Once upon a time, good acoustic amps were hard to find. These days, they’re not only plentiful. They sound better and they’re more feature-rich. In many cases, they’re also smaller and more affordable. Case in point: Boss’ Acoustic Singer Live—a 60-watt, 2-channel unit that’s about as compact as a record crate, and moves for just five hundred bucks.
Deft Design and Execution
The Acoustic Singer Live is little sibling to the 120-watt Acoustic Singer Pro. The Live version weighs only 23 pounds and measures about 14 1/2" x 10" x 12". Speakers are a 6 1/2" woofer and a 1" dome tweeter. With a dark wood veneer cabinet and coffee-colored grill cloth, it’s a smart-looking amp. It feels super rugged as well.
The Acoustic Singer’s control layout is clean and orderly. On the front control panel, knobs for the two channels are arranged in rows. The first channel features a combination XLR/1/4" input, switchable 48V phantom power for condenser microphones, and independent volume and EQ controls (bass, middle, and treble), plus an anti-feedback control. This channel also has its own delay/echo and reverb effect, plus a really cool harmonizer feature for vocalists. (More on that in a bit.)
The second channel has just a 1/4" instrument input. It has a similar control set as the first channel, apart from a swap of delay for reverb and an effect called acoustic resonance that adds body to the sound of an under saddle pickup. The master volume control works for both channels. There’s also a looper that can be activated from the amp or, more conventionally and easily, via an optional footswitch. There’s also a tweeter attenuation button that reduces high frequencies, and a mute button, for silencing the amp during string changes or tune-ups.
The rear panel is a straightforward assemblage of familiar stage conveniences: a DI/line out, for connecting to a PA system; a 3.5 mm auxiliary in, for use with an external audio player; and 1/4" jacks for optional foot controllers. There’s also a USB 2.0 jack for interfacing with DAWs.
Tons of Useful Tones
I tested the Acoustic Singer with a Breedlove steel-string and a Taylor Academy nylon-string. And with the EQ controls set flat, I was impressed with the amp’s full and natural sound, its rich bass, and its brilliant, but not strident, highs.
The Acoustic Singer gives you a fair bit of headroom to work with, and the anti-feedback controls deliver as promised when you work at higher volumes. But it’s probably best for a small venue or for use in tandem with an external PA system in a larger room.
The Acoustic Singer’s tone-tweaking features are satisfying to work with and make the amp very adaptable. The EQ controls have a wide and useful sweep, and the secondary tone controls enable deeper sculpting. The tweeter attenuation control, for instance, in conjunction with the tone attenuation from my Breedlove, helped me conjure the warm tones of a jazz box. The acoustic resonance control added richness and a little brightness, which can be useful for solos. Additional richness comes from the amp’s digital effects, which sound terrific. The two chorus settings offer subtle-to-lush sounds. And the organic-sounding reverb goes from small-room to church-sized.
The looping feature is handy, though it may not have quite enough flexibility for guitarists for whom looping is their bread and butter. It’s limited to 40 seconds, and the respective levels of layered sounds cannot be controlled, which might be a drawback for some players.
Things get really interesting with the Acoustic Singer’s vocal harmonizer, which uses the same technology at work in Boss’s VE-8 Acoustic Singer pedal. For the most part, the harmonizer is really accurate. It “hears” the guitar chords you play, and when I hummed a melody over a fingerpicked progression toggling between E major and E minor chords, the harmonizer generated the appropriate high or low harmonies from my lead vocal. The unison setting delivers a cool doubling effect as well.
Boss’ Acoustic Singer Live is a smart modern acoustic amp with intuitive controls that enable a wide range of sound-reinforcement and tone-shaping possibilities. It’s rugged, gig-ready, and a real boon for the performing singer-songwriter who can’t afford to break the bank.
Watch the Review Demo: