True issues with the Spark

  • @zahir32 Thanks again. I'll take a look.

  • Ok, so I'm still testing the Spark, and I just discovered another issue. :-(
    Went to the "music" tab, chose a backing track (David Gilmour "On an Island" from "Live in Gdansk"), and... I just COULDN'T make it play through the Spark. Total silence. Even tried disassociating the Spark from bluetooth and then associating it again from the scratch... Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Checked the phone (Android) bluetooth connection used Spark as the output... Yes, it did. But NO WAY to get that output sound, even with the "music volume" tiny knob set to max. :-(

    That said. I recorded a track in which I test the tone I prepared yesterday. TO ME, it doesn't sound very balanced... Sounds a little screechy, or else there's a clearly lower volume on the higher notes (which doesn't happen playing through the ZOOM G5n nor the Digitech RP-355). :-(

    Also, I tried the USB recording, and:

    • can't get a stereo track
    • same "screechy" sound I already wrote about, possibly due to me not yet managing well the parameters of the effects
    • can't get Audacity to record it, while Garage Band does, but only mono.

    Hope I'll get my arms around these thigs ASAP.

  • I’d like to know if my hum issue is different than what others are experiencing. When not using the app the amp is quiet. When using the app the noise gate must be activated or I’ll get a loud hum. Is that common ? Also when I turn the reverb off on the amp I can’t get a dry sound. There is still a slight reverb effect.
    Another problem is getting good sound if I have the amp set to the anything other than clean. There is no sustain. The notes just sorta drop, and I’ve had issues with the sound cutting out like there’s a short somewhere.
    The amp used as a Bluetooth speaker sounds good but I’m surprised none of the tone controls function. Is that common for Bluetooth speakers?
    Lastly, how do I check my firmware and update it if needed?
    Must the Spark be connected to a computer ?
    Thanks a lot

  • I ordered the DTK power supply. We will see if this solves my hum problem with a grounded plug. I use Bias FX 2 through monitor speakers , which are grounded, and my iPad. There is no hum. So i am thinking that this grounded power supply might do the trick with the Spark amp. Yes, Positive Grid should fix this problem. They are remiss in not responding.

  • @drbaroni

    Excellent Idea. I think that threads of this nature need to be moderated so that one post at the top of the thread is constantly updated with new issues. Takes some time and effort and a commitment. It's already becoming difficult to read though all of the posts within the thread to sort out new or common problems. As there does not seem to be a forum moderator (an issue I've been thinking about trying to raise with PG) we really don't have anyone who can pin and update such a post. I increasingly wonder if PG staff is moderating or even monitoring this forum. I've certainly not seen any evidence of their presence. Has anyone seen a moderator on the Spark forum?

  • Just received my Spark today. Although I have the World's Worst Wiring in my old shack, I have zero hum/noise problems, other than the noise I'd expect with any high-gain amp emulation.

    Hardware: The tiny playback volume control is over-sensitive IMHO and gets loud far too quickly. Also too small in dia IMHO..

    The problem I'm having is with the App. After choosing a Smart Jam and setting it how I want, after going to another screen, say amp settings, sometimes I cannot get BACK to the smart jam screen that shows chords and allows tempo/transpose settings. Tap the Quick Jam-<genre> line and nothing happens. The intended action is to return to the chords/settings page.

    Also too easy to unintentionally EXIT the app.

    Ideas for Upgrades:
    Allow the app to run in landscape mode so you can see more on the amp-pedal chain without scrolling.

    Allow the transpose function to allow choosing a KEY rather than an OFFSET...

    That's it so far... Only had it 4 hours.. Other productivity down the drain for now...

  • @drbaroni overall the amp is pretty good so far. however these are my observations.

