The real challenge for PS Audio Engineering was how to package the eight major subsystems in Sprout within the confines of this elegant minimalistic package, while maintaining our high standards for reliability and performance. It was not an easy task. The first challenge would be to settle on the power amplification stage of Sprout. There are many excellent designs of small and reliable power amplifiers on the OEM marketplace today; but only a very few with high enough performance standards to even be considered for Sprout. The field was quickly narrowed down to the top six contenders for this all important task. PS Audio’s chief of engineering, Bob Stadtherr, built a test bed for Sprout’s designer, Scott McGowan, enabling him to easily listen at length to any of the six candidates. Hundreds of hours were spend with endless debate but finally one design was adopted.
Sprout’s DAC and phono stage were easy: this was technology honed over the last few decades of engineering and the team merely had to select from our stable of designs that which perfectly matched the musical qualities of the chosen power amplifier. Much debate was expended on Sprout’s human interface. In vogue at the time of Sprout’s design was the ubiquitous remote control and digital display to show status. Designer McGowan was adamant the cold, non-interactive nature of remote controls would not be part of Sprout. Instead, a precision human interface was chosen for the front panel: a stepped tactile volume control and input selector mechanism provide both feedback and a connection to the device itself.
“We spend a great deal of time interacting with our machines,” said Scott, “but those that bring music into our home are personal and I did not want to lose touch with that that brings music into our homes. I wanted to touch, to feel, to interact with Sprout. Sprout is audio furniture. It’s personal. It has to be touchy feely.”
Passive EQ moving magnet phono preamplifier
Vinyl is an important part of a growing number of people’s lives today and Sprout brings LPs to life as you have rarely experienced. The engineering team at PS Audio has been designing and building vinyl amplification for 40 years and we know a thing or two about making records sound their best. Sprout features a precision passive RIAA curve nestled between two high speed gain stages that perfectly amplify any moving magnet phono cartridge.
High resolution digital audio
Built inside Sprout is a highly sophisticated Digital To Analog Converter (DAC) that accepts digital audio from just about any source including USB, coaxial and Bluetooth. Sample rates up to 192kHz and bit depth up to 24 bits are supported by a Wolfson asynchronous precision sigma delta modulator.
Sprout features an exceptional sounding 50 watt per channel power amplifier capable of driving just about any loudspeaker you connect to it. Selected for its musical virtues, Scott McGowan personally curated this Scandinavian designed amplifier from amongst a dozen fine candidates before selecting it for Sprout. Musical, powerful, never aggressive sounding, the amplifier within Sprout honors the music.
Built in Bluetooth receiver
Streaming music from a mobile device is common and expected amongst Sprout owners. That the sound quality of that streaming service is exceptionally good in Sprout is a testament to PS Audio’s engineering team’s decision to pass streaming services through Sprout’s internal up-sampling DAC.
Line level output
Sprout’s analog output can feed a separate subwoofer, tape deck or second set of amplified loudspeakers with ease. Separated and buffered from the main signal path, Sprout’s analog outputs are available through its rear 3.5mm connector.
Discrete zero impedance headphone amp
Listening to music through a fine set of headphones is an experience many of us cannot be without and Sprout honors the music with one of the finest headphone amplifiers made. Driven by a discrete, fully complementary discrete output stage, Sprout’s headphone amplifier has near zero output impedance to power even the most demanding devices available.