FullSound also benefits from only having on and off settings rather than the dozen or so possible permutations that some systems offer and that, frankly, only serve to pad out the features list with ludicrous acronyms and confuse the living daylights out of most users.
The Spark's settings include a five-band equaliser
As well as FullSound, you also get six pre-set five-band EQ settings and one which is user adjustable. What you don't get are any separate bass or treble controls, but during our time with the Spark we never once felt their lack nor the need to mess with the EQ settings. With Fullsound switched on, the Spark always produced a tight, well focused sound with solid bass along with good definition and separation right across the frequency range.
If we had to criticise anything about the Spark's audio delivery it would be the volume - this isn't the loudest player we have come across. The bundled ear buds are nothing to write home about either, but nor are they any worse that those supplied by the likes of Apple or Samsung at this price point.
The Spark will let you set up three separate on-board playlists but you can't copy any across from an MTP media player app, which is a bit of a disappointment. For Mac and Linux users, it's worth making the point that the Spark showed up just fine on the desktops of both to drag and drop tracks, though we didn't manage to get it to work as an MTP device on either.
As you might expect with a mass-market budget player, format support is nothing out of the ordinary and only stretches to MP3, WMA and WAV audio files, and JPEG and BMP image files. We don't think the absence of video support is much of an an issue - would you actually want to watch video on a screen this size?
The UI's logically laid out and easy to navigate
As well as audio playback the Spark will let you make mono voice recordings which are stored as WAV files. Be careful how you hold the Spark when recording, though, as the microphone proved very susceptible to taps and knocks on the device body.
Our review device didn't have the optional FM radio fitted so we can't comment on its usability or quality, though, according to the spec. sheet, Sparks with an FM tuner can record off-air.
OK, but costs twice as much as 2 GB Sansa Clip
> The ... GoGear Spark... will set you back around £39. That's about the same price as the 2GB Sansa Clip, which has a far less appealing screen and a much lower battery life.
Uhm, no. I'm this very minute tempted by the Sansa Clip for a little less than £18 incl. p&p on dvd.co.uk. So while I agree that the GoGear Spark sounds nicer, it also appears to cost more than twice as much.
Re: No Bass and Treble?
Yes, the letters are as identified. However, a traditional bass/treble control on audio equipment does not work in the same way as a graphic equaliser such as on this player.
A non-parametric graphic equaliser such as this has fixed frequency bands, and you can adjust the level of sounds within those bands. It's dead easy to add to an mp3 player because the data is already divided into frequency bands, so on playback the player just accentuates some of them as appropriate before reconstructing the sound.
In contrast, a traditional bass/treble control operates at a fixed boost level, but with the frequency bands affected able to be adjusted. When you "turn up the bass", you extend the frequency band towards the mid-ranges, so a wider range of low frequencies are boosted by that fixed amount. Similarly for the treble, from the high frequencies downwards. Computationally, this is a bit harder work for an mp3 player, and probably no better than a decent graphic equaliser anyway, so is not so common a feature.
Re: Gapless Playback
Good explanation, and good summary - thanks. Being an exclusively LAME devotee, I am used to (nay complacent about) this superior facility. Shame most players don't use it if they can.
No Bass and Treble?
Silly me, and I thought those letters on the EQ meant Bass, Lows, Mids, Highs and Treble...
Looks like a good cheap PMP, I might get one for the missus. Thanks for the review.
@David Gosnell - Gapless Playback
There's a very good explanation of it here:
There is a lot that the player has to do before audio comes out of it at the beginning of a file, but more fundamentally, the files are composed of fixed-length packets so the last one is likely to contain some silence. Unless the file indicates where the audio actually ends, you have to play this silence or attempt to guess its extent. Ogg Vorbis and FLAC contain metadata to indicate exactly where the audio ends, as do MP3s encoded with LAME, but standard MP3s do not.