The Waza-Air Bass headphones and Vidami Blue YouTube looper pedal point toward a refreshingly cable-free future that seems inevitable — and desirable
Back in the day — you know, near the end of the 20th century — learning how to play bass usually involved transcribing, in-person lessons, fake books, and playing along with tapes, vinyl records, or CDs. A carefully curated music collection and sheet-music library were essential. Beginning in the ’90s, software such as Amazing Slow Downer made it easier to analyze, isolate, and loop tracks, and hardware like the Rockman Bass Ace and Tascam’s Bass Trainers showed us how to play along with tracks and practice with headphones.
Today, however, we spend hours each day online, and our devices give us instant access to millions of tutorials and more music than we could ever hope to own. In addition to the old methods, we learn by visiting websites like TrueFire, using apps like iReal Pro, playing along to streaming music on Spotify, and watching YouTube videos. It only seems natural, then, that tools made specifically for online learning have become an essential part of any serious musician’s practice regimen. Two recent additions, Boss’ Waza-Air Bass headphones and the Vidami Blue video looper, are perfect examples of how these new tools can dramatically improve the way we practice and play.
I love practicing with a good bass headphone amp. If you’ve only ever heard your bass through an amp and a speaker, the directness of a headphone amp and the freedom of not being cabled to a rig can be refreshing. That feeling is slightly diminished, however, when you want to play along with music that only you can hear. Some headphone amps have aux-in ports for a 1/8″ plug, but it’s a bummer to be tethered to your phone or tablet, and it can be clumsy. The Waza-Air Bass’ simple solution? Bluetooth.
After I charged the headphones and transmitter, I plugged the transmitter into my bass, turned on the headphones, and paired them with the transmitter. Voilà! Solo practice heaven. Next, I paired the Waza-Air headphones with my Android phone and played along to Spotify playlists, iReal Pro, and my favorite drum app, Drumgenius. All the fun, with none of the cables.
The comfy Waza-Air headphones have cleverly designed buttons for volume control, a metronome and drum machine with basic 4/4 and shuffle patterns, and six bass effects. I loved the way my basses sounded through these headphones, and as I played along with the rhythm tracks, I felt like I was hearing new facets of my instruments.
But the adventure was just beginning. On the Waza-Air Bass Tone Central app, I explored fretless, rock, jazz fusion, funk/R&B, and synth-bass presets. I tweaked ambience, amp/EQ, and effect/presence settings, and I had the option to create my own patches. The app also makes it easy to read the owner’s manual, update the software, and set up wireless pedals, but it was great to know that I could keep it simple and still have a productive practice session.
The headphones are sturdy, and the earpads are replaceable. Be careful not to lose the charger, though — it looks like a USB-C, but it’s a proprietary design, and nothing else will work. Finally, although both the transmitter and headphones go far on a single charge, you’ll have to charge them one at a time.
You can’t loop or slow down tracks with the Waza-Air, and you can only connect to mobile devices, which ruled out using Logic Pro X on my MacBook Pro, for example. That’s where the Vidami comes in.
Imagine using one pedal to turn pages on an iPad, start and stop recording in your DAW, and control videos on YouTube without taking your hands off your bass, and you’ll see why the Vidami Blue has become such a hot item. (An older pedal, simply named Vidami, sticks to video looping.) The Vidami Blue, which controls YouTube and over 50 other learning platforms, works on Safari, Chrome, and browsers like Brave that are built on the Chromium platform. After a bit of Bluetooth finagling, my MacBook Pro recognized the Vidami. On the surface, it’s a simple, well-built stompbox, but footswitch combinations are the key to its versatility. To access its DAW function, for example, I held down the SPEED, PLAY/PAUSE, and LOOP buttons at the same time. BACK, SPEED, and FORWARD put the pedal in YouTube mode, and I accessed the page-turning mode by hitting BACK, PLAY/PAUSE, and LOOP.
I tried all three modes in iReal Pro, with different results. In video mode, BACK and FORWARD changed the number of repeats; in DAW mode, PLAY/PAUSE did exactly that, and LOOP took me back to the top; page-turning Mode 2 let me scroll through an iReal playlist, which is probably most useful on gigs.
I was at the beginning of a film-scoring project when the Vidami Blue arrived, so I connected to Logic Pro X and put the Vidami to the test by inserting markers, looping scenes, adding tracks, recording, and using the undo function. Around the same time, I had begun learning Oscar Pettiford’s jazz standard “Tricotism,” and the Vidami made it easy to loop sections, slow things down, and learn the music bar by bar. It was great to be able to pause a movie on YouTube or Vimeo while trying to reverse-engineer a score. And as a sound designer/composer for theater, I used the page-turning function on long scripts while reading/taking notes. No matter how I used it, the Vidami made my overall workflow so much better.
At the moment, the Vidami Blue only works with Apple iOS devices, but co-creator Wayne Jones says he’s confident that Google will eventually develop the use of mobile browser extensions on Android devices. As we were going to press, Vidami announced that they had updated the app for Chrome and Safari with a speed controller, as well as compatibility with several new sites, including Worship Online and String Masters. That’s a good sign that the developers will continue to improve the Vidami Blue.
The price for the Waza-Air Bass will make some people pause, but these headphones will bring hours of fun, make you want to practice more often, and last a long time. The Vidami does something no other pedal does — and if you’ve ever learned music from YouTube, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. They are two stellar examples of musician-focused technology guaranteed to take your learning to the next level.
I haven’t yet thrown away my old mixer-on-a-music-stand setup with inputs for bass, tablet, and phone in my practice area; old habits die hard. But the Waza-Air Bass headphones and Vidami Blue YouTube looper pedal sure do point toward a refreshingly cable-free future that seems inevitable — and desirable.
For more on the Boss Waze-Air Bass Headphones: Click Here
For more on the Vidami Blue YouTube looper pedal: Click Here