NAMM 2024: No-one can accuse Positive Grid of lacking ambition. It’s had a few misses in its time, but since its Spark practice amp landed in 2019, the one-time challenger has hit the sweet spot between tech and tone and, in the process, been thoroughly vindicated, becoming one of the best-selling amp brands of the last few years.
With the home player market convincingly sewn up, Positive Grid has Increasingly been turning its attention towards the live arena – and now it’s broken cover on its most biggest announcement yet: the Spark LIVE.
It’s a four-channel amp and PA system that offers simultaneous inputs for guitar, bass, and vocals, plus a channel for keys or another stereo connection, which opens up the options of laptops, drum machines, electronic kits etc.
On the software side this is complemented with the usual Spark modeling tech, alongside extra effects and a mixer. Meanwhile, the full frequency speaker uses some clever tech – namely a combination of FRFR, DSP and computational audio – to optimize its output.
This includes the use of a placement sensor that automatically tweaks EQ depending on whether the amp is positioned vertically or horizontally. Place it upright and you’ll get a punchy mono output, while dropping it on its side opens up a stereo field.
As such, says the firm, it “dynamically adapts” depending on the inputs being used and its placement.
“At the heart of Spark LIVE is Sonic IQ,” says Positive Grid. “[It’s] a groundbreaking fusion of hardware and software technologies such as dynamic range compression, vocal clarity enhancement, virtual bass augmentation and more – driven by a dedicated computational audio chip.”
That reads a bit like ‘robot sound engineer’ to us and while, obviously, we’re not quite at that point yet (the term “AI” is absent here), it does offer an intriguing glimpse into the future of live sound.
Soon, it seems, even the lowliest coffee shop gig could see a software brain handling the tweaks that were once the work of your own ears, hands and multiple plugins.
Then there’s the traditional stuff: it offers 150-watts of power, is bluetooth and wifi compatible, has MIDI, XLR, 1/4" jack, USB and headphone connections – and it can run off a rechargeable battery.
While, as mentioned, Positive Grid is clearly thinking big when it comes to the possibilities of the Spark LIVE, we reckon it’s the latter spec that is the give away, with it seemingly primed to take on the likes of busker amp favorites from Roland/Boss.
On top of all of that, the Spark LIVE will then offer the usual Spark app eco-system, with all the preset library and smart practice features that come with that.
Call us biased, but we like the look of the guitar-centric control system, which offers the tone shaping front panel of a traditional amp (for guitar and bass), with the master EQ and volume of a PA on the rear panel.
You will also reportedly get access to a new mixer screen for the unit within the Spark app. (We cannot confirm yet whether you can mute your fellow band members from the app, in order to make room for your 12-minute guitar solo showcase, but that seems dangerously possible.)
One sticking point among all this mind-blowing tech is that the rechargeable battery is sold separately (for $179), but that does mean the Spark: LIVE comes in at a hair under $500, with a debut price of $499.
For more information, head to Positive Grid.
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