By: Jonathan Kwan
July 28, 2017
Although it has been almost a decade since I graduated high school, I still have many vivid memories of being in class. I remember my Grade 11 math teacher was a funny and helpful man. The most outstanding trait, however, was not the fact he was funny and helpful -- but the fact he was always very relaxed and trusting. In fact, he was so relaxed and trusting, he even let us listen to music during exams. Now, our digital audio players did not hold a lot of music back then -- that 256MB of storage meant you can hold forty songs or so, depending on how much you care about quality -- so you will be repeat the same set of songs at least a few times over throughout the day. And which band occupied the most space on my Creative Zen Nano Plus at the time? Linkin Park. From Mike Shinoda's rap in the famous verses of "In the End" to Chester Bennington's brilliant screaming in the bridge of "From the Inside", these were the songs that rocked many of our earphones during breaks between classes. When the band released "Minutes to Midnight" in 2007, my colleague Kenneth Kwok and I were one of the first to pick up the album, and since then we have conducted every audio review here at APH Networks by listening to "Shadow of the Day" as part of our benchmarking collection. As I write this introduction upon hearing the sad news of the passing of Chester last week, let us take this time to remember the music we have grown up with, rendered through the drivers of the Focal Spark Wireless, as the voice of our longtime friend continues to speak through the lyrics from "Hybrid Theory" to "One More Light" and everything in between.
Our review unit of the Focal Spark Wireless arrived in a relatively compact, brown corrugated cardboard box from the company's public relations firm in Miami, Florida, USA. In case you are wondering, it was not the same box as the one that got the Focal Spark I reviewed last week to our doorstep. In fact, the wireless version came nearly a month after the wired version arrived; mainly scheduling had it such that these articles ended up being only a week apart from each other. Using FedEx International 2day, everything arrived in excellent condition to us here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for our review today.
We got our Focal Spark Wireless quite a bit before it was officially announced, but they still managed to ship it to us in the final retail packaging. As you can see in our photo above, the sleek retail box comes in the form of rectangular prism, and uses a primarily black and white color scheme to give it a more serious overtone. With everything laid out sparingly, the design is clean and easy on the eyes. At the top, you will find the product name in block letters, followed by the slogan in smaller font. A Bluetooth logo and color variant information can be found at the top right corner. Our particular unit is the silver version. Occupying the majority of the space in the middle is a photo of the earphones at various angles. Meanwhile, at the bottom above Focal's logo is an arrangement of icons show off its aluminum finish, flat cable, three button remote, and Bluetooth connection. Miscellaneous information such as the Focal Spark Wireless' specifications and remote usage instructions can be found on the remaining sides of the box.
On that topic, before we move on, let us take a look at the specifications of the Focal Spark Wireless, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
Type: In-ear headphones
Bluetooth wireless technology: 4.1
Battery: up to 8h
Impedance: 16 Ohms
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20KHz
Driver: Electrodynamic 9.5mm Mylar
Net weight: 14g (0.04lbs)
After a quick cut of two seals at the bottom of the box, you can slide out a cardboard tray that contains everything. The tray is divided into two partitions; one where the Spark Wireless earphones are secured to a polyethylene terephthalate shell, and the other for everything else. In the second partition, you will find a rigid zipper case and a quick start guide underneath it. Inside the rigid zipper case is a USB charging cable, battery clip, and small and large ear sleeves; the medium sized ear sleeves are pre-installed for you already.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis