Price: $ 399
Boss has years of knowledge of pedal manufacturing in his katana amp line-up, the result is fantastic. From there, it combined the same technology with the Waza-Air into a pair of headphones – a set of over-ear cans that are practically a guitar amplifier that you wear on your head. But how good is it really?
Here's what we like
- Incredible number of tones in a small package
- Probably the best practice / travel rig out there
And what we don't
- The "Amp-in-a- Room "simulation is of questionable value.
- Many reported app problems.
Like pretty much every other guitarist I know, I'm a sound hunter. The biggest problem I've found is that you need a large loud amplifier to get good sound. Well, that's not a problem in itself, but if you combine that with the fact that I'm a lifelong "bedroom guitarist," you probably see the problem. My wife, kids, neighbors, and pretty much everyone else who isn't me just don't appreciate a loud amp, no matter how good it sounds.
And this reason is justified. Most of the time, even I don't want that my amplifier is loud enough to play with, especially when I'm practicing new jams. There is nothing worse than hearing someone (me included!) Slaughtering a new tune at 100 decibels. It's just stupid.
But this is where the Boss Waza-Air comes into play. The idea here is to deliver rig-quality sound in headphones so you can practice without disturbing others. As a Boss Katana Head owner, I know how well Boss can create a digital amp sound, so I've been pretty excited about it from day one.
I've been playing with them for a few weeks now. So how are you? Good! You are good. But they have some quirks and annoyances that make it a little more difficult to justify the high price.
Let's talk about it.
Waza-Air: A primer
So you've already understood the basics – a guitar amplifier in a number of headcans. They are completely wireless and come with the required transmitter that you connect to your guitar. There is surprisingly little latency in the entire system, which is an absolute must for playing a musical instrument. It uses a data transfer system developed by Boss that was probably perfectly tuned to avoid such latency.
The package contains five different amplifiers developed by Boss: Brown (based on EVH's famous “Brown Sound”), lead, crunch, clean and flat / bass / acoustic. Each channel has its own three-band EQ with gain and volume controls. You know how a "real amplifier".
There are also over 50 different onboard effects that fall into different categories. You can use up to three effects of different types at the same time: Boost / Modulation, Delay / FX and Reverb. You can customize your digital pedalboard for each channel and then save the settings to different patches for easy recall.
However, if you ask Boss, the biggest feature of the Waza-Air is a built-in gyroscope that allows the headphones to have an "amp-in-a-room" function. If this option is activated, the placement of the amplifier in the virtual space is basically stationary and you move around it. That means it goes straight when you put the cans on for the first time and ignite, and when you turn your head the amplifier stays there.
It's theoretically cool, but it also means that if you turn your head you will lose all audio in the opposite ear, no matter which direction you just turned. For example, suppose the amplifier is simulated directly in front of you, but then look to the left. You will lose all audio data in the left ear, as this is technically turned away from the amplifier. There is also the problem of center drift that many users have reported. Instead of staying in one place, the amplifier slowly drifts around you, making it very difficult to focus on playing.
If you're looking for a quick spoiler, let's go: I don't like that feature at all .
But we'll talk more about that below. But first let's take a look at the headphones.
The hardware: Eh, it's okay
I admit that I was a little less than impressed with the Waza-Air as soon as I opened the box. They are expensive at $ 400, so at least I expected them to be packed with a tote bag, but that's not the case. It's confusing to me that they wouldn't provide protection, especially considering that they are absolutely perfect for practicing while traveling.
I've handled a lot of high-end headphones, many of which cost half the price of Waza-Air – so I know what a set of premium cans feels like. This is another expectation that I had from Waza-Air, and although I wouldn't say that they feel "cheap", I wouldn't say that they're comparable to more premium cans.
The plastic ear cups are fine is the headband. The headband is flexible and all folding mechanisms do what they should – there is simply nothing special about the quality of workmanship. At best, they are fine. I expected more for $ 400.
Most of the main controls are on the right auricle: channel up / down buttons, Bluetooth volume, and guitar volume. Having it on the right cup is the most sensible for right-handed users, as you can easily pull your picking hand away from the guitar to quickly change the channel or volume. However, lefties won't have it easy.
The left ear cup is much simpler – here you will find the power switch and the micro USB charging port. The transmitter is also rechargeable via microUSB, so you don't have to worry about constantly changing the battery. This is a good thing because the headphones themselves only play about 5 hours before they need to be juiced. The transmitter gets 12 hours between charges so you can theoretically charge it every time you load the cans … if you want to keep up.
The software: Surprisingly robust and easy to use
To optimize the settings on the Waza-Air, use the BTS for Waza-Air app (iOS / Android). It's fairly simple and worked well in my tests, although the reviews on the Google Play Store are less than excellent. I also read several user reviews that said they only had problems with the Waza Air app – some could not connect at all.
This is a big problem because literally every setting on the headphones is adjusted in the app. If you can't get them to connect or experience frequent dropouts, you will have very bad experiences with the Waza-Air. Again, I had none of these problems, but reading reviews on websites like Sweetwater showed me that I may be a minority here. Please pay attention to the following.
The Waza-Air is paired and connected to your device in two ways: Bluetooth MIDI and Bluetooth Audio. The former is used to optimize the settings in the Waza Air app, while the latter works like any normal Bluetooth audio connection and allows you to play with your favorite songs. You can make both connections at the same time, but you must make each one individually. It's a quirk, but it's not a big deal once you get used to it.
