The Boss Waza-Air is Packed Stuffed with Killer Tone, Quirky Options

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Ranking:
6/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Sizzling Rubbish
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Rubbish
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Professionals, Tons Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Sufficient to Purchase On Sale
  • 7 – Nice, However Not Greatest-In-Class
  • 8 – Incredible, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Cash
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Value: $399

Cameron Summerson

Boss put years of pedal-making data into its Katana amp lineup, and the result’s improbable. From there, it condensed this similar tech down right into a set of headphones with the Waza-Air—a set of over-ear cans which might be successfully a guitar amp you put on in your head. However how good is it, actually?

This is What We Like

  • Unbelievable variety of tones in a small package deal
  • In all probability one of the best apply/journey rig on the market

And What We Do not

  • The “amp-in-a-room” simulation is of questionable worth
  • Numerous reported app points
  • Costly

Like just about each different guitarist I do know, I’m a tone chaser. The most important situation I’ve discovered is that to get good tone, you want a giant loud amp. Now, that’s not a difficulty in itself, however while you pair that with the truth that I’m a lifelong “bed room guitarist,” properly, you most likely see the issue. My spouse, youngsters, neighbors, and just about anybody else who isn’t me merely don’t recognize a loud-ass amp, regardless of how good it sounds.

And that purpose is justified. More often than not even I don’t need my amp to be loud sufficient to gig with, particularly after I’m simply practising new jams. There’s nothing worse than listening to somebody (myself included!) butcher a brand new tune at 100 decibels. That’s simply silly.

However that’s the place the Boss Waza-Air comes into play. The thought right here is to supply full rig-quality tone in a set of headphones, so you may apply with out annoying anybody else. As a Boss Katana Head proprietor, I understand how good Boss could make a digital amp sound, so I’ve been fairly hyped for these since day one.

At this level, I’ve been taking part in with them for just a few weeks. So, how are they? Good! They’re good. However they’ve some quirks and annoyances that make the excessive price ticket a bit tougher to justify.

Let’s discuss it.

Waza-Air: A Primer

A closeup of the Waza-Air
Cameron Summerson

So, you already received the gist right here—a guitar amp in a set of headcans. They’re utterly wi-fi and include the required transmitter that you just plug into your guitar. There’s surprisingly little latency in the entire system, which is an absolute should for taking part in any musical instrument. It’s utilizing a Boss proprietary system to transmit information, which has doubtless been tuned to perfection to keep away from such latency.

There are 5 completely different Boss-designed amps included within the package deal: Brown (primarily based on EVH’s well-known “Brown Sound”), Lead, Crunch, Clear, and Flat/Bass/Acoustic. Every channel has its personal three-band EQ with achieve and quantity controls. You realize, like a “actual amp.”

There are additionally over 50 completely different onboard results that fall into completely different classes. You need to use as much as three results of various sorts at one time: enhance/modulation, delay/FX, and reverb. You’ll be able to customise your digital pedalboard throughout every channel, then save the settings to completely different patches for simple callback.

Nonetheless, when you ask Boss, the Waza-Air’s largest characteristic is a built-in gyroscope that enables the headphones to have an “amp-in-a-room” characteristic. Principally, with this enabled, the location of the amp within the digital area is stationary and you progress round it. Meaning it’s straight forward while you first put the cans on and fireplace them up and as you flip your head, the amp stays in that spot.

It’s cool in principle, but it surely additionally signifies that when you flip your head, you’ll lose all audio within the reverse ear of no matter path you simply turned. So, for instance, let’s say the amp is simulated proper in entrance of you, however you then look left. You’ll lose all audio within the left ear as a result of it’s technically going through away from the amp. There’s additionally the problem of middle drift, which many customers have reported expertise. Principally, as an alternative of staying in a single spot, the amp will slowly drift round you, making it very onerous to remain targeted on taking part in.

In the event you’re on the lookout for a fast spoiler, right here you go: I don’t like this characteristic in any respect.

However we’ll speak extra about that down beneath. However first, let’s take a look at the headphones themselves.

The {Hardware}: Eh, It’s Okay

I’ll admit that I used to be rather less than impressed with the Waza-Air as quickly as I cracked open the field. They’re expensive at $400, so on the very least I anticipated them to be packaged with a carrying case, however that’s not the … case. It’s perplexing to me that they wouldn’t include some kind of safety, particularly contemplating these are completely good for apply whereas touring.

I’ve dealt with loads of high-end headphones—lots of which value half the worth of the Waza-Air—so I do know what a set of premium cans seems like. That’s one other expectation I had of the Waza-Air, and whereas I wouldn’t say they really feel “low cost,” I additionally wouldn’t say they’re similar to extra premium cans.

The plastic ear cups are positive, as is the headscarf. The headscarf is flexy, and all of the folding mechanisms do what they’re purported to—there’s simply nothing outstanding concerning the construct high quality right here. They’re positive at greatest. Once more, for $400, I anticipated extra.

The ear pads on the Waza-Air
The pads are comfortable and comfy. The battery will doubtless die earlier than you get uncomfortable carrying these. Cameron Summerson

A lot of the principal controls are on the suitable ear cup: channel up/down buttons, Bluetooth audio quantity, and guitar quantity. Having these on the suitable cup makes probably the most sense for right-handed gamers, because it’s straightforward to drag your selecting hand away from the guitar for fast channel or quantity modifications. Lefties gained’t have it as straightforward, nevertheless.

The left ear cup is way easier—it’s the place you’ll discover the facility button and the microUSB charging port. The transmitter can be rechargeable over microUSB, so that you don’t have to fret about altering out batteries continuously in both. That’s a superb factor as a result of the headphones themselves solely get about 5 hours of taking part in earlier than they have to be juiced up. The transmitter will get a claimed 12 hours between costs, so you could possibly theoretically cost it each different time you’ve gotten the cost the cans … if you wish to sustain with that.

The Software program: Surprisingly Sturdy and Simple to Use

To tweak the settings on the Waza-Air, you’ll use the BTS for Waza-Air app (iOS/Android). It’s fairly easy and labored properly in my testing, although the evaluations within the Google Play Retailer are lower than stellar. I additionally learn a number of person evaluations who stated that they had nothing however points with the Waza-Air app—some couldn’t set up a connection in any respect.

That’s a giant downside as a result of the app is the place you tweak actually each setting on the headphones. lf you may’t get them to attach or expertise frequent dropouts, you then’re going to have a really unhealthy expertise with the Waza-Air. Once more, I didn’t have any of those points, however studying by means of evaluations on websites like Sweetwater confirmed me that I is perhaps within the minority right here. One thing to pay attention to.

The Waza-Air pairs up and connects along with your gadget in two methods: Bluetooth MIDI and Bluetooth Audio. The previous is to tweak the settings within the Waza-Air app, whereas the latter works like every regular Bluetooth audio connection and means that you can play alongside along with your favourite tracks. You’ll be able to run each connections on the similar time, however you’ll want to determine every one individually. It’s a quirk, but it surely’s not a giant deal when you get used to it.

With the MIDI connection established, you may soar straight in and begin enhancing your tones.

Gyro Atmosphere

The gyro setting in the Waza-Air app The gyro setting in the Waza-Air app

The primary tab is the place you’ll edit, modify, or (fortunately) disable the amp-in-a-room settings. That’s purely primarily based on the headphones’ inner gyroscope, so that you gained’t discover the verbiage “amp-in-a-room” anyplace within the app—it’s listed as “Gyro Atmosphere” right here. Fancy.

There are just a few settings: Stage, Static, Encompass, and my private favourite, Off. There are not any actual “settings” to talk of right here—it’s extra of an inventory of presets. Right here’s the overall thought:

  • Stage: You’re on a giant open stage. The place you progress within the room and the way you flip your head dramatically impacts the place the sound is “coming from,” however the thought is that the amp is behind you. You realize, such as you’re on a stage.
  • Static: On this mode, the amp is in a stationary place, and you progress round it.
  • Encompass: On this mode, you outline the place the amp is positioned in relation to the place you might be. Then it stays there, at the same time as you progress.
  • Off: This kills all of the gyro options, permitting you tweak the dry tone and add as little reverb as you want. That is my most well-liked setting, although I don’t thoughts the Encompass choice that a lot both.

Every of those choices (except for Off) additionally has its personal Atmosphere setting, which principally means that you can tweak the reverb stage within the “room.” You’ll be able to regulate to from “wow that’s fairly a little bit of reverb” to “what’s even occurring anymore” ranges.

Amp/EQ

The amp/eq setting in the Waza-Air app The amp/eq setting in the Waza-Air app

As I said earlier, the Waza-Air has 5 completely different amp sorts—Brown, Lead, Crunch, Clear, Flat/Bass/Acoustic—and that is the place you’ll tweak these. Every amp additionally has its personal achieve and quantity dial, so you will get simply the correct quantity of filth on any of those choices.

There’s additionally a three-band EQ for every (bass, mid, treble), which is once more impartial of every amp setting. All fairly normal stuff right here, and I discover that these choices work precisely the way you’d count on a “actual amp” to reply.

Results/Presence

The effects/presence setting in the Waza-Air app The effects/presence setting in the Waza-Air app

That is the place the cash is—all the results. Deciding which amp and EQ settings you want is fairly easy (it was for me, anyway), however you may simply spend hours digging into tall the impact choices.

