If you're looking for an IEM with remarkable transparency, impressive air and resolution combined with a relaxed presentation then the Spark certainly has a place in your collection! It does so with superb build quality at a fair price in a soaring prices segment.
- Highly coherent transparent and relaxed tuning
- Superb upper treble extension providing excellent air and resolution
- Remarkable timbre accuracy making for a very realistic portrayal of music
- Strong bassline with excellent textures and detail
- Highly transparent to the source and cable, opens up a lot of possibilities
- Switch system is a missed opportunity, OFF switch not really useful
- Sub bass extension and presence is lacking, making for a less visceral presentation
- Must be paired with the right source to fit your preference (because of transparency to source)
Product Page : https://penonaudio.com/tansio-mirai-spark.html
Price : 1499$
Fit, Build & Isolation
The Spark feature a lightweight shell and just like the Land the build quality is excellent. I picked a custom fit for the Spark as I do for all my flagships now. The fit is perfect and Tansio accepts STL file which makes the process seamless and safe. The Spark features the same beautiful smoke (transparent grey) shells that show the internal craftsmanship is very good including the switches system with tight tolerances.
The fit is deep but not overly tight and provides both comfort and excellent isolation which was something I felt was lacking with Land. Custom has its perk vs universals especially when the fit is deep like Spark is. Just like the previous flagship Zodiac, the bass BA are vented with a color coded ring to indicate left and right.
I must confess I hadn’t heard much about Tansio Mirai before I reviewed the TSMR-5 but I am very happy that my fellow headfiers mentioned it as a brand to get a look into. Just like Fearless Audio, Tansio Mirai is one of the chinese brand to keep tabs on as they are getting quite a bit of traction among audiophiles that want to get high sound quality at affordable prices.
The TSMR-5 review clearly put Tansio Miraï on the map for me as a strong contender with great build and tuning knowledge. I didn’t get to audition TSMR-8 and TSMR-10 but those have a strong reputation in the audiophile world. When I reviewed the Zodiac, I was quite impressed at how well Tansio’s flagship fared against a highly competitive landscape and it’s still one of my favorite all BA IEMs.
As you know the landscape has changed a bit with the generalization of EST drivers and the flourishing offering of tribrids, especially in the mid tier segment. Tansio Mirai didn’t rush things and took its sweet time and rolled out it EST lineup first with the Land and now Spark in a short time frame. I must say, when it was announced I was quite excited at the prospect given their track record of price to performance ratio as well as tuning mastery.
If you’ve read my review, you know I value the Land as being probably the best bang for bucks in the lower mid tier and I sure was excited about Spark although I must say I wished they had kept a dynamic down low but hey BA and EST sure worked out fine for Oriolus Traillii so… how does the Spark compete with the current flagships?
Let’s check it out!
This is will all switches to ON, which also was my favorite setup with Zodiac and Land. This will be my baseline for the Spark. I’ll go into switches combination in the detailed bass, mids and treble sections.
Spark name could imply that it’s an energetic brand of sound, but it seems like marketing didn’t line up with the actual signature which is of a more relaxed kind (cozy fire rather than bonfire !)… the Spark feature a balanced and transparent signature with impressive technicalities without ever sounding clinical or analytical. It builds up upon the Zodiac tuning philosophy but on EST steroids so to speak : treble extension is reaching elite level which benefits resolution, imaging and separation compared to its older flagship brother. Land was already quite excellent up top but quad EST setup can’t really be matched. It’s the current state of the art in the business and it shows there. As we’ll see, Spark clarity and transparency is remarkable and this immediately stands out. Note that Spark is not as smooth as the Zodiac or even the Land and has more bite with a bolder signature while remaining free of any harshness.
Soundstage is excellent with great width, but I actually feel Land has a tad better height and depth. Spark stage is more elliptical. True to Tansio tuning, vocals are forward and clear but on the accurate side compared to the sweeter Land.
