Mark_Seaton
While we're quite busy getting ready for the upcoming Axpona 2015 show here in Chicago on April 24-26th, I wanted to share a couple quick pics of the sample cabinets for the first version of the Spark we will be demonstrating at Axpona.  This new Spark uses an updated, custom, 8" coaxial with more low frequency efficiency and better amplifier matching, wider high frequency dispersion and a single high power neodymium ring magnet for both the woofer and tweeter.  The new Spark models are using brand new 300W ICEpower amplifier modules which will reside in a rack mounted case similar to what we already use for external powering of SubMersives.  One amplifier will power 2 speakers from the 4 internal amplifier channels (no fans) as pictured here.

The new driver allows for a more compact enclosure and I feel a much sleeker look.  Connection to the amplifier will be 4 binding posts at the speaker using any readily available 4 conductor speaker wire.  The overall dimensions are 11.5" wide, 17" tall, and 5.5" deep (+thin magnetic grill).

Here is the bare maple veneer sample on top of the original Spark for scale:
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From the shop set on top of an early F2 with the side plates (for sale posted elsewhere):
[image] [image]
[image] [image] [image]

Here it is set on side showing how it can be angled against a wall or ceiling.  The hole you see on the end is for an optional U bracket which will grab the speaker top & bottom allowing easy mounting and aiming.  Even angled 45 degrees at the greatest depth from the wall the edge is less than 10" from the mounting surface.

[image] [image] [image] 

We are reviewing the cabinet costs after a test batch is run for the show, and are awaiting pricing on the amplifiers before we will be posting pricing.  We will have pricing by the time the show opens next Friday, April 24th. [cool]
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Stereodude
Very cool! [thumb]

These are just what I need for my side and rear speakers in my stalled HT project.
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Kain
Good stuff! [thumb]
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balbol
Nice[thumb]
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pbc
Mark - in the top pic with the new spark sitting on top of the old spark, what subwoofer is that?  
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audioguy
Great job, Mark. Those will work great as surrounds and ceiling spekaers. I hope Axpona goes well for you and you sell LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of systems.

Very very nice!
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Mark_Seaton
Thank you audioguy, that is very much appreciated.

Here's a cool shot of what's "cookin" at our cabinet shop with the first 6 units we'll have in the LaSalle Ballroom C this weekend at AXPONA.  While I like my steaks medium, here we're going for well done <rimshot> [redface]
[image] 
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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balbol
wow those do look good! i always love the retro styling of your speakers.

Not only will they be perfect for the all new 3D audio formats (Atmos,Auro and DTS:X) but also for wides and heights (Audyssey DSX and DTS:NEO X). of course also as surrounds and surround backs.



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Stereodude
Mark_Seaton wrote:
Here's a cool shot of what's "cookin" at our cabinet shop with the first 6 units we'll have in the LaSalle Ballroom C this weekend at AXPONA.  While I like my steaks medium, here we're going for well done <rimshot> [redface]

I wouldn't have expected them to cook them onesies on a bunch of spits.  That's not a very efficient cooking process. [nono]
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Mark_Seaton
Excuse the poor quality phone pics, but here are a few more shots with the speakers now loaded.  Please note the U-Bracket shown is a universal unit which we are using for the show, but it clearly demonstrates how the speaker can be easily mounted and aimed.  The special order, production bracket will stay very tight to the wall.  This bracket is designed to hold much more than the ~17 lbs this compact little speaker weighs.

[image] 
[image]
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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balbol
They look amazing! [thumb]
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Stereodude
Nice!

How does the frequency response compare to the larger ported prior generation Spark?  Are these still suitable for being crossed at 80Hz?
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Mark_Seaton
Stereodude wrote:
Nice!

How does the frequency response compare to the larger ported prior generation Spark?  Are these still suitable for being crossed at 80Hz?


Frequency response extends to 80Hz for this sealed design and is intended for use with a 60-120Hz crossover, with most using 80-100Hz for surround channels.  In the highest output systems using these as height channels it could be worth experimenting with a 100-120Hz crossover, where there is little vertical differentiation below 150Hz, and headroom is increased with the higher crossover.
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Mark_Seaton
I think the temporary mounts for the Spark surrounds came out quite nice. The sides will be vertically oriented with the rears horizontal. The second picture shows Matt, who is 6'2" tall, for scale and to give him the credit for a most of the work pulling these together.  Again, these mounts are deeper than what we will offer with the product. Setup begins tomorrow!

[image] 
[image] 
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Stereodude
Mark_Seaton wrote:
Frequency response extends to 80Hz for this sealed design and is intended for use with a 60-120Hz crossover, with most using 80-100Hz for surround channels.  In the highest output systems using these as height channels it could be worth experimenting with a 100-120Hz crossover, where there is little vertical differentiation below 150Hz, and headroom is increased with the higher crossover.

