One of the most common complaints with amp modellers like the Quad Cortex is the latency experienced during preset switching. Some users assume that because amp modelling technology has been around for a while now, the delay between preset switching would have been solved.
Despite the sheer power of the Neural DSP Quad Cortex, it’s not a supercomputer that keeps all of your presets in memory at once. If you want a device with that kind of power, you might as well build a Bitcoin mining right instead.
Before we go into the simple solution, let’s talk about why there is a delay.
Picture a project in your favourite DAW like ProTools or Reaper. It is accepted that it does not instantly load when you open up a new project. No matter how fast your computer is, it will take a few seconds for your project to load.
If you have a tonne of guitar tracks, bass, vocals, and each of those tracks has one or more VST plugins on it; they need to be loaded into memory. Depending on the size of the project, it might take a while to load.
The same principle applies to the Quad Cortex and almost every modeller I am aware of. A preset is a project, the rows with effects are like VST plugins in your DAW. The effects need to be loaded into memory, which requires time to buffer them into memory.
Still, despite the fact there is a delay, it’s not that bad. Presets are not designed to change mid-song. However, if you’re attempting to switch between different sounds (especially in a single song), it will be noticeable and frustrating.
The solution to the preset delay problem can already be found on the Quad Cortex (or similar modeller): scenes.
Imagine you have a song that has a clean intro, an overdriven rhythm tone and then a reverb-soaked lead sound for the solo you rip mid-way through the song. You might think that’s three separate presets; it’s one. You need to reframe your thinking and see presets differently.
The preset itself is the song; scenes are the parts of the song. In this fictional example, Scene A would be the clean intro tone, Scene B would be the rhythm tone, and Scene C would be the lead tone. Switching between scenes has no delay (everything is already loaded).
Your preset would have all of the effects you need for each scene, and on a per-scene basis, you toggle the bypass mode to turn them on and off where needed. Or, in the case of Scene B and C, there might be some overlapping settings, but for the lead, you might crank the gain a bit more.
Remember, you can have eight scenes per preset. But, who honestly has that many different parts in a preset anyway? If you need more than eight distinct parts for a song, you need to get creative and consider using MIDI triggering with your favourite DAW to achieve that degree of flexibility.