The trend of creating mini pedals has occupied the brains behind the majority of manufacturers out there. One might think that the only reason why they are doing it is that contemporary pedalboards are overcrowded and they want to create something that will fit anywhere. While that is true, there is one more reason behind it: they are cutting down the costs and putting together a more affordable variations of the originals. This way you can pay almost half the price while still being able to experiment with the same quality. If you have a tight budget, splurging for a mini can be an amazing idea. This means that you will avoid taking a risk and buying lower quality full-size pedals. Sounds pretty awesome, ha? Luckily, all the brands we adore so much are now on the quest of creating smaller, more affordable stompboxes that turn into the source of light for those who cannot splurge. Today we are going to visit Spark from TC Electronic once again but this time in a tinier shell. It shares the same qualities as its full-size twin, but there still are significant differences between them. One thing has not changed, though: mini sounds just as amazing as the original. Let’s take a look at its properties and discuss together, which one is a better option!
If you have played with the full-size Spark, you will know what to expect from this one. The shrunken size does also mean that you have to compromise some of the features and controls. The mini version offers +20dB boost instead of 26dB, but it is still good enough for most applications. It produces clean and transparent effect that can be utilized just to boost your solos or drive a tube amplifier. What is more, Spark Mini has discrete analog circuitry that retains original properties of your sound and does not let anything get altered or ruined. It also comes with a true bypass footswitch that can be employed in two different ways. You can choose to use it a typical way – press it once and you will hear the effect, tap it again and the unit will switch off. But you also have the option to engage PrimeTime mode in which you will have to stomp and hold to emit the effect. This way you get way more flexibility as you can apply boost just to special parts of your sound, lift your foot and be done with it. Spark Mini can only be powered with an adapter – we don’t have a battery option here. Yet that isn’t surprising considering the tiny shell it is housed in. Speaking of which, the quality of external chassis and internal hardwire is top-notch, exactly as we are used to from TC Electronic products. It has white body with gold patterns all over the surface, reminding you of the original. As you can see, this pedal is simplified and shrunken version of the original, but it still manages to capture the same feel and the base that makes up Spark.
Sometimes with simple pedals like this one it dosn’t even make sense to discuss control section separately. What I mean is that there is just not that much (i.e. hardly anything) to talk about. TC Electronic Spark is just like that. Even though you get four encoders and a toggle in the original, here we have only a single knob to work with. It is labelled as Level and enables you to boost your sound with the desired amount of dBs. This means that you can rotate it slowly, see where it takes you and build on that. When you have so little to tweak, you have to cherish each and every step, as that is the only action you will get. Of course we have a footswitch with PrimeTime function that makes this pedal really convenient to use. Those who are used to the controls of Spark might lack some of those options here, but let’s be honest – when it comes to the boost pedals, even full-size versions sometimes have a single-knob layout. And it is only natural that a mini version has merely a level control – that is how things should be in this case.
TC Electronic Spark Mini might lack some control options, but it definitely does not lack anything in terms of sound. It is just as amazing as its bigger sibling and works wonderfully no matter what you plug it in with and what settings you choose. Its sound is pristine clear and will not color your tone no matter what. This means that you can use it as a clean boost for the parts in your performance that need some extra help. You can employ it in front of the tube amplifier to push it harder and overdrive, or place it before an already overdriven stack and add even more gain to the sound. No matter how hard you try to find faults in its sound, you will fail, my friend, trust me. This fella is simply perfect in this section. And when you add the PrimeTime footswitch to the equation, you understand that you cannot get anything better at this price point. What is so great about momentary switches? – you might ask. They give you precision when it comes to the pieces you want to saturate with the effect and makes it easier to transition between boosted and unaffected sounds. Spark Mini in all of its glory!
To sum up everything said above, TC Electronic Spark is a magnificent pedal, especially for the price. Its noiseless analog circuit makes the magic happen and steeps your sound in smoothness. Be it a clean boost or a dirty one, this baby doesn’t let the qualities of your signal get blurred out. It has rich harmonic content and amazing voicing on its own. The fact that it has PrimeTime footswitch just makes it even more usable, be it a live performance or practice. Good luck!
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