id America Spark Review

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Reviewed Feb 2012

Details: Metal-shelled headset styled after a spark plug
MSRP: $59.95 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $40 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 96 dB | Freq: 20-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ I-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: Stock single-flanges, Sony Hybrids
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (3.5/5) – Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes) and tubular carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The two-piece housings are aluminum and feel very well-made. 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
Isolation (3/5) – Good for a vented dynamic-driver earphone
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Present when worn cable-down; very low with over-the-ear wear
Comfort (3.5/5) – The sparkplug-inspired housings are lightweight and can be inserted comfortably due to the long nozzles but sharp rear edges make them less suitable for those with smaller outer ears. Stock tips are of surprisingly good quality

Sound (7.4/10) – 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 (8.5/10) – 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.

Pros: Solid build quality; bass-heavy sound with good clarity and layering
Co/strongns: Sharp rear edges maybe be uncomfortable for some


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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