Sprout100 volume control

Hi @Paul

Can you share some info on the volume control used in the Sprout100?

Is it analogue volume control or using the ESS DAC chip digital volume control?

I’m thinking about getting one for a 2nd system setup.


The volume control in the Sprout100 uses the ESS DAC volume control which affords a lossless signal and works quite well. It’s a great little integrated.

Thanks @Paul . What about the analogue input though?

Is that digitized for digital volume control?

Yes. The analog input goes through an excellent A/D converter inside.

Interesting! Could you share any information about sampling rate or bit depth?

I wish PS Audio was a bit less cagey about this sort of thing. I get that a lot of people are put off by anything digital, but those people probably also think Class D is digital and won’t touch a Sprout with a ten-foot pole. So why not go all in and brag about stuff like this?

Oh, and also: it would have been awesome to be able to get access to the digitized audio, like some of the NAD integrateds do.

A newbie question: with ess DACs and volume controls, what would dictate the final sound - opamps, regulators, filters and power supplies?

With analog I can see the need for a gr8 volume control eg gain cell which is I jumped on the sgcd!

FWIW I am an engg but don’t know much about acoustics.

The simple answer is everything effects the final output, but the DAC’s output stage has the single greatest impact on how a DAC sounds over any other bit of technology (including the DAC itself).

Thx Paul! I guess the output stage [1] has been simplified by ESS dac chips with digital volume control? Seems the mobile chips are taking care of more stuff and leaves less knobs. I guess the Sprout100 will have the house ESS sound?

When I listen to the SGCD (my 1st PSA) vs my other ESS DAC/pre, the sound is warmer, its more clear at lower volumes and the headphone amplifier is awesome. From a pure tech perspective, do you strive to be close to what is nice to hear or towards being neutral?

[1] https://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/duties-output-stage/

Hi rkosara,

The ADC for the phono and analog inputs sends 24/192 to the ESS via I2S.

Thanks for your input! Sprout was a project that really tested what Scott and I could do for this price. If you haven’t heard it yet, the SQ is absolutely phenomenal and this took priority over an abundance of feature sets.

Paul - So true.

Hi envydd,

Perhaps the “house sound” is when the output filter that is in the datasheet is used. We use our own output stages and always conduct thorough objective and subjective testing before we finalize them. I spend awhile finalizing the output stage, from simulation to listening on my Harbeths. Its musically engaging while being very transparent and revealing for the price range.

@DarrenMyers nice! makes sense. I should check out the sprout100 - right now too busy with the SGCD - Its got an old DAC chip but sounds very musical (and soothing) sans the house ESS glare. It just shows how much effort the PSA team has put into the output stage. I am guessing that with a higher end product there is more effort and tuning that goes into the testing the output in addition to more expensive components?

Thanks! I didn’t mean to criticize the Sprout – I love mine! In fact, it was the perfect gateway drug to a SGCD+M300 combo. What I meant was that what’s discussed in this thread isn’t on the product page, and I’m wondering why. NAD (which I bring up because I had considered the D3020 and the M32) are very upfront about the digitization and sell it as a feature. The M32 lets you access the digital audio stream, which is why I mentioned it; but I obviously understand that that’s not an easy thing to just throw into a $599 integrated.