Are you restricted to playing guitar through headphones connected to your amp? Pretty good, but how about a virtual reality sound experience? The Boss Waza Air Wireless Headphone Guitar Amp brings the full Katana experience to your ear-holes.
There’s a lot more to the Waza Air headphones than a convenient way practice guitar silently. There’s a lot of tech in this retro looking head gear. Let’s find out more!
Overview of Boss Waza Air Wireless Headphones
The Waza Air headphones are designed to be comfortable, with faux leather ear cup pads. They connect to the cups magnetically, which makes it easy to clean the headphones. They’re adjustable and comfortable to wear when playing for extended periods.
They’re noise cancelling too, great if you want to use them as regular headphones via Bluetooth. The phones are wireless, so no chords to trip over. The Waza Air comes with a digital receiver, which you attach to the input jack of your guitar.
They’re powered by rechargeable lithium Ion batteries, which you charge using the included USB micro B type cable. Battery life of the headphones is approximately 5 hours and it takes around 3 hours to fully charge the headphones from flat.
The charging cable also charges the wireless transmitter, which will give you 12 hours of life on a full charge. The transmitter also takes 3 hours to fully charge from flat. The wireless receiver weighs just 56g / 2oz and is tiny.
The controls on the headphones are relatively straightforward. There’s a power switch, a volume control wheel and channel up and down buttons. With so few physical controls how do you get the range of amp styles and effects that we associate with the Katana range? That’s where things get clever, but we’ll talk a little more about that later.
The overall weight of the headphones is 320g / 12oz, so similar to other over-ear headphones. You can easily see the status of the battery thanks to the indicator light. If it’s red there’s less than 30 minutes of charge remaining. Orange then there’s less than 2 hours remaining. The unit can also switch to standby if it’s detects no movement after around 60 minutes. The indicator will blink green to tell you it’s in standby mode.
There are Bluetooth controls on the right ear-cup, allowing you to play, skip, fast-forward and rewind tracks. Additionally you can rewind and fast-forward by tipping your head forwards and backwards! It takes about 10 seconds to set up the headphones. Plug the wireless receiver into the headphones, then into your guitar and you’re set.
The headphones are powered by the Waza engine, which is the same engine that powers the range of Katana amps. There are some basic features than can be used without the need for the partner app, however you’re missing out on 90% of functionality if you don’t use the accompanying app.
You can select patches using the up and down buttons on the right hand ear-cup and control the volume using the wheel. You can also use the tuner by pressing both buttons simultaneously for 3 seconds. It’s set to a pitch of 440hz and will give you audio feedback to tell you if you’re too sharp, too flat or dead on.
The real magic of the Waza Air phones comes when you use the accompanying app, which is available both for IOS and Android devices. When your phones are connected to the Boss Tone Studio app you can really create some magic.
The Waza Air phones have a gyro built into them, which in tandem with the app can provide a 3D sound experience. The app has settings for Gyro/Ambient mode, which enables you to set the soundscape. The default position is off, which means that the Waza Air phones act like a normal set of headphones.
However flick to surround and you can alter the position of the guitar and amp position using the on-screen controls. You can position the amp anywhere from in front to right behind you. Static mode keeps the amp where it is and means the direction of sound changes position as you move your head. It’s a very surreal experience.
Stage mode makes the audio sound as if it’s coming from behind you when facing forward, as if you were playing with a band. As you move the sound moves from ear to ear. If you turn around it’ll come from the front as if you’re facing the band.
You can also adjust the ambiance, which defines the size of the virtual room you’re playing in from a small room to a stage.
Boss Tone Studio:
The free Boss Tone Studio app allows you to make super fine adjustments to everything from EQ to Reverb, Amp position to ambiance and to adjust a huge range of effects. The app is quite simple to use, with each set of parameters sitting on it’s own screen. You can also import professional patches directly from the app to use immediately.
You can re-create any environment, from recording studio to stage using the positional and ambiance adjustment in the gyro/ambiance screen. We spoke a little about the different positional modes earlier, but a really cool feature is that you can enable it for playing along to music. Want to practice the lead part to your favorite song? No problem. Set the gyro to stage and it’ll sound like the band is playing behind you. Move you head to alter the direction of the band.
Next you can select the type of amp you want to use. The options are the same as on the Katana amps ranging from acoustic through to higher gain lead tones. You can adjust the gain and volume on the amp selection screen and access the 3-band EQ to adjust bass, middle and treble.
