally launched a free dedicated desktop controller for its Quad Cortex multi-effects pedal

NAMM 2024: Neural DSP has finally launched a dedicated desktop controller for its Quad Cortex multi-effects pedal – the Cortex Control.

The Cortex Control brings to a close quite literally years of waiting, after Quad Cortex loyalists had been forced to hold out for a desktop software that would allow them to control their digital rigs on a medium away from the pedal itself.

In this current climate, the main battlefield for the amp sim arms race isn’t concerned with tone. After all, amp and effect modeling technology is so sophisticated nowadays that there’s not much in it between brands.

Instead, it’s the smaller, refined details that make the biggest difference to potential players, with the likes of Fender, Line 6 and Neural DSP all looking to tempt guitarists with unparalleled functionality and usability.

The Tone Master Pro, for example, was heralded for its intuitive interface and control layout, and at the time of its release it was suggested that Fender was “at the head of the pack” because of the way it feels.

But now Neural DSP has sought to tip the scales in its favor with the Cortex Control, described by Dan Davies, the brand’s CMO, as “an important moment in the evolution of the Quad Cortex” and the result of “continued research and development as well as input from our community”.

Admittedly, the arrival of the Cortex Control is long overdue. Though one of the foremost innovators of the amp modeling multi-effects platform, the brand has faced stiff competition in recent years, with the development of the Helix family and, as mentioned, the arrival of the Tone Master Pro.

Notably, these competitors have further expanded on the template, with both Fender and Line 6 offering desktop control for its pedals.

That said, it’s still a significant development for the Quad Cortex. In practice, the Cortex Control “instantaneously” syncs with your Quad operational state, and can be used to tweak parameters, manage files, carry out tasks and load IRs.

In other words, “a fully integrated Cortex Control desktop controller lets you manage every feature and setting of your Quad Cortex”. As a bonus, mouse actions and keyboard shortcuts seek to streamline workflow.

It’s worth noting that Cortex Control has been designed exclusively to, well, control the Quad Cortex, and can’t be used as a plugin like, say, the Line 6 Helix Native. That said, it does have some powerful extras: it can be used to create Neural Captures, and lets users audition devices pretty easily.

The release of the Cortex Control is a clear statement of intent from Neural DSP, which also recently made inroads on another development players have been asking for: namely, Quad Cortex and Archetype plugin compatibility.

Indeed, Neural DSP launched its first-ever Quad Cortex-compatible plugin – the Archetype: Plini X – in October last year.

The Cortex Control is available to download for free now.

Head over to Neural DSP for more info.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.