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Vista Audio Spark II Review (Amplifer)

PaiZe

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The way I see it; it's a $400, anemic, poor measuring amp (and gaudy looks IMO). Whats to like? I just don't understand why one would remotely be interested in it. Surely there are (much?) better options around this price point.

I struggle to understand why an amp like this even exists.

Amir tested and tried it, and gave his results and opinion - which is great.
Some users like it, under certain conditions, or for certain purposes - that is also good to know.

Have you measured it or tried it?
If so, tell about your results or experience.
If not, why the need to be so dismissive of a product why haven't even tried?
Just to get a "I know better than thou" feeling?
I don't get it, but well, if that's what makes you happy, enjoy it :)
 

Jimster480

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Amir tested and tried it, and gave his results and opinion - which is great.
Some users like it, under certain conditions, or for certain purposes - that is also good to know.

Have you measured it or tried it?
If so, tell about your results or experience.
If not, why the need to be so dismissive of a product why haven't even tried?
Just to get a "I know better than thou" feeling?
I don't get it, but well, if that's what makes you happy, enjoy it :)
because trash is trash and there are literally more companies scamming at this point then one's making products worth owning.
Companies making trash like this should be sued out of oblivion as an example to other companies. Then maybe we can have a world with real products that are not just scams.

There is no case to be made for some garbage like this. "I listened to it and liked it" just means you have literally no idea what good music sounds like and probably should find another hobby where you have some idea about what you are doing.
I can tell you that I can "hear the difference" between something with a SINAD of 90 and 100 even if I have to go looking for the differences.
Something with a SINAD of 60-75? It sounds like I am listening to music through a paper towel roll.

I test products for amazon and have listened to over 100 pairs of headphones, amps, speakers, etc and the differences are night and day with products that measure like this.
Once you reach a SINAD of 90 it becomes much harder to tell the difference in casual scenarios, maybe even next to impossible with anything less than top tier speakers or headphones.... but there are still differences.
 

PaiZe

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because trash is trash and there are literally more companies scamming at this point then one's making products worth owning.
Companies making trash like this should be sued out of oblivion as an example to other companies. Then maybe we can have a world with real products that are not just scams.

There is no case to be made for some garbage like this. "I listened to it and liked it" just means you have literally no idea what good music sounds like and probably should find another hobby where you have some idea about what you are doing.
I can tell you that I can "hear the difference" between something with a SINAD of 90 and 100 even if I have to go looking for the differences.
Something with a SINAD of 60-75? It sounds like I am listening to music through a paper towel roll.

I test products for amazon and have listened to over 100 pairs of headphones, amps, speakers, etc and the differences are night and day with products that measure like this.
Once you reach a SINAD of 90 it becomes much harder to tell the difference in casual scenarios, maybe even next to impossible with anything less than top tier speakers or headphones.... but there are still differences.

Wow, so much anger!
Chill, mate :)

"Fear leads to anger. Anger lead to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you"
 

HiFidFan

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Amir tested and tried it, and gave his results and opinion - which is great.
Some users like it, under certain conditions, or for certain purposes - that is also good to know.

Have you measured it or tried it?
If so, tell about your results or experience.
If not, why the need to be so dismissive of a product why haven't even tried?
Just to get a "I know better than thou" feeling?
I don't get it, but well, if that's what makes you happy, enjoy it :)

Why on earth would I measure it? Amir has already done that for us.

I have not tried it. I have no use for a product like this, and I can't imagine ever having a use for it.
 

AdamG247

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Wow, so much anger!
Chill, mate :)

"Fear leads to anger. Anger lead to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you"
First off let me Welcome you Aboard! Secondly you will soon discover, if not already that this Forum and the majority of its Membership are focused on the Science, engineering, design and performance measurements. It is why we exist and how we separate ourselves from all the other Story and Fairytale telling Web sites out there. Most make some type of income/revenue/incentives to produce product reviews that are positive and full of all sorts of made up amazement. To get the readers to go buy the products they peddle. If Science is not important to you, perhaps you are in the wrong Forum. However, if you keep an open mind and stay here to absorb and learn what we are about. You are welcome here. I think you might just be surprised what you might learn.

ASR members, let’s give new members a little wiggle room. For they do not yet know, what it is they don’t know. Please and thank you.
 
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PaiZe

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Why on earth would I measure it? Amir has already done that for us.

I have not tried it. I have no use for a product like this, and I can't imagine ever having a use for it.
That's fine.
It does not mean some other people may not find a use to it or even like it.
Is it really needed to tell those people things like they have no clue of what good music sounds like or to find another hobby?
That was my main point.

