An integrated 100-watt power amp and overflowing features and effects, make up a potentially perfect do-it-all recording solution.
Excellent sounds. Switchable ohmage. Superb build quality. Good audio interface. Excellent editing software. Extensive MIDI functions. Dual-band impedance selector. Bestows new superpowers on simple, vintage-style amps.
Skimpy documentation. The priciest option.
Boss WAZA Tube Amp Expander Amplifier Attenuator
Boss's WAZA Tube Amp Expander Amplifier Attenuator is a fascinating and ambitious device. It's clearly influenced by Universal Audio's earlier OX Amp Top Box. (See "OX Me Again" sidebar.) But it adds several features not found on the OX—or anywhere else, as far as I know. But first, some basics. (We evaluated the Tube Amp Expander—TAE for short—with its improved version 2 software.)
The TAE is a hefty piece of hardware weighing 15 pounds and measuring roughly 15" x 12"x 4.5". The build quality is superb, with an ultra-rugged enclosure and high-quality pots, switches, and jacks. There's a classy built-in power supply. This a heavy-duty piece of kit—Boss isn't screwing around.
What’s an “Amp Expander?”
Like the OX, the TAE is a rectangular box raised on rubber feet that can perch atop many combo and head-only amps. (It's also rack-mountable.) It, too, is a load box, speaker attenuator, direct-recording preamp, and IR player/loader. We'll cover those functions in a moment, but first, let's zoom in on the TAE's unique and useful "amp expander" role.
All the products covered here let you generate big-amp sounds at low volume. But TAE can also flip the equation, delivering small-amp sounds at high volume, thanks to an integrated 100-watt solid-state power amp. Let's say your favorite amp is a tiny Fender Champ. It's great for recording, but it lacks the muscle for stage use. You can route your Champ's speaker out to the TAE and crank the onboard amp for stage levels that rival a 100-watt stack. (Important: You'll need a speaker cabinet that can handle such levels, which can easily demolish a Champ's humble 8" speaker.)
Like the OX, the TAE includes an effects section offering EQ, compression, reverb, and delay. This provides a virtual effects loop for amps that lack one. If you add Boss's $133 GA-FC foot controller (not reviewed), you can toggle effects on and off and enter delay times by tap. (Most of these functions are accessible via front-panel switches, so a controller pedal isn't strictly necessary.)
So now that simple two-knob Champ includes a high-quality effects loop, a solo boost, footswitch remote control, preset storage, compatibility with many MIDI switchers and controller pedals, and enough onstage volume to compete with macho stacks and heavy-handed drummers. If that's not "amp expansion," I don't know what it is.
Refining Your Rigs
The TAE can store 32 IRs onboard, with more IRs accessible via an attractive, lucid software interface for Mac or Windows. (There aren't yet any editors for mobile devices.) The included IRs are a well-rounded collection of Marshall, Mesa, Fender, Vox, and Freidman cabs in configurations ranging from 1x8 to 4x12. Like the OX, the TAE refers to saved IR/effect combinations as rigs. You can store eight rigs onboard and switch between them without connecting to a computer. You can load your own IRs via a dedicated IR loader app.
The TAE's audio editor boasts a lucid interface with an intuitive signal-flow graphic.
The five microphone models are a Neumann U 87, a Shure SM57, an AKG C451 B, a Royer R-121, a Sennheiser MD 421, plus several combined settings, all with adjustable virtual positions. Additionally, there are four room-mic settings of varied sizes. Sound quality is excellent.
The rear-panel functions are formidable. In addition to stereo XLR output jacks, there's a mono XLR out for feeding the front-of-house mixing desk. The effect loop can be configured as series or parallel. There are full-sized MIDI I/O ports—the TAE not only responds to control messages, but can also transit them to external gear. There's a channel-switching output for multi-channel amps, a stereo headphone jack, and a 4-ohm/8-ohm/16-ohm selector
Another unique feature is a sophisticated impedance selector with independent controls for bass and treble frequencies. This lets you fine-tune the response to suit individual amps. (For example, a low bass-impedance setting can nix unwanted oscillation from ultra-high-gain amps.)
Boss'sWAZA Tube Amp Expander Amplifier Attenuator performs an astonishing number of tasks and sounds great while doing so. The build quality is superb. It boasts unique features, such as its integrated 100-watt power amp and dual-band impedance controls. At $1,338, it's the costliest item in this roundup, and you may not need all its features. But for many gigging and recording guitarists, it could be a perfect do-it-all solution.
Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Xotic Effects unveils an updated version of their classic boost pedal.
Xotic’s RC Booster pedal is back to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The RC Booster’s original design was a customer favorite due to its versatile clean boost, active treble, bass, gain and volume controls. This classic reissue will join their regular pedal lineup permanently.
• Transparent boost pedal for electric guitar
• Up to 20dB of boost for adding volume or sending your amp into overdrive
• Treble and bass EQ controls with +/-15dB range for fine-tuning your sound
• True bypass switching removes the effect from your signal path when disengaged
• Powered via 9-volt battery or optional AC adapter (sold separately)
• 9-18 volts
The first 1000 pedals will contain a special limited edition packaging with special items and actual guitar picks from Andy Timmons, Paul Jackson Jr, Dean Brown, Kirk Fletcher, Allen Hinds, Chris Duarte, Scott Henderson, Oz Noy, Michael Thompson, Yuya Komoguchi, Toshi Yanagi.
RC Booster with limited edition packaging street price is $172.00. More info: xotic.us.
Expanding on the innovations of Cort’s original 8-string multiscale, the KX508 Multi-Scale II features an updated okoume body and a specially designed Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker.
The KX508 Multi-Scale II is the second iteration of the eight-string KX508, Cort’s first multi-scale 8-string guitar introduced in 2020. Like its predecessor, the KX508 Multi-Scale II has a visually stunning poplar burl top in a Mariana Blue Burst finish. Beyond its visual appeal, the poplar burl is an ideal tonal complement to Cort’s newly introduced okoume body. Okoume is known for its light weight and ability to improve tonal clarity. It has a tight low-end and highly articulate high-end, which matches the overall sonic characteristics of the KX508 Multi-Scale II. The multi-scale, measuring 26.5 to 28 inches, offers a punchy low end while maintaining a familiar feel and tension on the treble strings, which allows for speedy runs and string-bending. Players have unhindered access to the high frets thanks to the low-scooped heel.
The 5-piece maple and purple heart neck not only provides strength and stability, aided by a spoke nut hotrod truss rod, but a strong and focused sound. The Macassar ebony fingerboard (15.75-inch radius) offers smooth playability along the 24 frets with teardrop inlays. Macassar is an ideal tonewood for high-gain applications because of its ability to cut through a dense mix. At the top of the neck, the 2 7/32-inch nut width (56.5 mm) is surprisingly comfortable for an 8-string guitar and is even suitable for players with smaller hands. The individual hardtail bridge with string-thru-body design results in greatly improved sustain, superb string separation for enhanced articulation, and precise intonation. Deluxe locking machine heads offer reliable tuning as well as easier and quicker string changes.
The Cort Sessions | KX508 Multi Scale II Electric Guitar
MSRP $1699.99 USD
MAP $1199.99 USD
For more information, please visit cortguitars.com.
The Tour Collection is defined by a minimalistic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, top-of-the-line components, and a simplified electronics configuration featuring new, custom pickups by Supro.
Available in the collection is the 16-inch-wide double-cutaway DC, the 15-inch-wide single-cutaway SS, and a 14-inch-wide Mini DC. Each model comes in three finishes: Slate Blue, Solid Wine, and Solid Black.
Every detail of the Tour Collection was chosen to achieve retro minimalism. Small diamond fingerboard inlays match 1930s-style diamond f-holes, and an undersized Throwback Scroll-style headstock achieves excellent head-to-body balance. The collection also features satin nickel hardware and custom Vintage Deluxe Grover tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio. Each model also features a simplified two-knob electronics configuration with 50s-style wiring to retain top-end clarity upon rolling off the volume knob. The neck shape in the Tour Collection is similar to the slim C-shape found throughout the D’Angelico line, but with more thickness in the shoulder to allow for snug hand fit as well as extra sustain. Medium Jumbo fret wire and a 12-inch fingerboard radius allow for quick navigation of the fingerboard while also prioritizing comfort for both rhythm and lead playing.
In 2020, Supro and D’Angelico became part of the same family of brands under Bond Audio. At that time, EVP of Product Ryan Kershaw and CTO Dave Koltai began designing custom pickups under the Supro name for the Tour Collection project.
“Supro Bolt Bucker pickups were designed to offer the tone of the most sought-after vintage "PAF" pickups from the late 1950's. Scatter wound, just like the originals, Supro Bolt Buckers utilize 42-gauge enamel wire along with a mixture of Alnico II (neck) and Alnico V (bridge) magnets to provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity with unrivaled articulation and note bloom.” - Dave Koltai, Chief Technology Officer at Bond Audio.
Introducing the Excel Series Tour Collection | D'Angelico Guitars
All models are available for pre-order and will be in stock this holiday season. US MAP $1499. For more information, please visit dangelicoguitars.com.