From the July 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar | BY DOUG YOUNG
Acoustic guitarists have more choices in amplification than ever before, and the quality keeps getting more impressive. Amps in all shapes and sizes offer both good sound and features aimed at acoustic performers. One new candidate in what has become a crowded market that aims to raise the bar is Boss’s Acoustic Singer amp. Available in two packages with similar features, but different power ratings and sizes, the Acoustic Singer Pro, as the name suggests, is targeted at the solo performer who plays and sings, and offers some compelling advantages for both voice and instrument.
A Look at the Core Features
The Acoustic Singer Pro packs a lot of power into a small package. With 120 watts—100 to the woofer and 20 to the one-inch tweeter—the amp is loud enough for any gig, yet weighs a manageable 32 pounds. There are two input channels, along with an auxiliary input for an external sound source such as an iPod. Both channels feature the usual basic controls—volume, bass, treble, and mids—along with an excellent-sounding reverb, phase switch, and anti-feedback notch-filter. The amplifier’s overall tone can be fine-tuned with a tweeter attenuater switch, which adjusts the crossover network to create a warmer tone.
The two main channels are optimized for microphones and acoustic-guitar inputs, respectively. The mic channel supports a combination balanced XLR and unbalanced ¼-inch input, with a 2.5K ohm input impedance. The mic channel offers a dual-mode delay control, providing two different types of echo in a single knob. The mic channel supports full 48-volt phantom power for condenser mics, and could be used with other devices, such as phantom-powered DIs or preamps. The guitar channel provides an input impedance of 5M ohms, to support both active and passive pickups, and offers a dual-mode chorus that can range from subtle to heavily chorused sounds. The instrument channel offers a three-mode “Acoustic Resonance” effect that is designed to add “body” to the sound of an acoustic-guitar pickup.
The Acoustic Singer has flexible outputs for both stage and recording applications. A pair of DI outputs can be individually set to output either a mix of the two channels, or each channel individually, while a USB output provides a digital interface for computer-based recording. An additional output jack can drive a headphone or be used as an analog audio-out for recording or sending to a monitor. The analog-output level is affected by both the individual-channel volume controls and the master volume, while the DI outs are not affected by the master-volume control. The DI outputs can be set to bypass effects.
It’s worth noting that the Acoustic Singer Pro has an impressive physical presence. The amp is visually attractive, with a dark brown stained-wood cabinet, matching brown grill cloth, and very comfortable handle. The amp tilts back slightly, and the controls are well-laid-out and easy to access, with even the power switch right on the front panel within easy reach.
Beyond the Basics
What sets the Acoustic Singer apart from many other two-channel amps are the extra performance features to support solo performers. For vocalists, the amp leverages the technology from Boss’s Acoustic Singer Pro pedal to provide a three-mode harmony feature. The harmonizer section can add a high harmony (a third above the input), a low harmony (a sixth below), or a unison doubling effect. The harmony mode takes a cue from the input signal of the guitar channel to produce diatonic harmony within the key, and also tracks changes in tonality, such as changing from major to minor as the guitar input changes. The harmony effect can be turned on and off with an optional footswitch.
The second key feature is a built-in 40-second looper that operates on both channels. The looper is basic, but effective, and can be operated directly from the amp or via an optional footswitch. When used from the amp, pressing record “arms” the recording loop, which starts automatically with the first note. When used with a footswitch, the looper can be started, moved into overdub mode with a button-push, and stopped with a double-tap.
Bells and whistles are interesting, but make little difference if an amp doesn’t sound good to start with. In this respect I was pleasantly surprised. The guitar sound is warm and full, and the EQ controls are effective. The reverb is smooth—one of nicest-sounding reverbs I’ve heard on a combo-amp. The two-mode chorus knob allows you to dial in anything from subtle to heavy chorus. The Acoustic Resonance control is also effective, and depending on the guitar, I usually found a setting that could add an attractive sense of realism to the tone. The vocal channel was equally effective, with its own excellent reverb-and-delay effect, and it’s hard not to enjoy (and sound good!) singing though the harmony effect. Having the looper available for both guitar and voice offers lots of creative potential.
Why It Might Be Right for You
The Acoustic Singer Pro has the potential to replace a lot of gear and simplify the setup for many performers. A solo singer/songwriter act or a small duo can easily create a wall of sound between the effects, harmonizer, and looper controls, all from a small amp that can be carried into a gig with one hand. The amp has more than enough clear, clean volume to fill most venues, and its flexible outputs make it easy to interface with a PA system when more volume is needed. Although the amp is clearly aimed for vocalists, the excellent sound quality makes the Acoustic Singer Pro attractive even for strict instrumentalists.
At-a-Glance: Boss Acoustic Singer Pro
POWER 120-watt amplifier, with 1-inch tweeter and 8-inch woofer. Guitar channel with 5M ohm input impedance, mic input channel with combo XLR, ¼-inch inputs, 48-volt phantom power, 2.5K ohm input impedance
CONNECTIONS Aux input, headphone out, dual-DI outputs (switchable between mix and individual channels), and USB recording output
EQ & EFFECTS Bass, mid, treble EQ and reverb on each channel. Delay effect on mic channel, dual-mode chorus on instrument channel. Built-in looper for both channels. Harmonizer effect on mic channel with three styles of harmony. Support for optional footswitch for effects and volume pedal
DIMENSIONS 16 7/16 x 13 x14 1/8 inches, 32 lbs
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$949 list; $699 street, Made in Malaysia, www.boss.info
This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.