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Sprout

Sprout---Lifestyle-002Scott McGowan grew up at the PS Audio factory, sharing his father Paul’s love of music and high-end performance audio; but disliked the complexity, cost and tangle typical of Audiophile systems. Why couldn’t he have the performance levels of his father’s creations packaged in a single, beautiful product he and his friends could afford to own? It should be powerful yet simple to operate. Its aesthetics should be inspired by the “less, but better” designs of Braun’s Dieter Rams and Apple’s Jony Ive. He would call it Sprout.

Sprout is a simple, elegant source of music for those who want quality sound without the hassles that come with it. Appealing to the eye and ear, solid and reassuring to the touch, Sprout’s user interface is human, providing feedback to the user and connection to the music. Sprout’s ease of use makes it appealing and accessible to music lovers around the world. It features a phono preamplifier for vinyl, a Bluetooth receiver for music streamed from smartphones, a high-quality hi-res DAC to handle anything stored on a laptop, enough power for any speaker, and a headphone amp that drives even the toughest loads.

Sprout is for those who care about their home, their music, and their enjoyment of music in their home. We believe there are a lot of such folks out there.

Sprout---Lifestyle-005Scott chose the name Sprout to represent what he saw as a rebirth of hi-fi in the home, a chance to get away from massive, unaffordable instruments that dominated living rooms and required a pilot’s license to operate.

Rather than a display screen and endless menus, Sprout’s user interface is a direct hand-to-Sprout connection through two precision rotary switches. These allow intuitive, direct control of the device, and provide feedback to the user through a positive click, and immediate response to changes in volume.

Sprout’s ease of use makes it appealing and accessible to those who would find most audio gear intimidating. It’s also appealing to those who have “been there, done that”, and seek a better, simpler way to play music in their home. Sprout simultaneously appeals to those making their first purchase of an audio component–and those making their last purchase, seeking quality without complication.

Sprout-on-black-7Passive 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.

Power amplifier

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 upsampling 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.

Sprout---On-White-001The 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.”

Physical

Unit Weight2.9 lbs
Unit Dimensions6” x 8” x 1.75”
Shipping Weight5 lbs
Shipping Dimensions22.5”x 13” x 6” [57cm x 33cm x 15cm]

Power requirements

Input PowerModel specific 120VAC, or 230VAC 50 or 60Hz
Power Consumption<10W idle, 125W maximum

Phono Audio Input

ConnectorRCA (X2)
Cartridge typeMoving Magnet
Cartridge Output (5cm/s)2mV to 50mV
Cartridge load impedance47KΩ(100pF)
Equivalent Input Noise<1.6uV
S/N ratio >80dB (@analog output, ref 4VRMS maximum output)

Analog Audio Inputs

Connector3.5mm stereo input
Input level2.0VRMS (+6dBV)
Input impedance10KΩ

Analog Audio Output

Connector3.5mm stereo connector can be used for subwoofer or amplifier feeds
Output level, nominal
(@ rated cartridge input)
1.0V (0dBV) with 5mV cartridge at reference level (volume at 100%)
Output level, maximum4.0VRMS (+12dBV) maximum, Full scale digital or vinyl at +12dB over reference (volume at 100%)
Output Impedance220Ω
S/N ratio >94dB (@analog output, ref 4VRMS maximum output)
THD (power amp)<0.03% (1W 50Hz-10KHz)
<0.1% at rated power, 1KHz, 120VAC mains

S/PDIF Digital Input

ConnectorRCA (Coax)
Impedance75Ω
FormatPCM

USB Input

ConnectorUSB “B” Type
FormatPCM
Transfer modeAsynchronous
S/N ratio digital >102dB (@analog output, ref 4VRMS maximum output)

Bluetooth

AntennaBuilt in
DACUses Sprout's built in asynchronous DAC over S/PDIF

Stereo Power Amplifier Output

8Ω loudspeakers connected32 watts per channel, both channels driven
4Ω loudspeakers connected50 watts per channel, both channels driven

Headphone Output Power

16Ω headphones1W (1KHz, 1% THD)
300Ω headphones connected200mW (1KHz, <0.03% THD)

Headphone Output Impedance

From 10Hz to 10kHz<0.3 Ohm