“A desktop amp that crosses over into serious recording, rehearsals and more”: Boss Katana Air EX review

More Air, vicar? Boss has pumped up its popular wireless desktop amp with some specs that make it a viable option for stage, studio and home

Boss Katana Air EX
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Guitar World Verdict

If you’re looking for a desktop amp that crosses over into serious recording, rehearsals and more, the Katana Air EX is an ideal choice.

Pros

  • +

    More of a professional amp look and feel than its predecessor.

  • +

    ‘Brown’ custom lead sound from the Waza Craft head sounds terrific when teamed with a brawny humbucker.

Cons

  • -

    None.

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Ever since its introduction, the Boss Katana range has become a byword for affordable digital modeling, with a wide range of guitar amps covering home, studio, and stage use. 

In the home amp market, small is often beautiful, and the Katana Air stereo desktop guitar amp is a popular choice, pushing out up to 30 watts through a pair of three-inch speakers, with a wireless guitar transmitter and battery power to remove untidy wires and cables. Now Boss has added yet another option to the range, for those who like the wireless thing but want more: the Katana Air EX. 

The Katana Air EX is physically bigger than the original Air, with a ported wood cabinet housing a pair of specially-designed five-inch loudspeakers. With a tough textured black finish, recessed control panel and silver accents to the speaker grille, the Air EX has more of a professional amp look and feel. 

As well as regular jack sockets for guitar and guitar amp headphones, there’s a docking port and charger for the Katana Air EX’s wireless transmitter, which provides up to 12 hours of play time. On the rear panel, there’s a useful pair of stereo line out jacks, together with an aux in and a USB type ‘B’ port for direct recording into your computer.

Bluetooth provides audio streaming and remote control from the Boss Tone Studio mobile app, enhanced by an optional wireless footswitch and expression pedal. Like its smaller brother, the Katana Air EX can run off mains power or batteries, with an optional rechargeable power pack giving up to 16 hours of cable-free use. 

In use, the bigger loudspeakers and stereo sound make the Katana Air EX satisfying to play and record, with practically zero latency from the wireless transmitter. The five amp voices aren’t modeled on specific designs but include superb clean, crunch, and lead tones together with a dedicated voice for bass and acoustic instruments.

Boss Katana Air EX

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

There’s also the wonderful ‘Brown’ custom lead sound from Boss’ acclaimed Waza Craft head, which sounds terrific when teamed with a brawny humbucker pickup. You can take your pick from over 60 assorted boosts, overdrives, delays and modulations, and store your favorite patches in six on-board memory slots.

The stereo line-outs mean the Air EX isn’t restricted to home use – you can easily plug it into a console and use it on any size of stage, with enough power from the larger speakers to handle rehearsals and smaller un-mic’d gigs, with wireless freedom removing the distracting tangle of leads that can be pulled out or tripped over. 

If you’re looking for a desktop amp that crosses over into serious recording, rehearsals and more, the Katana Air EX is an ideal choice. 

Specs

  • PRICE: $599 / £544
  • TYPE: Digital modelling 2x5” stereo combo
  • CHANNELS: Five amp voices and six on-board memory slots
  • OUTPUT: 35 watts RMS on mains power, reducing to 20 watts on batteries
  • CONTROLS: Amp type, gain, volume, bass, middle, treble, effects select x 2, reverb level, master volume, Bluetooth pairing, power, patch store/select
  • SOCKETS: Guitar in, headphones out, transmitter dock/charge. Stereo line out, USB Type B port for direct recording to computer/DAW
  • LOUDSPEAKERS: Two 5” special design
  • WEIGHT: 5.6kg 
  • DIMENSIONS: [HxWxD] 236 x 414 x 192mm
  • OPTIONS: The EV-1WL wireless expression pedal retails for £163, while the FS-1WL wireless footswitch is £112. As an alternative to AA batteries, the rechargeable BTY-NIMH/A power pack gives up to 16 hours of playtime and sells for £108.           
  • CONTACT: Boss

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Nick Guppy

Nick Guppy has been a regular contributor to Guitarist magazine for over 20 years, mostly writing reviews on guitar amps and related products. He built his first valve amplifier at the age of 12 and has since bought, sold and restored many more, with a particular interest in Vox, Selmer, Orange and tweed-era Fenders, alongside Riveras and Mark Series Boogies. When wielding a guitar instead of soldering iron, he’s enjoyed a diverse musical career playing all over the UK, including occasional stints with theatre groups, orchestras and big bands as well as power trios and tributes. His favourite musical genres are ‘anything that’s good’.