Boss stakes its claim for the biggest-sounding desktop amp yet as the wireless Katana-Air gets an overhaul

Boss Katana-Air EX
(Image credit: Boss)

Boss has given its hugely popular range of Katana amp heads and combo amps some serious thought over the past few years, introducing upgraded units, debuting its first-ever bass amps, expanding its accessory range and improving performance by way of software updates.

Now, the firm has given one of its lesser spotted Katana variants – the totally wireless Katana-Air desktop amp – some much-deserved attention, upgrading it in the form of the new Katana-Air EX.

Notably, it’s the first time the Katana-Air has been overhauled since it arrived back in 2018.

A whistle-stop tour of the highlights includes increased maximum power, an improved physical build, expanded sound projection, upgraded feature set, and additional recording and performance options.

To dive into those a little deeper, the Katana-Air EX weighs in with 35 watts of maximum output (that’s five more than the 30W Katana-Air), which is projected via a pair of custom five-inch speakers (the previous model had three-inch speakers).

This has led to the need for an updated, “carefully designed wood cabinet”, which, when paired with those larger speakers, is said to be more conducive to “generating full sound with rich resonance typically only available with performance amplifiers”.

There’s also a tuned bass-reflex port that, according to Boss, lends itself to a tighter bottom-end response for low-tuned guitars and even bass guitars. Oh, and that clunky metal handle has been swapped out in favor of a classy leather alternative, which is a very nice touch indeed.

The bolstered internal and external components mean the EX version is substantially larger than its predecessor when comparing them side-by-side, though despite its increased size, the new-for-2023 Katana-Air retains the original’s control panel.

That means there is a knob for selecting one of five onboard amp models – Brown, Lead, Crunch, Clean and Acoustic – as well as a three-band EQ comprising Bass, Middle and Treble parameters. Master Gain and Reverb lineup alongside Master and Volume controls. Two final effects knobs – BST/Mod and Delay/FX – complete the control set.

But as is typical for the Katana range, it’s the expanded feature set that really makes this range a market leader in the modeling amp sphere.

Here, Boss has upped the ante for its desktop platform, offering an expanded set of over 60 effects, which can be organized into the brand-standard six onboard memory slots. 

Deep sound editing and selection of effects and amps is available via the Boss Tone Studios – accessed wirelessly via Bluetooth – while the Boss Tone Exchange once again opens up avenues for community preset sharing.

Other notable features of the Katana-Air EX include the USB connectivity for use as a direct audio interface, the stereo line output with mic’d cab emulation for direct-to-PA live setups, and the fact the wireless transmitter has up to 12 hours of run time.

To access that wireless performance, the amp requires either eight AA batteries or the Roland BTY-NIMH/A rechargeable amp power pack. For standard plugged-in performance, there's an included power adaptor.

As a compact amp, it's got some pretty stiff competition in the form of the Positive Grid Spark and Fender Mustang LT40S, but we deemed its predecessor to be one of the best desktop amps on the market, so there's no reason why this new model can't be equally successful. Plus, it's got wireless connectivity on its side.

The Katana-Air EX is available now for $599.

Head over to Boss to find out more.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.