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Vista Audio Spark II Review (Amplifer)

Angsty

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I think it's great that this site cares about about the science, it's a really interesting thing to learn about and I appreciate that people would even take the the time to do this. Reading the comments, though I feel what many posters here seem to be doing is judging an amp solely based on the legwork done by someone else and not having taken the time to really listen to it for themselves. After all, many of the records that are considered "audiophile references" were not made with any kind of scientific measurements in mind. Mixing engineers and/or producers very often threw care to the wind under tight deadlines and used whatever gear they felt would make the music "sound good" and whether that means using a cheap SM57 mic against a ratty 4X10 cab, overdriving an old desk pasts its limits or using an effect in a way that it "shouldn't be used", their goal was simply to make the recording as pleasurable to listen to as possible within their constraints. The results are the masterpieces we love today. They may be a nightmare on the measurement side but our ears still perceive it as "good" for some reason.

Given this, I am not in any way saying that the science should not be considered (quite the contrary as none of this awesome music or gear we love so much could even exist without the science!) but to me, it is wrong for a poster that did not take the time to do the measurements to simply dismiss an amp as "crap" when they have not even spent any time with the amp to justify this. Many, many things have been created in the music recording world that "shouldn't sound good" on paper but most certainly do in practice and I think that gives the "mystique behind good sound" and is the X factor behind all of the advertising, hyped or otherwise. That being said, imagine all of the amazing music we'd have to dismiss if measurements were the only criteria?

To sum all of this up, I just feel we as posters should be careful when making "broad generalizations" about gear, especially when we haven't spent time with that gear before. Balance is the key with something like this and it's a far more interesting conversation to say "I can see that this amp does not measure well at all but upon my own listening, there is something I really like (or don't like) about its sound...what is that thing and why do I feel this way?" instead of simply regurgitating "X amp sucks" because someone else did the legwork for you to say that. Absolutely look at the measurements, analyze the results but then also set that aside for a bit and sit down to really spend time with the amp and then make your informed opinion from the combination of those. I myself have just purchased a Spark 2 for my desktop and look forward to hearing what all the fuss is (or isn't) about. Thanks again for the site!
If you care to cite me, please cite me correctly. I did not say the amp was crap; I said its measurements are crap. It’s completely possible to love a crappy measuring amp, but one should acknowledge when the measured performance strays from strict accuracy in reproduction.
 
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fcdvpds

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I have to admit I am somehow surprised by the measurements and opinions. First of all, I really appreciate the time amir and other members take to do the measurements and share opinions. I purchased the spark to have a small setup during covid work from home and find the sound absolutely amazing.

In my main system I am using Proac T10 sig, Luxman mq-88uc, audio note cdt/II + dac 1.1 sig. I am using the spark with Chartwell LS3/5a 11ohm, mhdt lab Atlantis or Belcanto Dac 1 connected to an AK300 DAP using optical cable. Source is CDs or rips form CDs. When I chose the spark was mostly based on the rave reviews and small size and in my case it surpassed my expectations. I thought the difference from my main system to my desk system was going to be much bigger. I had the opportunity to compare it against the rega Brio 2017 and preferred the spark...both sounded absolutely amazing in my system but the Brio was a touch too dark. Anyways, I suppose my system is very coloured and it just fits my tastes.

I do enjoy listening to my friends systems and to put things in perspective I find the Spark + LS3/5a much better sounding than: NAD C316 BEE + quad bookshelf (don't know the model), Marantz 6006 (amp & CD) + Dali Spektor II...I listened to these in different environments but at the time I genuinely felt my desk combo sounded much better.

I still think this amp can be a great option for some people. I agree the price feels on the high side for what you get.
Cheers
 

NJC

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I have to admit I am somehow surprised by the measurements and opinions. First of all, I really appreciate the time amir and other members take to do the measurements and share opinions. I purchased the spark to have a small setup during covid work from home and find the sound absolutely amazing.

