It'll only surprise newbies that Spark played a definitive game of solo smackers. As stated earlier, certain luxury brands suck up all the oxygen for advanced performance by attaching it to shock pricing which in many minds becomes a prerequisite. Team Audio Physic hord at least equally serious engineering in their crib. They just don't make the same noise about it. In our room below, their 40Hz bass rating proved conservative; its combination of power and damping less so. Without giving away their ported secrets, Thomas Saheicha had already told us that "we always do non-conventional things with our speakers". Having heard it with a dual 15-inch subwoofer, I knew that at my SPL, nobody needs a sub to hear Spark as a complete package. What little more there is down to 20Hz on the occasional cut few ever know, even fewer will miss. What's more, Spark's low end never felt pinched, squeezed or struggling. Au contraire. In the context of 65dB-ish SPL with rare 80dB peaks in a 30m² space, those elongated oval openings loaded resistively and high above the floor created unexpectedly mature dynamics.

Whilst casting a very transparent fully developed and evenly lit soundstage, Spark wasn't a lean example of the monitor art. It didn't elevate speed over foundational substance like a rather costlier Børresen monitor will which makes do with a 4½" mid/woofer. Piano, cello and sonorous male vocals like Abed Azrié or Leonard Cohen had proper weight and texture. The somewhat intensified presence borrowed from the widebander grab bin wasn't bought at the expense of body or relaxing ease. That's typically one of those either/or hifi decisions. Either we go fast, lean, incisive and spatially exploded by shedding weight and density like a sporty 2-seat cabriolet; or bulk out but give up reflexes, air and frisson like a V8 SUV. Finding oneself artfully in possession of both isn't very common. Here Spark might be this catalogue's top-range baby but baked in is still the duality of 'don't miss any detail' transparency and hung embodiment.

Back on the lower stands from upstairs.

That's not solely about extending low enough. Many modern monitors do. Only newbies are surprised by it. It's about avoiding small-woofer'd bass; the sort which gets extension right but not its attendant scale and heft. Whilst really big bass artillery obviously still bolts on extra dynamics, relative to our room and SPL, its advantages would be purely academic. We'll leave THX levels to the barbarian hordes. Here Spark is a plug for realism. It says, know what you actually need. Don't waste coin and complications on headroom you'll never tap just for silly bragging rights or because you're ignorant and/or insecure. When I bought Codex, today's Spark was still a spark in Audio Physic's collective imagination. My audiophile journey crossed paths with cardioid Ripol bass quite a bit later. Now I'd pick Spark even over the new Codex and still wouldn't feel put out were the sub to subtract again from the picture.

Adding up the evidence. With Spark, Audio Physic have cloned their very own floorstanding performance into a monitor to go more places. While replacing a proper speaker stand with a tower's lower half takes up exactly the same floorspace, many punters prefer the lighter look of a stand mount. With Spark, performance makes zero size-related compromises. By the time a room grows too capacious to be appropriate and/or long-term SPL too rowdy, shoppers already canvas a different league and speaker type. And those who in this format do prefer a floorstander have the firm's Avanti. Spark simply repackages proven ingredients in a stylistic format that in speakerdom is the most popular: the compact box equally at home on a stand, lowboy or credenza. Its advanced drivers are only found in Audio Physic speakers. Clever constrained-layer cabinet construction with amorphous tempered glass as the hard outer layer isn't just acoustically sound. It also ages far better than scratch-prone lacquer which never looks as flawless again as it did fresh out of its shipping carton. With Spark, a quick Windex session restores factory-fresh perfection years after the fact. I should know. I've lived with Codex through already three residences. As you saw in the 4-up earlier photo, it simply looks rather bigger than Spark. In many medium-sized living rooms, Codex even Midex could quickly exceed their welcome. For all reasonable intents and purposes, all they offer in trade is a few more cycles of mostly electronic bass. And contrary to popular perception, the range of fat club beats doesn't live at 25Hz but rather higher so well within Spark's perview. What's slightly beyond it is the full power of infrasonic synth pedals though you will hear even those still hinted at. What here seems to be a port shaped like an inverted 'L' formed from actual enclosure partitions is most effective.

Superlative staging and layering are intrinsic to this concept. They get mentioned only in passing. You'd not expect any less from an über monitor. What's still important to say is not being groomed for brightness. There's no turned-up treble to conjure the illusion of extra detail or to fit the archetype of a harder forward Germanic sound. The upper frequencies are dynamically more capable than usual, just not in the often imbalanced manner of air-motion transformers coupled to dynamic mates. That's because Spark's three drivers are all of the same type/species. They were purpose-designed as a team just as Vivid Audio do theirs with an aluminium/titanium alloy. It gives a fine uniformity to Spark's behavior as a whole. It's a refined lively expressive sound of high transparency that manages tone and texture in a very believable so not patinaed put-on manner. The absence of ribbons, beryllium, diamond, carbon or other 'exotic' materials simply skips hi-tech bragging rights. Though I did try 250W monos, our 25/45wpc into 8/4Ω Enleum proved perfectly adequate driven direct by a Sonnet Pasithea R2R DAC with variable reference voltage and a low 16Ω output impedance. Like the sound|kaos Vox 3a and Acelec Model One, the Audio Physic Spark is the kind of complete monitor a diehard cynic of 20 non-stop years on the audiophile beat could happily retire with. In my book, that's about as high a compliment as I can think of. Spankin' sparkling!