Mixed reviews



  • I'm puzzled by the mixed Spark reviews. Award at NAMM, rave reviews from YouTube personalities. But there are published comments about noise, muddy tones, a sketchy power cord, app issues.
    Positive Grid may not have customer service skills but are the Spark tones and technology solid ?



  • @rexlarsenphoto said in Mixed reviews:

    I'm puzzled by the mixed Spark reviews. Award at NAMM, rave reviews from YouTube personalities. But there are published comments about noise, muddy tones, a sketchy power cord, app issues.
    Positive Grid may not have customer service skills but are the Spark tones and technology solid ?

    Just my opinion... And as such, worth the usual 2 cents :-)
    Reviews depend on a number of factors.
    Personal taste, relationship with the Company, being actually INDEPENDENT or being paid in any way to give a good review, and so on.
    I unboxed mine yesterday, and I'm testing it. EVERYTHING that follows reflects my personal taste. :-)
    It sounds good, especially as "clean". I love reverbs, modulations and delays. I don't like much the crunch tones and distortions I tried 'til now, but it can be (and likely IS) me. The app seems more or less ok on Android, although it loses connections every once in a while. ToneCloud works well, for my taste it definitely lacks a "normalization" of the levels: the tones by "spark" are at an homogeneous volume, the ones from the users are often AWFULLY LOUD, even if they are "clean" tones. It will force me to adjust the level "on the saved tone"...
    The "Jam with me" feature doesn't seem to be THAT good, especially on low beat rates. But it may work somehow, anyway.
    Same with "Chords", at least when I try to use the "Jam" feature and play a quick chord progression (BTW, why just 8 measures? Beats me...) it tends to be right about 50% of the times.
    Firmware updater just doesn't seem to work on mac OSX Catalina. Can't believe it takes an hour to find the hardware, so I believe it just doesn't. Already opened a ticket with Support... Hoping they answer AND can fix it.
    I also miss an "external effect loop" somehow, and the possibility to use a pedalboard and/or a pedal volume. And I wonder where am I supposed to connect pedals I use like WhammyPedal, WhaWha, everything that requires pedals (and maybe isn't "right" at the beginning of the chain).
    Oh, and I miss a LOOPER. A lot. With all the tones that you can use with this thing, it's a pity you can't just RECORD a base with drums, bass, chords, some overdubs, each one with its own sound. And I can't get where could I connect a loop pedal either: it must be at the END of the chain, right before the amp, but... :-)
    Ok, you can't have everything, I know. And this is a "practice amp". I think it can be a precious resource for RECORDING (BTW, didn't check the recording software yet, I still use GarageBand... It seems nice though), as that way you can have all the layers and overdubs you need. For improvising, well... Let's see how it works when familiarized with. ;-)
    My two cents.

    There's a lot to try yet. Hopefully it will work even better after a firmware update.



  • @drbaroni Thank you for sharing your first impressions of the Spark Amp with us -- it's very valuable to have actual user experiences reported.



  • @dhbailey said in Mixed reviews:

    @drbaroni Thank you for sharing your first impressions of the Spark Amp with us -- it's very valuable to have actual user experiences reported.

    Thank you... And here is a first update. :-)
    FImware update STILL not working. It seems to not see the amp via USB, so I thought it was the USB somehow. But it isn't: I'm listening to some music from my computer through the Spark, via USB, and it works perfectly and is correctly identified among the USB audio choices. So it must be an issue of the updater.
    Music from the computer, via USB, sounds very well.
    Unfortunately my jack just broke and I have no wielder here at home. Just ordered a pair of new jacks from Amazon so that I hopefully won't have the same problem again.



  • @drbaroni Thanks for taking the time to write a detailed review. The favorable YouTube reviews seem sincere. I doubt they are paid other than a possible free $200 Spark. But reviewers should always disclose their relationship with PG, and failing to mention problems with delivery and customer service is inexcusable.
    As I have written before, Positive Grid can make up for their poor customer service by getting the technology right. I predict the roll out of Spark version ll will be kinda' nuts.



  • @rexlarsenphoto said in Mixed reviews:

    @drbaroni Thanks for taking the time to write a detailed review. The favorable YouTube reviews seem sincere. I doubt they are paid other than a possible free $200 Spark. But reviewers should always disclose their relationship with PG, and failing to mention problems with delivery and customer service is inexcusable.
    As I have written before, Positive Grid can make up for their poor customer service by getting the technology right. I predict the roll out of Spark version ll will be kinda' nuts.

