You can produce two styles of tone/sounds with Metal Core: ‘classic’ that it emulates a 1980s style of Metal and ‘modern’ that emulates a more current Thrash Metal tone.
Regardless, the classic setting is pretty hard hitting and sits well with modern styles of heavy music. The modern setting has a touch more saturation and aggression. Both resulting tones have that high-energy sizzle, as opposed to a chunkier or meatier quality, like a Friedman amp or pedal. And certainly the adjustment of the Bass and Treble tone controls make a huge difference in what you hear, to the point that a slight turn of either suddenly becomes more pleasing or less pleasing to the ear (relative to the tone you’re trying to achieve). Fortunately there’s a ‘patch save’ option, to allow for the saving of one patch (of either the classic or modern setting). What also should be obvious is that different cabinets and microphones make a difference as well. In the accompanying demo I ran the Metal Core into the NUX Solid Studio (amp/cab simulator with various microphones). I went through only the Marshall 1960 4x12 with the same amp tubes (EL34) and microphone placement (center), but worked through all the various microphones (8 total) with some tweaking of the Gain, Bass and Treble of the Metal Core to offer some variation. I did this for both classic and modern settings. In many instances it sounds like a completely different pedal, which suggests the Metal Core could very well be an ideal inclusion on a Metal Head’s pedalboard and particularly if using a cab-sim to achieve different sounds.
Metal Core is a great bargain at $99 USD, and a usual offering from NUX (good quality and sound with very affordable pricing). Most Metal-based pedals offer one voicing while using Gain and Tone controls to sculpt the sound; conversely, Metal Core offers two voices, one that is more ‘classic’ or 1980s (thicker and heavier) and the other more ‘modern’ (biting and aggressive). Once you find an ideal tone you can save the patch (one only), and even find it later (through a switch and knob turning process) if you forget what the settings were and you set the controls differently thereafter. The Tone controls are extreme, in that you get a lot of variations in sound output with a lot of Bass and/or Treble, but more obvious is that a slight tweaking of either by a millimeter or two makes an obvious difference in tone output (which is why the patch save is important). There is great volume output with Metal Core and it does sound excellent with the NUX Solid Studio (particularly the Marshall 1960 4x12), suggesting that Metal Core’s development was done in part to work with other NUX gear (or vice versa). Regardless, Metal Core also sounds excellent and ‘current’ (not outdated like some Metal pedals) with other amp-cab simulators. If you like a hard-hitting tone that adjusts from thick to aggressive, then Metal Core is an excellent choice at an excellent price.
Simple enough to use, but the differences in tone achieved by tweaking the Bass and Treble in small increments is blatant. A good place to start is with both in the middle or 12-noon. From there Metal Core is very fun to use and you can’t help but chug as you experiment with the settings. Dialing in a lot of Bass or very little Bass, or a lot of Treble or very little does not result in anything too extreme (e.g., excessive muffle or brittle high-ends), but how those two work together is a sweet dance and relative to the amp-cab-mic used. The Gain is obvious even when turned all the way down, but hits a sweet spot between 10-o’clock and 1-o’clock; a good amount of drive, bite and clarity without too much saturation. The Volume control does make a difference, although it depends on what your other gear is set at, and so perhaps start with it at the 9-o’clock position. Lastly, do try fiddling with your guitar’s volume knob, as having Metal Core cranked and aggressive still produces some good crunch tones with the guitar’s volume dialed back half-way.
Metal Core is a regular-sized pedal, measuring 122 mm (L) x 72mm (W) x 47mm (H) with knobs (4.4 x 2.8 x 1.8 inches) and weighing 270g (9.5oz). It produces good quality sound with a sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz, signal processing at 32-bit and with an analog-to-digital conversion of 24-bit. The heavy duty black aluminum chassis has a silver face plate with white lettering. The four plastic knobs are of standard or typical quality and should withstand normal use and abuse. All knobs have good quality pots (smooth and solid when turned and no static-type noise). The footswitch (on/off) is a soft switch, viz., no click when engaged or disengaged – there is no popping or significant signal noise when switching. The toggle switch to select classic vs. modern Metal tones is solid when utilized. The cable input/output both are located on the sides and the power input is located in the back (some care to be taken when stomping to prevent damage to the Ľ-inch jacks). Metal Core does run on a 9V battery if desired, accessed easily by a cover in the bottom (no screwdriver required). It also operates on a standard 9VDC power supply while requiring 7mA of current.