Blackstar Fly 3 and Boss Katana Mini are considered the top mini amps in their price category. Whether one is better than the other depends a lot on how you intend to use it.
This article will give you the different contexts whereby one is better than the other.
Specifically, you will learn:
- Which amp is better if you just want to noodle in your bedroom
- What are the few minus points of the Blackstar Fly 3 that you will be sacrificing for its lower price point, relative to the Boss Katana Mini
- What amp is more portable
For Causal Playing – Blackstar Fly 3
If you are a casual player like me, I recommend the Blackstar Fly 3 for the following reasons:
- It is almost $50 cheaper than Boss Katana Mini
- Solid output with loud volumes and clean tones that is similar to the Katana
- Only drawbacks are: (1) Less EQ control and (2) less smooth in the higher gain
Honestly though, these differences wouldn’t matter too much unless you are really a hardcore audiophile. You can hear both amps below. Tell me if you can tell the difference!
With such small differences in terms of sound quality, price then become the deciding factor. This is why i choose the Blackstar Fly 3 as I am not going to say no to almost $50 price reduction.
Do note however that both models cannot compare to your expensive setups like the 1X10 combos etc. Specifically, they:
- Do not have reverbs although you can achieve a small one by using the delay dial
- Do not have a lot of effects
- No huge bass
Despite the above, if you want sounds that can fill rooms and inspired, both of these will do the job. These are not ‘toy’ amps.
For practice, bedroom recording or simply as headphone speakers, they product music that are clear and loud.
For Tone Control – Boss Katana Mini
The Boss Katana Mini comes out on top on these 2 dimensions, which only really serious players will care about.
- EQ control: The Blackstar Fly 3 has a single dial control for EQ, that basically contours the tone from a more “American” tone to a more “British” tone. In contrast, the Boss Katana Mini has a 3 channel EQ that allows for a finer control over the body of your music.
- More variety in Tones: With finer controls, you can create tones that are crunchy, clean and even dirty brown etc.
For Busking – Blackstar Fly 3 (Battery Life and Weight Wins)
If you are intending to purchase a mini amp for busking, then portability becomes an critical consideration.
Specifically I consider the following dimensions as the most important when it comes to portability:
- Battery powered: Both models are battery powered
- Battery life: Blackstar Fly’s battery life has an estimated range of 9-10 hours play per set of batteries, depending on the volume you are playing at. There was no official number from Blackstar so it is based on my personal playtime. Boss Katana Mini’s battery life is around 7 hours.
- Weight: Blackstar Fly 3’s weight is 0.9kg while Boss Mini Katana is 1.3kg
- Compact design: Blackstar FLy 3 again comes out on top with its more compact design. You can easily fit this amp into your travel bag.
Overall, Blackstar Fly 3 comes out slightly on top of its portability. Together with its lower price, it is probably the best battery powered amp for busking under $100.
Negatives against the Blackstar Fly 3
If you have decided on this amp, do note the list of weakness that I have summarized below. Some have been mentioned but it bears repeating:
- No power supply: You need to purchase it separately if you do not want to rely on batteries alone. Price of the supply will add to your overall cost and still lower than the Boss Katana Mini.
- Limited EQ control: You basically only get 1 dial that changes the EQ from American to British tone
- Limited tones: Let’s be honest here. You can a clean tone and that is about it. This is why it is a good practice amp. For serious guitar players who care about tones, this is not the amp to get. You have been warned!
- No reverb: No reverb but you can squeeze out some if you dial the delay up and use a lower volume. Having reverbs cut into the battery consumption so it was a design decision to leave it out.
- No usb out. This means you can direct record the music on your PC. Sucks I know but this amp is not really meant for recording purposes.
Overall, when it comes to Blackstar Fly 3 vs Boss Katana Mini, the clear winner is the former due to the price. Sure, Boss Katana Mini have superior EQ controls and sounds better in the high gains, but that is not worth the additional money.