    You're welcome. :-)
    Got a new jack today (mine broke two days ago) and I'm checking it on the amp. One of these days I'll make a "face-to-face" with my other amp (a Hughes & Kettner 30-R Edition Blue) to see how it fares in comparison. I'm sure the H&G will sound "drier" and "flatter" eq-wise, which is NOT a defect for me. But the Spark sounds maybe a bit better at very low volume, while I'm pretty sure the H&K would sound better at high volume. :-)
    Based on my personal taste, of course! :-)
    Sure enough, the Spark has a surprising good dynamic response. It's perfect as a practice amp, which is what it's been built for. I still miss the possibility to connect external pedals though, as I tend to use looper, wha, whammy and volume. And also the possibility to use an external pedalboard to manage at least the change between presets...

    I'll do a test of direct recording (using the headphone plug straight into a TASCAM DR-7) and compare the result with my other two pedalboard (Digitech RP-355 and ZOOM G5n). And of course a USB direct recording, as soon as the firmware update issue wll be solved (still not working, BTW). You'll have to be patient. :-D
    Also, I'm not a good player, so please forgive me IF I'll post any sound files to show the differences... :-D
    I usually record a simple chord progression on my pedalboard looper and then improvise on that... It's sort of a "self-therapy" for me, it allows me to "throw out" my feelings somehow (oh, why, WHY didn't I STUDY music somewhen in my life? And why didn't I discipline my practice? These things would be so useful, now... :-( ), even if my skills are so low. Anyway, I'll do my best to offer an understandable comparison and review. :-)



  • I have done a number of reviews/demos of the Spark shortly after receiving mine at the end of May. I have no affiliation with PG and preordered my amp last Nov.
    Have a look if interested as I did these reviews as honestly as possible.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUEA8tXe4PMIE_JILWwr1_g



  • @jstewart No thanks.



  • @jstewart said in Mixed reviews:

    I have done a number of reviews/demos of the Spark shortly after receiving mine at the end of May. I have no affiliation with PG and preordered my amp last Nov.
    Have a look if interested as I did these reviews as honestly as possible.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUEA8tXe4PMIE_JILWwr1_g

    I'm watching your reviews... Currently I'm in the midst of the one about the firmware updates, which is something I'm trying to fix as the updater doesn't work for me. After seeing that video I'm wondering whether or not perform that update. Hmmmm. :-)
    My Spark arrived few days ago, and works well enough. I wonder what firmware it currently has. :-D



  • @drbaroni
    You can check the firmware via the app. With your amp connected, click the 3 dots on the left top. Drop down will list it.



  • @jstewart said in Mixed reviews:

    @drbaroni
    You can check the firmware via the app. With your amp connected, click the 3 dots on the left top. Drop down will list it.

    Thank you! Didn't know that :) .
    Anyway, I'll have to wait 'til the next updater, as it doesn't "see" my Spark. And as the amp works well for me, maybe it's better that it doesn't :D .



  • @jstewart
    Good videos, i like them!



  • @jstewart said in Mixed reviews:

    @drbaroni
    You can check the firmware via the app. With your amp connected, click the 3 dots on the left top. Drop down will list it.

    Ok. The firmware is NOT the latest and is instead 1.0.2.253, and maybe I'll let it so until a new firmware AND updater is released.
    I tried to record through the headphone plug. No way. Headphones work well, but when I plug the stereo mini-jack into the TASCAM DR-7 the only thing I get is that kind of sound you have when you take your jack between your WET fingers while the amp it's plugged in is set at high volume. The VU-meters were off scale even with recording level at 0. I thought it could be the jack, so I plugged it into my ZOOM G5n on one side and into the TASCAM DR-7 on the other, and it works a beauty. So it's something in the Spark. And anyway I tried with three different mini-jack cables... Same results with all of them. :-(

    I tried some tones from ToneCloud. Most of them I just don't like. AND people seem to have a weird (IMHO) idea of what a "clean" tone is... Some of those "clean" tones are as distorted as it gets :-D .
    Anyway, some of the "clean" tones I tried were good enough, although absurdly loud. :-D
    The distortion tones that I tried (a number of David Gilmour-inspired tones, but not only) weren't anywhere close to good, IMHO. :D

    Also tried what I think is the true "nature" of the Spark: the "Music" part. THAT seems good, although I'm not sure of how to use it best.
    Tomorrow I will try it "as a simple standard amp", playing through my pedalboard into the amp. This way I won't be able to use the tones of the amp, but 'til now I like the tones from the pedalboard more. :-)
    Hopefully, next week I'll try also the USB direct recording feature (and the PreSonus software... Or maybe I'll start from GarageBand, which I know a tad better. :-)

    Have a nice weekend, and see you when I'll have some new feature tested.



