You probably haven't heard of Id America, but it's a New York company that's best known for its Cushi foam back covers for the iPhone. But like just about every other company these days, it's gotten into the headphones game, and the eye-catching Spark is one of its debut models.
Although I was impressed by the Spark's design -- yes, it's inspired by a spark plug and comes in several different colors -- I can't say I expected too much in terms of sound quality, particularly considering how lightweight they are. But lo and behold these are very pleasant-sounding in-ear headphones for the price.
The company says the Sparks are "machined with precision" and "wrapped in two layers of aluminum casing." As I said, they're light, and fit comfortably and securely in my ears. They come with the usual assortment of different-size silicon eartips, as well as a protective carrying case. That hard case is certainly protective, but I thought it could be a little flatter, so it would fit more easily in a bag or pocket.
This model features an inline microphone with a play/pause button that doubles as an answer/end button when making cell phone calls. There's no volume control on the button and Spark says the microphone isn't compatible with all smartphones (it works with the iPhone but is more miss than hit with Android models). My quibble with that inline mic button is that it seems cheaply made and could fall apart over time. Also, it has a rectangular design and the edges are a little bit sharp; the button ended up snagging on my clothing from time to time, which was mildly irritating. It's not a huge deal but Id America should have gone with a design that rounded off the corners.
One of concern: I can't vouch for just how durable these earphones are. The cords are fairly thin and I don't know how well the Spark would hold up if you accidentally yanked or snagged that cord. I didn't have a problem in the two weeks or so that I've used them, but I was careful to put them in their case when not in use.
As noted, I was pleasantly surprised by the sound quality, and so, too, was CNET contributor and audio guru Steve Guttenberg, who writes CNET's Audiophiliac column. We both thought they sounded like more-expensive earphones. They offer detailed, balanced sound with ample but not overpowering bass, and were strong through the midrange. You're not going to get the level of detail or more nuanced sound you'd get from a higher-end pair of earphones, but these measure up well to plenty of earphones costing $79 or even $99.
The Sparks carry a list price of $59.99 but you can get them online for $49.99 and I've seen the silver version selling for less than $40. They get strong marks for design (unique look, good comfort) and performance. My only concerns are their durability and the build-quality (and sharp edges) of the inline microphone. In all, though, these are very good earphones for the money, particularly if you can get them for less than $40.