From the January 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY PETE MADSEN
Being a gigging acoustic guitarist has never been easy, at least in terms of sound reinforcement. But with an all-in-one processor pedal like the new Boss AD-10 Acoustic Preamp, getting a good live sound has been made much simpler. Assuming a given venue has a decent PA system, you can show up with just a guitar and AD-10 in hand, dial up your sound, and off you go.
Like the typical Boss pedal, the AD-10 is rugged and compact. It has all the multi-effect and preamp grooviness an acoustic guitarist could want. EQ controls: check. Delay/chorus: check. Anti-feedback: check. There’s also a dial labeled Acoustic Resonance, which controls software that makes a guitar outfitted with a piezo or magnetic pickup sound like it’s miked.
The Acoustic Resonance knob allows the player to create a balance between a pickup and the guitar’s natural resonance. It offers three options: 1) Natural: uncolored sound, 2) Wide: mellow and warm, with a little more emphasis on bass, and 3) Bright: putting more emphasis on the higher frequencies. Although I didn’t get a chance to use the AD-10 in a live setting, it’s clear that the Acoustic Resonance option would be great for gigging musicians dealing with room situations requiring less or more acoustic definition.
There are two inputs mostly intended for dual outputs from a single guitar, or for two guitars on stage for easy transitions between songs. The stereo output is more for the effects such as Reverb. There’s also an effects send and return and a 1/4-inch line out (L/R), as well as XLR line outs (L/R), a stereo/mono switch, an input for an expression pedal, and a USB out for interfacing with a computer.
I plugged a Martin OM-28V (outfitted with a Fishman Eclipse pickup) into the AD-10, and the pedal into the Schertler JAM 150 amp that I use for most of my local gigs. On top of the AD-10, the controls for the EQ and effect are laid out neatly, with easy-to-read lettering. I was happy to see that the trio of foot controls—Boost, Delay, and Tuner/Mute—are offset at an angle to help prevent errant toe manipulation of the knobs.
First I tried the tuner. In an interesting—and very cool—design feature, the three foot-pedals light up in order to indicate if you are flat (left pedal), sharp (right pedal), or on pitch (middle pedal). The tuner is chromatic and the accidentals can look a little unfamiliar on the display; e.g., F# shows up as an F with a small square next to it.
The Boss’ EQ section, occupying the top section of dials, has standard Bass, Mid, and Treble knobs, as well as Presence and EQ level output. The bass EQ has a Low Cut button, which allows you to select a range to remove low frequencies for Tone or additional feedback control between 10hz and 990hz; the Mid knob allows you to boost or cut specific mid frequencies. There is also a central Output Level control adjacent to the EQ knobs.
A feature that I found slightly odd is the Ambience Out depression switch (located just below the Output Level knob), which directs the ambience (reverb) to either the XLR or the 1/4-inch outputs or both. I’m not sure why this is separated from the Ambience section. [Ed. note: According to BOSS, “The idea is that you might like to send the 1/4-inch output to the amplifier on stage while also sending the XLR outpout to the house PA. Often the house engineer will want to control their own reverb settings, but you can set it how you like it onstage for best fun and performance.”]
The bottom row of controls deals with the AD-10’s effects. Starting on the left with the Anti-Feedback Reduction, you have two individual notch selectors that dial out two different frequencies that can cause feedback. And if you depress both switches at the same time, the Boss will scan for feedback-causing frequencies, which you can then eliminate.
The Comp (compressor) has both soft and hard settings and is particularly useful if your style ranges from hard strumming to soft fingerpicking. Using the middle footswitch, you can turn on/off the delay and use the Time and Level controls to adjust the amount of the effect. My one quibble with delays in many boxes like this is that you can’t set the number of repeats—I happen to be very fond of a single-repeat slap-back echo, and that’s not always an option.
I am admittedly green when it comes to looping, so I’m essentially a guinea pig for the ease of use in the AD-10’s looping function. And while it took me a few tries to get the timing down, I quickly got the hang of it and had a lot of fun tapping out rhythms, playing shuffles and walking bass lines, and soloing over them. Looping in a live application might not be for me, but as a practice tool, or for just playing in my studio, I can really get into it.
Designed specifically with the acoustic guitarist in mind, the Boss AD-10 joins the ranks of multi-effect processors that emphasize flexibility and convenience. If you’re looking for an all-in-one preamp/effects box, the AD-10 might be just the ticket. This smart unit combines quality sound with ease of use and portability that will come in handy whether you’re plugging into a PA or a dedicated acoustic amplifier.
Boss AD-10 Acoustic Preamp
Pedal Type Acoustic guitar preamp Effects Boost, Chorus, Delay, Resonance, Compression, 3-band EQ, Reverb, Looper with 80-second recording capability, Anti-Feedback with notch settings, reduction control
Inputs Two 1/4″
Outputs Two XLR (main out), two 1/4″ (line out), one 1/4″ (send), one Type B USB
Other Effects loop, memory function for storing 10 sound setups
Power Source 6 AA batteries or 9-volt DC power supply
Dimensions 2.56″ x 8.56″ x 6.37″
Weight 2 lbs., 14 oz.
Price $449.99 (MSRP); $329.99 (street)
Made In Taiwan
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.