BOSS: Power Stack (STK-2)



BOSS: Power Stack STK-2
List: $321

Roland’s BOSS series of effects pedals are inevitable references when it comes to the benchmark for analogue voicings. They are arguably the industry’s standard references & the manufacturer has offered virtually every effect type in the BOSS range: Overdrives, distortions, modulations, delays, looper units- you name it, BOSS had been there. The Power Stack pedal here isn’t just another drive-to-distortion device for our scrutiny but it offers the user amplifier grade dissonance which is arguably the selling point for the STK-2.

Build/ features
There isn’t any departure from the traditional BOSS blueprint, the tank-grade chassis & housing are all there & battery access still necessitates the unscrewing of the footswitch. Over at the control recess, the pedal features four control knobs; a LEVEL option, 2-band EQ (Bass/ Treble) & a SOUND control. This final knob varies the drive/ distortion voicing as well as controlling the intensity of proceedings; this is very much the helm of the unit. Tone mongers like yours truly here is wondering why this pedal lacks a midrange control, this could further enhance its tonal spectrum knowing the availability of a voicing variance would make it truly formidable, tone-wise. There’s nothing really refreshing to report, let's move on.

Rating: 70%

The STK-2 features 3 on-board voicings as provided by the SOUND control, one could go from a mild crunch, fat drive & finally super saturation. BOSS should probably include a caveat in the pedal’s liner notes disclaiming all associations with the heavy metal type voicing (ala Metal Zone) despite the fact that intensity is present but of a different nature. The pedal strives to capture a tube amp’s higher order (distortion) saturation without inclining towards a simulated tone. There is a simple understanding as to what the Power Stack has to offer in terms of the drive voicing; it sweeps from the crunch zone into thicker drive territory & finally rounding off with saturated intensity unlike a typical metal-type distortion; do keep this well in mind. At the polite-end of things, the voicing on offer is reminiscent of some other BOSS units so there isn’t exactly anything ground-breaking here until you travel up the other end. The Ultra range has an interesting fusion of intensity as previously mentioned (it’s not entirely absent, mind you) & an amplifier’s pseudo-tube saturation. As such, it will attract the solo-inclined more than the metal traditionalist. The STK-2 proves to be a complete unit in this end as it does not necessitate the use of a supplementary booster/ drive unit to augment its fullness; certainly good news for those of us who refine our tones via pick attack or (guitar) volume play. The STK-2 sounds full with both humbuckers & single coils but the frustration of having a full time scooped tone could prove to be troubling for some of us. The best way to realize the STK-2’s true potential is to have it hooked up to a tube amp’s clean channel; this should be your working fundamentals.

Rating: 80%

The STK-2’s tonal performance rating here suggests it’s nothing outstanding in its entirety which is indeed an objective perspective because BOSS’ Blues Driver & Turbo Distortion, among others, are specialists when it comes to what the Power Stack has to offer in its less intense dial-up. However, when we scrutinize its Ultra end, the STK-2 is quite unlike any others the manufacturer has to offer; it’s the missing link- a distortion which is adequate in its intensity but isn’t metal exclusive.

Final rating: 80%

Product availability: Swee Lee Co.

• Ultra voicing
• Runs well on battery
• User-friendly

• No midrange control
• Battery access
• Not as focused in its less intense settings
• Price

Worthy competitors:
• Krank: Distortus Maximus
• Suhr: Riot
• Biyang: Metal End King
• Wampler: Pinnacle 2