In my main system I am using Proac T10 sig, Luxman mq-88uc, audio note cdt/II + dac 1.1 sig. I am using the spark with Chartwell LS3/5a 11ohm, mhdt lab Atlantis or Belcanto Dac 1 connected to an AK300 DAP using optical cable. Source is CDs or rips form CDs. When I chose the spark was mostly based on the rave reviews and small size and in my case it surpassed my expectations. I thought the difference from my main system to my desk system was going to be much bigger. I had the opportunity to compare it against the rega Brio 2017 and preferred the spark...both sounded absolutely amazing in my system but the Brio was a touch too dark. Anyways, I suppose my system is very coloured and it just fits my tastes.

I do enjoy listening to my friends systems and to put things in perspective I find the Spark + LS3/5a much better sounding than: NAD C316 BEE + quad bookshelf (don't know the model), Marantz 6006 (amp & CD) + Dali Spektor II...I listened to these in different environments but at the time I genuinely felt my desk combo sounded much better.

I still think this amp can be a great option for some people. I agree the price feels on the high side for what you get.
Cheers
All that counts is that you like it. I don't know how improving its' specs' performance would affect the SQ but there's an opportunity for the manufacturer to try and improve upon it.
 

AdamG247

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I have to admit I am somehow surprised by the measurements and opinions. First of all, I really appreciate the time amir and other members take to do the measurements and share opinions. I purchased the spark to have a small setup during covid work from home and find the sound absolutely amazing.

In my main system I am using Proac T10 sig, Luxman mq-88uc, audio note cdt/II + dac 1.1 sig. I am using the spark with Chartwell LS3/5a 11ohm, mhdt lab Atlantis or Belcanto Dac 1 connected to an AK300 DAP using optical cable. Source is CDs or rips form CDs. When I chose the spark was mostly based on the rave reviews and small size and in my case it surpassed my expectations. I thought the difference from my main system to my desk system was going to be much bigger. I had the opportunity to compare it against the rega Brio 2017 and preferred the spark...both sounded absolutely amazing in my system but the Brio was a touch too dark. Anyways, I suppose my system is very coloured and it just fits my tastes.

I do enjoy listening to my friends systems and to put things in perspective I find the Spark + LS3/5a much better sounding than: NAD C316 BEE + quad bookshelf (don't know the model), Marantz 6006 (amp & CD) + Dali Spektor II...I listened to these in different environments but at the time I genuinely felt my desk combo sounded much better.

I still think this amp can be a great option for some people. I agree the price feels on the high side for what you get.
Cheers
Welcome Aboard @fcdvpds.
 

Jeephead

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...a lot of YT review is very fine with it...



I am glad that Amir thoroughly tests gear to a high standard. It is great to see how gear compares, spec wise. I know sound quality can be very subjective but even with poor specs there are people pleased with the sound. I work for a cable company and used to run FCC proof tests. There were plenty of measurements that could fail but most would never be visible to the customer. What is hard is not being able to audition an amp prior to purchasing it in order to hear for your self.
Every time I think I found the perfect amp for my small room DAC/Vinyl listening I come here and get crushed. LOL. Don't get me wrong, I am really glad Amir is doing these test. I really wanted a Vidar or Agir but budget has me looking at Vista/Loxjie/Fosi. I already have Schiit Magni and Modi 3. I am glad at least my Modi rated well.
 
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fcdvpds

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I am glad that Amir thoroughly tests gear to a high standard. It is great to see how gear compares, spec wise. I know sound quality can be very subjective but even with poor specs there are people pleased with the sound. I work for a cable company and used to run FCC proof tests. There were plenty of measurements that could fail but most would never be visible to the customer. What is hard is not being able to audition an amp prior to purchasing it in order to hear for your self.
Every time I think I found the perfect amp for my small room DAC/Vinyl listening I come here and get crushed. LOL. Don't get me wrong, I am really glad Amir is doing these test. I really wanted a Vidar or Agir but budget has me looking at Vista/Loxjie/Fosi. I already have Schiit Magni and Modi 3. U am glad at least my Modi rated well.

