Boss Katana-Air EX Wireless Guitar Amp | Review

Published 5 days ago on June 9, 2024

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Boss Katana-Air EX Wireless Guitar Amp | Review

MSRP: (UK) £489  / (US) $599

Katana-Air EX is a powerhouse wireless desktop amp that delivers big stereo sound and authentic Katana tones in a compact footprint. With twin five-inch speakers, a custom wood cabinet, and 35 watts max power, this everyday practice companion dishes rich, resonant tones that rival amps much larger in size. A large variety of onboard amp characters and effects support every musical style, and you can customize setups and enhance daily sessions with the companion Boss Tone Studio app for iOS and Android. And thanks to advanced Boss wireless technology, you have complete freedom to move around with no instrument cable to trip you up. Sam Bell reviews.

The kings of pedals, BOSS, are back with a new range of Katana amplifiers packed with tons of new features and possibilities. This time, we’re taking a look at an awesome new stereo desktop amp, which is part of the Katana Series. There is so much to cover here, so be sure to watch the video review to hear it in action and check out BOSS’s website and manual. Is there anything this range of amplifiers can’t do!?

The Katana Air EX is a desktop guitar amp solution with BOSS wireless technology. You could have this beast of a practice amp on your desktop, coffee table, or kitchen work surface and have a perfect practice solution wherever you are, without cables flying around (aside from the power). The wireless transmitter can last up to 12 hours on a full charge and is simply charged by plugging it back into the top of the amp itself.

This amp features a powerful-sounding 35-watt dual five-inch speaker, giving the user a nice wide-range sound, making this also a very powerful ‘Bluetooth’ speaker for playing tunes. The amp sounds themselves are based around five versatile amp ‘models’ from neutral amp character for acoustic-electric/bass to a Jazz Chorus-style clean, Crunch, Lead, and Brown amp models. These can be further tweaked via bass, middle, and treble controls. There are also several FX controls, giving us access to different types of boosts, drives, reverbs, delays, modulation, and other special effects. While most of this can be accessed from the top panel, the amp is designed to be used alongside the BOSS Tone Studio App (available on Apple and Android). This app can be used to further tweak the onboard FX, and we’re treated to 60 of BOSS’s world-class effects. If you want a DS1, it’s got it; if you want an SDE-3000 Stereo Delay, it’s got it! And you can get detailed with the parameters for each effect via the app. Super cool. Once you’ve got your sounds dialed in, you can save them to one of the six onboard memories to recall your presets. You can use the app to store and download presets from the ‘Tone Exchange.’ It’s all very easy once you get started.

There’s so much that can be done with this compact desktop amp, and it sounds amazing! It fills the room nicely; it’s not too ‘pointy’ as some practice amps can sound. It gives you an almost ‘recorded’ presentation of your sound to go along with any backing tracks you may be playing along with.

If you want to take it to a gig, you potentially could by wiring it up to the PA system via the stereo jack line outs with mic’d cab emulation. If you are taking it live or want a bit more control at home, you can control your sounds via BOSS’s wireless foot control (EV-1-1WL and FS-1-WL, both not included with the BOSS Katana Air EX). This footswitch can operate functions you assign with the Tone Studio app, controlling volume, wah, patch changes, and triggering the app’s practice tools as well! Very nice. Home recording enthusiasts will enjoy the fact that you can also record tracks directly to most computer music software via USB.

If you fancy taking this unit down to the beach for some sunglasses guitar solos, you can power this unit with 8 AA batteries. I’m not sure how long they will last, but I’d imagine it’s subject to your overall volume and time spent playing. Another commonly asked question is, “Do you have to use the wireless feature only?” and the answer is no; you are able to plug in, old-school style! I do feel the wireless feature is very practical for home practice, though. If charged up and then left in the guitar and left alone, the Katana will go into standby and turn on when you pick up the guitar and play. I love this feature.

Can I recommend it? Certainly, I can! It’s one of the best practice amps on the market. I own the smaller Katana Air, and that sounds great and has served me very well at home and out and about, at jams, lessons, rehearsals, and when traveling. The AIR EX, of course, is bigger and more powerful, has much more bass response, and seems a little bit more sturdy than its younger sibling due to its construction. If you’re looking for an all-in-one practice amp solution that can also promise a bit more, the Katana AIR EX is a must!

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