    1. the app locks up sometimes when I am in the play along section of Youtube. so bad that I have to reboot!
    2. when I strum very lightly so to get a quiet clean sound from the amp, I get a broken up crackly sound. not smooth at all.
    3. the app appears to be very sluggish when selecting amps or affects, or for that matter any feature. not sure if this is a android issue or the app? anyone else see this?
    4. not sure if this is normal or not, but sometimes when I launch the app it wants to do a "connect hardware" (big red button) to the amp again. even though it is already paired, and I know its connected via bluetooth because I hear my tablet's notification "click" when the app opens over the Spark speakers. I would think the software would detect this and just reconnect! instead it asks my permission to do so. not sure if i should do the "skip" or the connect hardware.

  • @rexlarsenphoto i got my amp about 2 weeks ago. I have had NO hum at all from mine. do you have a good grounding in your home?
    I do however have the issue with the sound cutting out when i pluck real lightly. like if I am trying to play quite soft. it just kind of crackles. and cuts in and out. only when I hit the stings hard do I get the full frequency sound.

  • @davidscott95 I haven't experienced any issues with the app "locking up" but I did note that it seems to "Skip" occasionally, for lack of a better description. It just drops a note here and there like vinyl does when it's scratched or rather cuts out for a second like the bluetooth is momentarily lost. I am running the app on a cheap tablet with Android 9.0 PIE and it seems to run smoothly other than occasional "skip" as described. The app asks to connect hardware every time, although the guitar plays fine through the amp with or without the application turned on. I just thought that was to allow you to decide if you wanted to use the app features while you were playing. Didn't really give it much thought at all.

  • @gsgmusicman said in True issues with the Spark:

    Hardware: The tiny playback volume control is over-sensitive IMHO and gets loud far too quickly. Also too small in dia IMHO..

    One person in the Spark Amp Owners Club at Facebook solved the problem of the small knob for the Music Volume by purchasing an amp replacement knob that is held in place by a small screw and attaching that to the Music Volume knob. I'm thinking of doing the same. On my Spark (arrived this past Tuesday) I don't find the Music Volume knob to be overly sensitive -- I wonder if that might have something to do with the Android app. I'm using an iOS device and haven't experienced the app problems you have.

  • I have another solution to offer.
    My music button is all the way up, ever.
    I play the backing tracks via Anytune. There I can change the pitch for each song and make the BT louder or quieter, just as I like it. The program remembers these settings for each song.
    So I never have to turn the music button.
    The iPad volume is at full, minus click twice, for at home.
    The output button on the amp needs only two positions, 2 o 'clock for the real quiet amps and for all other presets 10 o' clock. All other knobs on the amp i don't need.
    The volume of the BT is adjusted for each song individually and only once in Anytune.
    Select preset, select backing track and press start, nothing else.

  • @davidscott95
    The brocken/cracking/cutting sound when strumming very lightly is probably due to the Noise Gate (always first effect in the chain). I disabled it in ALL AND EVERY tone I use, and as my guitars have active EMG pickup (totally noiseless) that doesn't give me any problem. Anyway, try tweaking the noise gate a bit, especially turnong the threshold knob all the way to the left or close. :-)
    I use the app on my Huawei P20 phone, and it doesn't seem to be that sluggish... Not that I would call it "user-friendly" though. :-D
    About number 4, yes, it's totally normal, because there are TWO bluetooth pairings, one for the app and a different one for the audio (they're called respectively "Spark 40 BLE" and "Spark 40 Audio"). You must pair BOTH of them to use the app AND enjoy the spark as a bluetooth speaker... ;-)
    So yes, everytime you launch the app it will look for the amp and ask "Connect hardware" wit that big red button. :-)
    What the amp does detect and recognize, and automatically connect to, is the OTHER BT pairing.
    Hope this helps. :-)

  • @r_koby I just received one of the DTK power supplies from Amazon as well. I tested the output of it prior to using it with my Spark and I think I'll be sending the DTK one back. The power supply that shipped with the Spark delivers 19.4V under a no-load condition. The DTK one I received delivers a full 1.1V more than the stock power supply under a no-load condition (20.5V). Being that the DTK power supply is rated to be able to deliver more current than the stock power supply it is less likely for the voltage to sag when powering the Spark from it and, depending on the tolerances designed into the power circuit of the Spark that extra 1.1V may or may not cause damage (either short or long-term).

