For many musicians, livestreaming is now as important as gigging - possibly even more important, in fact. Which goes a long way to explaining why Boss has just announced the Gigcaster 8 and 5, two new audio mixers for anyone who wants to stream to the likes of YouTube, Facebook or Twitch, or to prepare content offline for uploading later.
What's more, thanks to their audio interfacing capabilities, they can also be used for recording front-ends for your DAW.
In Boss’s parlance these aren’t just mixers, of course - they’re “all-in-one command centres”. Each model offers multiple input channels for plugging in XLR mics and instruments, along with Bluetooth connectivity so you can mix in audio from a mobile or other device.
Given that these are Boss products, you’d expect the Gigcasters to have some guitarist/bassist-specific features, and indeed they do. Amp and effect emulations from the company’s GT-1000 guitar effects processor, to be precise.
There are also vocal effects - compression, pitch correction, delay, reverb and the like - that are derived from Boss’s VE series, and you can dial in harmonies that follow a particular key.
Spoken word vocals can also be treated, both to improve the quality of their sound and with ‘fun’ effects such as a voice transformer.
The Gigcasters are designed to be pretty much self-contained, and to that end, each one comes with a colour touch display and plenty of hands-on controls. Audio sources can be mixed with faders and mute buttons, signal levels can be viewed on screen, and we’re promised easy access to routing options. The assignable pads, meanwhile, can be used for triggering sounds and tweaking the effects.
If you want to keep your hands free, you can plug in footswitches, expression pedals and one of Boss’s GA-FC or GA-FC EX foot controllers.
The Gigcaster 8 is the more capable of the two models, offering eight channels, a direct guitar/bass input, four XLR/TRS combo inputs, an onboard stereo mic and eight sound/effect pads. It also functions as a 20x14 USB audio interface and offers support for onboard multitrack recording to a microSD card.
The more compact Gigcaster 5 drops the channel count to five and gives you a direct guitar/bass input, two XLR inputs, stereo line input, eight virtual sound/effect pads and 16x12 USB audio interfacing.
When hooked up to a PC or Mac you can also use a dedicated app to set up the sound pads, back up your projects, convert audio files and more.
You can expect the Gigcaster 5 and Gigcaster 8 to arrive in the US in May priced at $479 and $699 respectively. Find out more on the Boss website.