First look: Positive Grid Spark LIVE review

The Spark family welcomes a new member – but it’s more than just a louder version of the beloved practice amp

First look: Positive Grid Spark LIVE review
(Image: © Future/Daryl Robertson)

Guitar World Verdict

With this new release, Positive Grid proves yet again that they know exactly what they are doing. Fans of the brand have been crying out for a giggable version of their beloved practice amp and while last year's Spark Cab allowed players to augment their current rig to work on stage, the LIVE takes the concept of a gig-ready Spark to a whole new level.

Pros

  • +

    Lightweight

  • +

    Surprisingly loud

  • +

    Fantastic modeling and effects

Cons

  • -

    Battery and footswitch are sold separately

  • -

    We'd like the ability to use the effects on all channels

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At a glance

Type: 4-channel smart amp/ PA system
Output:
150 watts
Speakers:
2x 6-inch FRFR
Buy at Positive Grid

Over the last few years, we've seen Positive Grid grow its beloved Spark line of desktop amplifiers. Units such as the Spark Mini and Spark GO gave guitarists a smaller, more portable practice solution, while the Spark Cab transformed their home amp into a road-worthy companion. With the launch of the new Spark LIVE, the Positive Grid catalog is set to expand again, and this time into bold new territories. 

The LIVE is the latest member of the Spark family, and while on the surface, it may look like a more powerful version of the original practice amp, it's actually a lot more than that. This new amp can be thought of as a four-channel PA system with built-in effects and Positive Grid's legendary amp modeling that provides sound reinforcement for vocals, keyboards and basses as well as guitar. 

Powered by Positive Grid's new Sonic IQ computational audio engine, the Spark LIVE delivers a whopping 150 watts of power. Positive Grid states that this exclusive new technology provides a "full-spectrum sound and spacious audio separation". Moreover, the Adaptive EQ – supported by G-sensor auto-detection – delivers a focused, mono punch when the Spark LIVE is positioned vertically and wider stereo separation when positioned horizontally.

First look: Positive Grid Spark LIVE review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

In case that wasn't enough, you can also mount the Spark LIVE on any 35mm speaker stand or angle the unit with its multi-position tilt stand for improved sound dispersion.

Now, while this new amp seamlessly integrates with the free Spark companion app just like previous versions of the Spark, you also gain access to multi-channel tone controls, new effects for vocals, bass and acoustic, and an onboard mixer view for balancing the levels of all four channels – and just like other Spark models, it also offers Bluetooth audio streaming.

Other features include a built-in audio interface for recording live performances and video posts, as well as an optional rechargeable battery, which provides up to 8 hours of playtime per charge. You also have the option to pair the amp with the new Spark Control X wireless Bluetooth foot controller, giving you seamless control over the unit live.

Pre-order the Positive Grid LIVE now!

Pre-order the Positive Grid LIVE now!
Pre-orders are now open for this brand-new Positive Grid amplifier with an introductory price of $499. If you want to take advantage of this offer, you'll need to be quick as it's only available for a limited time and in limited numbers at this price. 

Design & build quality

First look: Positive Grid Spark LIVE review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

Aesthetically, the new Spark LIVE sticks to the elegant design style of the rest of the lineup. Its clean, crisp lines, simple control layout and retro grill all add up to a rather stylish-looking amp – in fact, when the amp is turned on its side, it puts us in mind of the vintage-inspired amps of Tone King, which is most certainly not a bad thing. 

For us, giggable amplifiers need to be lightweight and robust enough to handle life out on the road. Thankfully, we're happy to report that this new Spark is as rugged and well-made as we'd hoped. The unit itself feels perfectly sturdy, and the controls are smooth and responsive. We also love the inclusion of the kickstand at the rear of the unit. It's a simple but very effective design that works well.  

It's easy on the back, too. The lightweight design makes it a breeze to move around, and its compact nature means it won't take up too much space in the van.

