Connect with us

Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Boss WAZA AIR Bass Wireless Personal Bass Amplification System

Published

on

Gear Review: Boss WAZA AIR Bass Wireless Personal Bass Amplification System

A review of the Boss WAZA AIR Bass Wireless Personal Bass Amplification System…

This seems like a timely moment to discuss the constraints of practicing bass at home.  Maybe you’re like me: stuck at home a lot over the last 18 months, gigging a whole lot less due to the pandemic, working during the day, and relegated to practicing at night while my family sleeps.  Maybe you live in an apartment building with thin walls, and cranky neighbors, making firing up your amp less than ideal at all hours.  Maybe you spend a lot of time on tour buses and in hotel rooms where headphones are the only way it’s gonna happen.   Whatever the reason, there are a whole lot of us for whom practicing bass means playing through headphones to avoid disturbing others.  And let’s face it, it’s just not the same.  I’ve gotten used to it over the last bunch of years, as my only real practice time is in the evening after my family drifts off to sleep.  But it just doesn’t compare to plugging into an amp and feeling some air move.   

So, when I happened upon Boss’s new WAZA AIR Bass Wireless Personal Bass Amplification System, an all-encompassing headphone practice solution for bassists, offering 3D-like “spatial technology”, app-controlled amp modeling, EQ and effects, and native practice rhythms, I was extremely interested. 

The Boss WAZA AIR Bass showed up and immediately I got to work.

It did take me a minute to get a handle on how to utilize all of the features, but at its simplest level, I was able to plug in the wireless transmitter, turn on the wireless headphones and hear my bass in glorious detail, with great fidelity and dynamic 3D sound.  

Getting the most out of the WAZA AIR Bass involves downloading the app, for iOS and Android, and syncing the unit with your device’s Bluetooth.  From there, you have access to the app’s 30 different customizable and storable effects and 5 different amplifier models, in addition to a great sounding EQ, tuner, metronome and 10 different drum grooves for practicing.  So many of the parameters of the effects and amp are editable, which really allows you to dial in your preferences. While not the most intuitive interface I’ve encountered, it just takes a few minutes to learn your way around. 

Let’s talk about the WAZA’s “Advanced Ambient Setups”, which I think is the jewel of the WAZA’s many cool features.  3 different modes provide totally different tactile listening experiences:  Surround mode places the amp in a virtual room, providing an immersive experience like playing in a recording studio. In Static mode, the combined amp and room sound changes depending on where you move your head, which really gives the impression of being in a room with an amplifier. Stage mode places the sound behind you, like a “virtual backline” along with the onboard acoustic drum patterns or music streamed from your phone over Bluetooth.

Without getting into the weeds describing the numerous cool effects the WAZA provides, there is a LOT to play with.  Everything from subtle modulation effects, compression, overdrive, and filter sounds, to far-out ring-modulated tones and full-blown synth madness is on tap, with pretty impressive amounts of tweakability for each sound. Develop a patch you love and store it to one of WAZA’s 6 memory slots, which you can cycle through with the toggle buttons on the right headphone assembly.

Let’s talk about the headphones themselves. 

Boss really did a great job with the design and build quality of the WAZA AIR’s phones. Custom-designed drivers with large 50mm magnets deliver great clear tone with plenty of low end and tons of clarity.  The over-the-ear design is comfortable but snugly sealed (for my big noggin) and the ‘immersive experience’ is not just hyperbole.  The WAZA is super detailed and rich sounding, with plenty of headroom for clean bass and crisp treble.  

A 3 LED status indicator on the left cup tells you if the unit is on, whether the transmitter is connected, and whether or not its paired to your Bluetooth device for playing back music. On the right cup, you’ll find the up/down buttons for toggling stored presets, as well as a heavy-duty feeling roller knob for master volume.  An optional padded carrying case is remarkably low profile and durable, and securely holds the phones, transmitter and charging cable.

Speaking of the charging cable, this thing Holds. A. Charge. I’ve been using it for a bunch of hours and it’s still going strong.  The included USB charging cable allows you to recharge the lithium-ion-powered headphones and transmitter, although unfortunately not at the same time (easy fix if you get a second charging cable). 