Hi Jeephead,
If you are considering the Vista Spark, don't think twice. It's a brilliant amplifier. I have one in my desk setup and absolutely love. I enjoy Amir work very much but I think he is too tough on his comments...feels like looking for the perfect thing in a budget component :) which I respect BTW. Anyways, long story short, after reading this review I was questioning if the Spark really sounded as good as I thought. I temporarily set it up in my kitchen with my my main components...it was Audio Note CDt/ii ->mhdt Labs DAC, Vista Spark -> Proac Tablette 10 Signature. I invited my friends and we gave the Spark a hard time. We all absolutely loved it and couldn't fault anything rather than the lack of bass. Anyways, the bass it has is very well defined, not blurry at wall,, just not strong. I wanted to test it with my Audio Note DAC but it was too heavy.

Here a photo...a little bit messy but was the best place I had.

the measurements show a lot of noise and distortion...well that's exactly how the Leben CS300x and CS600 and a lot of other great components measure...
 

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Jeephead

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Hi Jeephead,
If you are considering the Vista Spark, don't think twice. It's a brilliant amplifier. I have one in my desk setup and absolutely love. I enjoy Amir work very much but I think he is too tough on his comments...feels like looking for the perfect thing in a budget component :) which I respect BTW. Anyways, long story short, after reading this review I was questioning if the Spark really sounded as good as I thought. I temporarily set it up in my kitchen with my my main components...it was Audio Note CDt/ii ->mhdt Labs DAC, Vista Spark -> Proac Tablette 10 Signature. I invited my friends and we gave the Spark a hard time. We all absolutely loved it and couldn't fault anything rather than the lack of bass. Anyways, the bass it has is very well defined, not blurry at wall,, just not strong. I wanted to test it with my Audio Note DAC but it was too heavy.

Here a photo...a little bit messy but was the best place I had.

the measurements show a lot of noise and distortion...well that's exactly how the Leben CS300x and CS600 and a lot of other great components measure...
Hi Jeephead,
If you are considering the Vista Spark, don't think twice. It's a brilliant amplifier. I have one in my desk setup and absolutely love. I enjoy Amir work very much but I think he is too tough on his comments...feels like looking for the perfect thing in a budget component :) which I respect BTW. Anyways, long story short, after reading this review I was questioning if the Spark really sounded as good as I thought. I temporarily set it up in my kitchen with my my main components...it was Audio Note CDt/ii ->mhdt Labs DAC, Vista Spark -> Proac Tablette 10 Signature. I invited my friends and we gave the Spark a hard time. We all absolutely loved it and couldn't fault anything rather than the lack of bass. Anyways, the bass it has is very well defined, not blurry at wall,, just not strong. I wanted to test it with my Audio Note DAC but it was too heavy.

Here a photo...a little bit messy but was the best place I had.

the measurements show a lot of noise and distortion...well that's exactly how the Leben CS300x and CS600 and a lot of other great components measure...
Thanks. I had my gear connected to a Fosi BT10a amp and it actually sounded good in a small room. So I grabbed my sister's Denon DRA-350 receiver that had been sitting at my mom's since who knows when. I thought it would sound better, boy was I wrong. The Modi DAC sounded straight up crappy. I realize that model Denon is far from HIFI but I really thought if anything the sound would be same if not better... DOH! I am trying to find a good amp to make use of DAC, headphone amp and turntable preamp I already have. I do have the Loki so I could bump bass a bit on Vista if need be.
Wife wants her Fosi tunes back on the deck but has not given the go-a-head to pick up a Vidar let alone the Aegir.
Got to keep the "Financial advisor" happy. LOL!
 

IowAudio

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Another prime example of garbage being hyped by YouTubers. Shows how poorly something can perform and some people will still think it sounds good or will say nice things about it so they can keep it. Also styling wise, all the LEDs on the front at first glance I thought it was a Pyle but after reading Amir's review this thing really is a Pile. I'll keep my SMSL SA300 thats far better for 1/3 the price.
 

fcdvpds

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Another prime example of garbage being hyped by YouTubers. Shows how poorly something can perform and some people will still think it sounds good or will say nice things about it so they can keep it. Also styling wise, all the LEDs on the front at first glance I thought it was a Pyle but after reading Amir's review this thing really is a Pile. I'll keep my SMSL SA300 thats far better for 1/3 the price.
may I know what makes it garbage? it may not measure good but it's still a great little amp that sounds much better to my ears than most 400-500$ amps from the likes of nad, denon, marantz, etc. Have you listened to it?
 