Once the MIDI connection is made, you can jump right in and start editing your tones.
On the first tab you can edit, change or (thankfully) disable the settings. This is based solely on the headphone's internal gyroscope, so you won't find the word "Amp-in-a-Room" anywhere in the app – it is listed here as "Gyro Ambience". Fancy.
There are some settings: Stage, Static, Surround and my personal favorite Off. There are no real "settings" here – it's more of a list of presets. Here is the general idea:
- Stage: You are on a large open stage. Where you move in space and how you turn your head dramatically affects where the sound comes from, but the idea is that the amplifier is behind you. You know like you're on a stage.
- Static: In this mode, the amplifier is in a stationary location and you move around it.
- Surround: ] In this mode you determine where the amplifier is in relation to your position. Then it stays there even if you move.
- Off: This disables all gyro functions so you can optimize the dry tone and add as little reverb as you want. This is my preferred setting, although the surround option doesn't bother me that much either.
Each of these options (except Off) also has its own ambience setting that allows you to adjust the reverb level in the "room." You can choose between "Wow, that's quite a bit of reverb" and "What else happens?"
Amp / EQ
As already mentioned, the Waza-Air has five different amp types: Brown, Lead, Crunch, Clean, Flat / Bass / Acoustic you will optimize them.Each amplifier also has its own gain and volume control so that you get exactly the right amount with each of these options Dirt.
There's also a three-band EQ for everyone (bass, mid, treble), which in turn is the case regardless of any amp setting. All pretty normal stuff here, and I find this one Options work exactly as you would expect from a “real amplifier.”
Effects / prese nz
Here is the money – all effects. Deciding which amp and EQ settings you like is pretty easy (anyway, it was for me), but you can easily spend hours exploring the effects options.
There are three effect slots on the digital board: Boost / Mod, Delay / FX and Hall. You can have three different pedals in each section, but you can only switch between them within the app. Simply tapping the big old button above the effect level switches between the three options. The colors green, red and yellow indicate which "effects channel" you are on. The biggest problem here is that you have to remember which color is associated with which effect. Good luck.
Not only can you choose which effects to use, you can also adjust all settings for each effect that you would normally get from an actual pedal. You know, almost as if your digital pedal board were functioning like a real pedal board. Nice.
I find the effects clear, realistic and generally only very good . Quite normal for Boss – these guys have been pedaling for a long time. Many of these effects are inherited from the katana amp line, where they are just as good.
When you've made your selection, tap the Write button in the upper corner to assign it to one of the six patches available. You can even give everyone a custom name if you'd like.
Cool! But how should they be used?
Once you've chosen your tone and set the gyro settings to your liking, the Waza-Air is a killer practice amp. They are plug-and-play capable, produce surprisingly beautiful tones for all types of music genres, and are generally a pleasure.
But they are also expensive and the gyros functions are of questionable value. I'm sure someone out there absolutely loves the gyroscope stuff and is currently making fun of my disapproval, but frankly I just don't really see the value here. I think without them they could be a lot cheaper.
Sure, gyroscopes themselves are not that expensive, but when you consider all the research and development that helps make it work, the costs add up. It's a cool feature for sure – but it's a novelty. I imagine that more guitarists will turn it off completely than those who leave it on. I also think Boss could have lowered the price by up to $ 100 if the gyro functions had only been left on the floor of the ideas room.
There is also the question of "amp drift" or whatever you want to call. I have seen a number of user reports that the amplifier, even if it is said to be locked in a certain position, starts to drift when playing. The gyros are probably not properly calibrated in this scenario (if I were a guesswork, I would say this happens automatically every time you start Waza-Air, but I can't say for sure), but there is no way To do this, perform any type of calibration manually. But most users said that this was an annoying mistake in itself.
Switching channels also annoys me with the Waza-Air, mainly because it is a pair of keys that is difficult to distinguish from one another and I move my hand from the guitar to close it to use. It's annoying when I play with a song and have to switch between patches. I would like to see a Bluetooth foot switch connection option – such as support for the IK Multimedia Blueboard. Sure, that adds something that should be easy to another level of complexity, but I think at least the option to use a footswitch with the Waza-Air would be gory.
Conclusion: are they worth the money?
Here I am with the Waza-Air: They sound really good for what they are. They are plug-and-play capable, so there's not much fuss. For me, the app worked well all the time and is easy to use. They are packed with features that add a lot of value.
If you want an amplifier that you can play anywhere without disturbing anyone, there are definitely far worse and more cumbersome options than the Waza-Air. Add the comfort and great tone you can get from them and you have a winning combination.
But they also cost $ 400, which is quite expensive, and they don't even come with a damn case. I think at $ 300 this would have been a much better value and easier recommendation.
My biggest problem with Waza-Air is that there are many "what if" here. What if you can't get the app to connect or experience frequent dropouts, as so many users have reported? What if you want the amp-in-a-room features but experience amp drift all the time?
I cannot answer these questions for you. This makes this a $ 400 game of chance for a lot of people, and that's real crap. If you are interested in the idea and ignore the risk, the best solution I can think of is to make sure that you are ordering from a dealer with a simple return policy. This way you can get your money back if you have any of the problems that make it unusable.
And if you have no problems, enjoy hell out of them. Because when they work for you, they're fantastic.
Here's what we like
- Incredible number of tones in a small package
- Probably the best exercise / travel rig out there
And what we don't
- The simulation "Amp -in-a-room "is of questionable value.
- Many reported app problems.