"Not only does this tiny device allow us to beam iconic Boss tones directly into our ears, but the Stage Feel feature delivers an immersive practice experience like no other": Boss Katana:Go review

The new Boss headphone amp looks to revolutionise the way you practice at home – but is it worth it?

  • £119
  • €139
  • $119
Boss Katana:Go review
(Image: © Future/Daryl Robertson)

MusicRadar Verdict

The Katana:Go is a triumph. Not only does this tiny device allow us to beam the iconic Boss tones we love directly into our ears, but the imaginative Stage Feel feature delivers an immersive practice experience like no other. If we were to have one small gripe with the product, it's that you can't adjust the level of your effects via controls on the device, you need to rely on the Boss Tone Studio app. This certainly isn't a deal breaker, but we'd prefer to have a level control for the effects on the unit.


  • +

    Superb sounds

  • +

    Easy to use

  • +

    Stage Feel is a game-changer

  • +

    The ability to connect to a footswitch and expression pedal is greatly appreciated

  • +

    Built-in tuner is the best on the market


  • -

    You need to use the app to change effect levels

  • -

    No tap tempo on the device

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Boss Katana:Go review: What is it?

Boss Katana:Go review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

It can't be understated just how big an impact the Boss Katana had on the world of practice amps when it launched back in 2016. The Katana ushered in a new age of digital amps that promised players an affordable way to achieve authentic tones and better effects at home, all while keeping the cost down – and with the launch of the competitively priced Katana:Go, it looks like Boss has set their sights on disrupting the headphone amp space as well.

This miniature Katana aims to distil the essence of its big brother's world-renowned tones into a smaller format that can literally be taken anywhere. Boasting 10 amp types and over 60 effects, as well as a trio of bass models and 30 user memory banks, there are plenty of tones to get stuck into – and as they are brought to you by the fine folks at Boss, you know they will be of a certain quality. 

The OLED display makes choosing your preferred setting a breeze, while the handy onboard guitar tuner is so clear that it may just be the best on the market for this style of device. As you'd expect, the unit comes with Bluetooth capabilities, allowing you to wirelessly edit sounds via the accompanying Tone Studio app, as well as play along with your favourite tracks. 

Setting the Katana:Go apart from others on the market is the innovative Stage Feel feature, which is designed to provide an immersive audio experience that allows you to control where certain areas of the mix are placed. For example, you can decide whether you want your amplifier in front or behind you, as well as the positioning of your backing tracks – mimicking the feeling of playing with a band on stage. 

There's also a wealth of connectivity options on the Katana:Go. Yes, you get the standard USB-C connection, which not only charges the device but also turns this humble headphone amp into a portable audio interface for recording on the move – but that's not all. The Katana:Go has the unique ability to link to an external footswitch and expression pedal, which is sure to transform your practice routine.  

Boss Katana:Go review: Performance & verdict

Boss Katana:Go review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

Sounds and usability

Okay, let's start with the most important element of a headphone amp – the sound. Turning on the Katana:Go for the first time, we were greeted with a wealth of tonal options. On the side of the device, there are three banks to choose from – A, B and C – and each contains ten different voices ranging from sweet chorus-drenched cleans to in-your-face high-gain monsters. 

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To scroll through the presets, you simply select one of the banks and use the "multi-function button" to choose which sound you want to load. Unlike many of the other headphone amps available, the Katana:Go has a small screen which displays exactly which sound you have loaded, making it a joy to use.

If you are familiar with the tones stored inside the main Katana line, you'll have a pretty good understanding of what to expect with this miniature version. For us, the Katana really shines with its breadth of amp models and of course, the Boss effects. Within two minutes of turning the device on, we had access to a stellar Roland Jazz Chorus-inspired clean tone, punk-themed saturation and even a harmony mode. 

If you want to explore the tones more deeply, you need to pair your new practice device with the Boss Tone Studio app via Bluetooth. The app has a specific version for the Katana:Go so you'll want to make sure you download the correct iteration. 

The app itself is very intuitive to use. While it may look a little basic compared to Positive Grid's Spark app, we found the uncluttered layout to be a refreshing change of pace for these companion applications. Tone Studio grants you the ability to save presets, adjust effects levels, and even completely overhaul your signal chain – there's even a "session" section that offers the ability to slow down YouTube videos for more structured practice. 

Now, while we totally understand the decision to house the deep editing capabilities in a mobile app, we would love the ability to adjust the effects from the device itself, even if it was just a control for the overall effects level. As it stands just now, if you want to tweak the reverb level on a patch, you need to reach for your phone and make the adjustment in Tone Studio – which isn't ideal. 

Admittedly, this is a minor gripe and we suspect that once you've had the unit for a decent amount of time, you'll most likely have designed a whole bank of your own tones that won't require as much tweaking while you are playing.  

 Stage Feel and extra functionality 

Boss Katana:Go review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

If that were all the features the Boss Katana:Go had to offer, we would have been pretty happy – but there's more. Stage Feel is a unique feature that truly sets the Katana apart from the rest of the headphone amp offerings. 

Allowing you to place your amp or backing track anywhere within the sound field, this feature aims to replicate the sound of performing with an actual band – but does it work?  

Yes, we'd say it does. Pushing the Stage Feel button on the side of the unit will greet you with a wider-feeling mix that sounds more open and natural – ideal if you like to practice for very long periods of time. There are three distinct settings to choose from. Mode 1 will position the amp in front, with backing tracks placed behind you while Mode 2 places all audio to the rear and Custom Mode is left for you to design your own configuration. 

Now, we have to give a special mention to the built-in tuner on the Katana:Go. While tuners are nothing new on headphone amps, the fact that the Boss unit utilises its OLED screen to display the tuner means it feels so much more accurate when compared to the simple coloured light system found on the likes of the Fender Mustang Micro

Rounding out the extra features is the ability to pair the Katana:Go with the Boss FS-1-WL wireless footswitch and EV-1-WL wireless expression pedal. Unfortunately, we weren't sent these alongside our review sample of the Katana:Go so couldn't test out this functionality. If it works as advertised – and we see no reason it shouldn't – this could be a game changer for many players who love the convenience of a headphone amp but want the functionality of a full-sized practice amp. 

Boss Katana:Go review: Hands-on demos



Boss Katana:Go review: Specifications

  • Sample Rate: 48 kHz
  • Memories: 30
  • Guitar sounds: 10 amp types and over 60 effects
  • Bass Sounds: 3 amp types and over 60 effects
  • Display: Graphic OLED display (128 x 32 dots)
  • Controls: Master volume knob, Power, A button, B button, C button, Bluetooth(R) button, Stage Feel, Multi-function button
  • Connectors: Input plug: 1/4-inch phone type, Phones jack: Stereo miniature phone type, USB port: USB Type-C(R)
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Power Supply: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Weight: 70g/3oz
  • Contact: Boss 
Daryl Robertson
Senior Deals Writer

I'm a Senior Deals Writer at MusicRadar, and I'm responsible for writing and maintaining buyer's guides on the site - but that's not all I do. As part of my role, I also scour the internet for the best deals I can find on gear and get hands-on with the products for reviews. My gear reviews have also been published in prominent publications, including Total Guitar and Future Music magazines, as well as Guitar World.

I have a massive passion for anything that makes a sound, particularly guitars, pianos, and recording equipment. In a previous life, I worked in music retail, giving advice on all aspects of music creation and selling everything from digital pianos to electric guitars, entire PA systems, and ukuleles. I'm also a fully qualified sound engineer who holds a first-class Bachelor's degree in Creative Sound Production from the University of Abertay and I have plenty of experience working in various venues around Scotland.