Spark integrated amplifier

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Audiovista

Spark integrated amplifier
« on: 15 Jan 2016, 07:47 pm »
Spark is now released and available in the US.

http://www.vista-audio.com/products/Spark/index.htm

In addition to releasing this integrated amplifier, we have extended return privilege from 14 to 30 days, and there is a nice promotion running at

http://www.vertyaudio.com/

This amplifier punches way above its weight class. Give it a try and you will be surprised!



Meicheng

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #1 on: 15 Jan 2016, 09:19 pm »
Since you also distribute the Dayens line, I am curious how the Spark compares to an Ampino.  Thanks.

Audiovista

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #2 on: 16 Jan 2016, 12:49 am »
Since you also distribute the Dayens line, I am curious how the Spark compares to an Ampino.  Thanks.

A very valid question - thanks!

Ampino has higher power and benefits that come with it. Also, Ampino's sound is not typical for solid-state units - it adds just the right amount of warmth and character that make it very easy on the ears. 

Spark, on the other hand, stands out with how it resolves the upper part of the spectrum - that is, IMHO, what puts it above other amplifiers in its price range. That characteristic is the first thing I noticed on the very first prototype, and I am happy that it only got better as we worked to finalize design.

In the end - it turned out that Spark is a meaningful extension of the products that we carry. And that was not by accident.  :D

Zero

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #3 on: 2 Feb 2016, 10:24 pm »
Boris better do a good job marketing this product. 

Why?

Because I'm currently evaluating the Spark, and I believe Boris made something that people need to know about.  Now I don't want to get too wordy and give my synopsis away in the process... so I'll just say this..    It may be one of the best sounding purist solid-state amps that I've encountered at the $350 price-point.  What it lacks in aesthetic flare and features, it makes up for in raw sound quality. 

Good stuff!

Oh, and here's a pic that I snapped earlier today: 

« Last Edit: 2 Feb 2016, 11:59 pm by Zero »

Audiovista

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #4 on: 7 Feb 2016, 09:52 pm »
Thank you Sean! Spark, being a new product, does not have much feedback available online - I am looking forward to your video review. 

However, at www.vertyaudio.com there is a nice promo running, and with 30 days return policy there is no risk in trying the amplifier.

I will be posting first (unsolicited) customer review shortly.

BTW - a nice picture - are those Xmas lights in the background? Love them!!

bacobits1

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #5 on: 8 Mar 2016, 06:02 pm »
I had the "Spark" here for a week and it did surprise me in the big rig. Usher CP6371 91db 4ohms.
I would say it's probably around 7 lbs. Made well.
The Spark played non fatiguing after leaving it on for 12 hours. Bass a little shy to what I'm used to but very satisfying. Never harsh or ran out of steam at 20/ch. It just had a balance from top to bottom that was quite musical. Separation improved very nicely after charging it up. I like it!!
Made well as I said and I suspect maybe Dayens has something to do with construction but Boris' design?
All in all, damn nice integrated for $350. No frills but very satisfying indeed.
Depending on what you might be doing assembling a system I would look at this piece.
Always been a fan of Vista Audio.
« Last Edit: 20 Mar 2016, 03:21 pm by bacobits1 »

mresseguie

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #6 on: 13 Mar 2016, 01:29 pm »
Boris,

I've watched Sean's review and read a couple impressions in forums, so I know a little about this amp. What I do not know (but I suspect you can tell me) is what sort of speakers I can drive with this amp. It doesn't seem to be very powerful yet I get the impression it's more powerful than an 'average' low wattage SS amp.

I have a couple different speakers to match to this. They are Fritz Loudspeakers LS/5-R 83.5 dB two-ways and Jeff Bagby designed Adelphos two-ways ~87dB.

Any thoughts on the lower sensitivity speakers?

Regards,

Michael


JackD

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #7 on: 15 Mar 2016, 12:48 am »
Michael

I've currently got the "touring" Spark in-house.  In the days I have had it I have tried it with two bookshelf speakers, the Nola Boxer and the Reynaud Twin Signature.  Both are in excess of 90db and in my 14" x 12" office.  Way more than enough power to push both.  Alsol tried them for a couple of days in my "dedicated room" which is 15" x 19" x 10".  Speakers in that room are the 10 driver Nola KO's which are rated at 90 db.  The Vista operated them comfortably to rather loud volumes.  For the purpose of the test the subs were disconnected so the Spark had to do all the work itself.  It did a more than admirable job.  As to the two speakers you listed, it will depend on the volumes you want a achieve and the size of the room.  It should be comfortable to a point with the Bagby speaker, but the Fritz may be a different story.  If the IDA-8 gets uncomfortable with them the Spark will to.  The only speaker I have around as inefficient as the Fritz are a pair of the "famous" Andrew Jones Pioneers.  I didn't bother to unbox them for a test as I just plain don't like them and don't get the hype. 

mresseguie

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #8 on: 15 Mar 2016, 02:20 am »
JackD,

Thank you for replying. Those are nice speakers for that little amp to push.

I listen at very reasonable levels now. Even if I had a more powerful amp, I wouldn't push my speakers to uncomfortable levels - my ears just can't take it. The IDA-8 is able to get the LS/5 speakers to louder than comfortable levels, but unable 'make them sing to their full potential'. I had an integrated tube amp for two weeks that made the LS/5s sound absolutely wonderful.

I see you and I suffer the same 'problem' with the Andrew Jones Pioneer speakers. I heard them twice in different showrooms, and could only shake my head and wonder what the hell people were getting so excited over. They did nothing for my ears.

Thank you again!

Michael

JackD

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #9 on: 15 Mar 2016, 03:11 am »
Michael

The IDA-8 is a great little product, but to me it has to be matched with the "right" speaker due to it's "warm" nature.  I am not surprised that it would be an odd match with any BBC voiced speaker.  The Spark seemed to me to be "neutral" and would work with a wider range of speakers within it's comfort zone. If not powerful enough the Dayens amps may work better.  It may well work with the Fritz's in the right setting only a trial will tell.  There are several other of Fritz's speaker designs that would have seemed to be a better match to the IDA-8. Sometimes it is just trial and error and can get expensive in the end.

Wind Chaser

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #10 on: 15 Mar 2016, 03:49 am »
I see you and I suffer the same 'problem' with the Andrew Jones Pioneer speakers. I heard them twice in different showrooms, and could only shake my head and wonder what the hell people were getting so excited over.

I did not have the luxury of hearing those speakers prior to purchase, so once I received them I had to convince myself they were something special because ...how could so many people be so mistaken?? Note to self, don't fall for a frenzy.

Anyhow, I got some new speakers but they are still packed up in their crates sitting in the garage. They arrived in the first week of February but I haven't had the opportunity, inclination or space in my room to deal with them. Tomorrow my space hog kitty cats depart so that sort of solves the space problem. These new speakers are rated 89.5 db @ 1 watt, so in theory, a Spark should be more than enough for moderate volume listening. Look forward to reading more honest impressions.

mresseguie

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #11 on: 15 Mar 2016, 04:40 am »
Wind Chaser,

Fear not! You can leave those crated speakers in the garage. Melody and I will be in the area again in August or September. I can place those speakers in the bed of my Tacoma. No, no. Please, don't thank me.  :thumb:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
JackD,

I'm going to bring the IDA-8 to the States with me to pair with my Adelphos and my GR Research LGKs (and whatever other speakers I can beg, borrow, or steal). I expect they'll be better fits. I suspect my son would LOVE the amp.

Michael

Zero

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #12 on: 15 Mar 2016, 07:45 am »
Thanks for the feedback JackD and Bacobits. I enjoyed reading your comments.  Outta curiosity, did any of you boys have a chance to hear the Spark on more affordable (sub $1000) loudspeakers?  What really got me pumped about the Spark is how well it complemented certain affordable loudspeakers.

As for the Pioneers:  Hype can be misleading.  I know more than a couple people who expected the heavens to sing from a set of $120 speakers.  At the end of the day, the Pioneer BS22's are budget speakers that happen to do a couple things pretty well. Subjectively speaking, I felt like their driver integration and midrange performance was quite stellar for the $$$. The fact that this was coming from a product that can be found on the shelves of Best Buy was particularly exciting to me.  Still, at the end of the day, they are what they are. 
 


JLM

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #13 on: 15 Mar 2016, 01:22 pm »
As tempting as it is, I wouldn't starve low/medium efficiency speakers, even if you only listen at moderate levels, with 20 wpc.

I tried 7 wpc on 90 dB/w/m full rangers and it was very good, but 40 wpc tightened bass, enhanced dynamics, and improved resolution (detail and imaging). 

IMO for hi-fidelity listening, the amp needs to have a commanding grip on the speakers.

Wind Chaser

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #14 on: 16 Mar 2016, 12:41 am »
Wind Chaser,

Fear not! You can leave those crated speakers in the garage. Melody and I will be in the area again in August or September. I can place those speakers in the bed of my Tacoma. No, no. Please, don't thank me.  :thumb:

Michael, I appreciate the very kind and generous offer, but I should have them set up and working by the end of the week. Only have a TPA3116 right now, but I'm mulling options.

