More than ten years ago a first step toward quantum error correction (QEC) was implemented [Phys. Rev. Lett.PRLTAO0031-900710.1103/PhysRevLett.81.2152 81, 2152 (1998)]. The work showed there was sufficient control in nuclear magnetic resonance to implement QEC, and demonstrated that the error rate changed from ɛ to ∼ɛ2. In the current work we reproduce a similar experiment using control techniques that have been since developed, such as the pulses generated by gradient ascent pulse engineering algorithm. We show that the fidelity of the QEC gate sequence and the comparative advantage of QEC are appreciably improved. This advantage is maintained despite the errors introduced by the additional operations needed to protect the quantum states.