VintageFlanker

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it may not measure good but it's still a great little amp that sounds much better to my ears than most 400-500$ amps from the likes of nad, denon, marantz, etc.
Welcome, @fcdvpds.

I turns out that what sounds much better to your ears at X price range doesn't matter this much. It only matters to yourself. That is of course some highly subjective statement and above all, not verifiable by any means. Anybody may claim anything. The all point of ASR is to check facts, not to collect random opinions, especially from random audiophiles (include both you and I in it;))
Here are few examples:
- This amp is a technical mess for its price (or any price): fact.
- It is ugly: my subjective thoughts.
- It is badly assembled: yet to be verified.
- 2dB drop at 20Hz is completely unacceptable: fact.
- As 20W / 4Ω is barely usable... Whatever anybody like it or not, it won't be able to drive any speaker at decent listening level under farfield conditions: fact.
- 150€ Loxjie A30 amp/DAC performs better. Even 65$ Aiyiama A07 performs better: fact.
- At the same price, the Yamaha WXA 50 runs circles around it, in addition to be a streamer: fact.
- The company lies when claiming this:
"It really is simple - our products are engineered to the highest standards. We do not "voice" our amplifiers. They have to be technically competent units.
There is no excuse for high distortion, even if it is mainly due to the "ear friendly" second harmonic."...
fact.

At the end of the day... not that big of a deal. If you enjoy your unit, that's all that matters.
 
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IowAudio

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Its way overpriced and NO it isn't better than many other amps at its price. Maybe subjectivity it is to you fine. But amps like the SMSL DA-9 or SA300, Sabaj A10a or A20a and Aiyima A07 provide better specs and performance and will easily out sell the Vista Audio Spark. Not to mention some of the great amps on the used market for the same price.
 

fcdvpds

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Its way overpriced and NO it isn't better than many other amps at its price. Maybe subjectivity it is to you fine. But amps like the SMSL DA-9 or SA300, Sabaj A10a or A20a and Aiyima A07 provide better specs and performance and will easily out sell the Vista Audio Spark. Not to mention some of the great amps on the used market for the same price.
I went to have a look at those amps and I am sold...I don't think the Vista Spark is in the same league. My favourite is the Sabaj A10a. It indeed has some impressive featues..."A10a has a built-in low-pass fiter that can filter out the human voice to enhance the richness of the bass, and output purer and more powerful bass through the subwoofer signal output interface."
This is serious innovation.
 

fcdvpds

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Welcome, @fcdvpds.

I turns out that what sounds much better to your ears at X price range doesn't matter this much. It only matters to yourself. That is of course some highly subjective statement and above all, not verifiable by any means. Anybody may claim anything. The all point of ASR is to check facts, not to collect random opinions, especially from random audiophiles (include both you and I in it;))
Here are few examples:
- This amp is a technical mess for its price (or any price): fact.
- It is ugly: my subjective thoughts.
- It is badly assembled: yet to be verified.
- 2dB drop at 20Hz is completely unacceptable: fact.
- As 20W / 4Ω is barely usable... Whatever anybody like it or not, it won't be able to drive any speaker at decent listening level under farfield conditions: fact.
- 150€ Loxjie A30 amp/DAC performs better. Even 65$ Aiyiama A07 performs better: fact.
- At the same price, the Yamaha WXA 50 runs circles around it, in addition to be a streamer: fact.
- The company lies when claiming this:

fact.

At the end of the day... not that big of a deal. If you enjoy your unit, that's all that matters.

you make some good points here and put things in a way I can't challenge. The point I take is that there are a great deal of cheap, high value amplifiers coming out of china that over perform most of similarly priced stuff out there.