First off let me Welcome you Aboard! Secondly you will soon discover, if not already that this Forum and the majority of its Membership are focused on the Science, engineering, design and performance measurements. It is why we exist and how we separate ourselves from all the other Story and Fairytale telling Web sites out there. Most make some type of income/revenue/incentives to produce product reviews that are positive and full of all sorts of made up amazement to get the readers to go buy the products they peddle. If Science is not important to you, perhaps you are in the wrong Forum. However, if you keep an open mind and stay here to absorb and learn what we are about. You are welcome here. I think you might just be surprised what you might learn.

Hi!
I have been following this forum for several months and I like it and learnt several things from it.
I just don't like the anger and righteousness that sometimes pops up in the comments, and this one time I decided to write about it.
I hope that did not felt too much anti-science from my part!
 
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Scared for real, or just a way of saying?

That’s what I’m not sure of :)

If it measures badly, it would make me very curious to learn what I like so much about it. Thankfully, records are such an imperfect medium that I don’t particularly care. It lets me load up my Denon DL-301mk2 in an appropriate way and seems to work reasonably well, and people who also have nice vinyl setups seem to think highly of mine when listening.

I’d be very curious to see how my entire chain measures, shame that’s an unrealistic goal.
 

Billy Budapest

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I find it telling that a lot of reviewers such as Steve Gutenberg, Zero Fidelity, and Next Best Thing have prior professional backgrounds in audio sales.

I am not sure where in the audio world Hans Beykhuzen, John Darko, or New Record Day come from, but I get almost nothing from their reviews that I could not get from reading manufacturer ad copy, so I stopped watching them a long time ago.
 

Angsty

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The way I see it; it's a $400, anemic, poor measuring amp (and gaudy looks IMO). Whats to like? I just don't understand why one would remotely be interested in it. Surely there are (much?) better options around this price point.

I struggle to understand why an amp like this even exists.
It exists for the same reason Audioquest makes $400 interconnects - somebody will buy it.
 

NoSnakeOil2

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----------
Hope I am interpreting what you are saying correctly. Here goes: I disagree.

Most of these "philosophers" are pawns of the Audio Industry Complex. They build credibility on adjectives. Their business models are built out of the samples, perks and money the industry sends their way. This same industry at one point had media to invest their ad budgets, but with the internet - and the everybody is an expert YouTube - those old mediums have disappeared.

Now comes this cadre of so called experts that only spout adjectives, believe that expensive cables and USB decrapifiers are actually a thing. Since there was no one to dispute them, sites like C-Net gave them an audience, youTube gives them followers, and they have reign. But now the slowly growing the ASR community is opening eyes everywhere. Now we see them for what they are, just reporters / commentary living off the brands. Isn't a coincidence that every time they have to buy a sample. they make sure every one knows it. As to shame the brands into sending them more stuff.

Finally, there are no bad guys here, it's a business model. However, every new ASR follower is one less for them. Its another dollar saved, accountability to the brands and better listening for us. Cheers all.
Thomas is ok. He is willing to say less expensive material is good, and he has a bit of sense of humor about himself. "A British Audiophile" though, thinks cables are important and believes in "magic." A Hegel amp will always be better than a budget amp, even if it isn't...
 

Angsty

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I find it telling that a lot of reviewers such as Steve Gutenberg, Zero Fidelity, and Next Best Thing have prior professional backgrounds in audio sales.

I am not sure where in the audio world Hans Beykhuzen, John Darko, or New Record Day come from, but I get almost nothing from their reviews that I could not get from reading manufacturer ad copy, so I stopped watching them a long time ago.
Most of these online reviewers are more about providing entertainment than analysis. That’s why Amir has a special place in the audio world. Amir is all about the analysis, but his videos have proven he can be entertaining, too.

Let’s face it — most audio consumers, even at the high end, know superficially little about the science behind the products they buy. Many prefer to keep it that way if the science gets in the way of their gut feelings.

The Audio Spark II may be “cute”, but it’s measurements are crap.
 

Ismapics

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Thomas is ok. He is willing to say less expensive material is good, and he has a bit of sense of humor about himself. "A British Audiophile" though, thinks cables are important and believes in "magic." A Hegel amp will always be better than a budget amp, even if it isn't...

Well the reviewer you mention (I won't) TS, does thing that things sound better with cables and that power conditioners are a thing. That actually impacts sound. He does check with others - with same beliefs - to hear this and that. So take it for what it is, entertainment.
 

Billy Budapest

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Wow, this amp is a total crap.
It’s not a good measuring amp but there are a lot of other amps that measured worse than it. It’s on the line between the bottom quartile and third quartile of all amps tested by ASR.
 

zer0dave

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We are all passionate about gear and music. There is zero difference between us in that regard. This is a common retort with no foundation. Please don't use it here. We are not here to practice debating tactics and talking points.

