Sprout First Impressions


#1

Now that the first Sprouts are arriving at their new homes, let us know what you think - sound, appearance, construction, feel, packaging - everything.


#2

I’ll start this off. Got Sprout today and have put it through some basic paces - flawless! Bluetooth conncectivity is quick and solid, control feel is butter smooth and workmanship on the unit top notch. Packing is fantastic - double boxed and shrink wrapped to boot! My FedEx delivery experience made no observable damage to the box (whew). Have listened to basic music (choral, alternative, rock) on my trusty Sennheiser 570s and wow, this is a fantaxtic headphone amp! Lows are smooth and solid, trebel is present but not glaring or brittle. Lost my job where I planned to use Sprout, so speaker connection is of secondary concern right now as I’m home and I’m not oging to drive my Allison Ones with Sprout. And, yes, I’ll upgrade my headphones once I’m gainfully employed again. Scott, thanks for all the hard work and Paul, you should be proud!


#3

Thanks John! GREAT feedback and we can’t wait to hear about your loudspeaker listening experience! Glad BT connected without a hitch. MUCH better than downloading an app, getting on WiFi, all that, right? Just fast and simple.

Thanks again!

Best,

Scott


#4

Mine arrived yesterday, and I spent last night and this morning putting it through various paces.

  1. Packaging, fit and finish are first rate. Switches are solid, everything is clearly labeled, and set up was easy. I wish there was some type of “power on” light, but that’s a minor niggle.

  2. I tried headphones first. Sennheiser 600, Grado RS-2’s, and Audio Technica 50’s all fine. PLENTY of gain, and the equal of various headphone amps in my home studio; extremely clear and present.

  3. Bluetooth connected right away to both an iPad and a Samsung phone.

Finally–tried Sprout with speakers–a pair of Golden Ear Aon 3’s. I had a sense these two would work well together in a small room, but I wasn’t prepared for just how well–the sound is truly remarkable. Mid-range is robust, and for want of a better phrase, colorful–Sprout is capable of making clear instrumental distinctions and sorting out complexities. The soundstage is especially good–not just left to right, but front to back. Really good spacial clues, which I’m fussy about. Plenty of volume, too. I’d been toying with hooking up a sub to these speakers before receiving Sprout, and I may still, but Sprout seems to add a lower octave that wasn’t there with my previous set-up. Didn’t matter what I played, it was all solid. Sprout was especially kind to some restored Nat Cole trio stuff from the 30’s and 40’s–it all sounded much better than it had a right to.

I’ll try a turntable tonight; too lazy to re-arrange my desk right now. Anyway, these are quick impressions, but I’m enormously impressed. I thought Sprout would be good, but it’s way better than good.

I own other PS Audio gear, and this is an absolutely worthy addition to the line.

Even at list price this thing is a deal.

Thank you–

Jamie Haynes

New London CT


#5

Scott McGowan. Matt Weisfeld. The young talent is out there, folks. While I may be among the old fuddy duddies who will probably never move to a Bluetooth type device or even headphones as my prime means of listening, we’ve got young designers who are targeting a new demographic with real high end solutions. I have to say that it gives me renewed hope that our hobby can be saved from its own demise. A bighappy-048_gif.


#6

It seems the Sprout, to a degree, is aimed to compete with small integrated amps like Peachtree nova65SE. What’s missing with the Sprout for my need(s) is RCA Pre Out. Please consider adding that. Thanks.


#7

The Peachtree Decco65 is definitely some amazing competition for Sprout. Keeping in mind that we do not fear competition, but rather welcome it and even LOVE it, (because it keeps us honest, it proves there is a market, and we just know how much room there is to grow the market…indeed we are really close friends with our top competitors), the Decco is somewhat formidable because of that elegant design and material makeup. The wood wrap for example is very nice. You know, it looks like a small unit, but it’s actually pretty close to full component size. The Decco comes in at 743 cubic inches to Sprout’s astonishing 83 cubic inches. The Decco weighs 28lbs compared to Sprout’s 2.8lbs. So, our turn to brag (here’s how we’re better than the Decco): we are 1 tenth the size and 1 tenth the weight, yet we have all their features plus a phono stage plus bluetooth, my two most commonly used inputs.

RCA analog outputs: I would love them. Hopefully someday for Sprout. For now I have had some excellent success using a 3.5mm–>stereo RCA cable. AudioQuest for example makes some KILLER ones.

Thanks all, loving these first impressions!

Best,

Scott


#8

I received mine this weekend, so far very impressed.

The packaging was solid, safe and secure like my NuWave Phono Converter was, and despite the small size and weight, the unit has a bit of heft. As already mentioned, fit and finish are first rate, knobs feel very positive when changing selection. I too wish for an LED / power indicator, but…

The bluetooth worked immediately, impressive! My issue is I cannot really think of a use-case for myself? Everything on my phone/tablet is on my Mac already. But a trick little feature for certain, I suppose a use will manifest at some point.

My Macbook has a GeekOut 1000 USB DAC, so that is going to my Sprout analog inputs (using BitPerfect, so can playback up to 32-bit 384kHZ and DSD). I have been enjoying some fantastic vinyl transfers (Physical Graffiti and Quadrophenia) all morning. My GeekOut is obviating the need to mess with the USB inputs for now.

Vinyl - for initial setup just using my Pro-Ject RPM table (w/ Denon DL-110) and Albert King is tearing it up.

Sprout is driving my Quad 11L-2 speakers just fine, at varying volume levels, jazz, rock, blues, detail is excellent thus far. The air under Albert King’s voice, the horns and guitar all sound great and in place.

I also did an hour or so with headphones (Grado 325i and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro), both sounded great to my ears, but truthfully, that jack will get little use for me, again, the GeekOut 1000 is where they will be plugged in most of the time. But from a complete package perspective, the Sprout is very impressive and has about everything I would want from this unit (barring the power LED). Nice work.

Now, if you would, please build an affordable direct drive turntable that spins at 33.3 reliably! happy-048_gif

sprout-setup_small.jpg


#9

Have you used your Mac with the Sprout’s internal DAC?


#10

Bill: I have the same question as Fritz. What are your impressions (if any) of the Sprout’s internal DAC (vs the GeekOut 1000 or in general)?


#11
andrewnewman said Bill: I have the same question as Fritz. What are your impressions (if any) of the Sprout's internal DAC (vs the GeekOut 1000 or in general)?
Heh, wow, kind of embarrassed I did not think to try it out sooner, thanks for the nudge.

I have been playing it this way all morning now (Macbook Pro USB -> Sprout DAC) and have to say I am very impressed with the sound and detail I am getting this way.

First, the bass (literally, Sam Jones upright bass on Somethin’ Else!) has much more of a round full sound to it, I think I prefer it to the GeekOut on this album. Guitars on Court and Spark ring out clear true and Joni’s voice is sublime, the difference is not as pronounced on this one versus the GeekOut. Jim Croce playing now and sounds great, again, I think the low-end is a bit better on the Sprout DAC, but it is hard to quickly switch and A/B to be honest.

I will listen more today and decide, but right now I think I may take the GeekOut out of this chain and employ it on another rig in the house.

My one concern is the weight of the GINORMOUS power cable plug, it seems to sag quite a bit, so fear it may in time become a problem if I do not find a way to support the downward weight. Other than that, the Sprout seems super-solid so far, very happy with it.

My wife even thinks it looks good!


#12

Thanks for the impressions. I too was a bit worried about the ginormous power cable plug. I may plan to fashion a small platform for it and maybe attach some guides to the back of the audio rack. We’ll see.


#13

One update on my wish for Sprout follow-on product, a small (same as Sprout) form factor multi-format (sacd/dvd-A/CD) player for those of us who have accumulated a lot of silver discs.


#14

Sprout Kickstarter #77 has Arrived

Two questions:

Does the amp invert the output (I am bi-aming a speaker with the Sprout)?

How long should break-in take (I guess 100 hours)?

Thanks,

Peter

P.S. It works and sounds great.


#15

OK, After a one hour break-in the Sprout sounds amazing, how did Scott make the amp sound so good (if you ask him he may tell you a little secret about the sound). The Sprout may be the best sounding amp I have heard, WOW.

Since I am using the Sprout in a bi-amp setup (driving a woofer @4 ohms at 2,000 hz and below), Should I break-in the Sprout for the first 100 hours with a full range speaker?

Also the Bluetooth works great with my MacBook Pro (in this set up the Mac supplies a remote control volume control).

I will let you now about digital and phono shortly.

Peter


#16

I finally put my combo player (Blu-Ray/SACD/DVD-A/CD) into the chain now too, the sound is again outstanding as expected by now.
Only quibble here is having to unplug the USB to use the COAX input (clearly stated in the manual, I know), if both are plugged in, USB wins. Minor nit, I can live with it since I don’t get the silver discs out that often, the larger black ones see a lot more duty, and this unit is continuing to impress me there for sure. The phono stage is really good, very happy with the vinyl playback as it will be the primary use in my office setup. Sprout is replacing my Rogue Metis/Atlas separates btw, or at least displacing them to another, roomier, part of the house, and so far I have given up nothing in sound and gained in real estate.


#17

Sprout does not invert the output.


#18

Paul,

Thanks for the info

One more Sprout Question:

Using the Sprout either as a phono preamp or DAC,

Only using preamp ouputs, with volume at max, no speakers attached,

Any issues about not having speakers attached?

You may wish to add this Scenario to the Sprout’s Owner’s manual.

Thanks,

Peter


#19

Can you describe sound characteristic? Is it worm or more detailed? Or accurate, neutral?

Mine will arrive on thursday and I am preparing list of audio shops to visit and choose proper speakers :)

Less options on start = quicker and simpler choose.


#20

Crisp but easy on the ears with a little bass boast (very little) or punch to output below 2K.