Positive Grid Spark Amp

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pgj, Mar 5, 2020.

  1. pgj

    pgj New Member

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    Anyone get a Spark amp yet? I preordered one a couple of months ago...just waiting for it to arrive. Was wondering if anyone got theirs already and if they like it.
     
  2. garrett

    garrett knows just enough to be dangerous

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    Preordered Nov 4th. Still waiting. Reached out to them the other day and they told me March or April for delivery. Impatiently waiting. Looks like a great product for practice and playing at home.
     
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  3. alphasports

    alphasports New Member

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    Ordered mine a couple weeks ago, PG also told me late March-April, looking forward to it looks pretty cool.
     
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  4. jdag

    jdag New Member

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    I rec'd mine several weeks ago. I am pretty happy with it. I wrote a fairly long post over on TGP about it, and I've copied it below. Since I wrote that on 2/11 I would add a few things:

    1) The streaming audio volume is low. Too low in my opinion. I've also made a separate post over on TGP about that. Long story short, with streaming audio volume at full, the guitar volume output on the amp has to be set to roughly 20%. I realize there are many variables to volume, but that should give you an idea of how low the max streaming volume is.

    2) I have sold the THR10ii. While there were a few things I preferred over the Spark, the sound of the Spark is superior IMO.

    3) The interface capabilities of the THR10ii (and original THR10) were far superior to the Spark. From what I can tell, and I am certainly no expert, you can only record using the Spark tones. You cannot use the Spark as if it were a stand alone interface.

    4) I am sure it is purposeful on Positive Grid's part. But the amp is a typical modeling amp. There is nothing special or tricky about it compared to the THR, Katana, etc. I think many people believe that it is the amp that allows for the smart jam features. But in reality, that is really a function of the app, which is free. And then the audio goes over the the Spark via bluetooth. So if you are keen on those jamming features, grab the app and try it with your own amp. Aside from seeing the Spark amps/effects when you open the app, you should be able to use it. (Heck, I just made a "jam" by humming into my iPhone while my amp is downstairs and powered off.)

    Thanks, John

    ---------------------

    From TGP 2/11:

    I received my Spark yesterday (early day 1 order, probably within 30 min of the preorders going live, my order number was 317). I thought I would provide some initial reactions as an educated consumer.

    I would not consider this a review of sound quality, and I am not going to demonstrate me playing (you are all welcome). I am not a very good guitarist, and I am not good at dialing in tones, so it would not be a fair review.

    What I will do is provide my initial impressions as well as comparative thoughts against the Yamaha THR10ii, which I know many people would compare to the Spark. I owned the original THR10 in the past, and bought the THR10ii while awaiting the Spark delivery with the thought of eventually keeping 1 of them.

    Disclaimer: It is brand new, and I certainly don’t know all of the ins-and-outs, so I am sure people will find some inaccuracies!

    On the positive side:
    1. It is beautiful. Seriously a nice piece of equipment. It is built really well and if you simply looked and touched it you would not be surprised if you were told it was $500+. All of the knobs/switches are top notch and feel very substantial. Really, both the Spark and THR are well built, but overall on the form/quality the Spark is an easy A+ (maybe the THR is an A).
    2. It comes with a USB cable but not an Aux cable (the original THR10 had both, the new THR10ii had neither) as as well as the power brick. I am in the US, so only received the US-type plug as expected.
    3. The app is beautiful looking and super-easy to navigate. It is head-and-shoulders better than the THR app visually, and the Spark has much more configurability than the Yamaha. Changing presets is easier, the number of models/effects is greater, and Spark has built-in jamming tools that don’t exist with the Yamaha. The 1 thing Yamaha has that Spark does not is the capability to change cabs (at least to my early knowledge).
    4. Did I mention it is beautiful? (While I do like the appearance of the THR, I think the Spark looks even nicer.)
    5. It sounds very good, full and rich. I don’t want to say great, because as mentioned I am not good at dialing in tones, and my playing is even worse! But the presets are significantly better sounding “out of the box” than Yamaha’s presets. Also, the output level of each preset is much more consistent than Yamaha’s levels (which has been a complaint on the Yamaha thread). Changing presents in the Spark does not cause sudden volume spikes, at least in the ones I’ve used so far. With the Yamaha, some are soft, others are very loud. Of course, you can edit, but this is just early impression stuff.
    6. It actually pushes air. I had it sitting very close to me for a while yesterday and noticed it pumping air onto my hand as I played.
    7. It is bigger/heavier than the THR, and sounds like a larger and more powerful unit. It is definitely louder, and cleaner when turned up. I’ve not yet really cranked it up, but you won’t be disappointed with volume.
    8. The interaction between the amp and controller (I use an iPhone X) is solid. Switching presets is quick. There is a very slight pause, but it does change presets faster than the THR.

