Katana Artist - not the best speaker choice?

BrettFuzz

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TL;DR - Katana Artist, praised for its Waza speaker, sounds better (to me) thru another, cheaper speaker. Details below.

Katana Artist comes with the Waza G12W speaker, which is Boss's take on Celestion Greenback. I can confirm that, at least for my ears, that speaker makes all the difference compared to the regular Katanas (50/100, had them all), so much so that the Artist might as well be a separate amp. Many reviews and forum posts confirm that as well. Artist can get really close to those sweet tube amp sounds.

I have been playing my lowly Monoprice 15W tube amp more lately and (especially after breaking the speaker in) it sounds really good; much better (more clear and natural) than my Katana. Then I started doing the stupid thing we all do - can I dial my Katana Artist in to sound like the Monoprice? I can get really close using the global EQ available with the Katana. However, there's always those shrill highs that if you tone them down to where they are not annoying you lose the high-end sparkle and clarity. I played for hours and days with all the knobs and settings both on the amp and in the Tone Studio and I get close but as soon as I plug in to the Monoprice I can hear how much clearer and more defined everything is. After getting tired of all that I just made my peace with it - "it's the tube amp thing that SS/digital will never get right". Then, just for the heck of it, I connected the Katana to the speaker in Monoprice. Holy crap! That's it! The clarity, the sweet top end; bright but not shrill, the breakup and distortion are so much more natural... So I've been playing my Katana thru the Monoprice speaker. 😁 Now I can get the Katana to sound virtually indistinguishable from the Monoprice.

Now, that whole exercise got me thinking - Waza is really a well regarded speaker and the Celestion Seventy 80 that's in the Monoprice is always shunned as the cheap entry level speaker. I started reading about the Seventy 80 and the consensus seems to be that it's basically as neutral a guitar speaker as they come (and therefore for many "blah"). That got me thinking some more - Katana uses a DSP to generates its sounds so it's all artificial (the breakup characteristics, etc.). That does not mean it has to sound bad but... it has to be reproduced faithfully. For that you would probably want as neutral a speaker as you can get away with in a guitar amp, otherwise the speaker will color the sound with its own characteristics. So Boss stuck a guitar speaker with its own tonal characteristics (basically a Greenback) to faithfully reproduce the DSP generated sounds? I am not a sound engineer or anything close to that; I am just a dude chasing tone, lol. But to me that does not seem like the greatest decision.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe Katana Artist is one of the best amps of that type you can get. I just think they did not pair it with the best speaker. It seems weird because that speaker is touted as the best part of that amp. I am curious what you think about this and if this make any sense to you.
In the meantime I'll keep playing Katana thru my "Monoprice speaker cab" for now and probably start looking for a replacement speaker for the Katana :)
 
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bobio

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Katana Artist comes with the Waza G12W speaker, which is Boss's take on Celestion Greenback. I can confirm that, at least for my ears, that speaker makes all the difference compared to the regular Katanas (50/100, had them all), so much so that the Artist might as well be a separate amp. Many reviews and forum posts confirm that as well. Artist can get really close to those sweet tube amp sounds.

I have been playing my lowly Monoprice 15W tube amp more lately and (especially after breaking the speaker in) it sounds really good; much better (more clear and natural) than my Katana. Then I started doing the stupid thing we all do - can I dial my Katana Artist in to sound like the Monoprice? I can get really close using the global EQ available with the Katana. However, there's always those shrill highs that if you tone them down to where they are not annoying you lose the high-end sparkle and clarity. I played for hours and days with all the knobs and settings both on the amp and in the Tone Studio and I get close but as soon as I plug in to the Monoprice I can hear how much clearer and more defined everything is. After getting tired of all that I just made my peace with it - "it's the tube amp thing that SS/digital will never get right". Then, just for the heck of it, I connected the Katana to the speaker in Monoprice. Holy crap! That's it! The clarity, the sweet top end; bright but not shrill, the breakup and distortion are so much more natural... So I've been playing my Katana thru the Monoprice speaker. 😁 Now I can get the Katana to sound virtually indistinguishable from the Monoprice.