Boss was kind enough to provide an EV-1-WL Wireless Midi Expression Pedal which offers all kinds of additional parameter control over the WAZA AIR experience.  Control volume, effects parameters, patch selection and more when you pair the device with the Bluetooth wireless expression pedal. 

I will say, when I first fired up the unit, I was having some issues with it disrupting my Wi-Fi signal in my home, but after a couple of on/off cycles, the unit seems to have found a channel that was free of interference.  Similarly, in early testing, I heard a few crackles and pops as if the signal was clipping or being interfered with. This also resolved on its own. Boss states that the WAZA will cycle through different channels to intelligently locate the frequencies with the least amount of noise or interference. I can only assume that’s what happened and now it’s basically perfect in terms of both sound and interference.  Smart little bugger. 

At $449, the WAZA AIR Bass isn’t particularly cheap. But it is uniquely useful, very well made, and packed with cool features.  Whether you’re a pro or a hobbyist, there is a lot of value in a high-quality headphone practice rig.  Sure, you could put together a cheaper headphone practice rig, but taking into account all that the WAZA offers: the immersive spatial/ambient experience, the build quality, fidelity and how concise the setup is (no cables, no external interface), I’d be hard-pressed to recommend a more elegant and effective headphone practice tool.  For more info, visit the Boss WAZA AIR Bass online. 

Read my review of the Accugroove El Jefe 2×12 Bass Cab

Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Published

on

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.com

Continue Reading

Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Published

on

Review: Joyo Scylla Compressor

Joyo Scylla Compressor: When Quality meets Budget-Friendly

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the diverse landscape of effects pedals for bass guitar, finding a compressor that strikes the balance between performance, versatility, and affordability can often feel like a daunting task. 

However, amidst the sea of options, one pedal stood out as a true diamond in the rough – the Joyo Scylla compressor. Despite its wallet-friendly price tag, the Scylla boasts a great array of features and controls typically reserved for pedals with much higher costs. Let’s take a closer look at why the Joyo Scylla is turning heads and earning praise among bassists on a budget.

Specs: The Joyo Scylla compressor measures in at 109 * 72 * 48 mm and weighs a mere 234g, making it both compact and lightweight – perfect for gigs or studio sessions where space is at a premium. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Scylla is efficient and versatile, compatible with a wide range of pedalboard setups.

Controls: What sets the Scylla apart from its direct competitors is its comprehensive control set, offering bassists a good amount of flexibility in shaping their sound. With six knobs, the Scylla allows for a very precise adjustment of key parameters:

  • Input Gain: Adjusts the amount of signal being fed into the compressor.
  • Output Volume: Controls the makeup gain after compression, ensuring consistent output levels.
  • Compression Ratio: Unlike traditional compressor pedals with preset ratio options, the Scylla features a continuous knob, allowing for seamless adjustment from subtle compression to limiter-like effects.
  • Attack and Release: Determine how quickly the compression engages and releases, offering a range of tonal possibilities from punchy and aggressive to smooth and subtle.
  • Output Tone Control: A unique feature not commonly found in compressor pedals, the tone knob adjusts the coloration of the compressed signal, adding warmth or brightness to your bass tone.
  • LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal, adding a touch of visual flair to their setup.
  • Performance: In practice, the Joyo Scylla delivers where it matters most – in sound quality and performance. Whether you’re aiming for a tight, punchy bass sound or smooth, sustained notes, the Scylla excels in providing transparent compression that enhances your playing without sacrificing dynamics. The granular control offered by its knobs allows for precise tailoring of compression settings to suit a wide range of playing styles and musical genres.
  • Pros: The Scylla’s strengths lie in its granular control, versatility, and compact design. Its sturdy build quality and diminutive size make it a welcome addition to any pedalboard, occupying minimal real estate without compromising on functionality. However, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Scylla is its price point. Despite offering professional-grade features, the Scylla remains accessible to bassists of all budgets.
  • Cons: While the Joyo Scylla excels in many areas, it’s not without its drawbacks. One notable omission is the lack of metering, which may pose a challenge for users seeking visual feedback on compression levels. Additionally, the plastic knobs, while functional, may feel somewhat less premium compared to other pedals. 
  • Conclusion: In conclusion, the Joyo Scylla compressor emerges as a great option in the world of budget-friendly effects pedals for bass guitar. Its comprehensive control set, transparent compression, and compact design make it a compelling choice for bassists seeking professional-grade performance without breaking the bank. From its intuitive interface to its thoughtful touches like the tone knob and customizable LED lighting, the Scylla delivers a level of versatility and functionality that belies its modest price tag. For bassists looking to elevate their tone without compromising on quality or affordability, the Joyo Scylla compressor is a clear standout.