    Now, some of the shortcomings:
    1. I am finding that I have to connect the app and the Spark every time I power on. I’ve not yet determined if this is by design, a bug, or even mandatory in the way Apple apps work. I’ve not used Spark with an Android device yet. To be fair, the THR has similar connectivity requirements. This could also very well be user error. Plus, in experimenting, I’ve been in-and-out of apps, connecting back-and-forth between Spark and THR, etc.
    2. I have had a few app disconnections and have also had to power cycle the Spark a couple of times. It seemed to have frozen up, but it could have been user error again.
    3. Having only iPhone/Android apps is a pretty substantial downside in my opinion. The THR offers the phone/tablet apps as well as Mac/PC apps. I generally use the Mac app and find it a much better experience. My wife has an iPad and I’ve used the iPad app with the THR, but have yet to try the Spark via iPad, I am sure it will be better than the phone app (easier own the eyes, easier to adjust).
    4. I can’t stand the tiny headphone volume knob. Yes, small detail, but it is really tiny and when you have cables plugged in, not the easiest to use.
    5. While on the topic of size, I hate the small 1/8” headphone jack. The new THR also has an 1/8” jack, and I very very very very much preferred the 1/4” jack on the original THR.
    6. I only used the tuner 2x, but it seemed to be laggy and not overly responsive. Could have been user error, but getting in and out of the tuner caused me to have to reboot the amp on 1 occasion.
    7. Finally, here’s what might be my biggest problem with the Spark because I enjoy experimenting with 3rd party amp sims such as Scuffham S-Gear and Helix Native. I have yet to figure out how, or if, I can use Spark as an interface. Don’t get me wrong, I am able to connect it to my Mac and get sounds and I am able to record using Garageband. However, it does not seem to function as a plug-and-play interface like the THR does, and the sounds I do get are very very noisy. I will say that this is very likely my fault in not knowing what to do, but the THR has definitely been a better experience relative to being an interface. When I plug in the THR I see a 2in/2out device in the Mac Audio App. When doing the same with Spark I see 2 separate devices, one being 1in and the other being 2out.

    I am sure there is more, both positive and negative, but this should keep all of you busy for a while!

    People will pick apart different amps, and likely compare Spark to the THR, Katana, Katana Air, Vox Adio, and others. At $300, this is a seriously strong competitor. You really can’t go wrong. If you are an early-bird and paid less, all the better!

    Oh, did I mention it is beautiful?
     
  5. Chris Crumpton

    Chris Crumpton Guitars and Gear addict

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    from everything I’ve read related to the fractal FM3 delays to the spark delays it all comes down to a world wide capacitor shortage. Basically Apple and Sony more than doubled their usual order which wiped out stocks of the necessary components to mass produce those units. Positive grid didn’t plan on the spark being such a big hit either. They make amazing products but haven’t made a huge splash on the market with unit sales so this sudden influx of customers is beyond their wildest projections. I beta tested spark and it’s an amazing product. First and foremost I’ve noticed a lot of incorrect assumptions about the product altogether. It’s not an amp so much as a platform. It’s not your typical take out jamming tool unless you’rea busker although I’d tie creative enough you could. Think of the spark as a realLy good and high wattage Bluetooth speaker. The amp is not the selling point. What it can do is the selling point I think a ton of people have missed. You’re basically getting a fractal/helix/Kemper type platform that’s geared towards writing and learning. The app is really something that’s coupled with it. In fact I’m more than sure you already have access to the app now to go ahead and see what tie getting in terms of features. It’s based on their bias fx vst program/app which is utterly amazing. For the longest time when I travel all I take is my iPad and run bias fx and it’s like I have all of my studio gear right there with me. if you’re buying this thinking you’re getting a traditional guitar amp then you be unhappy with it but I doubt it. The amp is just basically to amplify the app and store presets locally. It’s one hell of a deal at that price point. I’ve been a long time positive grid supporter since Jam up came out. Their modeling platform is very powerful and very accurate and also a great deal for the price. To all of you waiting just know you’re not the only ones and sadly this is very normal right now. I’ve been waiting on my fractal FM3 for six months now. It’s just sadly nature of the beast nowadays with these products becoming way more sought after. I hope it serves as a wonderful practice tool for all of you because it was wonderful testing it last year. If I had any clue that this is what they intended it for I would have begged to invest in it. If you do end up loving the spark then definitely check out the bias head. Every amp ever made in one head as well as the ability to design your own amp.
    sorry if there’s any bad typos the autocorrect on my phone really sucks
     
  6. jdag

    jdag New Member

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    UPDATE: Higher volume achieved

    I did some experimenting tonight. I was able to get the volume of streaming audio much louder when NOT streaming via the Spark app.

    By sending bluetooth audio via my iPhone (same phone I’ve used the Spark app on) using the native Apple Music app there was a significant difference. Further, I was also able to get much higher volumes streaming from my Mac.

    So it seems that there is an issue with the app, not the hardware.
     
  7. rammer69

    rammer69 New Member

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    sorry to ask this , * maybe I missed it , but is this the Spark 40 you are talking about ? TIA
     
  8. jdag

    jdag New Member

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    Correct, the Positive Grid Spark 40 amp.

    Since these posts, I have heard of others with similar issues in streaming volume from within the Spark app. So it will be something I would think PG will address at some point.
     
  9. rammer69

    rammer69 New Member

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    ok , thanks
     

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