JackD

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #15 on: 16 Mar 2016, 12:42 am »
Sean

I tried the bookshelf speakers I had that weren't boxed up and that I thought would be a "fair" match.  The other pair I had that would have worked were the Green Mountain Europas but I sold them about three weeks ago.  I have boxed up various "budget" bookshelves that I feel sure would have worked that a different points in time were part of the dismantled HT system.  None of them however are current production items so don't know what use it would have been.  They would have been from Sound Dynamics, Athena, Boston Acoustic and ADS.  The newest of those is about 12 years old and the rest older.  I didn't try them with the Odyssey Lorelei's as that room (family room open to kitchen) is way to big and the IDA-8 really struggled in that set-up and was replaced by the "10" combo. I would not hesitate to use the Spark with bookshelf speakers in the price range I used in the right set-up.  Like the Dayens amps it can hold it's own sound wise.  Perfect setup would be in a desktop setup with small Dac like the IFI's and an efficient near field friendly speaker. 

As to the Pioneers I paid less than $75 shipped and still thought they were inefficient, boomy and no top end.  I keep forgetting to give them to my daughter when she is in town.  They are like this decades Minimus 7's.  And strangely enough there is a pair of them in the "audio storage closet" too.

Wind Chaser

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #16 on: 16 Mar 2016, 12:47 am »
As tempting as it is, I wouldn't starve low/medium efficiency speakers, even if you only listen at moderate levels, with 20 wpc.

I tried 7 wpc on 90 dB/w/m full rangers and it was very good, but 40 wpc tightened bass, enhanced dynamics, and improved resolution (detail and imaging). 

IMO for hi-fidelity listening, the amp needs to have a commanding grip on the speakers.

Isn't grip more of a matter of damping than power reserves?
« Last Edit: 16 Mar 2016, 03:25 am by Wind Chaser »

Zero

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #17 on: 16 Mar 2016, 01:16 am »
Jack D, 

You have quite the collection of hi-fi stuffs!

How did you like those Green Mountain Audio 'Europas'?  I never had a chance to hear em'.  Oh, and it's funny that you bring up iFi.  During my evaluation of the Spark, I tethered it up to an iFi Micro DAC just to see how it would fair in a desktop environment.  As I'm sure you could imagine, the combo was quite pleasant. 

If I had to be honest though, it was the Spark / Polk T50 combo that really tickled my fancy.  There was some serious bang-for-the-buck magic going on with that pairing!

As for the Pioneers..  hah.  I will say this much..  while I think the speakers genuinely have their merits, there is a good reason why I've given away both of the sets that I had.  The only Pioneers that I have left are the BS21's, which I keep around for both back-up and testing purposes.

JackD

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Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #18 on: 16 Mar 2016, 01:45 am »
Sean

To my ears the Europas were pretty much dead on neutral and easy to drive.  The 1st order crossover made set-up somewhat critical and narrowed the sweet spot.  Shipping 95 lbs of bookshelf speaker completely across the country was kind of nerve racking.  As to Polks in 45 years in the hobby I have never owned a pair.  In their heyday I was a died in the wool ADS guy then moved on to Snell and Vandersteen. 

If you have never heard a pair you might want to contact Bob Neal of PFO.  He is the US distributor for Reynaud and the owner of Amherst Audio.  A pair of Reynaud Bliss or Silver Bliss book shelf speakers would be to your liking I would guess, especially if you appreciate Harbeth and Spendor. 

Jack

Audiovista

Re: Spark integrated amplifier
« Reply #19 on: 20 Mar 2016, 11:45 am »
I've been missing in action for a while, spending too much time at airports and on airplanes. Just a few more days and I should be starting jet lag recovery.

Michael,

Sorry for not responding to your question, but I see that you got the answer which is pretty much same as I would have provided - thanks guys for jumping in! The only thing I would suggest is giving the Spark a chance irrespective of what numbers say. I fondly recall how 15W rated EL84 amplifier (Vista model i84) performed with Totems - I think good folks at Totem Acoustics still remember it - to paraphrase them: the only tube amplifier that they liked with their speakers. 15W on 87dB speakers!

Many thanks to Den and Jack for spending time with Spark and publicizing your thoughts - your support is very much appreciated!

And, kudos to our boy Sean, they guy I truly believe has "golden ears". He has proven it to me numerous times, when he heard what I could measure (but not hear myself).

Happy first day of Spring everyone!