Musikmesse 2015: Boss SY-300 Guitar Synth breaks new ground

MUSIKMESSE 2015: Boss is threatening to take Musikmesse by storm with its previously teased SY-300, a curiously retro-sounding-yet-groundbreaking pedal which allows latency-free polyphonic synth sounds from any guitar.

You'll also be able to process your regular sounds through the SY-300's synth paramaters and effects, opening the door to all sorts of outlandish tonal wizardry.

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With the SY-300, BOSS presents an all-new approach to guitar synthesis that unlocks an extraordinary world of sound creation for every guitarist. Unlike other products that require a special GK pickup and 13-pin cable to access synth voices, the SY-300 can be used with any guitar or bass via a standard 1/4-inch cable. It also integrates easily with stomps and pedalboard setups, thanks to its compact size and versatile I/O.

Powered by ultra-fast DSP and newly developed innovations from the BOSS engineering team, the SY-300 performs its amazing synth magic in real time, with no lag whatsoever. This delivers a latency-free playing experience that's a natural extension of the user's normal guitar, allowing them to play freely and organically without altering their technique in any way.

The SY-300 is equipped with a powerful polyphonic synthesis engine with three separate sections. Just like a keyboard player with a classic analog synth, guitarists have complete creative freedom to build sounds with a full palette of synthesis parameters, including different wave shapes, filter/amp controls, and LFOs. There's even a step sequencer (with tap tempo control) for creating dynamic melodies and arpeggios by playing a single note. And with the cool Blender function, users can mix and match synth settings from other patches to discover new sounds instantly.

Beyond pure synth

Beyond its synth voices, the SY-300's synth engine can also be used to process a normal guitar sound to create an endless supply of unique textures. Users can apply synth filters, change attack and decay characteristics, and create cool dynamic movement with the LFOs and step sequencer.

The SY-300 also includes powerful multi-effects to enhance both synth and straight tones for maximum impact. Four simultaneous effects engines are available, each packing a number of effects types including overdrives and distortions, Slow Gear, Isolator, Slicer, and many others. Some types can perform two effects at once, such as chorus and delay or delay and reverb.

With its graphic LCD display, three assignable footswitches, and dedicated on/off footswitch, controlling the SY-300 while performing is simple and intuitive. Two external footswitches or an expression pedal can also be connected for even more real-time control if needed. There are 70 preset patches that are ready to play, plus 99 user patches for storing custom sounds.

The SY-300's versatile I/O provides seamless integration with any setup. The Thru output can send the dry guitar sound to an amp or pedals, or be used along with the Return jack as an effects loop. Dual output pairs (Main and Sub) offer assignable signal routing options, while MIDI In and Out/Thru jacks are provided for interfacing with switchers, drum machines, and other MIDI gear.

The SY-300 includes a USB audio interface to capture audio tracks directly into music production software on a computer. Via USB, users can also route existing tracks into the SY-300 to "re-synth" sounds using the synth engine and effects to create new sounds for music productions.

The SY-300's USB connection also enables players to build and organize patches with the dedicated BOSS Tone Studio editor and download new patches from the BOSS Tone Central website.

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.