Features & sound

First look: Positive Grid Spark LIVE review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

Now, the LIVE isn't Positive Grid's first attempt at creating a stage-ready amp. Back in 2016, they launched the now-discontinued Bias Head. This high-tech amp modeler looked to take on the likes of Kemper and Fractal, and while it received positive reviews upon release, it unfortunately failed to set the world on fire, and the amp has since fallen into obscurity. 

For the Spark LIVE, Positive Grid has taken a slightly different approach, taking aim at the likes of the Boss Cube Street II, which allows multiple musicians to play through the same amplifier. So, with that in mind, how does this amp hold up with an electric guitar, bass, and vocals all plugged in simultaneously? 

Surprisingly, pretty good. There's decent separation between all the instruments, and at 150 watts, the unit is certainly loud enough to compete with a drummer. At the heart of the LIVE is the new Sonic IQ computational audio engine, which Positive Grid says "fuses advanced digital signal processing, acoustic engineering, and speaker optimization" to ensure you always get the best tone possible. 

With features such as Dynamic Response Control, Virtual Bass Augmentation, and 360° Imaging, the Spark LIVE most definitely feels like a mini PA system more than a standard guitar amp. Couple this clear and full-frequency sound with the ability to mount the unit on a speaker pole and run it off an optional battery, and you get an ideal amp for busking or very small acoustic gigs in a coffee shop. If we were to have one gripe with the unit, it's that the battery is sold separately. As this is a major selling point of the amp, we'd like to see it be included. 

Now, could this amp replace your band's traditional PA system? Em, no, we don't think so. While it's undoubtedly loud, it doesn't quite have the sound dispersion of a conventional PA speaker. 

First look: Positive Grid Spark LIVE review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

Okay, so how does the Spark LIVE hold up as a standalone guitar amp? Well, it will come as no surprise that the new addition to the Spark family delivers the same versatile tone we've come to expect from this intelligent line of amps. 

Channels one and two benefit from the superb modeling technology that made the other models exceptionally popular. Once connected to the app, you can tweak the amp settings, choose from a cornucopia of effects and browse several ready-to-use presets. You also have the ability to save these presets to the unit for easy access – with a green and red bank available at the push of the button. Unfortunately, channels three and four don't have access to the effects. You simply have a single volume control for these channels. I'd love to be able to add effects to these channels as well, even if it was just reverb. 

Having used each model Positive Grid has released up to this point, the control layout feels familiar and intuitive – with us being able to recall a sound we were happy with in seconds. 

Final verdict 

First look: Positive Grid Spark LIVE review

(Image credit: Future/Daryl Robertson)

With this new release, Positive Grid proves yet again that they know exactly what they are doing. Fans of the brand have been crying out for a giggable version of their beloved practice amp and while last year's Spark Cab allowed players to augment their current rig to work on stage, the LIVE takes the concept of a gig-ready Spark to a whole new level. 

Okay, we can't see this unit becoming the centrepiece of a band's touring rig, like Positive Grid may have hoped – but for buskers, acoustic duos, or solo performers, it could prove to be a crucial part of their live setup.

Specifications

  • Type: 4-channel smart amp and PA system
  • Output: 150 watts
  • Speakers: 2x 6-inch FRFR
  • Controls: Front panel: preset, gain, bass, mid, treble, guitar, music. Rear panel: Master: Low, mid, high, volume. Channel 2: Preset, volume. Channel ¾: volume
  • Sockets: 3x 1/4” in, 1x XLR in, MIDI In, MIDI Out, 2x 1/4” out
  • Contact: Positive Grid 

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Daryl Robertson

First and foremost, I'm a guitar enthusiast – a fanatic, some might say. I'm a firm believer that most of the world's problems can be solved with a Gibson SG and a catastrophically loud amp. As a Senior Deals Writer on Guitar World, I write about guitars for a living, but in a past life, I worked in music retail for 7 years, advising customers on the right guitars, basses, drums, pianos, and PA systems for their needs. I also have a passion for live sound; I'm a fully qualified sound engineer with experience working in various venues in Scotland, where I live with my wife and dog.