-This amp is a technical mess for its price (or any price)...by comparison with latest Class D amplifiers this seems to be the reality. The question is whether its perfomrace is sufficiently good to produce a pelasent sound that could satisfy us for many years. Maybe yes, maybe no.
-It is ugly... it could be worse.
-It is badly assembled... I opened it myself and I can say its not bad at all. It feels like a top quality kit amplifier put together by someone very experienced at soldering. Does't feel like it came out of a factory. It feels solid, tidy and the parts seem of great quality. I would say one could expect more for the price. But one cannot complain about the environmental situation in china plus the not that good working conditions and then complain about the price of stuff not coming from China..
-2dB drop at 20Hz is completely unacceptable... the lack of bass is audible. It kind of gives it a light sound that I found pleasent. It impressed me how tight and tuneful the little bass is. The bass it has is very very good.
-As 20W / 4Ω is barely usable...I only tried it with Proac T10 sig and Chatwell LS3/5a, 10 and 11 ohms respectively. Maybe these speakers are very easy to drive. It plays as loud as one would need from small bookshelf speakers. Hope I can try it with floor stander or bigger speakers soon. Will report my subject opinion.
- 150€ Loxjie A30 amp/DAC performs better. Even 65$ Aiyiama A07 performs better...I haven't tried those amps so I have no idea if the better measured performance means good sound or not.
- The company lies when claiming this...I don't think this is the case...they probably have confidence in their stuff and trully believe this is the case. I think they claim what they claim of good faith. In the end of the day they like what they do and are probably trying to do a good work. Similarly with Amirm, a little tough with his views but doing an exceptionally good work.

Really value the opinions in this forum and the evidence based approach... Keep posting!
 

IowAudio

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Subjectivity, anything could be good to any person. Which is fine I have speakers that I built years ago I Subjectivity like but will acknowledge are objectively bad. I still listen to them and like them but I don't go around claiming they're better than other speakers that do measure well. We can define what makes at minimum good audio gear and thats for it to transparently reproduce the source. Which is what I like, I want to hear close as possible what the finished track was. Not interested in tubes or what ever, if the artist wanted it to have a warm feel they would record it that way. If I want to color the sound I can do it after the fact with EQ, filters or tuber buffer whatever. If someone is willing to pay $400 for this little amp with its low power and poor specs in contrast to other well reviewed/measured cheaper amps then fine people can enjoy audio gear with bad measurements look at vintage audio. Subjectivity like it all ya want but I wouldn't say its objectively better or best entirely. Because science and engineering does know enough about audio to determine what is good, just cause you don't like it doesn't make it wrong. Kinda like getting your TV professionally calibrated. When its done it may be spot on and color correct but doesn't mean you'll like it and may look wierd to you, doesn't make it wrong. Doesn't mean you have to leave it that way either.
 

IowAudio

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What killed it for me is the Pyle style led lighting. Vista's website also doesn't give much info and is laid out like a snake oil cable site with lots of low light fantastical language and just uses catch worlds like toroidal as specs... Matched with the calligraphy on the front and high price = BS audio product.
 

Metronoam

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I fell for the hype from Zero Fidelity and Guttenberg and purchased this amp and wrote a review elsewhere. It was very clearly truncated in both macro dynamic swings as well as microdynamic details. The dynamics seemed choked and compressed within a very small window or range. This was through 94-96 db 8 ohm full-range drivers that get loud with ONE WATT. Power nor impedence were the issue. Furthermore I compared the Vista Spark side by side while playing the same Bluenote recordings to two other amps, the TubeCube 7 with 3 watts / channel from EL84 tubes as well as an old standby, the 40 watt Rotel RA-01 integrated amp. Both the TubeCube and Rotel opened up the dynamic range, both were significantly more expressive. By a large margin the Rotel was cleaner and more dynamic and offed a huge soundstage. I found no advantage from the (admittingly cheap but fun) tube amp or the (engineered for harmonic distortion?) Audio Vista Spark. The Spark coming in dead last, lifeless, restrained, and downright boring to listen to while the Rotel only reminded me of the law of diminishing returns. I'll keep the Rotel.
 
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