Bass switch to ON
The Spark shares a lot with the Zodiac bass. Back when I reviewed Zodiac I wrote “It is the epitome of audiophile bass done right” and it stands with the Spark and after some A/B I would be hard pressed to find differences really. Tansio chose to stick to the winning recipe.
My usual sub bass test track Aphex Twin “Ageispolis” didn’t bring the same enjoyment I got from Land dynamic driver but with the switch to ON the sub extension is very good just not with the same presence, density and power. You can’t really mimick a dynamic driver with a BA but as BA goes this is a good performance especially when paired with Shanling M8 granting the Spark significant additional presence and weight.
The mid bass is textured and detailed with superb control, but depending on the source the bass line might lack a bit of rythmic presence for my taste. From that standpoint I preferred the Shanling M8 and Hiby RS6 pairing to N6ii Ti (R01) and AMP12 on the DX300 over AMP11(mk1).
Out of Hiby RS6, the bass line of José James “Better off Dead” is very satisfying with both percussions and bass guitar getting me toe tapping along. Stefon Harris “Song of Samson” drums and percussions feature a very satisfying presence and excellent levels of details with smooth attack and a very natural decay of notes. This is a strong but relaxed and detailed mid bass, reminiscent of the Zodiac in many ways except Spark is more articulate and detailed.
Bass switch to OFF
Given what I wrote in the ON section, you probably guess what I am about to say : I wouldn’t use the bass switch to OFF unless you’re bass averse. When switched to OFF, even M8 can’t lift the bass presence enough and the bass line is really too weak and lacking weight. I switched it for the purpose of the review and see what happened but really never used this setting.
Mids switch to ON
The Spark midrange is not the intoxicating brand of midrange that the Land was, Tansio clearly had different goals of transparency and timbre accuracy. This was true of the Zodiac mids but with a fuller and slightly warm twist the Spark doesn’t feature. Spark midrange looses a bit of fullness which benefits a remarkable instruments separation and a more accurate timbre. Adam Ben Ezra’s double bass on “Bolero” is so realistic, soulful and natural sounding providing a “live” feeling of listening straight to the instrument and same goes for the guitar strings. Also worth mentionning is Gerry Mulligan “Chelsea Bridge” which gave me goosebumps. I usually get this kind of feeling with TOTL dynamic drivers like Dunu Luna or JVC FW10000 but Tansio managed a timbre accuracy and realism that is pretty special there.
The Spark is also about transparency and it shows in its chameleon like ability to reflect the source coloration or absence thereof. From this standpoint having several sources to switch from made for interesting pairings. My preference goes to more organic sounding sources with Spark, and DX300 with AMP11mk1 added a smoother more organic touch that makes the Spark more natural sounding. Likewise, Hiby RS6 (my favorite pairing) was a fuller brand of organic (especially NOS mode) but more lively with excellent bite and overall more forward mids. On the flipside pairing with N6ii Ti emphasizes the superb layering abilities of the Spark and incredible separation with a fairly neutral brand of midrange. DX300 with AMP12 was the most balanced presentation of all my sources, reflecting what I think is Spark baseline. It was also interesting to cable roll with the Spark as it’s responding very well to it – more so than usual – bringing the desired adjustments : Penon Totem brings interesting weight down low and furthers the treble performance, ISN Solar adds a touch of warmth to the midrange and quite a bit of bass presence, Penon Storm brings transparency to higher levels yet.
The Spark lower midrange is combined with a safe upper midrange : instruments have good bite and energy providing excitement but it will remain safe at all times (My usual Hank Levy’s “Whiplash” passed with flying colors). Some might find it lacking bite compared to say Vision Ears Elysium. I know I don’t mind going to the edge with Saxophones or Violin with the Elysium but the Spark won’t provide that shivery feeling. One good example is John Coltrane “Equinox”, the Elysium provides me with the extra bite that makes the track much more exciting. On the flipside, those who are upper mids sensitive will feel right at home with the Spark as it still packs excellent energy while remaining smooth.
