Tested: New Spark MINI smart guitar amp is also a Bluetooth speaker and audio interface

Best gifts for musicians

Update: The new Positive Grid Spark mini Bluetooth speaker and guitar amp is now up for pre-order with a notable launch discount at $185. Regularly $229, Positive Grid says the discounts will be changing throughout the day, but it might not get any better than this. 

Today, Positive Grid is unveiling its brand new Spark MINI smart guitar amp. The smaller, more compact little brother of the full-size Spark practice amp brings the brand’s usual smart features and doubles as a retro, guitar-amp-style Bluetooth speaker. The Spark MINI also provides audio interface capabilities for folks looking to record with its breadth of amp emulation and FX gear. We have been lucky enough to get an early run of the amp to test before it is unveiled today. Read all about the Spark MINI smart guitar amp in our latest Tested with 9to5Toys review below. 

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Positive Grid’s Spark MINI smart guitar amp review

Positive Grid’s Spark MINI smart guitar amp pulls directly from the brand’s full-size Spark practice amp, inheriting all of the same functionality and interactive smart features – companion app amp and effects emulation, the jam-along and chord learning ecosystem, typical Bluetooth speaker listening capabilities, and audio interface connectivity for your DAW. The MINI is a tighter, enhanced, go-anywhere version of its larger predecessor with a lighter price tag to match.

The Spark MINI smart guitar amp comes in classic black or luxe Pearl tolex, the latter of which is on display for this review, and can “be personalized by swapping out the removable grille with vibrant and fun options for a custom look.” It carries a rechargeable battery that can run for up to eight hours at a time and gets juiced back up over the included USB-C cable. 

As far as basic mini practice guitar amps go, it has a few tone options available directly on the top-mounted control pots and is easily one of the better sounding options I have come across. However, all of that gets expanded dramatically when connected over Bluetooth to the Spark app where you’ll find a large (and included for no extra cost) collection of amp emulations (39 of them from what I can see) as well as all of the expected FX pedals, from gates and distortion units to EQ, delay, reverb, and more. This takes what is essentially a great sounding mini amp with three or so tone options into a full-fledged guitar sound creation device – you can build out your own pedal board with signal chain options and a slew of amp heads to flip through, all of which are expanded even further with a library of user-created presets and the option to buy into the expanded collections. It even has a built-in guitar tuner that works with or without the app.

Angled, full-range stereo speakers offer multi-directional sound and channel separation for high-quality amplification or music streaming. Plus, a downward-facing passive radiator pumps out big sonic power and a tight and punchy bass performance never before heard in an amp this size.

Here’s a closer look at the spec sheet:

  • Classic black or luxe Pearl (white) color options
  • Up to eight hours of battery life
  • 33 ultra-realistic amp models and 43 effects
  • Built-in audio interface
  • Smart Jam Live (Create a virtual band to play along with.)
  • App video performance capture
  • Custom on-board EQ settings
  • Smart output (headphones or line out)
  • Bluetooth speaker streaming

9to5Toys’ Take

Spark MINI smart guitar amp looks about as good as it sounds. The exterior finish brings that sort of tumbled leather look, and the off-white pearl treatment really pops in my music room. This one includes a removable strap – it’s similar to the lug system a typical guitar strap uses – with the same exterior treatment as the speaker alongside a plush soft-to-the-touch interior.

It gives off that retro vibe you don’t see on all modern practice amps, which in turn really makes it stand out among the legions of flat plastic models in the Bluetooth speaker category. It’s not an unheard of aesthetic approach by any means, but certainly a nice touch – more than one visitor has stopped to mention how interesting it looks in my home studio.  

Those who have spent a little more time with it – guitar players and collaborators of mine – were immediately impressed by the sound, much the same way I was. The clean tones offer a crisp and moody reverberation while the Solo and crunchy presets really allow you to dig in and bring out some interesting harmonics with more aggressive playing. And that’s just the few presets available on the amp before you even connect with the customizable suite of emulations in the app, which are similar in quality to those found in the BIAS FX2 suite that comes with the brand’s new RIFF audio interface. All of that is to say the Spark MINI sounds fantastic right out of the box as a simple practice amp for when you just want to plug in and jam without messing with a smartphone or iPad. 

Positive Grid’s Spark MINI doesn’t have any business sounding as good as it does for a practice amp, add in the company’s smart connected sound design, jam-along integration, audio interfacing, and Bluetooth streaming, and you’re looking at one of the best, most feature-rich options in its weight class. 

Update: Pre-orders will begin in March on this brand new product and you can sign up to be notified with an exclusive discount bonus offer right here.

Positive Grid Spark MINI smart guitar amp

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