Spark Control - Laser LED blinding and, how to fix skipping audio when using
To Spark team: uggh i know you guys luuuuuv blinking LEDs over there, but this laser-bright blue LED on spark control letting me know its "connected" is too much. heres an idea for ya - if it doesnt work its not connected. or if you really have to make sure those LEDs get their moneys worth, make it blink when its NOT connected. i really dont care to get shot in the eye with blinding blue light everytime i look at this thing. USERS LIKE ME SHOULD NOT BE BUSTING OUT THE ELECTRICAL TAPE TO COVER UP THESE DUMB LEDs on brand new $100+ products!
To USERs: if like many folks you noticed that the youtube audio is all choppy and skips when using the Spark Control, i stumbled on a fix. If you go to try to upgrade the Spark Control firmware it will guide you to download the AirTurn Manager app from the app store. Connect the Spark Control to AirTurn, then go to Advanced then set Connection Speed to Low Power Mode. Then Save. The footswitches are still fast but it solves the audio dropout that can occur with the default Fast Response setting.
To Spark team (again):
that default Airturn setting clearly is an oversight by your QA. ive got a modern phone that supports multiple bluetooth streams, so the bottleneck has to be the spark amp itself. the spark control shouldnt come with the fast setting, the amp doesnt work well with it.
and you need to offer firmware upgrades to get rid of all of the blinking LEDs. users are not dumb they dont need to be blinded, strobed, or just plain irritated to know their footswitch isnt connected or about the delay tempo. guitar players have managed being aware of delay tempos and connection issues long before anything digital came along. its not a smoke alarm with a low battery - there is no justification in irritating users for the sake of their "awareness", the house will not burn down if we have to look at a knob or do our own dang connection setting. other pedals dont blink when a cables not connected because its not the kind of thing anyone needs to be constantly informed of... and all delay units that blink their rate are dumb.
finally even tho i personally dont care other users are disappointed that a) footswitch requires the app be open and b) doesnt make up in the slightest by allowing it to AT LEAST work with backgrounding the app to do other things... you should fix ALL of this. you owe users more development and firmware upgrades to support:
- user setting if they want LEDs flashing constantly or not in normal steady state operation
- DIRECT connection of footswitch to amp without requiring the app
- backgrounding of app and still maintaning connectivity and audio
- shipping new models with proper firmware settings.
good news is you dont have to admit to anything if you just act fast and improve the products - the Spark Control firmware, the Spark Amp firmware, AND the Spark App, quickly, people have short memories.
they also have long ones when unsatisfied... as much as i like my spark amp for "what it is", i wont be buying more from positive grid if as an early adopter you take for-freakin-ever to make our purchases right.
ncnoman last edited by
well i guess this LED was actually airturns idea but still if its a rebranded product Spark should at least make sure its brand listens to its customers and is not at the mercy of another supplier
ncnoman last edited by
and actually im not even sure the bluetooth speed workaround even worked, it stopped working!
cant believe the footswitch requires the app, and the main reason to use the app - jam tracks - doesnt even work right
its also a bit disappointing that even tho this is nothing more than a rebranded Airturn BT200S-4 pedal, and relies on Airturn for firmware, design etc, Spark team has enough control of the firmware to ensure this product doesnt work with the hundreds of apps that work with the standard BT200. Ironically enough, i found this out by testing it with another Airturn-enabled Positive Grid product i own - JamUp Pro XT app.
i hope whatever control they have exercised to brand this as Spark, but lock it down from Airturn full compatibility- they will exercise in making it a better product.
its sad to see posts like this from before the Spark Control. https://forum.positivegrid.com/topic/3866/bt-4-to-control-spark-amp-spark-app
makes me think they saw that, said "oooh thats a great idea, we'll buy those, put our name on them, make the money ourselves, ensure no one gets any of the advertised benefits of either the spark product or the airturn product, and make a killing!"
lie - "Spark Control goes beyond traditional foot controllers with an expanding library of innovative features and functions."
truth - Spark Control is another product that has existed for years that works with 100s of other apps. You'll pay just as much for this as the Airturn, but it will only work with Spark, if it works at all. And, there is no evidence of any expanding features; since its actually a rebranded locked down 3rd party product its highly unlikely PG has any ability to expand its features. Due to dependency on the app and third party hardware and firmware, any expansions will be in the app only and PG will have limited ability to even ensure the hardware stays compatible in any respect over the long term beyond our licensing deal that we didnt disclose to you."
lie - "Spark Control comes with 4 officially pre-programmed customizable scenarios that assign a combination of popular functions to each footswitch. Plus, save your favorite functions to 4 more of your own scenarios for easy access whenever you want to play.
Current functions include these, with more on the way!"
truth - "these are all features in the app that merely extend the scenarios feature developed by Airturn. any updates to more functions will be updates you would have already been gauranteed owning a Spark Amp. theres no unique value here not possible if we would have otherwise not rebranded this and just been honest and allowed you to use the same third party product we just sold you."
lie - "Spark Control is the only pedal compatible with future Spark firmware & app updates."
truth - "Spark Control is a rebranded 3rd party product that is supported by our other app JamupXT. We could have made Spark app compatible and told users to use the BT200 as the officially supported pedal, and not misled you into thinking that this product had some unique feature only PG could deliver. Actually all we did was use software to guarantee you bought something from us, and we did so through deceptive marketing."
lie - "Seamlessly designed for the Spark amp and app, Spark Control is a true plug-and-play, wireless experience. Simply open your Spark app and they will work magically together, so you can play without lifting a finger."
truth - "Designed by another company. Racketed by us, youre welcome. Now you can finally have what you wanted, a product that already existed doing nothing special except allowing it to do what JamXT already does; and we can have what we want, more of your money - win win! Not quite as seamless as we originally said, in fact seems full of seams and stitches and gaps ond oversights... and although you wont lift a finger (its a footswitch dummy!) youll be tapping away in frustration on the PG forums all night rather than enjoying the product you waited for and paid top dollar for. and when we say for the "amp AND app", we mean it. we didnt say "OR the app." its not about giving YOU options, its about US cashing in. youll need the app. which means you'll need your fingers. if you bought the footswitch to finally have your Spark free of your app or fingers, think again. Please note the app nor Spark Control work if you close your phone screen, so grab your chargers and dont forget to touch the app often enough to keep your phone unlocked!"
just for a minute set aside all the negative vitriole, and imagine if apple did this with airpods... that they werent even an apple product, that they ensured no wireless headphones would work with iphones, then when they released their "airpods" they had audio dropouts, they didnt work with anything but iphones even tho they sold you a product that clearly does work with other things and on launch made good on little if any of their claims. and apples got a fairly good reputation for "locking" customers into their platforms - but they do it by genuinely offering value and unique functions only apple, by making both ends of a system, is equipped deliver. the Spark Control is marketed the same way. but its none of the things apple airpods are - genuine apple design and product, it has features truly only possible because of apple producing both the airpods and the thing they pair to, its not a forced sale - they offer a competing product, allow you to choose, show you why theres is better than your other options, and deliver what they said they would, even if slightly hyped up still close enough for most. this is a far cry from that. this is a bait and switch. the benefits of being part of the Positive Grid family? none - its a family built on lies and fake affection. not a less than perfect family built on love and good intentions. this was a scam.
the end. yea im pissed. PG should make this right. if they dont its fine they wont be around any longer than they can find customers to lure in with these tactics. you can change your ways if you want to but you gotta be brave enough to admit that even if your brand can outlive each wave of pissed customers and survive the backlash long enough your business model continues to pay the bills, that its not right. you wanna be like apple - offer an ecosystem of products and value no one else can? then shape up and change your ways.
Got my Spark Contol today. Paired up easily but as soon as I tried jam tracks with the Control active I was straight into the choppy audio. Backing tracks, YouTube,jam tracks: all the same. Very disappointed.
I tried the ncnoman "slow Bluetooth" work around as above and, so far, that is working for me.
When that fails I'll submit a ticket. I shouldn't have to load additional software to make this work.
Disappointed that I can only use it to change hardware tones rather than access any of my presets. Kind of makes it a joke to say I can programme it the way I want to 😟
Unless I'm missing something?
Dan Lawrence last edited by Dan Lawrence
Totally agree. The more I try to use the Spark Control, the more disappointed I get. The inability to “program” additional Presets in User Defined Senarios, and the hokey Mode/Channel Switch on the pedal itself are the latest revelations. And I have an out-of-the-box, fully functional (by Positive Grid standards) Control Pedal “Brick”.
While I love the actual practice amplifier, it seems like the Marketing Team is a lot more successful than the Programming Team.
Shoulda bought the AirStep. I think I’d be no worse off at a lower price… And the Mode/Channel Switch is a true pedal switch.
Totally agree. Compared to the hype about "allows you to use it exactly as you want", I keep thinking I'm missing a whole lot. It's so much more limited that I was led to believe.
I keep trying to find a You Tube tutorial video to show me how to do the things I thought it claimed it could do!
All I really want is the ability to set up 2 of the switches to presets from (say) my blues list (rather than the hardware set) and two switches to start and pause a backing track of my choice. Without choppy audio, without having to download extra software.
Minor issue: why choose centre negative power adaptor for charging? Everything else I have uses centre positive plugs. I have loads of 5v centre positive chargers and now I have buy a different one.
As I have no working computer, I can't use the USB cable supplied. Updating the Spark firmware has been a pain in the arse. Glad the Control can update it's firmware through my phone (despite having to d/l extra software) and only the Spark app needed updating not the amp firmware!
Dan Lawrence last edited by
I think the Spark Control uses the same power configuration (negative center) as standard pedals, and can therefore use a standard foot pedal charging cable. I haven’t had to charge my control yet; however I assume that the Spark Charging Cable is built so that you can plug it into any USB Charger and the cable point-to-point wiring handles the rest.
Good point on the USB charger, I have a few iPhone charger blocks around that I can cannibalise to do the job.
I have a couple of old pedals but haven't used them in years, no idea where their power supplies are - probably lost in a house move 😉