Vocals are forward and clear, true to Tansio house sound. Depending on the source, male vocals can range from having satisfying power (RS6, M8) to lacking a bit of grit and chest (N6ii Ti/R01, DX300/AMP12). Female vocals – regardless of the source – are highly engaging while never featuring any hints of harshness or sibilance. Positioning is forward emphasizing the performer significantly.
Mids switch to OFF
Just like Land, the mids switch affects mainly the lower mids region. Unless you really like leaner mids I wouldn’t recommend it. If I was nitpicking I’d say I would have prefered Spark to have a bit more upper mids bite and have the option with switch OFF to have the setting that Spark features with the switch ON which is safe. It would have been a more interesting choice IMHO.
Treble switch to ON
The Spark treble section is a bit different than its brother Land in the EST range. It’s much less energetic, with a gentler lower treble more akin to the Zodiac. There is good energy but some might find bite lacking a bit : like upper mids, it won’t bring you to the edge which can be a good or bad things depending on your taste in treble. This being said, lower treble has good energy. Piano notes are realistic with satisfying energy and weight, as exhibited in The Hot Sardines “Comes love (l’amour s’en fout)”. The Spark is engaging but is a more relaxed listen over the more exciting Land.
The upper treble section is the main differentiator to the Zodiac, the 4 EST driver array of the Spark is simply in another league with much better extension it provides more air, significantly more resolution and faster transients. Given the bass and mids tuning, this makes Spark a very transparent IEM. It betters my Elysium as well in terms of detail retrieval, with a more relaxed presentation. Laurie Anderson “Born, Never Asked” is somewhat of an experimental music kind of track with complex nuances that reflects on the Spark ability to keep up with the treble produced by Laurie keening violin (an instrument of her own design, featuring magnetic tape on the bow rather than the more usual horsehair and a magnetic tape head in the bridge) while remaining smooth. Color me impressed.
Treble switch to OFF
The treble switch seems to be aiming mainly the lower treble section, as turning the switch to OFF clearly takes away some of the lower treble energy while not affecting the upper treble extension. The treble has more of an upper treble tilt and the Spark looses quite a bit of energy. Again, I think Tansio could have provided a tad more energetic setting here brining Spark towards Land energy with the ability to turn the switch off.
When I read Spark announcement I must say I was both excited – Zodiac is one of my favorites – but also after Land I really thought they would do a tribrid flagship with a dynamic down low. I have come to love the dynamic – BA – EST trio and some of my favorite IEMs feature it like Elysium, Volt and Tansio very own Land. So when it was announced that Spark was a BA and EST array I was a bit disappointed.
This being said, I couldn’t pass up on Spark as I am a big fan of Tansio and have always been impressed by their tuning mastery. Spark has earned a special place in my lineup and prooves once again that Tansio Mirai is certainly one of the best at tuning IEMs that are transparent, natural sounding with a very coherent tuning. They have their own unique brand of sound and that’s what I am looking for. Sure, I would have preferred different choices for the tuning switches and I can’t help but feel like it’s a missed opportunity to make Spark a more versatile IEM.
If you’re looking for an IEM with remarkable transparency, impressive air and resolution combined with a relaxed presentation then the Spark certainly has a place in your collection! It does so with superb build quality at a fair price in a soaring prices segment.
I spent approximately 250 hours with the Spark, listening on Cayin N6ii Ti using the stock cable, Penon Storm, ISN Solar and DITA Oslo. I also tested the Spark with Shanling M8, DX300 and RS6.
Thanks to Tansio Mirai for providing a discounted priced unit of the Spark. As usual, this review is my honest opinion. No incentive was given for a favorable review.
- Hard carry case
- Stock cable
- 4-way crossover, 4 channel design
- Driver: 4EST + 7BA
- 4BA low frequency driver
- 2BA middle frequency driver
- 1BA high frequency driver
- Impedance: 27Ω@1kHz
- Input sensitivity: 112dBL/mW
- Frequency Response range: 5-70kHz
- Connector:2Pin 0.78mm