The Katana 50 is brilliantly flexible. It can handle home playing and even small gigs with ease. This amp is genuinely loud at 50W, whilst the 25W and half watt settings lend themselves perfectly to those late-night jams.
It covers a wide variety of sounds too. The Katana isn’t the kind of amp to hone in on a specific genre. It performs everything admirably, from classic cleans to metal distortion.
Class A/B Amplifier
This is partly down to the efficient Class A/B amplifier, which compresses the sound to get the largest frequency range possible out the Boss-designed Propriety speaker. It can sag or tighten like a real valve amp because of the vintage component modelling. It’s one of the most earthy and dynamic practice amps we’ve heard.
Just the small additions, like simulating tube response on low volume and speaker emulation for headphones, audio interfaces or a PA system makes the Katana extremely adaptable.
Controls & Effects
Boss packed the Katana with an unbelievable amount of control, from the dedicated acoustic preamp to the full app editor suite. You can save it all to a memory tone bank so you won’t forget that amazing setting you happened across.
The real icing on the cake is the ridiculous array of Boss effects, modelled after some of their most iconic pedals. The version two revision brought the total to over 50, including octave, pitch, modulation, delay, reverb and whatever else you can imagine.
One of the biggest factors in establishing the Katana above its competitors is the broad target market. Users of all different abilities and needs have pushed this amp beyond its limits and into new territories. It’s clear the designers put a lot of time and effort into making this the all-encompassing practice amp. You might not pay much attention to little features here and there at first, but you’ll no doubt come around to realising the ridiculous sound-shaping depth they provide.
There’s no denying it. The Fender Champion 50XL can’t match the versatility of the Katana. Although highly impressive, it has fewer channels, sound shaping options and connections.
Where the Katana excels in depth, however, the Champion produces outstanding shimmery cleans, with the option of high gain. It doesn’t neglect the effects either and even has a tap tempo for the delay to keep it in time with what you’re playing.
The Champion comes into its own when set to the famous Fender clean sound. It’s not quite a Hot Rod, but it does a great job of recreating those vintage ‘blackface’ vibes. The Celestion speaker is a real highlight for a genuinely cheap combo. You can easily dial in an airy and full tone with the help of the larger cabinet (hence the XL).
It does so well in the sound department that it doesn’t even need a mids EQ. Take the Champion back a few decades and it would look pretty indiscernible to its surroundings as well.
The channel selection is a continues knob that adds gain at each step. Essentially, the Fender has one preamp. It loads up on gain from clean through to crunch, British and metal settings, plus a super cool octave at its most distorted. Like the Katana, the Champion is exceptionally tube-like for solid-state technology.
With very similar specs and prices, the Champion 50XL and Katana could be decided at the toss of a coin. But for simplicity’s sake, if you’re after a great ‘plug in and play’ warm tone and silky effects, the Fender is the way to go. But for recording, a massive amount of tweaking and general experimentation, the Katana owns it.
If you enjoyed this head to head, check out more of our versus articles!