The moment you place a new piece of gear in a system the clock begins ticking and the questions fly. Is this better or worse? If I've made gains, what were the qualities lost?
How do you evaluate the new within the old?
Our systems have been set up and optimized for existing components. Newcomers either add or subtract—not because they are better or worse as independent products, but because they are integral parts of a system.
An all in one product, like Sprout, makes an easy case for judging—you have only Sprout and speakers. Change one and you're judging only that piece in concert with one other.
In a complex system of cables, player, DAC, power amp, etc., changing small pieces of the bigger pie tells us less about the individual product than the whole.
The more we optimize individual parts of our systems to be excellent standalone performers, the easier it is to judge the merits of one within the many.