Focal makes excellent full-size headphones, but it’s not always practical to travel with, carry, or wear them. Perhaps with that in mind, Focal has added two in-ear headphones that are surprisingly well priced. Whether you prefer wired or wireless in-ear headphones, the new Focal Spark headphones have you covered.
The new Focal Spark wired headphones are $69, and the wireless version is $99. You might think that their budget prices would mean budget in-ear headphones, but you would be mistaken. Let’s take a look at each set, and then you can decide which would work better for you.
Focal Spark (Wired Version)
The Focal Spark headphones are available in silver, black, or a really pretty cobalt blue. If you still have a phone that has a 3.5mm headphone jack, or if you don’t mind using the iPhone 7’s dongle, then the $69 wired version might be the perfect choice for you.
Inside the package are three different sets of silicone ear tips (the medium size comes installed), the Spark headphones, a quick start guide, and a really nice hard-sided zippered travel case. This seems really generous for a $69 pair of headphones, so I have no complaints there.
The Focal Spark in-ear headphones have an aluminum body with a soft-touch 55″ no-tangle flat cable. There is a three-button aluminum-wrapped remote control. The earbud with the remote on it goes on the left; the buttons on the remote are as follows; the + button controls volume when pressed once, or it will forward to the next song when held for three seconds. The middle button will pause or play, and it will also answer or hang up any calls. The – button will lower the volume or reverse to the next song when held for three seconds. There is an omnidirectional microphone built into the backside of the remote.
The Focal Spark in-ear headphones are comfortable to wear. Inside each earbud, there is a 9.5mm driver in Mylar; Focal says that these offer a “dynamic and wide frequency response.” They are a little bit heavier on the bass than I ordinarily prefer, but a lot of people will not see that as a con; the bass is especially welcome though, on songs like MISSIO’s “I Don’t Give a …” or Twenty-One Pilot’s “Fairly Local” — in other words, songs that you expect to have a pounding bassline on that some headphones aren’t quite tuned to deliver on.
Music played through the Focal Spark is clear, and it has this huge, surround sound that I’m really enjoying. Mids are not quite as succinct as I would like, but this is only noticeable on songs that tend to get muddy like Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” or Manchester Orchestra’s “The Moth”; you likely won’t ever notice it on most pop songs.
I tested the wired Focal Spark in-ear headphones with my BlackBerry KEYone and was really pleased with the sound produced on just about everything. The remote control is easy to manage, even though it’s set a little higher on the left side than I’m used to; I got used to it fairly quickly.
The cable is long enough that you can comfortably tuck your phone into a bag or pocket without accidentally yanking an earphone out, however, it will be a bit too long if you are trying to jog or workout with your phone on your arm.
The Focal Spark happens to be a really great pair of in-ear headphones; that they are so inexpensive is just icing on the cake.
The Focal Spark wired headphones retail for $69, and they are available from Amazon [affiliate link] and other retailers.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Those who like a lot of bass will be pleased; Easy to manage controls; Lots of accessories in the box; Hard storage case; Their price is excellent!
What Needs Improvement: The wire is a bit long if you are using them with your phone on your arm; Midrange can be a bit muddy — it just depends on the song
Focal Spark Wireless
If wires aren’t your cup of tea, the $99 Focal Spark Wireless in-ear headphones are a great option. With 4.1 Bluetooth technology, a range of up to 15 meters, and 8-hours of battery life, they are great for travel and workouts. The Spark Wireless headphones are available in silver, black, and rose gold.
Once again, there are plenty of accessories included in the box. The Focal Spark Wireless include the headphones, three different sizes of ear tips (the medium come installed), the headphones, a microUSB charging cable, a quick start guide, a hard-sided zippered travel case, and a magnetic clip. Once again, the earbuds have an aluminum body, and the cable is flat and tangle-resistant.
The remote is again attached to the cable that leads to the left ear. The buttons on the remote are the same as the wired pair, with the exception that pushing the middle button for four seconds will turn the headphones on or off, and pressing the middle button for five seconds will push it into pairing mode.
There is a microUSB port built into the side of the remote; it is covered by a rubber door. During charging (which takes about two hours), a white LED will flash on the battery box. The same LED will glow blue when the headphones are in pairing mode. As with most paired accessories, the battery level will display on the iPhone or iPad when in use.
The battery compartment rests comfortably on the back of the wearer’s neck; if you are concerned about it flopping about (although that wasn’t an issue for me), you can use the included magnetic clip to secure the strap to your shirt.
As is to be expected since they use the same drivers and are basically the same headphones as the wired, the sound produced by the Focal Spark Wireless is very similar to that produced by the Wired pair. Music played through the headphones is a bit bass heavy, and for the most part it is very well tuned for pop music and other genres. Vocals are very clear, and the music enjoys an expansive, almost 3D sound.
If you want an excellent pair of wireless headphones that don’t break the bank, then you will be very happy to find the Focal Spark Wireless.
The Focal Spark Wireless in ear headphones retail for $99, and they are available from Amazon [affiliate link] and other retailers.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Wireless; Battery is displayed on the iPhone; Very minimalistic — not a lot of extra cable, and no weird extra looping; Sound is very good; Those who like a lot of bass will be pleased; Easy to manage controls; Lots of accessories in the box; Hard storage case; Their price is excellent!
What Needs Improvement: Midrange can be a bit muddy — it just depends on the song