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The pocket-sized Boss Katana:Go headphone amp doubles as an audio interface

There are plenty of portable headphone amps out there that plug directly into instruments like electric guitars and basses, but Boss just kicked things up a notch. The company has announced the Katana:GO headphone amp and it’s a doozy, with a combination of features I’ve never seen together in one little box.

Just like rival products, this thing plugs into the input jack of a preferred instrument and includes a headphone jack to hear what’s going on. Guitar players can choose from ten amp models and bassists get three amp models, each pulled from the pre-existing Katana line of modeling amplifiers. Boss Katana amps are known primarily for their surprisingly great selection of tones, and it looks like the company managed to squeeze those same models into a headphone amp. Rival products are certainly convenient, but don’t always sound that great.

There are 60 effects to choose from, with all of the reverbs, delays and, of course, choruses musicians have come to expect from Boss. These are also the same effects featured in the larger and pricier combo amps.

So, there are good amp tones and a robust lineup of effects. What sets the Katana:Go apart from, say, the Mustang Micro? First of all, there’s a built-in tuner, which is always a welcome addition. The Katana:GO also includes spatial audio tech to mimic a live setup, further enhancing its usefulness as a practice amp. It remains to be seen how realistic this sounds, but Boss says it lets users position a virtual amp in different locations to give the impression of playing on stage or “jamming in a room with friends.” I’ve used many of these amps before and have found the “in your face” nature of the headphone signal rather off-putting, so I’m intrigued by this feature.

The amp has 30 preset slots, for creating and saving unique tones, and integrates with the company’s Tone Exchange service. This allows users to trade presets like Pokémon. Okay, not quite like Pokémon, but you get the gist.

Boss

The Katana:GO even doubles as an actual USB audio interface. Just plug it into a computer, smartphone or tablet and record straight into a DAW. Finally, there’s a dedicated mobile app, with the ability to jam along to songs from streaming sites or a personal library. This is especially handy for getting that daily practice session in, and there’s a looping feature for nailing down difficult segments.

Just like the other headphone amps on the market, it folds up neatly and easily fits into a standard gig bag. The Boss Katana:GO costs $120 and, incidentally, is the same price as the Mustang Micro, which doesn’t double as an audio interface or include a built-in tuner. It’s available to purchase right now.

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