Boss invites guitar players to jam wirelessly with the Katana Air EX
Boss has added a new desktop model to its impressive Katana range of app-enhanced modeling amplifiers for electric guitar and bass. The 35-W Air EX allows for wireless connection between instrument and combo amp, and can also run on batteries.
Modeling guitar amps have been around for a while now, but when Boss burst on the scene in 2016 with its first Katana models, the company hit all the right notes with a solid feature set with killer tube tones and mobile app tone tweaking at a relatively affordable price. Players and members of the music press were impressed, and rightly so.
In 2018, guitarists were treated to a desktop combo called the Katana Air that cut the cord courtesy of battery power for the amp itself and a wireless transmitter that plugged into the instrument jack. Rated power output when running on batteries came in at 20 watts from the two 3-inch speakers, but that bumped up to 30 W if using the AC adapter.
The new Katana Air EX model stands taller on the desktop thanks to the inclusion of two custom 5-inch speakers, and is able to put out 35 W at full tilt on mains power, for a "full sound with rich resonance typically only available with performance amplifiers" – though it's still limited to 20 W on battery power. The wooden cabinet is also home to a tuned bass-reflex port to cater for low-tuned guitars and electric basses.
Boss promises a fast response, zero lag and no dropouts from its digital wireless technology. The transmitter unit can be used for up to 12 hours per charge, and the Air EX includes a docking port up top for charging.
Five onboard amp profiles provide "sparkling clean to high gain" tones, including specific models for an electric-acoustic guitar and bass, while a library of 60 cooked-in effects ranging from overdrives and distortion to modulations and delay/reverb help shape the sound. Six memory slots allow players to store favorite setups for quick recall. And there's also a built-in USB interface for recording chops in music production software running on a computer.
The desktop amp also packs in Bluetooth for connection to a mobile device running the excellent Tone Studio app, for deep dives into settings and tone shaping plus the ability to stream backing tracks for jamming or practice. Integrated YouTube support is included as well, for watching tutorials or favorite songs while playing along.
Having to stop playing to control the show can be awkward, so various functions can be assigned to an optional wireless MIDI expression pedal or wireless footswitch.
The Katana Air EX is on sale now for US$599.99, making it a good deal pricier than the similar, but more powerful, Spark from Positive Grid. The video below has more.
Product page: Katana Air EX