Ah, the travails of the humble tech reviewer.
I’ve been saddled with more than my share of audio gear in my time here in Technoodling, and here I was, wrapping up the last in a long line of headphone reviews when my editor Jason says, “You game for a couple more headsets?”
Sure, I grumble, keep ‘em coming.
What’s a guy to do? We can’t all expect brand-new laptops and cellphones all the time. Oh well.
This latest one is the Spark High Definition in-Ear Headphones, from id America. Yeah, just like that last headset I reviewed, the Metropolitan Aluminum In-Ears.
This one, as the packaging takes great pains to point out, was also Made In The USA, with “Born In New York” emblazoned on the corner of the side of the box.
It’s called Spark because the design of the earbuds were inspired by the ever dependable and durable… spark plug.
There is even an exploded illustration of the construction of the earbud on the back of the box: first, there is the matte-finished aluminum back casing, then a chrome-finished aluminum inner casing, followed by the high-performance 8mm dynamic driver, the high-definition acoustic filter, then finally the matte-finished aluminum front casing and the rubber ear tip.
What exactly does a spark plug have to do with a headset, I don’t know, but I suspect the portion of the chromed inner casing peeking out from the aluminum back casing has something to do with it. Audally, I don’t really get what difference that makes, but what the hey—I’m just a humble tech reviewer.
My pair of headphones are colored Aluminum Silver, but there are five other colors the Spark comes in: Rally Blue, Gray Type-R, Rose Pink, Jet Black and Champagne Gold, as illustrated on the back of the box.
Speaking of the box, the Spark comes in a fancy one, almost Apple-like in class. It’s a big, black, magnetically-closed box enclosed in a fancy black slipcase. When you open it up, the headsets are embedded in a black felt-covered plastic frame, with a fancy premium leather case embedded as well. Inside the case you have two extra pairs of ear tips, small and large (the mediums are already on the earbuds). When you lift up the plastic frame, you get a thin, nicely-printed simple manual.
The headphone cable is about a meter long, and is two-tone-colored along its length, and is made of conventional rubber. There are no markings to determine left side from right, but I assume the in-line microphone module would be on the right. There is a clip attached to the cable just below the aluminum stopper to prevent unnecessary movement and create in-line noise. The 3.5mm connector at the end is gold-coated and L-shaped, and is not quite thin enough for me to insert into the headphone jack of my iPhone’s Vapor4 Element casing, requiring me to remove said casing (dammit).
The earbuds fit perfectly into my ears and I didn’t need to try on the other ear tip sizes. The Spark’s sound was whole and clear, and the audio was bright, with adequate bass—not too much and not too little. I maxxed out the sound and it didn’t vibrate or distort, likely a function of the machined aluminum casing. In fact, the loud backbeat from Katy Perry’s California Girls was so loud it was almost painful to hear, but not once did it warp or distort. The choir from Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 was loud and clear and didn’t dominate, yet was whole and brassy.
I don’t know if I should even mention this, but I noticed that with the Spark, the soundstage seemed to… exist wholly between my ears. Not like with other headsets, where the sound sort of spills over to the environs, or at least seemed to. Curious. The entire audio environment seemed to exist entirely in my head, and I felt that if I opened my mouth wide, people could hear the music. Of course, I know that isn’t possible, but it sure felt like it could happen. Goes to show how good the sound seal is on my ears on the Spark.
The in-line microphone for receiving calls worked well too, if a bit louder than normal, which is always a good thing. Using it as a remote for your music playback is easy: press once to play or pause, twice to advance to the next song, and thrice to go back to the previous one. The Spark is compatible with the iPhone, iPod, iPad or iPad mini and most other devices with a 3.5mm jack.
All in all, the Spark High Definition In-Ear Headphones is a good, well-sealed, well-reproducing set, and it’s available at Beyond The Box, Digital Hub and Digital Walker branches.
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