Hands-On Review:eBand JS-8 Audio Player with Guitar Effects
The ultimate jam-along companion and more
By Jim Bybee
Writer/Editor, Roland Corporation U.S.
If you haven't heard, BOSS' eBand JS-8 Audio Player with Guitar Effects is the hottest guitar practice tool to come down the road in a long time. It's a self-contained music player with built-in speakers, and it's loaded with rhythms and music tracks for jamming and practicing. Best of all, you can plug in your guitar and play along with satisfying and inspiring guitar tones, thanks to a huge array of premium BOSS amps and effects. This alone makes eBand a super-fun musical tool, but there are even more cool features onboard for building your chops, recording, interfacing with computers, and more. Sound interesting? Let's break down everything this versatile, easy-to-use music machine has to offer.
A standalone digital audio player
eBand is light, compact, and portable, and sits nicely on a tabletop. Onboard is a great-sounding stereo speaker system, and there's a jack for headphones as well. eBand plays nearly any WAV and MP3 song, and has an intuitive interface with a large display and simple controls. There's a USB port for directly playing music stored on a USB memory stick, and an SD card slot for playing songs on SD media. You can also import songs into eBand from a computer using the included JS-8 Song Editor; this cool software app lets you organize and edit eBand songs in your PC and swap them back and forth as you like. Finally, eBand has a stereo aux in jack that lets you connect any external music player and play it through the onboard speaker system.
As mentioned above, eBand is also filled with rhythm patterns and jam tracks, covering a huge range of musical styles. You can easily adjust the speed of the rhythms and jam tracks, all without changing the pitch (more on this in a bit). When you call up a jam track, the key is shown in the display for quick reference while you're playing along.
The awesome guitar effects in eBand are derived from BOSS' flagship GT-10 Guitar Effects Processor. Onboard, you'll find an enormous selection of meticulously modeled amps that utilize BOSS' famous COSM® technology, including classic American and British combos, raging stacks, and boutique and custom amps. Also on hand is a veritable history of BOSS effects processing: overdrives and distortions, delays, reverbs, modulation effects, pitch shifting, wah, and much more. For instant gratification, just dial up one of 130 preset patches by number, or use the Category selection to choose a sound based on music style. If you like, you can tweak and create your own custom patches and store them in 100 different user locations.
eBand gives you two ways to edit effects patches to your taste. EZ EDIT is quick and easy; simply call up a patch that sounds close to the way you want, and then use EZ EDIT's grid-based editor to dial in the drive and FX amount with a single cursor control that adjusts multiple parameters with one simple action. For you power users, PATCH EDIT lets you dive in for deep editing, with hands-on access to every single parameter in every effect.
eBand's rear panel provides jacks for connecting optional external footswitches (BOSS FS-5U or FS-6) or an optional expression pedal (BOSS FV-500L/H or Roland EV-5). These allow you to remotely start/stop eBand, switch patches, and control various effects. With footswitches, you can also control eBand's onboard looper, which features up to 40 seconds of sound-on-sound recording time and unlimited overdubs.
Essential practice tools
Jamming along with rhythms and music tracks is a great way to build your chops, but eBand also offers a whole host of additional tools to help you maximize your music practice sessions. To start, there's a built-in chromatic tuner and a metronome, plus an A/B REPEAT function that lets you set markers and loop specific song sections.
Perhaps eBand's coolest practice feature is its ability to independently adjust the pitch and tempo of any audio file. For example, you can change the tempo of a song without changing its pitch, which is great for slowing down and learning fast musical passages that are tough to play at regular speed. Alternately, you can change the pitch of a song without changing its tempo. This is cool for developing your fretboard skills in every musical key.
Though designed primarily for guitarists, eBand also works great for vocalists and bass guitarists. The front-panel 1/4-inch input accepts a Hi-Z microphone as well as a guitar or bass, and there are a number of preset effects for voice and bass too. eBand's Center Cancel function is particularly useful for vocalists, allowing you to remove the lead vocal from popular songs for karaoke-style performances. Center Cancel also removes guitar solos, perfect for jamming your own solos over popular music tracks.
Another neat feature is eBand's built-in recording function, which captures audio directly to an inserted SD memory card. It's ultra-easy to use: just select the song, rhythm, or jam track you want to play with, and press REC when you want to start recording. That's it! eBand records your playing along with the backing until you hit STOP. Then, to hear what you've just recorded, simply press PLAY.
On-the-fly recording is great for assessing your progress as you practice, capturing song ideas, and more. Plus, you can easily export your recordings to flash media or a computer via USB.
The DAW connection
As if all the cool features we've talked about already weren't enough, eBand has one more trick up its sleeve: it also functions as a USB audio interface for your PC! Just install the included driver for your Windows or Mac computer, connect eBand to the computer via USB, and then use eBand to stream audio back and forth with your favorite digital audio workstation (DAW) software. You can record in the DAW using eBand's effects, and process DAW tracks after the fact with eBand effects as well. Plus, you can monitor your music software through eBand's great onboard stereo speakers. Coupled with a laptop running DAW software, eBand makes for a super-mobile, self-contained multitrack recording and monitoring center.
More than meets the eye
As you can see, eBand is much more than just a jam-along companion—it's an indispensable music practice tool that makes building your chops enjoyable and fun, and it's a powerful recording machine as well. So, what are you waiting for? Join eBand, plug in your guitar, and start rocking!