Then there’s the basic effects operation screen. Again this mimics the Katana amps by using colors to denote which effect is operating. Press each button to cycle between effects:
- Green – Blues Drive (Chorus)
- Red – Overdrive (Flanger)
- Orange – Distortion (Phaser)
- Green – Digital Delay / Tremolo
- Red – Analog Delay – T.Wah
- Orange – Tape Echo – Octave
- Green – Plate Reverb
- Red – Spring Reverb
- Orange – Hall Reverb
The bottom half of this screen allows you to adjust the level of effect as well as delay and reverb parameters. You’ll find that the control knobs are split into two halves. Each of the zones denotes the level for one of the effects. For example the left half of the zone for BST/MOD green would be Blues Drive and the right half would be Chorus.
You can use the effects screen to assign effects to the three buttons if you prefer something a little more customized. The subsequent tabs on the effects screen allow you edit each effect in quite a lot of detail. From setting delay type to modulation rate, delay time and depth.
Then when you’re finished editing a patch you can write to memory. If you select an existing patch it’ll overwrite and you won’t be able to retrieve the previous settings so be careful! It’s a good way to find your tone in exactly the same way you would when you first get a compact or multi-effects pedal.
The app has a Librarian feature, which enables you to save up to 30 live sets. A live set contains up to 20 patches, which naturally you can edit. You can then export the live set to the headphones directly. For example I might want a customized clean sound in patch 1, lead distortion in patch 2, compression in patch 3, delay in patch 4, a flanger in patch 5 and chorus in patch 6. I can use the app to customize each effect and then set them in the order I want them before exporting to the Waza Air phones.
You can also save custom edited live sets either to a file on your device or to the cloud, meaning you can create hundreds of live sets and not have to worry about losing them due to storage restrictions.
You can access professional live sets using the Tone Central button. Here you’ll find various live sets catering for differing styles. Each live set contains an introductory video and a description. You can preview each live set and then when you find one you want you can add it to your library ready for exporting to the Waza Air phones.
You can actually mount the receiver at the end of a chain of effects pedals to enable you to use your compact pedals. That gets you around the issue of having to use your hand to switch patches, but it’s something that I noticed rather than manufacturer advised, so use with caution!
The app enables you to visually tune and also allows for a little more customization than the built-in tuner. You can alter the pitch from anywhere between 435hz – 445hz, though it’ll default at 440hz. The tuner gives you the more familiar graphical representation to show you if you’re flat or sharp.
You can also select a cabinet type to add a little resonance. There are three to choose from:
- Vintage – Warmer tones of a vintage cabinet
- Modern – Tight low-end
- Deep – Powerful low end with an edge
The Waza Air phones are definitely a way to get all of the tones associated with the Katana amps in a super portable and dynamic form. The Katana amps are great, but Tone Studio is usually feels optional and you aren’t forced to discover it’s benefits.
With the Waza Air phones you really have to use the Tone Studio app and so you’re forced to discover the value it adds. The positional features of the phones are quite surreal, but I find myself asking the question, what’s the practical value of it? Other than practicing with a band behind you, I’m not really sure what other practical purpose it serves. Sure it’s cool, but do I really need to move the direction of the sound?
The vast array of customization is really great and you should be able to find your signature tone without to much effort. The library functionality frees you from the shackles of local storage, allowing you to create and save a multitude of live set patch lists. I really like the fact that you can import professionally made live sets too, if you just want to rock out in a certain style.
They work really well as headphones too, with their noise cancelling design. That’s great for listening to music but also for practicing. The key benefit is the fact that you have the variety and dynamism of a Katana amp entirely localized to your ears, allowing you to practice silently.
Changing patches whilst playing is a bit of a clunky affair, because you have to use your hand to alter the patch, however with a bit of practice you can probably get pretty smooth at changing patches. It’d have been better if there was an option for a footswitch though.
You can’t easily output to an amp either, so you’re stuck with playing via your headphones. That might not be a problem, but sometimes an amp gives you more punch than headphones ever could. That’s particularly true with higher gain styles.
So what do I think? Well the Waza Air phones are a similar price to the Boss Katana 100 and in a similar range to the Yamaha THR range. If you’re not planning on playing live and want the flexibility and dynamism of a Katana amp entirely localized to your ears, then the Waza Air phones should definitely be on your shortlist.
Looking for something else in an amp? Make sure to check out my Amplifiers Page. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page.
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