That aside, where we are different from others, is that if we say equipment X is this way, we want to be able to show it is a reliable prediction. To want otherwise is to aspire to have random opinions thrown at you. I don't go to my doctor looking for random lay opinion. I don't know why I should for something as technical as sound reproduction.

In this case, the reliable, objective evidence points to this amplifier being designed far worse than many other choices. There is no evidence that its failing add to any kind of enjoyment. That some owners or reviewers think otherwise, is influenced by countless things independent of the gear being tested.


It is the other way around. So much misinformation gets thrown around by youtubers and audiophiles that the science is all but lost. I suggest watching this video on what it takes to have a reliable opinion when it comes to listening to gear:

I am sorry to say that I respectfully disagree. The problem with the YT reviewer is that almost all of them have absolutely no technical formal training. But they call their crafts reviews and make claims that are unsubstantiated and completely subjective. They don't follow the scientific process in evaluating a piece of gear.

Words like musicality and emotions don't have any meaning or value, because its not from my ears or my room. Also the typical YT Reviewer doesn't follow the process of first making objective measurements and they confirming or refuting these with subjective listening. They go straight from reading specs to the subjective criteria. AudioPh (Hans also) is in his late 60's, his spectrum, should not extend past 14K or less. ZF (include all the others) has (have) no technical background at all. Any of them may easily connect this Amp and a pair of efficient speaker and don't notice any distortion. They don't have the gear to measure, they are blind.

See AmirM (ASR) is not the first to adopt the scientific method. Back in the late 60/70/80 we had Julian Hirsch. He used the same method in Stereo Review. I trust the process to eliminate all that has no value, narrowing the list. Then I decide what is musical, for me when I listen. That is the main difference / value these so called experts YT reviewers don't have. Have a great day.
The way I see it; it's a $400, anemic, poor measuring amp (and gaudy looks IMO). Whats to like? I just don't understand why one would remotely be interested in it. Surely there are (much?) better options around this price point.

I struggle to understand why an amp like this even exists.
Have you tried touching lava before dismissing the idea?
Most of these online reviewers are more about providing entertainment than analysis. That’s why Amir has a special place in the audio world. Amir is all about the analysis, but his videos have proven he can be entertaining, too.

Let’s face it — most audio consumers, even at the high end, know superficially little about the science behind the products they buy. Many prefer to keep it that way if the science gets in the way of their gut feelings.

The Audio Spark II may be “cute”, but it’s measurements are crap.
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!
 

HiFidFan

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First, welcome to ASR @zer0dave !

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.

Are you suggesting that we should measure the amp ourselves? If so, why? I trust Amir's data.

I don't "listen" to amplifiers or DACs. Amplifiers/DACs should be as transparent as possible in the audio chain. I DO listen to the recording through transducers.

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. . . .t

. . .That being said, imagine all of the amazing music we'd have to dismiss if measurements were the only criteria?

Again, what measurements should one do above what Amir has already done?

How is music measured?

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!

I'm not shelling out $400 to "spend time" with an amp like this. Aside from the poor measured performance, I literally have no use for it. Sorry.
 

Ismapics

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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!

------------

No one is saying that is music or gear sounds bad that it should be "dismissed" No, what this site is all about is leveling the playing field. Making sure that all gear does what it claims and if it measures up to what it should. Then ask yourself why would any knowledgable consumer spend any money on a piece of gear that does not measure vs one that does? If he/she does its because they bought their story and believed it will do them good. Go ahead and have at it its your hard earned $$. However, those here that believe in the science and trust the measurements, are better served, IMO.
 

Billy Budapest

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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 the end goal is high fidelity to the recording, then the gear you use should be judged how how much or how little distortion and noise it adds to the signal, and how accurately it can produce the waveforms of recorded sound.

I’m also not sure if I believe in this “euphonic distortion” mumbo jumbo, either. It seems to me to be a concept invented by the audio press to justify the existence of poorly-measuring products. In order to hear the effect of any kind of distortion, it has to be very high. Looking at measurements, most distortion products of most modern amplification gear are below the level of audibility. The ones that do creep into the audible range are barely past the threshold.
 
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NJC

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Thomas is ok. He is willing to say less expensive material is good, and he has a bit of sense of humor about himself. "A British Audiophile" though, thinks cables are important and believes in "magic." A Hegel amp will always be better than a budget amp, even if it isn't...
It's how they explain things I find interesting and different to many of the others that are useful to me. In an industry where the subjective is often the case, they seem to explain what they hear better than others. I've heard differences between cables however small they may be. Also differences among amps and dacs.
 
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