Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Review: id America Spark – Striking Meets Powerful
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Review: id America Spark – Striking Meets Powerful

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Despite the in-ear earphone market being more crowded than ever, the Spark, developed by NYC-based accessory manufacturer id America, instantly caught my eye with its sparkplug-derived styling and bold color schemes (more can be seen here). Like the company’s iDevice cases, the Spark holds extra appeal for the gearhead (guilty as charged), but there’s much more to this mid-range headset than meets the eye.
 

 

Packaging & Accessories


id America Spark Packaging.jpg

Outer packaging

 

id America Spark Accessories.jpg

Included accessories

 

id America Spark in Case.jpg

Earphones and carrying case

 

The Spark is packaged in a sturdy gray box, which opens Monster-style, with an outer sleeve and magnetic lid. The oversize packaging wouldn’t be out of place on a much pricier product but it holds a fairly standard set of accessories – 3 sizes of single-flange silicone tips and a tubular carrying case. The tips have a quality feel to them and feature a thicker inner core. The case, while stylish, requires the earphones to be wrapped very tightly and isn’t as easy to pocket as a conventional clamshell.
 

Design & Build Quality

 

id America Spark Closeup 2.jpg

Close-up of earpieces

 

id America Spark hardware.jpg

Plug, y-split, and microphone/remote

 

The two-piece housings are aluminum and feel very well-made. The cabling is of average thickness but resistant to tangling and protected by soft rubber strain reliefs at the y-split and I-plug, as well as on housing entry. A single-button mic/remote unit is located on the left side.
 

Fit & Comfort


The sparkplug-inspired housings are lightweight and can be inserted comfortably due to the long nozzles. However, sharp rear edges make them less suitable for those with smaller outer ears. Over-the-ear wear is easy due to the short strain reliefs and supple cable.
 

Isolation & Microphonics


Isolation is good for a vented dynamic-driver earphone – it’ll cut out more than enough noise on a city street to make music enjoyable but won’t match the isolation of a deep-fit in-ear monitor on a plane or subway. Cable noise is present when the Spark is worn cable-down but is reduced significantly with over-the-ear wear.
 

 

Sound Quality

Specifications

Driver configuration: 8mm dynamic
Input sensitivity: 96 dB @ 1mw
Frequency response: 20 to 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 16 Ω
Cord Length: 3.9 ft (1.2 m)

Note: Most of my listening was done using a Cowon J3 or an iBasso D10 DAC fed by an optical signal, and my FLAC audio library. For reference, reviews of almost all of the other earphones I have heard can be found in my multi-IEM review thread here.

The Spark is a bass-heavy earphone with surprisingly solid sonic characteristics. The Bass is deep and powerful, with plenty of punch and good texture throughout. Both the subbass depth and overall bass quantity are slightly greater compared to the Soundmagic E10 and Beyerdynamic DTX 101 and on par with the Fischer Audio Consonance. Bass control is good – the Spark is neither the quickest nor the most resolving earphone out there but for a set bassy enough to please the mainstream listener, it performs very well.

There is a bit of bass bleed but the mids are still strong and clear. The Spark manages to be mildly v-shaped in response without placing the midrange too far back, partly as a result of its overall presentation being fairly aggressive. In this way it is reminiscent of the pricier PureSound ClarityOne, albeit thinner and more dry-sounding. In comparison, the similarly-priced Fischer Audio Consonance is more mid-recessed, but thicker and smoother. The mids of the Spark are still not nearly as forward as those of the Beyerdynamic DTX 101 or Brainwavz M2 but compared to most other bass-heavy sets its balance is rather good.

Moving upward, the Spark boasts some emphasis and mild unevenness in the lower treble, giving it a little sparkle without risking significant sibilance. There is a bit of edginess to the treble but the only real complaint I have is its mediocre extension, which results in a darker tonal slant and slight lack of air in the upper registers. Aside from the last bit of top end extension, the Spark satisfies with good treble energy, detail, and crispness.

The presentation of the Spark is pretty standard for a mid-range dynamic earphone. It is slightly aggressive and doesn’t have the largest soundstage but is well-rounded, with decent depth and good layering. The Soundmagic E10, with its sparkly, well-extended treble, has a larger, more open presentation but the Beyerdynamic DTX 101 and Dunu Trident lack layering and sound less three-dimensional in comparison to the Spark. Instrument separation and dynamics are on similarly even footing with competing sets from Head-Fi’s favorite brands. A final point to note – the Spark is surprisingly efficient and, despite the conservative stated figures, reaches listening volume more quickly than any of the sets I put it up against.
 

Value & Conclusion (MSRP: $59.95)


The id America Spark is a solid choice for those seeking a bass-heavy headset at a reasonable price. True to its name, the Spark is energetic, with excellent bass impact, good clarity, and a well-rounded presentation making it an easy choice over popular mainstream sets such as the Beats by Dre Tour and Klipsch Image S4. Add native headset functionality, a striking design, and good build quality and the Spark should strike up interest not only in the car buffs, but all music lovers.


Edited by ljokerl - 2/18/12 at 5:41pm
post #2 of 24

Hmm, nice review and another contender in a crowded segment of the market. I'm sure the look and sound will prove appealing.

post #3 of 24

As always, brilliant review!

The mid-tier IEM is getting very crowded, lots of interesting choices

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kunlun View Post

Hmm, nice review and another contender in a crowded segment of the market. I'm sure the look and sound will prove appealing.


Thanks. It's a consumer-oriented v-shaped signature done well, and there's definitely many fans of it out there.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xinn3r View Post

As always, brilliant review!

The mid-tier IEM is getting very crowded, lots of interesting choices



Indeed. The Spark is a solid competitor to something like a Fischer Audio Consonance but should be easier to get here in the States. 

post #5 of 24

Silly to add to the constant praise (it is well deserved though), but I've got to say: your photos sure have stepped up. Way to go. Looks great. I'm sure ID America are glad you review them because, well, you take the time to make the product look like you care about it.

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

Silly to add to the constant praise (it is well deserved though), but I've got to say: your photos sure have stepped up. Way to go. Looks great. I'm sure ID America are glad you review them because, well, you take the time to make the product look like you care about it.


Thanks! The photos have been an uphill battle but at least I can chalk it up to skill/practice since I'm still using the same 7-year-old Lumix tongue.gif

 

I'm not easily impressed these days what with the number of options out there and all but I thought these deserved their own thread. 

post #7 of 24

I really have to say, that case is making me drool.

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

Forgot to mention that they don't all look as flashy as mine though the colors do make it very easy to tell left from right.

 

sparkcolor.jpg
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BotByte View Post

I really have to say, that case is making me drool.



It's a nice case, though my usual 3-finger wrap method doesn't work with it.

post #9 of 24

 I'd buy not one but two pairs ksc75smile.gif

 one silver , one gray 


Edited by T/A.3xl - 3/23/12 at 7:44pm
post #10 of 24

these are on sale right now on amazon for half price. worth a look?

post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonnybayo View Post

these are on sale right now on amazon for half price. worth a look?



Definitely, considering I think they are worth the money even at full price.

post #12 of 24

I jumped on these when they were half price at Macmall, in part based on your review. Just wanted to say thanks. These are really fantastic sounding earphones. The mic is crisp and clear on these too! I bought the plain jane jet blacks ones and just ordered a set of camel now that they're available half price again.

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stingx View Post

I jumped on these when they were half price at Macmall, in part based on your review. Just wanted to say thanks. These are really fantastic sounding earphones. The mic is crisp and clear on these too! I bought the plain jane jet blacks ones and just ordered a set of camel now that they're available half price again.



Good to hear! I don't really test the mic pickup but I did really like how user-friendly the remote button was. Much better than the tiny one on the Paradigm E3m remote. Seems like we get a great new mid-level earphone every week but I continue to be impressed by these even next to more expensive sets.

 

post #14 of 24

i'm planning to buy id america spark.. will there be any inline mic compatibility problem when i couple with cowon iaudio e2?

post #15 of 24

excellent headphones!

received them today... in the pictures they always looked a little big to me

and thankfully it's an optical illusion of some kind... they're really small.

i also have the Klipsch Image S4 and the Sparks are slightly smaller.

they sound great. very much like my S4's, very slightly darker\less clear but also

less harsh and without the S4's "sss".

havn't burned them in yet but they do sound very much like the S4 with a difference

of being slightly more fun perhaps, and more relaxed.

i think i prefer the Sparks, soundwise.

as for comfort, i didnt like the deep penetration of the Klipschs and the

Sparks are a lot more comfortable to my opinion.

it's a more conservative type o insert, yet they do reach deep enough into the ear canal.

certainly not a shallow fit by any means.

great looks and build, great packaging!

they do not support my Samsung Galaxy S, i have to hold the "Play/Pause"

button pressed, otherwise the sound is distorted.

that was a bit of a bummer, but i glued the button in with super-glue and

it seems to hold...so far so good.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Review: id America Spark – Striking Meets Powerful