Choosing electronics

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Whatever you've decided on for your speakers in our mythical small system, you'll need some means of powering them. There are as many options in amplification and source equipment as there are speakers. The simplest solution is the all-in-one, the receiver, or integrated. Our own Sprout is a perfect example of an all-in-one music player. I remember well when my son Scott decided he wanted something to fit his lifestyle and designed Sprout to be everything he dreamt of. Simple, elegant, small, easy to use. Plug and play. Other solutions range anywhere from the obscene: giant multi-connector garish boxes with more knobs, buttons, and dials than choices at a candy store, to the sleek and stylish, like that of Devialet, or even the ultra simple Sonos Connect. It's unlikely you'll be choosing the $45,000 D'agastino Momentum Integrated for this simple system, but who knows? (it is certainly a beautiful piece of kit). Much depends on what you're trying to achieve and the numbers of compromises you're willing to make along the way. In fact, the choices tend to be a little like the ones we used for choosing our speakers in the first place. What kind of music and from what source? Light listening background from a turntable or streamed from your phone, a Sprout might be just the ticket. If mostly from digital sources and cost isn't too much a factor, the sleek Devialet. Something uber simple the entire family can use from their phones and iPads, choose the Sonos. For me, I like separates - or if I am going integrated - one that offers few compromises in sound quality. I figure it this way. If it's worth my effort to enjoy, why not make it great? Tomorrow we'll tackle a more challenging system.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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