  • @de_cunny
    Thanks!



  • @drbaroni I'm not an advanced player and I'm curious about the frequent request to use pedals with the Spark. It's promoted to feature over 10,000 tones and connection to a Tone Cloud. The app features a bunch of simulated pedals. I'm sure there are a few exceptions like an equalizer and wah wah etc. Lets all keep in mind its a $200 product.



  • @rexlarsenphoto said in Mixed reviews:

    @drbaroni I'm not an advanced player and I'm curious about the frequent request to use pedals with the Spark. It's promoted to feature over 10,000 tones and connection to a Tone Cloud. The app features a bunch of simulated pedals. I'm sure there are a few exceptions like an equalizer and wah wah etc. Lets all keep in mind its a $200 product.

    Yep, there are thousands of tones in the ToneCloud. And please, at least in my case, consider that I'm no advanced player either, and I'm just exploring this new thing. I sometimes use pedals that require a phisical pedal to control them, like a whammy or a wha-wha, hence the "request". But those I could put in my chain BEFORE the amp. What I really miss is a looper, which should be at the END of the chain and is impossible to use with the Spark :-) .
    Maybe, once I'll understand better the "Jam with me" feature, I'll not miss the looper anymore, but 'til now I do. Probably I'll have to learn to improvise on just bass and drums... For now I miss the chords :-D .
    You could say "Use a software like GarageBand or PreSonus or CUBase or whatever", but I don't "compose" songs, I play to myself as a form of self-therapy, I like to record a simple chord progression over a drum machine and play over it 'til I'm done with the feeling :-D and record the jam on my little TASCAM DR-7, which as I wrote doesn't seem to work with the Spark either. I'm aware it's NOT the typical use of such amp, or the typical way people play. So I want to make clear I'm not "complaining" about the impossibility of using other pedals, just pointing it out. And BTW I'll keep my other amp for that... and use the Spark for what it is, a PRACTICE amp. I get that it'll make me learn lots, exactly because it works as it works and that'll be a challenge for me. :-)

    And for a matter of personal taste... I admit I don't like much the tones I checked in the ToneCloud until now. I'm aware it's a matter of personal taste, so I perfectly understand those who ADORE them. I'll probably have to do a lot of work building up MY tones instead, which I hoped I could skip... Although I thought I would end up having to do it. :-D



  • you know, I've heard that phrase "practice amp" been thrown around a lot on this forum, Facebook and on YouTube vids etc
    To me practice means learning something till you get better at it.
    An amp without a dedicated looper and transposer is not a practice amp,especially in 2020 terms.
    One would've thought a company would've incorporated all the best features of the last 20 years into a Bluetooth amp.
    Whether one adds desktop, portable, Bluetooth or wireless to a practice amp as named , it doesn't change the fact its missing a vital feature of the "practice" moniker.
    And before someone jumps in and adds that there's plenty loopers, software and applications to complement the spark, I'll have to add, yes, there are... but people have been complementing their Amps for decades, it's 2020 now, technology is avaliable, let's get it right and have it all on one unit.



  • @drbaroni Shouldn't be a problem putting your wah before the amp. That's where it should go any way.



  • @stinger0625 said in Mixed reviews:

    @drbaroni Shouldn't be a problem putting your wah before the amp. That's where it should go any way.

    Yep, it shouldn't. Didn't try that yet, as "my wah" is in my ZOOM G5n pedalboard that I use as a looper and I have to connect it to the "aux" input plug. But I guess it'll work fine. :-)
    Same for the whammy pedal.
    Again, what I miss most is a serious looper, or the ability to connect a serious looper at the end of the chain. :-)
    But you can't have EVERYTHING, can you? ;-)
    Now that the grounding issue seems on its way to a solution, I'll start testing more features. AND I'll start to build my tones... Yesterday I took the clean preset on he amp, changed the drive, set the parameters as I liked and saved it to the preset 4 on the amp. Smooth and easy. Starting today and through the weekend I'll build my own 4 presets... All clean sounds with a fat drive to be activated on solo parts. :-D
    I'm really a simple person, won't build up a complicated chain. I have the ZOOM for that. ;-)

    IF I could get to replicate a few of the tones I use on the G5n, I'd be more than happy. That'll be my first goal, and then I'll build my own Spark tones.



  • Ok, I got the new power supply unit, and I confirm the humming is gone. :-)
    Now I only have the firmware update issue left. :-)
    And that thing that I must rotate the left knob to get the sound back when it goes away. :-)