    Most of the time these kinds of things are designed with a +- 5% tolerance, but I'm thinking it is not worth the risk to use the one I received.

    I hope everyone is testing the output from the aftermarket power supplies being used with their Spark to be sure it is actually within spec. The product labels for output voltage can't always be trusted on these aftermarket supplies.

  • @radu7 I tested my DTK power supply with the amp and it works just fine. I just tested it with a meter and it's putting out 19V.

  • @dhbailey Thanks! I actually just sent back a DTK, unfortunately as it was putting out 20.5V and was a bit leery of using it. Looks like I just got one that was out-of-spec so perhaps I'll try another one and have better luck.

  • @radu7 I got my DTK supply and plugged it in. Hum totally gone. Same Voltage rating. More amps but my understanding is that the Spark will only pull the amps that it needs.

    "A higher voltage than a device is designed for will most likely blow up some components, but amperage is derived from how much current is actually drawn, based on the device's resistance, so having “too much” is not a problem and will do no harm."

    So the voltage spec on the DTK is the same as that shipped with the SPARK. There is probably just as much chance that the power supply that shipped with the Spark is putting out the wrong voltage as the voltage rating on the DTK. They are both made in China. I will take my chances. The hum was intolerable.

    Fact is that PG should have shipped the unit with a grounded power supply. That might have added $5 to the price. I mean really?

  • @r_koby Thank you and I (and I'm sure all others with this issue) share your sentiment on PG's choice of power supply that was shipped with the Spark.

    My issue with the DTK power supply I received wasn't related to the amperage rating of the power supply, but that it was delivering 20.5V DC. The supply that was shipped with my Spark outputs 19.4V DC at no-load. A generally accepted power supply tolerance is +-5%. The DTK supply I received had a variation of nearly +8% so back it goes. Also, I don't know what tolerances the power input section of the Spark was designed to, but I've decided not to find out if an extra 1.5V will harm it or shorten its life in the long term.

  • @radu7 Did you also test the voltage of the power supply that came with the spark? The DTK i got is rated at 19V. As i said, if it was pumping out a lot more voltage there would be a lot of burnt out laptops. That does not seem to be the case. An amp that hums a tune on it's own is a major irritation to me and if the amp burns up with this new power supply - so be it but so far it seems to be just fine.

  • @r_koby I did. As mentioned above the power supply that came with my Spark has an output of 19.4V (19.38V to be exact so right at +2% over spec) which is 1.1V less than the DTK power supply I received.

    Your DTK is probably fine and I just got one that was a bit off. @dhbailey responded above as well and tested their DTK supply and found it was putting out 19V so no issues with theirs either.

    The hum I have with mine is bearable since it only creeps in with very high gain amp models and I use a wireless setup when I play mostly anyway which totally eliminates the issue. I also have found that a ground wire slipped under the on/off switch and connected to the outlet ground totally eliminates the hum as well when not using wireless.

    I doubt any ill effects will befall your amp (I sure hope not) with your new power supply and I'm glad to hear that you've got your noise issue sorted as well. I have a feeling you were one of the ones suffering a much more severe occurrence of the issue.

  • Well, I discovered I had another power supply on hand already that worked perfectly! It's actually the power supply for this little guy:

    It's got a 5.5x2.5mm connector so the fit is a bit loose in the Spark, but the voltage output on it is the same as the power supply that shipped with my Spark per my meter.

    I powered the Spark up with it and it's dead silent now. If anyone is interested it is a Delta Electronics model 'ADP-90MD H' 19V/4.74A supply. I wouldn't say it's worth hunting this particular one down or anything, just putting this out there as an FYI. I'm familiar with the Delta brand though as they are a huge OEM for server power supplies for the likes of Dell, HP, etc...

    Also, someone on another thread was asking about this model power supply:

    I happened to have this same power supply on hand and I can confirm that even though it has a three-prong connector it does not resolve the hum/noise issue. It performs the same as the stock power supply with regards to noise levels in my case.