Thanks for the reply, design targets, and usage expectations.
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shokunin
Any word on pricing? Are the Amps only sold as stereo pair or is there a mono version as well for Three LCR speakers?
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Stereodude
shokunin wrote:
Any word on pricing? Are the Amps only sold as stereo pair or is there a mono version as well for Three LCR speakers?

I'd expect the price will be a bit higher than the last Spark. Hopefully not too much more though.  Good question on the single unit.
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nash23
Any idea on the cost for the Sparks or the amp running them?
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Kain
What does the "HC" stand for?
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Stereodude
Highly Compact?
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DC3
I purposefully stood by the side surrounds during the demos.  The sound pressure, depth, and clarity were astounding from the new spark.  Great sound and great form factor!
Don
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nash23
When will this be in production? From what I have read this has been very well received. 
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Stereodude
Weren't these the Spark HC before?  Now they're XC? [confused]

eXtra Compact instead of Highly Compact? [sneaky]
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Mark_Seaton
We've been working on and experimenting with a few options for the Spark models, and I can now confirm the Spark XC2 as displayed in full bi-amp mode at Axpona will sell for $750 each + amplification.  Our very low noise floor, no fan, 2RU (3.5" tall) external amplifier with DSP capable of powering 2 bi-amplified Spark speakers with 2x200W into the tweeter and 2x300W into the woofers (500W per speaker) will sell for $1995.  This version will be designated XC2 indicating the 2 channel bi-amplification.

Breakdown for a pair of fully bi-amplified Spark XC2 speakers:
Spark XC2 bi-amp: $750x2 = $1500
SSA-2x2-XC:  $1995
Powered total for pair: $3495 ($1747.50 each)

We are currently testing some pro-audio amplifiers with integrated DSP to see if they are suitable for home theater use as they can offer some significant cost savings to those locating the amplifier in a separate equipment room where fan noise isn't an issue.  Thus far our own amplifiers have a noticeably lower noise floor (= hiss when on but no sound is playing), but the others function well.

Given how often the Spark XC and related models will be used for surround duty, we have also been working on a 2 wire solution for those who already have wires in the wall, but want to upgrade to our new Spark models.  This speaker will operate off a single amplifier channel with DSP.  We will have a version of the same Spark amplifier labeled SSA-1x2.  I do not yet have pricing for this configuration, but it will be well more than 1/2 the price of the SSA-2x2 with my expectation being $1395-1595.  This is the best value in terms of the lowest noise floor and no fan noise for use in the room.  We are currently evaluating a number of pro-audio amplifiers with DSP that present great values, but will have some fan noise and a higher noise floor which will possibly make for some audible hiss in very quiet rooms.  We can offer these with DSP configurations optimized for the single channel Spark XC1. 

While this might seem a little cumbersome vs a fully passive version, realize we can offer 4-10dB greater sensitivity over ~70% of the speaker's operating range with this solution, while maintaining the very compact size of the Spark.  This single channel version of the Spark XC1 will sell for $795 each.  Appropriately powered, pro audio amplifiers with integrated DSP can be had for as little as $200-500 per channel, or our optimal solution will be $700-800 per speaker.  Over the course of the next year we will be developing amplifiers with greater channel density and more DSP channels per chassis, which is the limitation at the moment.  This version will be designated XC1 indicating the single channel amplification.

Breakdown of the range of solutions for a pair of powered Spark XC1 speakers will be:
Spark XC1 (single channel):  $795x2 = $1590
DSP Amplification options: $200-800 per channel = $400-1600
Powered total for the pair = $1990 - $3190 ($995 - $1595 each)

We will continue to do more listening and evaluation, but some creativity in the crossover network allowed us to better manage some of the details so easily handled in the fully active version greatly closing the gap between the fully active version and this single channel solution.  The fully-active, bi-amped version is still the most ideal match to the Catalyst family, but the single channel versions are a dramatically better match to our speakers than any other manufacturer's speaker on the market.
Mark Seaton
Seaton Sound, Inc.
sales@seatonsound.net
773-290-8436
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Stereodude
Mark, thanks for the details.
Mark_Seaton wrote:
While this might seem a little cumbersome vs a fully passive version, realize we can offer 4-10dB greater sensitivity over ~70% of the speaker's operating range with this solution, while maintaining the very compact size of the Spark.  This single channel version of the Spark XC1 will sell for $795 each.  Appropriately powered, pro audio amplifiers with integrated DSP can be had for as little as $200-500 per channel, or our optimal solution will be $700-800 per speaker.  Over the course of the next year we will be developing amplifiers with greater channel density and more DSP channels per chassis, which is the limitation at the moment.  This version will be designated XC1 indicating the single channel amplification.

Does the placement of this statement, "Over the course of the next year we will be developing amplifiers with greater channel density and more DSP channels per chassis, which is the limitation at the moment." in the Spark XC1 section indicate that these new amps are only intended for the XC1, and not for the XC2?

Previously you had mentioned hoping to come out with a single amplifier to power four of what you're now calling Spark XC2 in a single chassis.  Is that still in the works?
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