Focal Spark Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware

The Focal Spark is available in three color schemes, which is black, silver, and blue. Our particular example is the silver version. For those who like visual simplicity for a clean appearance, the Focal Spark has you covered. As you can see in our photo above, Focal's logo is engraved onto the back, with the company name on the outside of both earbuds. Its aluminum finish looks great, and its material choice makes it very lightweight at 14g. The Spark is designed to go straight into your ears, but you can wrap it around your ears as well. I would like to commend Focal for making such lightweight earphones for improved comfort as well as being compact in size, so it still fits well for most people, including me. In the end, I went with the medium sized silicone ear sleeves after trying out the small eartips for the best fit. As with all in-ear monitors, users with different sized ears will be happy to know that the company has included three different sized sleeves.

The Focal Spark earphones comes with a three-button remote and is compatible with Android, Apple iOS, and Windows Phone devices -- if anyone still uses the latter, that is. The buttons provide decent tactile feedback. It also comes with an integrated omnidirectional microphone located behind the remote to go with your smartphone, since it is hard to find anyone nowadays listening to music on a dedicated digital audio player exclusively, haha. The remote module is located on cable that leads to your left ear. This makes one side a little heavier than the other, but it should not bother most users, given these are wired earphones.

The Focal Spark earphones connect to your audio output device via a straight non-gold plated connector. I personally prefer angled connectors instead, because they are inherently easier to disconnect from a source, being easier to grip compared to a straight plug. The flat cable is not only light and easy to bend, but also tangle-proof. I also like the fact the cable is about 140cm long, with 95cm from the plug to the Y split, which should be a good fit for most users.

A closer look at Focal's Spark earbuds. As aforementioned, the company's logo can be found at the back, while the "L" and "R" markers can be found on the cable guard leading into the earbuds. Its drivers are 9.5mm Mylar electrodynamic-type with a rated frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz. These specifications are within the hearing range of a normal human being. Meanwhile, the rated sensitivity is 103dB with an impedance of 16 ohms. Its low impedance will work very well with unamplified sources such as your smartphone. Like many modern in-ear monitors, the drivers aim directly into your ear for a more direct and transparent sound reproduction characteristic. At the same time, it makes the earphones much easier to clean in the long run too. The sleeves assist the aim into the user's ear canals, and since these earphones are designed for a closed configuration, the Focal Spark are made for passive noise canceling. As aforementioned, they come in three sizes for best fit and audio performance to the end user.

Based on my experience, the microphonics characteristics of the Focal Spark are similar to the most earphones I have used in the past. During usage, like all in-ear monitors, rustling noise is inevitable -- and with the Spark, it is no exception. The Y-split junction filters out a good amount of mechanical vibrations half way down the cable, but the upper segment is considerably more audible. It does a fairly decent job at things rubbing against it such as your T-shirt, but if the cable is loose and it is swinging into a foreign material, you will hear more noise.

With all this in mind, how will it perform? As always, we have the entire Page 3 dedicated to presenting our auditioning results.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion