PS Audio‘s Sprout Lounge at RMAF demonstrated that they’re well aware of these desires. The small room adjacent to PS Audio’s larger system was done up in superb first-nice-apartment style: a white IKEA couch, cool Mid-Century-esque lowboy and end tables, and Marilyn Monroe on the wall. Sprout ($799), with its brushed silver sides and walnut top panel, fit right in. The set-up was flanked by Golden Ear Aon 3 loudspeakers (about $1,000/pair), and a white Pro-Ject turntable and vintage reel-to-reel deck completed the picture.
Sprout offers a load of functionality in its cute little package. The unit is an integrated amp with 50 watts per channel, an analog preamp, 192/24 asynchronous DAC, MM phono stage, low impedance headphone amp, and AptX Bluetooth receiver. What this translates to for my frightened non-audiophile friends is “No, really, just plug in your speakers, plug in your turntable, and go.” Easy-peasy.
We’ve established that the looks and function are very much there. The next question, of course, is whether the sound is satisfactory. While I wasn’t able to listen long enough to answer questions about long-term listening fatigue, my experience with an LP of Beck’s Morning Phase was rewarding. “Morning” was very sweet, smooth, and listenable, without the etched sound I tend to associate with class D amplification. Oftentimes, longer listening can reveal more subtle issues, but my initial reaction was that Sprout offers excellent sound, versatility, and looks for a very reasonable price tag. I could easily see this as an entry-level integrated for a college student’s first Real Stereo, or as the backbone of an office system where space is at a premium — or, for that matter, for my sane friends who don’t believe that amps should double as space heaters.
Sprout ships in late November, just in time for the winter holidays.