This is a look at Focal’s everyday, let’s say, entry level Focal Spark Wireless in ear buds. They are just what it says there but they’re very accomplished indeed. As well as the wireless Spark ear buds, I did actually receive a normal pair of these headphones, so I’ll comment on the wired ones occasionally.
The ear buds consist of a white ribbon with two bits on it, in the middle the battery and to the right side a control unit that turns the buds on (hold for four seconds or so) and answers a phone call if you get one. Otherwise the buttons pause music or podcasts and skip forward and back. The whole string weighs in at just 14 grams!
The battery needs charging of course, it takes 2 hours from flat and is done by plugging a USB mini B cable in, the cable is in the box. The microscopic manual says the battery has an 8 hour life. As a big walker and podcaster (if you want a recommendation, listen to Serial by the This American Life team, brilliant) this claim feels about right, I’ve had no problem with battery power.
The buds are driven by an electrostatic driver made of Mylar, a specialist polyester material by the sounds of it. The driver is 9.5mm in diameter and produces a wide frequency range claimed between 20Hz and20 kHz. The bud itself is aluminium, nice and light, and comes in Rose Gold (pink), Black and Silver for the Wireless Sparks. As I mentioned I did receive a wired pair of Focal Spark that are finished in Cobalt Blue though this is not an option for the wireless version.
The Bluetooth is 4.1 and aptX so carries a good quality audio file, in principle. The key thing I’ve really enjoyed having just moved to a phone without a headphone jack is that with wireless is you don’t need to remember your headphone dongle all the time, I’m really appreciating that at the moment.
In the box
In the Wireless box there are the headphones, mine are silver buds with a white ribbon (flat) cable, various silicone tips for adjustment of fit, a USB charging cable and a very nice carry case that I like a lot. There is also a little Focal branded magnetic clip that was really useful for clipping the battery module to your collar to stop it jigging about if you were doing sports. Inevitably I lost my clip on trip one, it was good whilst I had it!
It’s Focal, so the quality is going to be good, the aluminium buds are softly machined and the feel is really nice. The little Focal symbol on the back of the buds reveal a mesh behind them implying they are open backed but noise isolation is good. My walk takes me over a motorway bridge but I have no need to adjust the volume to compensate.
Spec from the site.
Bluetooth® wireless technology 4.1
Battery Up to 8h
Impedance 16 Ohms
Frequency response 20Hz – 20KHz
Driver Electrodynamic 03/8″ (9,5mm) Mylar
Net weight 14g (0,04lbs)
At this stage, if we accept these are everyday ear buds, these Focal Spark Wireless headphones are really pretty fun. I have no complaints at all. The resolution is good and overall the connectivity in my experience (with a Pixel 2 mainly) has been almost flawless, I’m really quite impressed with the Bluetooth performance, battery and the whole package. The only note I wanted to make was that, relatively, there is plenty of low end bass performance which is surprising to me given how tight Focal products usually are, not a complaint though.
I ran in the Cobalt Blue Focal Spark wired headphones that I am now listening to on my XPS laptop. With a Tidal Masters account the sound is good, drums are tight. The lower end tends to predominate for me but there is a little more control with the wired ear buds in my view. The resolution is really nice all-round.
For a wireless solution these are well worth a listen, for a sports wearer I’m sure with the magnetic clip these headphones will be very stable indeed. In respect of audio performance, I don’t think you would be wanting for a great deal more than these at this price. There are so many headphones out there these days you really just have to listen then buy if you can.
Ease of Use
Cobalt Blue colour on the wired ones
Anti tangle ribbon cable
Batteries were lighter