For more information, visit online at joyoaudio.com/product/265.html

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

String Instrument Humidifiers

Published

on

String Instrument Humidifiers

String Instrument Humidifiers

After living in some very humid parts of the country for decades, we moved to a dryer, much sunnier location. As a result, I started noticing some fret sprout on my string instruments and recently did a video on fret sprout correction.

It occurred to me that I should take a more preventative approach to string instrument humidification. Of course, I turned to my instrument maintenance experts, Music Nomad Equipment Care, for a solution and they suggested their Humitar series. (Note: They sent two press samples and I purchased the remainder online.)

Join me as I look at these useful tools for keeping my string instruments in tip-top condition.

The Humitar series is available online at Music Nomad Equipment Care, as well as Amazon.com

Continue Reading

Bass Videos

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

Published

on

Review: CrystalBright Rombo Picks

CrystalBright Rombo Picks

PR Sample

Playing bass with a pick is still a touchy subject in our community. I believe you should be able to use whatever you need to get your sound. Even though I mostly play with my fingers, I like to check out innovative new picks that might have something new to offer, sonically speaking.

Judith and Carlos from Rombo recently contacted me about a new material called CrystalBright that they have been researching for the last 12 months and offered to send some prototype picks. After trying them out, I put together this video with my findings.

For more info check out @rombopicks

Continue Reading

Gear

New Joe Dart Bass From Sterling By Music Man

Published

on

Sterling by Music Man introduces the Joe Dart Artist Series Bass (“Joe Dart”), named after and designed in collaboration with the celebrated Vulfpeck bassist.

Above photo credit: JORDAN THIBEAUX

This highly-anticipated model marks the debut of the Dart bass in the Sterling by Music Man lineup, paying homage to the Ernie Ball Music Man original that all funk players know and love. The bass embodies many of the original model’s distinctive features, from its iconic minimalist design to the passive electronics.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The design process prioritized reliability, playability, and accessibility at the forefront. Constructed from the timeless Sterling body, the Dart features a slightly smaller neck profile, offering a clean tone within a comfortable package. The body is crafted from soft maple wood for clarity and warmth while the natural finish emphasizes the simple yet unique look.

Engineered for straightforward performance, this passive bass features a ceramic humbucking bridge pickup and a single ‘toaster’ knob for volume control. Reliable with a classic tone, it’s perfect for playing in the pocket. The Dart is strung with the all-new Ernie Ball Stainless Steel Flatwound Electric Bass Strings for the smoothest feel and a mellow sound.

Joe Dart Artist Series Bass

The Sterling by Music Man Joe Dart Bass is a special “Timed Edition” release, exclusively available for order on the Sterling by Music Man website for just one month. Each bass is made to order, with the window closing on May 31st and shipping starting in November. A dedicated countdown timer will indicate the remaining time for purchase on the product page. Additionally, the back of the headstock will be marked with a “2024 Crop” stamp to commemorate the harvest year for this special, one-of-a-kind release. 

The Joe Dart Bass is priced at $399.99 (MAP) and can be ordered globally at https://sterlingbymusicman.com/products/joe-dart. 

To learn more about Joe Dart, visit the official Vulfpeck artist site here https://www.vulfpeck.com/.


Continue Reading