Mooer Audio has made its name taking forward-thinking digital tone tech and placing it in the hands of guitarists, for a fraction of the price.
The new build takes the firm’s existing eight-inch SD30 combo amp and expands it into a Spark-like 2x 4” speaker setup that should sit nicely on a desktop. On top of that there are 52 amp models, 49 effects, an 80-second looper, Bluetooth audio playback, plus a built-in tuner, metronome and a drum machine.
In addition, the firm has introduced a new iAMP companion app alongside the SD30i, which allows more tailored effects editing, easy firmware updates and the ability to browse and download tones from the cloud.
If all of this is sounding somewhat familiar to you, well, it should, because it’s very, very similar to the Spark offering.
However, in its export business, it’s used to going after the territory occupied by pricier rivals and legacy brands – rather than going head-to-head with already affordable gear. In this instance, then, Mooer risks playing catch-up, as opposed to undercutting a more expensive product.
On paper, the specs of both products have their ups and downs. The Mooer has a slightly larger range of models (Spark being limited to 33 amps and 43 effects) and has the advantage of that built-in looper – a notable omission from the Spark.
Where the Mooer could score points, however, is in its portability. The SD30i has a rechargeable battery with a handy five-hour battery life. To get the same cable-free power from the Spark range, you have to go down to the 10-watt Spark Mini.
Pairing the SD30i with one of Mooer’s GTRS guitars, meanwhile, offers the tempting proposition of a cableless setup without the use of a wireless pack.
That said, where the Spark has really won hearts and minds has been in its (genuinely useful) smart practice aids. For instance, the ability to construct a backing track on the fly for your noodling, or transcribe chords to streamed songs in real-time – and these are things Mooer’s iAMP does not offer.
The Spark also packs more punch, with a 40-watt power section, has a long-established crowd-sourced ToneCloud with over 50,000 tones to browse and, frankly, looks a lot nicer perched on your desk. You can even customize your own grille cloth.
There’s a sizeable caveat that we've yet to hear them side by side, but it will be interesting to see how the SD30i fares against its steep competition, particularly given the only early listing price we can find places it at $366 (nearly $70 over the price of the Spark).
Regardless, the industry can only benefit from products like this nipping at the heels of other manufacturers, so if the SD30i does nothing beyond provoking Positive Grid to incorporate a looper in the next Spark, many will be happy…
For more information on the SD30i, head to Mooer Audio.