Now, that whole exercise got me thinking - Waza is really a well regarded speaker and the Celestion Seventy 80 that's in the Monoprice is always shunned as the cheap entry level speaker. I started reading about the Seventy 80 and the consensus seems to be that it's basically as neutral a guitar speaker as they come (and therefore for many "blah"). That got me thinking some more - Katana uses a DSP to generates its sounds so it's all artificial (the breakup characteristics, etc.). That does not mean it has to sound bad but... it has to be reproduced faithfully. For that you would probably want as neutral a speaker as you can get away with in a guitar amp, otherwise the speaker will color the sound with its own characteristics. So Boss stuck a guitar speaker with its own tonal characteristics (basically a Greenback) to faithfully reproduce the DSP generated sounds? I am not a sound engineer or anything close to that; I am just a dude chasing tone, lol. But to me that does not seem like the greatest decision.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe Katana Artist is one of the best amps of that type you can get. I just think they did not pair it with the best speaker. It seems weird because that speaker is touted as the best part of that amp. I am curious what you think about this and if this make any sense to you.
In the meantime I'll keep playing Katana thru my "Monoprice speaker cab" for now and probably start looking for a replacement speaker for the Katana :)

I think the problem here is when you try to replicate the sound of one amp with another. I too have a Katana Artist and I spend ZERO time trying to get it to sound like any other amp. I create my patches to get tones that appeal to me on the Katana. The same goes for the Nextone and the GT-1000 in my recording rig. It may be the wrong speaker choice for what "you" are trying to do with it, but that doesn't make it the wrong speaker choice for what it is intended for. 🤷‍♂️

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Tim S

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If we could dial in each of our amps to sound like exactly like we want, then they would all sound identical.

What gives an amp its character — its uniqueness, is what we can’t control. In spite of our best efforts, it deviates from our intent (and hopefully sounds surprisingly good)
 

BrettFuzz

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I should probably clarify - I am not saying the Katana sounds exactly like the Monoprice when played thru the Monoprice speaker.

I am saying that any sound I dial in on the Katana sounds way better thru the Monoprice speaker than thru Katana's own speaker.
 

BrettFuzz

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Here is the actual Waza (from the manual):

1665707442015.png


I already checked all those graphs and even made an EQ preset based on the 70/80 and the Greenback.
 

PhredE

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You may (*may*?) do better with a more neutral flatter response speaker.

The curve for the Waza speaker, if accurate, is not really all that close to a flat response. Check out some curve graphs for larger PA woofers (12", 10", etc) and midbass/midrange speakers and you'll usually see a nearly flat graph.

You may be better served by a good speaker swap. It'll change up the sound of the amp, but maybe that is what you're trying to do (?)
 

ASATKat

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TL;DR - Katana Artist, praised for its Waza speaker, sounds better (to me) thru another, cheaper speaker. Details below.

Katana Artist comes with the Waza G12W speaker, which is Boss's take on Celestion Greenback. I can confirm that, at least for my ears, that speaker makes all the difference compared to the regular Katanas (50/100, had them all), so much so that the Artist might as well be a separate amp. Many reviews and forum posts confirm that as well. Artist can get really close to those sweet tube amp sounds.

I have been playing my lowly Monoprice 15W tube amp more lately and (especially after breaking the speaker in) it sounds really good; much better (more clear and natural) than my Katana. Then I started doing the stupid thing we all do - can I dial my Katana Artist in to sound like the Monoprice? I can get really close using the global EQ available with the Katana. However, there's always those shrill highs that if you tone them down to where they are not annoying you lose the high-end sparkle and clarity. I played for hours and days with all the knobs and settings both on the amp and in the Tone Studio and I get close but as soon as I plug in to the Monoprice I can hear how much clearer and more defined everything is. After getting tired of all that I just made my peace with it - "it's the tube amp thing that SS/digital will never get right". Then, just for the heck of it, I connected the Katana to the speaker in Monoprice. Holy crap! That's it! The clarity, the sweet top end; bright but not shrill, the breakup and distortion are so much more natural... So I've been playing my Katana thru the Monoprice speaker. 😁 Now I can get the Katana to sound virtually indistinguishable from the Monoprice.

Now, that whole exercise got me thinking - Waza is really a well regarded speaker and the Celestion Seventy 80 that's in the Monoprice is always shunned as the cheap entry level speaker. I started reading about the Seventy 80 and the consensus seems to be that it's basically as neutral a guitar speaker as they come (and therefore for many "blah"). That got me thinking some more - Katana uses a DSP to generates its sounds so it's all artificial (the breakup characteristics, etc.). That does not mean it has to sound bad but... it has to be reproduced faithfully. For that you would probably want as neutral a speaker as you can get away with in a guitar amp, otherwise the speaker will color the sound with its own characteristics. So Boss stuck a guitar speaker with its own tonal characteristics (basically a Greenback) to faithfully reproduce the DSP generated sounds? I am not a sound engineer or anything close to that; I am just a dude chasing tone, lol. But to me that does not seem like the greatest decision.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe Katana Artist is one of the best amps of that type you can get. I just think they did not pair it with the best speaker. It seems weird because that speaker is touted as the best part of that amp. I am curious what you think about this and if this make any sense to you.
In the meantime I'll keep playing Katana thru my "Monoprice speaker cab" for now and probably start looking for a replacement speaker for the Katana :)
I have the 100 Mk2. This is what I do with my beast. I take a moment to get a good tone dialed in, I don't care for presets.. Then, and this is the most important part, I play and make music, and don't think if there is a better tone, I think, "this is the moment, this is the tone, it's what I got, play". I feel that sort of thinking helps the tone sound better.

No matter what you got, Two Rock, Kemper, Katana, Fender, etc. Your music will only sound as good as you can pump love and joy into it. The Kat, for whatever reason, makes me happy and that makes me play better thus taking my whole game up one notch. I'm glad I don't struggle with tone, I used to for years, even when I owned a Kemper.

I post on Twanger Central's backing track music minus one jams. I have around 300 recordings of my Katana and ASAT Special playing everything I can do.

It's really helped me understand the amps potentials, and my own potentials.

I'm not playing out much so this is an important outlet, a great outlet for a guitar nerd like myself. Good people just like me guitar wise. I ride an ebike and got rid of my car two years ago. No car, no gigs or jams, =/
 
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11 Gauge

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Here is the actual Waza (from the manual):

View attachment 1039809

I already checked all those graphs and even made an EQ preset based on the 70/80 and the Greenback.

That graph kind of tells the story - the Waza speaker is more efficient than either of the Celestions mentioned, and looks to be on average 3-5 dB louder for any given frequency. It also looks like the Waza kind of maintains more of a 'plateaued' peak at 2k-3.5k, especially.

Anyway, if I had to guess, I think you probably favor the Seventy 80 simply because it's slightly less efficient, so you're able to push it a little harder, w/o getting the harsh stuff happening as early on as the Waza does.

Next consideration - the big factor that no one has mentioned yet (unless I missed it) - differences in the Monoprice cab vs. the Katana cab. Just by going by pics on the web, it looks like the Katana cab is a bit bigger. My guess is that this might make the resonant frequency of the Katana a bit lower, which for someone like you, might not really be at a sweet spot you prefer.

It would be interesting to know how the Seventy 80 sounds in the Katana cab, just to determine how much of a role the cab itself is playing.

How does the Monoprice amp sound if you hook it up to the Katana/Waza cab & speaker?
 
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BrettFuzz

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That graph kind of tells the story - the Waza speaker is more efficient than either of the Celestions mentioned, and looks to be on average 3-5 dB louder for any given frequency. It also looks like the Waza kind of maintains more of a 'plateaued' peak at 2k-3.5k, especially.

Anyway, if I had to guess, I think you probably favor the Seventy 80 simply because it's slightly less efficient, so you're able to push it a little harder, w/o getting the harsh stuff happening as early on as the Waza does.

Next consideration - the big factor that no one has mentioned yet (unless I missed it) - differences in the Monoprice cab vs. the Katana cab. Just by going by pics on the web, it looks like the Katana cab is a bit bigger. My guess is that this might make the resonant frequency of the Katana a bit lower, which for someone like you, might not really be at a sweet spot you prefer.
I kind of agree... I have a feeling that Katana speaker would sound better at higher volumes.

However, at normal play-at-home volumes, there is something slightly harsh about its highs and it's not possible to dial it out without muddying the overall tone. If you start with B/M/T knobs at noon, then let's say you scoop the mids a bit the highs become too harsh, then you turn down the highs but then it overall becomes a bit muddy, then you turn down the bass to clear it up a bit and then you are where you started - all knobs aligned, lol. Same situation if you push the mids. I tried clean, crunch, built in pedals, compression, EQ, etc. etc. but it's always either a bit muddy or the highs are harsh a bit.

Now, mind you, this is all really subtle and on its own it's really hard to notice. However, once I plugged it into the Seventy 80 and heard for the first time how clear it can sound (and how effortless it was at that), now I can always hear the lack of clarity in the Katana speaker. I would never have known Katana could sound this much better had I not done that little experiment, lol

So... I'm playing the Katana thru the Monoprice. I consider it my external speaker cab that happened to come with a tube amp :). I now definitely prefer playing the Katana over the Monoprice tube because now there really is no noticeable difference between Katana and tubes and because I can leave Katana on all day and play in 5-10 min sessions throughout the day whenever I can catch a break from work.

I have also found a forum post (on another forum) where someone had the same experience and came to the same conclusion (that the speaker in Katana Artist is a great speaker but not the best match). I also wanted to share all this because there isn't too much info out there on the internets about the Katana Artist since it's on the pricey side for this type of amp and not many people go for it (not nearly as many as the regular Katanas).

Now I have to try my Monoprice thru the Katana speaker, like Blrfl suggested. :)
 

Tim S

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Could the curve of the Seventy 80 be approximated by using a graphic EQ on the Katana’s Waza? I know it wouldn’t be exact, but it could probably get it a little closer.

But swapping the speakers would be a fun exercise. Try all the permutations:
Katana into its own cab with Waza speaker
Katana into the Monoprice cab with the Seventy 80
Katana into its own cab with the Seventy 80
Katana into the Monoprice cab with the Waza speaker

And, of course, do the reciprocal for the Monoprice.
The results would be very interesting.
 
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BrettFuzz

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Could the curve of the Seventy 80 be approximated by using a graphic EQ on the Katana’s Waza? I know it wouldn’t be exact, but it could probably get it a little closer.
I did exactly that before I even started this thread. Like you said, it's not exact especially because I'm EQ-ing the amp and not changing the speaker's response curve itself. I did place the EQ at the amp output (last in the signal chain before the speaker) so it should be as close as possible. Even with it not being exact and only approximated, it helped shape the tone a lot. It definitely helped tame the harsh highs but, of course, there is still a difference in favor to playing thru the actual Seventy 80.

I wish I had time to play with all those permutations but maybe one day... :)
Maybe I should not even have opened that can of worms... ignorance is bliss sometimes 😶‍🌫️
 

Frodebro

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I have the 100 Mk2. This is what I do with my beast. I take a moment to get a good tone dialed in, I don't care for presets..

Get your good tone dialed in, then just hit the “store” button and it will be waiting for you next time…. As a preset. 😬
 

ASATKat

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Get your good tone dialed in, then just hit the “store” button and it will be waiting for you next time…. As a preset. 😬
No, that's not I was saying. I enjoy the tweaking, I don't get at all lost in doing it that way.
I like my amp close by for that purpose. It's something I got from Steve Kimock. He's always tweaking his tone on stage, and he knows how to do it, always to enhance the next thing he plays. That's the game for me. Fortunately my Katana is much simpler than Kimock's rig to adjust although much of that tweaking is just volume adjustment.

But still, feeling like I can do a similar approach on my simple inexpensive rig, sort of,,, enough to feel some joy of playing that game is great. I'll never own gear like Steve, so I have to live my fantasy in other ways or I don't get to play the game. My Kat is a don't worry be happy amp, it gets me back involved with the music making.
 

Frodebro

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I'm really, REALLY close to picking up an Artist MkII myself. I had a MkII 2x12 briefly, but I actually wanted the Artist and there were none in stock. So I grabbed the 2x12 to see if I liked the sounds and interface (which I did), but it was just a little bit too big for my intended purpose, which is a combination living room amp and grab & go for when I get together with friends to make noise and don't want to deal with anything too complex to set up. The Artist checks all of those boxes.
 

BrettFuzz

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I'm really, REALLY close to picking up an Artist MkII myself. I had a MkII 2x12 briefly, but I actually wanted the Artist and there were none in stock. So I grabbed the 2x12 to see if I liked the sounds and interface (which I did), but it was just a little bit too big for my intended purpose, which is a combination living room amp and grab & go for when I get together with friends to make noise and don't want to deal with anything too complex to set up. The Artist checks all of those boxes.
I had a regular Katana Mk II 100, then got the Artist and I had them side by side for a while. They allegedly have the same "guts" but the same settings on one sounded very different on the other. The Artist sounds much better and feels much more like premium gear. The only complaint I have about them is that they are kind of expensive. I got mine second hand for half of what a new one cost so I was OK with it. Nevertheless, I highly recommend the Artist over regular Katanas.
 

pbognar

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I had a regular Katana Mk II 100, then got the Artist and I had them side by side for a while. They allegedly have the same "guts" but the same settings on one sounded very different on the other. The Artist sounds much better and feels much more like premium gear. The only complaint I have about them is that they are kind of expensive. I got mine second hand for half of what a new one cost so I was OK with it. Nevertheless, I highly recommend the Artist over regular Katanas.
One more test to try: Katana MK II 100 into the Monotone speaker in the Monotone cab.

Or: Monotone speaker in Katana MK II 100 cab?

You may find that the only difference between the MK II 100 and the MK II Artist is the speaker and the cab. I really wish the MK II 100 had a MIDI in jack and more preset locations.
 




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