There are three results slots on the digital board: enhance/mod, delay/fx, and reverb. You’ll be able to have three completely different pedals in every part, however you may solely change between them throughout the app. A easy faucet of the large ol’ button above the impact stage will cycle between the three choices, with the colours inexperienced, pink, and yellow letting you realize which “impact channel” you’re on. The most important situation right here is that you just’ll have to recollect which shade is tied to which impact. Good luck.

Not solely are you able to select which results you employ, however you may tweak all of the settings on every one that you just’d usually get from an precise pedal. You realize, virtually like your digital pedalboard works loads like an actual pedalboard. Good.

I discover the results to be crisp, real looking, and usually simply excellent. Just about par for the course from Boss, although—these guys have been making pedals for a really very long time. And lots of these results are ported over from the Katana amp line, the place they’re equally nearly as good.

Upon getting the whole lot dialed to your liking, faucet the “Write” button within the prime nook to assign it to one of many obtainable six patches. You’ll be able to even give every one customized title if you would like.

Cool! However How Are They to Use?

The Waza-Air transmitter
The transmitter is nice. It simply will get out of the way in which. Cameron Summerson

When you get your tone dialed in and the gyro settings to your liking, the Waza-Air makes for a killer apply “amp.” They’re plug-and-play, produce surprisingly good tones for every kind of genres of music, and are typically a pleasure to make use of.

However they’re additionally costly, and the gyroscope options are of questionable worth. I’m certain that somebody on the market completely loves the gyroscope stuff and is presently scoffing at my disapproval, however I actually simply don’t actually see the worth right here. I believe that these might be much more inexpensive with out it.

Certain, gyroscopes themselves aren’t that costly, however while you think about all of the analysis and growth that goes into making one thing like this work, properly, the prices add up. It’s a cool characteristic, certain—but it surely’s a novelty. I think about extra guitarists flip it off completely than those that depart it on. I additionally assume that Boss may’ve gotten the worth down by as a lot as $100 if the gyro options would’ve simply been left on the thought room ground.

There’s additionally the query of “amp drift” or no matter you wish to name it. I’ve seen a bunch of person reviews saying that even with the amp supposedly locked into a selected place, it begins to float as you play. The gyros most likely aren’t calibrated correctly in that situation (if I have been a guessing man I’d say this occurs mechanically each time you fireplace up the Waza-Air, however I can’t say for certain), however there’s no approach to manually carry out any kind of calibration. However most customers reported this to be an annoying bug in itself.

Altering channels additionally bothers me on the Waza-Air, largely as a result of it’s a pair of buttons which might be onerous to differentiate from each other and require me to maneuver my hand from the guitar to make use of. If I’m taking part in together with a tune and wish to modify between patches, that’s annoying. I’d like to see some kind of Bluetooth footswitch connection choice—like help for the IK Multimedia Blueboard, for instance. Certain, that provides one other layer of complexity to one thing that ought to be easy, however I believe not less than having the choice to make use of a footswitch with the Waza-Air could be killer.

Conclusion: Are They Well worth the Cash?

The Waza-Air's power button
Cameron Summerson

Right here’s the place I’m with the Waza-Air: they sound actually good for what they’re. They’re plug and play, so there isn’t lots of fuss. For me, the app labored properly on a regular basis and is straightforward to make use of. They’re completely jam-packed with options that add lots of worth.

In order for you an amp you may play anyplace with out bothering anybody, there are positively far worse and extra cumbersome choices than the Waza-Air. Add the consolation and nice tone you will get from them, and you’ve got a successful combo.

However they’re additionally $400, which is fairly costly, they usually don’t even include a rattling case. I believe at $300 these would’ve been a a lot better worth and a neater advice.

My largest situation with the Waza-Air is that there are loads of “what ifs” right here. What when you can’t get the app to attach or expertise frequent dropouts, as so many customers have reported? What if you would like the amp-in-a-room options, however you expertise amp drift continuously?

These are questions I can’t reply for you. That makes these a $400 gamble for lots of people, and that’s an actual bummer. Finally, when you’re into the thought and don’t thoughts the danger, one of the best answer I can consider is to be sure you order from a seller with a easy return coverage. That manner you probably have any of the problems that make these unusable, you will get your a refund.

And when you don’t have any points, properly, benefit from the hell out of them. As a result of in the event that they be just right for you, they’re superior.

Right here’s What We Like

  • Unbelievable variety of tones in a small package deal
  • In all probability one of the best apply/journey rig on the market

And What We Do not

  • The “amp-in-a-room” simulation is of questionable worth
  • Numerous reported app points
  • Costly

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