New Boss Katana MK2 Amps!

Discussion in 'Amps & Cabs' started by Clifdawg, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    So, these just got some updated hardware:

    https://www.boss.info/global/categories/amplifiers/katana/

    Appears that these are mostly the same amp, but that they've updated them to include a variant of every amp type (so there are now 10 "voices" instead of 5), and they now use concentric knobs in the effects section to allow up to five effects at once (instead of three). The clean channel(s) has(have) also apparently been updated to be more Fender-like. Tone Studio is backwards-compatible with the previous version, so original Katana patches can be loaded into the Katana MK2 (though obviously not the other way around).

    Most intriguingly are a "power amp in" option if you want to use these as powered cabs for modelers, and a "stereo" mode for the 100-watt models where two amps can be chained together with a single cable for stereo sound and effects.

    I think the Katana 100 was a good amp *for the money*, but was underwhelmed with the effects section's limitations. I still think 2 banks of 2 or 4 patches is unnecessarily limited (given the 100 user-assignable presets on the Boss GT-1, upon which the Katana's DSP is derived). This update seems to address my effects section concerns, and the added features look really, really cool (super-simple wet-dry-wet, anyone?). I'ma have to try these out. If it's a solid upgrade, I might have to get a head and convert my Sunn SL260 into a 2x12 cab. :naughty:
     
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  2. living room rocker

    living room rocker Active Member

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    I saw the press release of the updates. The Waza speaker equipped Artist version soon to follow possibly? Considering one myself......liking the added Fender-esque clean variation voicing. Plus the "power amp in" and stereo chain functions you mentioned do look intriguing. I've no first hand experience with the Katana line of amps......are they a good buy for mid-priced ss amps?
     
  3. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but I stress that they're the best amps for under 500 USD. I have to stress that caveat there... They're great value for money, but they aren't gonna convince you to Craigslist your Deluxe Reverb or JCM800.

    My biggest issue with them is, ironically, the effects section. From the top panel, you can only control a single parameter for each effect, and while you can assign three effects to each knob (green, yellow, and red), they all pull from a common parameter bank. So - if you assign a Boss distortion and a Boss Metal Zone to the "boost" knob, the knob will only control gain, and even in the Tone Studio, you won't get the parametric EQ knobs for the Metal Zone. Oh, and if you tweak the tone for the DS-1, it's gonna adjust the tone for the MT-2 as well. This is true for all of the different effect types. As a result, the Boss Katana just isn't a good all-in one solution, unless you're the kind of person who plans on setting it up like a regular two-channel amp and using only a handful of effects that you don't need to tweak. It's frustrating, because setting up three of each effect type on your amp sounds really functional until you realize that, if you're a tweaker, two of them are probably always useless if you have one set up just right. It might be easy to workaround if you have a lot of presets to work with, but even the 100s only have a maximum of 8. What's strange is that the Boss GT-1 MFX pedal (which I have and love) is the basis for which the DSP of the Katana is built, and has exactly zero of these problems.

    If you ignore the garbage effects section, however, the Katana suddenly becomes a lot more appealing. Tiny, lightweight, incredibly powerful (seriously, the 100-watters will knock birds out of the sky), and most importantly - the core amp sounds are top notch. There's a little bit of top-end sparkle you don't get with it that you would with, say, a good Vox, Marshall, or Fender tube amp, but at gigging volumes, the Katana is an absolute beast. It also takes pedals really, really well (I still think the Katana got more from my Fulltone OCD than my Marshall DSL40C does).

    If you want volume, power, and good tone, and are wanting to build a pedalboard up or you have a solid multi-effects device, the Katana is an absolute no-brainer. But if you want an easy-to-use bedroom amp with great built in effects and don't want to deal with pedals or plugging into a computer, then the Katana disappoints.

    Now that I use a Boss GT-1 for effects, I would be curious to give one of these a go. If these are really improved, I could see myself buying the head unit. :thumb:
     
  4. plankton

    plankton Well-Known Member

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    That's exactly what the Nextone is for. ;)
     
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  5. living room rocker

    living room rocker Active Member

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    Clifdawg, is your "knock birds out of the sky" 100 watt-er the (1 x 12) or (2 x 12)? Thinking the Katana is likely my next amp.....just a matter of deciding which one. Do you think the tonal quality of the 50 watt unit would suffice as primarily a home practice amp or would you go with the 100 watt......not a huge difference in $'s really? I don't possess the sophisticated tonal requirements as you more advanced gigging players and don't want to spend hours tweaking (maybe a little) but this new Katana looks to provide all the features I'll need for years to come.
     
  6. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    I had the 1x12. It was loud. I don't recall ever using the 100-watt mode, even live... 50 watts was plenty enough. I'm quite sure that it had more clean headroom than my Marshall DSL40C.
    In terms of power requirements, the 50-watt will more than suffice for home use, and even for most gigs. But there's a little known catch. The 50-watter actually has a smaller, weaker speaker than the 100's do. The 50 just doesn't have the depth and clarity of the 100's beefier, stronger speaker, and so tonally, the 100 is a much better option, IMO.

    Additionally, the 100 has an on-board presence control, an effects loop, GA-FC connectivity if you want to expand the functionality to the floor, double the presets, and with the Mk2 models, stereo effects capabilities.

    Basically, the 100 is all around a better buy, IMHO. But the fact that Boss makes a legitimately good sounding and gig-worthy amp for under 250 bucks is undoubtedly impressive. The Katana 50's only real issue is just that they make a much better one for less than 400, too. :thumb:
     
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  7. DrBGood

    DrBGood Well-Known Member

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    The 50W has a 12" too, not smaller but weaker for sure. The 100W is the one to get.

    Still, on the one I had, I closed the back to give it the ooomph it was missing. That was still not enough for my taste, so I added an extrernal speaker output jack for a 2X12" home cab. Now THAT gave it the sonic capabilities I'm looking in an amp. But combos are like that.

    I still sold it though ...
     
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  8. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    My mistake, the 50 has a smaller and weaker magnet than the 100. See:
    Katana 50
    [​IMG]

    Katana 100
    [​IMG]

    Call me superstitious, but I imagine that has a great deal of effect on the overall tonality of the speaker. :D
     
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  9. living room rocker

    living room rocker Active Member

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    Appreciate the input Clifdawg, DrBGood.
     
  10. DFLCC

    DFLCC Well-Known Member

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    Strongly considering the 100 watt head.
     
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  11. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    I finally got the chance tonight to try out a Katana 50 MK2 at my local GC (and got to try out a Chapman ML2 with it as well - which, other than some shoddy veneer and paint work, was a very great playing and sounding guitar).

    That "Variation" button fixes every issue I have the with the 50. All the models essentially get more gain, the mid-range center gets moved up a little, and there is so much high treble content that was just gone in the original models (all of which present and accounted for here with the variation button off). I suspect there's a low-pass filter in the DSP that's getting switched off with the variation engaged. That mid-focused sound is certainly helpful in very loud band scenarios, but the Katana really did lack some of that crackle and pop that a good tube amp typically has. Now, the clean sounds very Fender-like, the crunch sounds very Vox- and Marshall-like, and the lead and brown voices sound very Mesa-like. Yeah, it means there's a lot of treble that can be hard to tame and kind of harsh sounding, but that's true of almost all great tube amps. I can see using the original models for live use, just because that boxy sound does make it a bit punchier in the mids, but at home I'd probably leave the variation button engaged and never look back.

    I can't say whether or not my complaints about the effects section have been addressed, but I can say that increasing the number of simultaneous effects from 3 to 5 does significantly improve it's functionality. It still won't replace a decent pedalboard, but it's enough to get through just about any gig.

    All in all, I can say that I am extremely impressed with the Katana 50 MK2. This really is a step up in quality from the original and the same stupid-low price means it's literally without equal. I'm curious to try out a Katana 100 MK2 now, with it's improved speaker and GA-FC functionality... If it's as much a step up from the 50 MK2 as the original was from the 50, this will be a must-buy.
     
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  12. living room rocker

    living room rocker Active Member

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    I agree Clifdawg, the variation button adds sparkle and brightness to each of the five main voicings. The clean channel is definitely Fender like in tone.

    Quick question for you since you've first-hand Katana knowledge. The panel control section for Booster, Modulation, FX, Delay and Reverb each have three factory installed variations that can be toggled between by depressing the lighted button above each feature. For example, turning the Modulation KNOB simply controls the speed and depth of the selected effect. Then, repeatedly depressing the lighted color button directly above this knob toggles the Modulation effect between Chorus (button is green) to Phaser 90E (button is red) and finally to Flanger 117E (button is orange).....very simple to operate.

    The manual shows that 3 additional Modulation effects reside factory installed in Bank B. These would be DC-30 (green button), Comp (red button) and Limiter (orange button). The same goes for Booster, FX, Delay and Reverb.....3 additional variations for each reside in Bank B. Do you know how these effects are accessed via Bank B?
     
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  13. Clifdawg

    Clifdawg Well-Known Member

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    IIRC, the three built-in effects for each effect knob are assigned by default to each bank of presets (or channels). You can select bank B of presets by holding down the "panel" button for about one second, at which point it begins blinking. This is so that you can store an additional sound to each of the "CH1," "CH2," "CH3," and "CH4" buttons (for a total of 8 preset sounds). In order to go back to bank A, you'll hold down the panel button for another second until it becomes solidly lit. It's a little unintuitive, IMO.

    That said, you can assign any of the software's myriad of effects to each effects knob on either bank through the Tone Studio software (although I pretty much stuck to the built-in Blues Driver, Spring Reverb, and Analog Delay effects).
     
  14. fos1

    fos1 Active Member

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  15. joe419

    joe419 New Member

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    Just got my MK2 100 1x12, love it so far. I downloaded a Fender reverb patch last night that I thought sounded great.

    I have a question about the mk1... so it doesnt have the concentric knobs, which limits the effects you can use at one time to 3. I am wondering, can you make a tone in the tone studio using all 5 effects and just import it as a preset? or are you totally limited to 3 effects at any one time?
     

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