Spark Tones lacking Spark(le)



  • @devpau It would be nice to have a global EQ. For guitar, I can tweak the EQ controls, but when using the Spark as a bluetooth speaker, that's not an option as it only has the "Music Volume" control. I do find it over bassy.



  • One solution comes with a price. The BBE Sonic Stomp pedal, at $99, will take the blanket off the speakers. More brilliance, definition.



  • Not really understanding the complaints about lack of sparkle. With the amp set to "glassy" and the preset "Early Shadows Hank", I can almost perfectly emulate the most definitive strat sounds ever heard. Playing along with "Wonderful Land", "Apache", "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt" etc, my strat sounds just like Hank's did - all sparkle, sheen and vibrato - with that incredible tape delay. And that's through the speakers. Through good headphones, the sparkle and jangle really shine.



  • @zahir32 Good news. Thanks



  • @rexlarsenphoto The preset "Early Shadows Hank" from ToneCloud comes with amp set to AC Boost. Changing just the amp to Black Duo gets me to that clasic sound.



  • Thought it was really muddy in the lower mids when I first unpacked it. It was sitting on a 1x12 combo at knee level, near a corner. I moved it to another location away from the wall, and angled the cabinet toward my ears so I was more on-axis with the drivers. That made a very positive difference in highs and lost the really muddy lows.



  • @83883 Very sensible positioning. That small cabinet likes to sit somewhat in the open. And aiming the speakers at your ears should give edge to the high notes, though, honestly, playing on Fralin pickups, I actually cut my treble tone control to 11 o'clock.



  • @zahir32 An interesting comment, ‘glassy plus a preset.’ Wouldn’t a preset overwrite the amp choice ?
    How can they be combined ? The presets confuse me a little bit, is there a way to have them all off ?



  • @fasthall Were you able to resolve your headphone issue? (“My Spark's speaker sounds good, albeit too much bass, but headphone out sounds really muddy”). I have the same issue. Thx.



  • The Spark definitely needs better equalization options as even with the treble at max, it tends to be very "bass heavy" and a tad muddy in the middle. Ease of switching between presets, such as the utilization of a foot pedal switch would be an awesome addition, along with a speaker out jack. Just some suggestions for improvement in the future.



  • @jscheid55 While we wait for an equalizer that may or may not ever show, I removed the front grill and the speakers and installed something similar to speaker batting (and old pillow that I should have tossed years ago had a poly fill type material). It's tamed the "boomyness" but I think I need to add a little bit more. I covered the back, side and bottom surfaces as experiment but didn't cover the top since that will require some sort of adhesive to keep it up there. But I can say there is a significant improvement. It still doesn't sound as good as when I use headphones, but something cheap and easy to try if you are looking for an easy change that's easily reversible. My basic understanding of the theory behind speaker batting is that the sound waves bounce off the hard surfaces and reflect back on to the speakers which interrupts their movement in a way that causes distortion and by adding that material you reduce the distortion. (I think it also keeps the sound from continuing to bounce around inside the box after the speaker has stopped producing the signal. ie, reducing the 'echo' effect.) I'm all for heavy, clean bass, but the problem that I'm trying to solve is the distorted bass that I'm hearing. Clean heavy bass = good. Distorted bass = bad, at any volume level. An EQ would reduce the bass so you don't hear the distortion, but it would also reduce the good bass sound, so I don't think an EQ is going to be the best solution by itself. it seems like a ton of work has gone into the tones themselves over the years but there wasn't nearly as much work put into the design of the speaker chamber, otherwise we wouldn't be seeing tons of posts about the same thing. There is some awesome sound trapped inside the Spark. The challenge is getting it out without screwing it up.



  • @cbrandst
    what about buying a studio wall tile or two?
    cut them up to size and glue them on the bare inside bits?
    What do you think?



  • @crystalpit It might help but I'm convinced the distortion is coming from the speaker design and the fact that the sound waves are continuing to bounce around inside the box long after they should. I don't think it's a problem after the sound waves leaves the box. I've got other speakers of a similar size in the same room that don't have this issue. I think of it like palm muting where you want to have a sound stop at a given time instead of ringing out. The issue being that the box is basically a small echo chamber. Adding internal sound dampening keeps the sound waves from continuing to bounce around long after they should. So instead of 'booooooooommm', you get a nice, tight, 'boom'.

