The last ten years we have seen a proliferation of options for practicing and playing guitar at low volumes with sonic options we couldn’t have imagined 20-30 years ago. Modeling tones have come a long way and are now both inexpensive and convincing.
We have been users of Positive Grid’s software since their early days with JamUp, then BIAS, and then BIAS Fx. As the company matured, they listened to their customers who wanted all their software features but in a stand-alone amp. When the first Spark amp was announced a few years ago, it was met with an overwhelming response as demand exceeded the supply. No worries, the backlog is behind us now.
The first Spark amp was 40 watts but did not have an option for being battery operated (although that’s relatively easy to do now with a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack you can get for less than $60). Regardless, users still wanted a more compact, battery-operated version so out came the Spark Mini, a smaller, more compact and battery-optional version at 10 watts. But users wanted still another option, a portable amp with all the usual features, but which you could easily fit into a gig bag or backpack and still have great sound.
There are four basic uses for the Spark Go:
- Portable amp
- Silent portable amp using heaphones
- Bluetooth speaker
- Audio interface
At first look at the diminutive Spark GO, you may think there is no way that thing can deliver great guitar sounds. But we were blown away. This is not your grandfather’s classic Rockman with a speaker. But wow, would he have loved to have this sitting on the family room coffee table for all those hours of shredding to hone his chops. This is one hell of a fun little practice tool!
Five-watt class D amplifier with a two-inch, custom, mono speaker and stereo headphone out. It covers a frequency range of 11-20,000 Hz and has a maximum sound pressure level of 82 dB SPL @1meter.
Top controls include a preset selector, music volume (when streaming to the device), and guitar volume. Side controls include a power/Bluetooth pairing button. There are four fully customizable presets on the amp. The Spark app is essential to customize these and get the most out of all Spark amps, and it runs on both Android and iOS devices.
The amp also includes a tuner with an LED display. Through the app, there are 33 amp models, 43 effects, and add-ons like the Experience Jimi Hendrix pack, a worthwhile purchase.
There is a ¼” guitar input and 1/8” headphone/line output jack. Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.0. This device is a Bluetooth receiver, not a transmitter. So you can stream audio to the device from your phone or tablet to either listen to music or play along with tracks, but you can’t pair a Bluetooth headset with it.
Spark GO also functions as a USB interface for recording via a USB-C connection. Sample rate is 16-bit/44.1kHz.
Spark GO is compact at 4.92 x 3.34 x 1.77 inches and weighs only 0.76lbs. It comes with two different decorative grilles. GO also comes with a removable duo-tone strap, a removable protective sleeve, and carrying case.
Although separate from the Spark GO, the Spark app is essential and free. It comes with Smart Jam with four different included drummers, Auto Chords for playing along with songs, 50,000+ tones on the Spark ToneCloud, video recording, a tuner, and a Scenario EQ. For additional features and guides for the Spark App, head on over to Spark App – Help Center (positivegrid.com).
Spark GO sells for $129.