Sparkler Audio

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
I got the green paper on the DAC. I'll be ordering an Ether and after I sell some surplus gear. Mr. Tsukahara, aka Mr. Sparkler, worked for Sony during the inception of SACD. The current mode CD transport is on the radar too.
Victor said he hand dyes each paper to order so there may be slight color variances. I hope that mine aren’t too different from each other. Can you show a photo of your DAC? Does it have backlighting?
 

MikeyFresh

Moderator
Staff member
Bear in mind their tuner may only cover the 76-95 MHz portion of our 88-108MHz broadcast band.
I was wondering about just that and dug into the website specs to confirm:

FM Band: 87~108MHz (world wide) 50/75μs de-emphasis, stereo
AM Band: 522~1620kHz (9kHz step, Europe/Asia/Africa), 520~1710kHz (10kHz step, America)


The VKMusic.ca site does state "overseas model uses a different dial", but the manufacturer omits that from their picture caption.
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
So I pulled out the ol SPL meter this morning just to get a better idea of how much power I typically use at the house. Using my Nakamichi TA3A and MarkAudio 7.3 speakers I held the mic about 3ft in front of the speakers. On my “loudest reasonable level” listening I hit a whopping 95db at one point. This is much louder than I thought it would be, but typically the majority of the song was around 75-80db.

So with crude numbers, the MarkAudios being 85db efficiency one could extrapolate an instantaneous output of 9-10W. If that’s correct I would be on the very edge of the Ether’s power output, rated at 10W. Sparkler doesn’t give a max output so I’m not sure what to do here. I don’t want to run that amp into the ground and possibly run out of steam.

And I really had my heart set on a Sparkler stack but it doesn’t seem logical to me to keep the Ether order if it’s going to be maxed out on one of my favorite speakers. I’m disappointed as I had hoped for a full Sparkler stack and the Fluegal amp isn’t appealing to me and their TOTL amp preamp combo is just too costly.

There is another option though. Not Sparkler but similar probably in terms of sound. Audio Sector Patek Integrated amplifier. It’s a gainclone and goes back all the way into the 47 Lab days as being a direct copy (but with better parts) to that famous 47 Lab Gaincard.

I have had an AS integrated but not the Patek. The Patek uses very high quality parts and construction, much above the typical integrated they offer. Black gate caps, noble potentiometer, occ wiring, etc. This could be the solution but is it worth giving up the Sparkler current mode features? If I went with the AS integrated I’d still get the Sparkler DAC.

Any thoughts?

A little more info, the 7.3 speakers are the only speakers I’ve got that might actually give the Ether a problem with. My Audio Note AX Twos are 90db, the Sonidos (if they don’t sell) are 94db. Anyone think that the max output of the ether might be enough and possibly be just unlisted?
 
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StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
Was just informed from Victor that the 10W rating on the Ether is the max output, not the RMS.
 

MikeO

Active Member
I really love the look of the Sparkler amp. I suspect it would sound outstanding with the right speakers. But that said, I don't think I would buy a 7 watt per channel amp without hearing it or if I was going to be swapping speakers a lot. Not a criticism of the amp in any way. But there are not a lot of speakers built to run well on 7 watts. Also, isn't the driver for their own speakers from markaudio. If yes, I suspect they must work pretty well. Are your markaudios less efficient than theirs?
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
I really love the look of the Sparkler amp. I suspect it would sound outstanding with the right speakers. But that said, I don't think I would buy a 7 watt per channel amp without hearing it or if I was going to be swapping speakers a lot. Not a criticism of the amp in any way. But there are not a lot of speakers built to run well on 7 watts. Also, isn't the driver for their own speakers from markaudio. If yes, I suspect they must work pretty well. Are your markaudios less efficient than theirs?
Yes, their smaller model of speaker uses a similar Mark Audio driver to mine, with similar efficiency rating of 85-ish. Their larger speaker is 88-ish db efficient. I too suspect that if they're selling this little 10W amp and offering those speakers, it must be at the very least a good pairing.

And you're right, 7W doesn't go a long way, even in some of the higher efficiency designs... though you would think it should. I once ran a Dennis Had 807 amp on a pair of 98db efficient DIYSound Group Fusion-12 speakers in a 10x10 room and was so disappointed with the results, even at modest levels. Then on the flipside, I ran a pair of Audio Nirvana 12" fullrange speakers on a Lepai LP-2020A+ (they claimed 20Wpc but I feel this was drastically overrated) super duper cheap amp that almost drove me out of the room in a nearly 20x20 area. That kind of boggles my mind and confuses me even more.
 

StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
After doing a lot of testing this weekend with various amps/speakers combos as well as talking with Victor on the phone a few times and emailing the owner of Sparkler I’m assured that the Ether will be enough for my needs.

Strangely my satisfying volume level on my Audio Notes is much less than the MarkAudios. I’m guessing this is partially due to a fuller sound. The two speakers couldn’t be any more different than they are. Polar opposites in how they present music. Each with their own qualities.

After losing a bit of interest in audio it was good to devote a weekend towards mixing and matching. I’m definitely more excited to receive the Sparkler stuff in late July or early August.
 
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StevenZ

Pending Gold Star Member
The Sparkler stuff came in this morning. It's much smaller than I thought it would be, even though I knew the dimensions from their website. Build quality is pretty good for being a hand made artisan product. I will snap photos when I've cleaned the place up a little and set them up nicely vs just strewn across my desk and computer case. Will report on the sound much later.
 
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