    You do make a very valid point about sound dampening in the room and I'm sure my small office could benefit from that. But the source (spark amp) needs some TLC in that department for sure.



  • @cbrandst
    I meant inside the amp, like instead of using batting... use a cut to size grey studio tile with all those ribs on it etc



  • @crystalpit Ha, oh yeah, sorry. Misinterpreted that. Yeah, that could work for sure. When I built a sonotube subwoofer years ago, one of the steps was to spray the entire inside surface with that rubber under coating for cars, then on the sonotube you attach the batting material with velcro. But on the end caps the design called for what you mentioned. That very same article is still online after all these years:

    https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_6_3/diy-11-sonotube-subwoofer-september-99.html

    Let me tell you. That sub kicked ass. It could literally rattle the sheet rock against the 2x4s in my house. I would up tearing it apart after several years of use after my wife bought a commercial sub that was half the size and had a built in amp, and wasn't as "ugly". It was VERY clean low frequencies. After having that and hearing how good clean bass could be, I can pick up on distorted bass very quickly. Most of the time, when people get annoyed with too much bass, it's actually the distortion that is bothering them, not the bass itself. Well, except when I cranked up that sub so loud that it vibrated the foundation of my house, but that wasn't the subs fault. :) When it would sweep through frequencies, it would hit the resonant frequency if pictures and other things in the house and I wound up breaking several things that way. Not looking for that here, just some nice, undistorted sound. I'm getting closer each time I tweak it. May write it all up when I get done if I ever get happy with the results.



  • @cbrandst I think the issue is cheap speakers...

    Which is a shame, because the Chinese have started to make some really, really good speakers.

    Some Youtube review of the spark shows the drivers... looks like they're using woofers for this one-way box instead of broadbands...?

    .

    My question is: Are the electronics and capabilities worth buying better speakers for it?



  • @stormchanter I ordered one of these to see how it would work:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00RC3Z9H2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I put it in last week and it works fine, it was just a little bit of a tight fit that required bending the terminals to get the speaker to go in. It did seem like it improved the sound so I have another one being delivered tomorrow. The materials are much better, and the speaker itself is quit a bit heavier, larger magnet, etc. I'm making small improvements over time so it's hard to say how much better it is at this point, but all these little tweaks add up.

    So far I've:

    -Taped the passive port and lost too much bass so I put a hole in the tape so there's about half of the port open instead of it being fully open or fully closed.

    -Replaced one of the speakers with the one above.

    -Installed poly-fill on the back, side and bottom surfaces.

    I can at least use it as a bluetooth speaker now and not be annoyed by the sound. Hopefully, replacing the second speaker will improve things that much more since the original speaker is dragging things down. (I did try disconnecting the original speaker and things seemed cleaner but without the second speaker you loose the other channel of stereo so depending on the music and how it's mixed, that loss can be huge.)

    One last thing... I did notice they are using woofers. I stuck with that design as I didn't want to change that since I've read you don't want to run raw guitar signal into full range speakers. Although this is a modeling amp, so I'm guessing there's no raw signal making it to those drivers. Still, I'd like to keep the original design for now and see if I can get things to an acceptable level. Although those speakers I bought do say they are full range, which seems weird to me. How can you call it a woofer and then say it's full range? (Showing my lack of knowledge.) But yeah, without a proper tweeter, probably never going to get the "sparkle".



  • @devpau and the volume dial is ridiculously poor control, I find. I tried playing today for the first time, didn't hear a thing with headphones, so twisted the volume knob, got deafened. So bad, no firmware going to fix that!



  • @josephsbrown3 Yeah, they need to replace that tiny thing going forward. It's garbage. Starts out at zero and ramps WAY up instead of gradually going up. There is a sweet spot that makes the usable range microscopic. Not sure how that made it into the final product. That and the fact that it's so tiny, which I could live with if it worked like it should. Again, a great product that could be made so much better with some minor tweaks. (Still love it though.)



  • just needs a bigger resistor in line to give it a longer range