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Boss Moves Even Further Ahead with its New and Improved MKII Katana Amp Range

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2019GPXBossKatanaMKII700.jpg

Anyone who’s read this blog will be very aware that I’m a fan of the Boss Katana amps - I’ve had the now series 1 KT-100 since it first came out as my left-hand amp in my stereo rig, and had already decided that I would be transitioning to the Katana Artist - with its better speaker and it’s various included extras - amongst them the forward-facing control panel.

 

Now the MKII range has come out and it has in effect frog-leaped over the Artist in terms of overall capabilities and features which leaves me with a slight quandary as to what to do next.

 

I already considered the Katanas the very best of the solid-state / modelling amps, and besides the Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit - which is a slightly different kind of animal - there is nothing really that comes close - certainly not for the combination of quality tones and features at that price point. So as far as I’m concerned Boss was already ahead of the chasing pack, and the best has now gotten even better!

 

I think most are familiar with the fundamentals / rudiments of Katana Amps - so I will concentrate on what is new for MKII and what it will mean for you experience of deploying these amps. I have a preferences for combo amps - so my weapon of choice and focus for this article will be the Katatan KT-100 MKII whose highlights are pictured in the above composite.


What's New

What's New
  • Amp Type 'Variation' : Each of - Acoustic | Clean | Crunch | Lead | Brown - modes now has a differently tuned alternative variant - typically based on optimised single coil or humbucker profiles
  • Separated Out Effects : In the previous models you had the Booster/Mod and FX/Delay knobs split in half - and you could only deploy one of those left/right hemisphere options at a time - meaning 3 effects simultaneously, while the new arrangement puts those into dual-concentric pots meaning you can now deploy those individually, or 5 effects at a time - and you have handy individual buttons to cycle around chosen modes for each effect knob
  • More Effects : The MKI range of Katanas came with a potential 55 onboard Effects, while the upgraded MKII has upped those to 65
  • Stereo Expand : Only on 100, 2x12 and Head varieties, this new function allows you to use 2 Katanas together for easy stereo separation where one acts as the 'slave' of the other in effect
  • Power Amp In : This has a dual purpose - it's the means by which you connect 'Stereo Expand' Katana Amps together, while you can also plug in any PreAmp style pedal/unit - tube-driven or otherwise to take over as the PreAmp section for the amp
  • Improved GA-FC Footswtich Functionality - You now have a range of different deployment options to match the improved 5 x Effects Topology - makes for a better stombox mode essentially
  • Improved Tone Studio : The Tone-Editing App interface has been significantly improved, setup is more user friendly, and there are more options than ever before

What's The Same

  • The Price Points remain exactly the same : £229 (50) | £329 (100) | £369 (100 Head) | £439 (2x12 100)
  • The Onboard Speakers are essentially the same as before : and not some derivation of the newer Artist Waza Craft Speaker
  • Overall Chassis and Topology almost identical to the originals : bar for the extra Variation and Effects Buttons and Dual Concentric Knobs

My Katana Prototype WDW GPX Deviation

My Katana Prototype WDW GPX Deviation

Per the above visual interpolation evolved back in March of 2018 I made a number of suggestions essentially based on the Katana Artist chassis. Separating out the effects elements into separate dials - which Boss has now cleverly accomplished via the Dual-Concentric Pots implementation. I did though suggest a wider availability of effects and easier way to select and tracking those - along with a number of other innovations - including the inclusion of full-range speakers for an all-in-one wet-dry-wet rig.

 

I can't say for sure that Boss ever caught sight of my extrapolations and considerations, but much of that same kind of thinking has obviously gone into the new Katana Range. And the Boss engineers have come up with some very ingenious solutions for some of the existing challenges, but have yet to come through on a few of my other suggestions! Obviously the Stereo Expand functionality could be expanded to accommodate for Wet-Dry-Wet setups - but that would involve a little more work.

 

I must say though that I'm delighted with how well the Katana Amps are continuing to evolve.


Thoughts and Recommendations

The Katana 50 NKII is still the perfect practice amp, but it misses out on several essentials for me - it has less preset options, no Presence dial, no Effects Loop, and no Stereo Expand - it does though have the Power Amp In which is handy. Generally though the Katana 50 is something of a compromise overall - yes it's the smallest, lightest and quietest - but many / most will say that the larger cabinet of the 100 gives you more depth, definition and soundstage - I would still go for the 100 every time. If you prefer to use your own cab, then obviously go for the head - and if you want slightly more robust low-end try the 2x12 version. Overall against all criteria though, and for my preferences the KT-100 MKII is the one that wins out - and that I've featured in the image up top.

 

In terms of Katana KT-100 MKII vs Katana Artist - I feel the newer amp probably edges it with its more clever feature set. While I still really want the front-facing control panel and Waza Craft Speaker of the Artist. So I'm probably going to hold out for the new MKII Artist version which I would expect to hit some time next year hopefully.

 

In short therefore if you've been holding back on checking out Katanas for whatever reason - now is definitely the time to invest yourself in this best of breed. I would of course recommend the KT-100 version for all-round usability and versatility - and perfect combination of all aspects - size / weight / impact / power / cost etc.

 

If like me you were thinking of getting an Artist - then I would probably still advise you to wait it out with me, although I doubt you would be disappointed with any of these new Katanas. What is really exemplary here is the clever engineering and those recent refinements which make a great experience greater still. Even before the MKII versions came around I still had the Katanas ahead of the competition, now Boss is another few leagues further ahead. You should really spend some time with these amps - yes is can take a while to dial them in to absolute perfection - but those of us who do - really value every quality of what these amps deliver.

 

Note that I usually include more demo videos for a release, but felt that Rabea's demo encapsulated all the main points so well, and delivered such great sounds - that you really don't need anything else!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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