The PS Sprout100 has always fascinated me with its simple looks. Although I never used one before, I always wanted to try it out.
You see, the modern world is infested with so many amplifiers that choosing the right one can be overwhelming. There are those who will go for full features, scouting for things they will never even use
But minimalist audiophiles like myself prefer the reserved simplicity. The best thing about these amplifiers is that they focus more on music quality than too much beauty. And that is the most important thing. That’s why Sprout created the Sprout100.
In this review, I will be looking majorly at the functionality of the PS audio Sprout100 integrated DAC, headphone, and power amplifier.
What to consider when buying a DAC and power amplifier
Before we get into the sprout100 integrated and original sprout, I thought it would be better to remind ourselves of the features that make a good best stereo amplifier. Here are a few things to look out for:
We all have different needs when it comes to audio use. Some people want a full setup with Dolby functions, and all the good staff money can buy. On the other hand, we have those who prefer to remain anonymous, and they will go for the simplest product as long as it gives them the sound output they needed like what the Sprout100 offers.
A headphone amplifier like the Sprout100, in this case, is all about performance and bass boost. It will take you very few to look at all its features, set it up, and start using the sprout100.
When I was buying my first amplifier, I was very excited when I got to the store. The seller showed me all the cool stuff he kept in his store and asked me to choose anything, telling me about all the features to them all. But you see, I only needed good audio for the dollar. That’s exactly what the sprout100 is.
Not all amplifiers come with DAC functions. So, you want to first ensure that these features are present before making any further mover. The last thing you want is to get home and be disappointed when you switch on, which happens a lot with inline shopping.
Consider if the device comes with a line out that allows you to test the DAC subsystem independently. Then try to use the output variable by adjusting it to different volts. You can, for instance, begin with two volts and see how it all works out.
Power and sound
How many loads can the amplifier give or receive without being overwhelmed? This is something you need to figure out in the first stage of buying.
Today, we have different speakers that come with various needs such as listening to music. If your amplifier cannot give out that power, then it will be fried or affect the speakers.
Power is rated in terms of watts-per-channel. For instance, you can find an amp that delivers 100 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Such is a device that will drive most of the speakers on the market today.
In simple terms, look at your audio needs and decide how you want the sound delivery to feel. Speaking of sound, sprout100 comes down to performance and internal resistance. You need to want something with the lowest noise production because there would be not many interruptions when playing music.
The ins and outs
Again, it is all about how you want to use the sprout100. If, for instance, you want to play vinyl records, it means you already have a turntable. In this case, you want something with a moving magnet phono stage.
Some of us don’t need all the digital analog input that come with modern amps, and some do. Hence, it is important to look at how much analog input, outputs, and connections you need in the device for listening to music.
About the PS Audio Sprout100
When I first saw the PS Audio Sprout 100 integrated amplifier, I immediately perceived it as one of the cutest amplifiers I have ever seen. Sprout100 came in a small and handsome package that made me think at first that there was nothing much. But I opened the sprout device up, and the ton of functionality it carried made me smile inside.
Sprout100 even comes with Bluetooth connectivity for wireless streaming and a moving magnet turntable in. This is all I could need in an integrated amplifier – of course, apart from quality sound delivery.
PS Audio is one of the top manufacturers for audio products on the market today. Sprout is famous for its personal co-found and CEO Paul McGowan, who emphasized the need for value-priced high-end audio separates. Several years ago, however, he decided to build a compact integrated amplifier that takes care of younger and space deprived audio users.
All he wanted was an all-in-one ‘just-add-speaker’ amplifier that could give out the best sound. And that is how the sprout100 was born. There is still a lot to improve on this device, like the lack of remote control, but its general functionality is all good for music play.
In summary, sprout100 comes with the following features:
- Full functionality of an integrated amplifier
- 100 watts per channel power output
- It is compatible with any speaker
- A beautiful aluminum brushed finish
- A ton of inputs: preamp, RCA, and, step up volume control, USB, RCA analog, in and out
- Fully asynchronous DAC support for up to 384/24 PCM
- Passive EQ MM preamp
- Headphone preamp
- TOSLINK optical digital in
- Bluetooth receiver
- Dedicated subwoofer output and automated internal bass-boost switch
- Indicator light
- A set of accessories, including regional power cord, remote control, and 4x banana adapters.
Straight from the box, you will realize the manufacturer has put a lot of emphasis and energy into the design of sprout100. Starting from the package, the PS Audio Sprout100 is nothing but excellent. I liked how the inner carton folds up to reveal the sprout amplifier inside. You will then be greeted by a walnut-topped and bead-blasted aluminum finish. The instructions on the lid reveal just how simple it is to assemble and use the sprout device.
The Spout100 comes with a beautiful brushed aluminum remote, four banana connectors, a six feet power cable, a 3.5 mm to ¼ stereo TRS headphone adaptor, two stickers, and an owner’s manual. I believe this shows just how much the amplifier has tried to cover the basics for newbies to start using a quality amplifier without having to face too much connection paraphernalia.
The device is very small in size, not more than a hardcover novel. It was this size that really got my attention, wondering just how much inputs and outputs could fit on such a small chassis, but they were all there,
The moving magnet phono input is present for turntable users. Besides, this is the Toslink optical and USB ‘B’ digital in for connecting TVs and laptops. Also, the RCA jacks for analog connections have been added to replace the 3 5mm jacks on the original Sprout. Analog jacks come with expansion support since this is not entirely and an analog device. The sub-out connection for an extra subwoofer completes this setup.
At the back of the panel, you get a built-in Bluetooth antenna that lets you stream audio wirelessly from your smartphone or other digital devices. The Bluetooth signal runs through high-res ESS Sabre 9016 and can accept resolutions of up to 384/24 PCM and 128 DSD (DoP).
The use of banana plugs on the back of the Spout100 ensures all the necessary jacks fit. These are speaker terminals that I consider a small disadvantage, but not for those whose speakers come with Banana Plugs.
On the amp section, you get a 100w ICE power unit, a Class D digital amp for high-end use, bass boostand strong digital input. These kinds of amps are quiet and efficient.
The discrete zero impedance headphone amp happens to be one of my favorite features. It comes with a respectable 125mW into 300 ohms, power on par, bass boost, remote control detailed in music, and heavy sound output. You will not find such a function in many of the amps at this price range.
The most intuitive part about the Sprout is perhaps how it operates. The two smooth turning knobs on the front plate ensure you easily select the source and adjust the volume. As simple as that, and you will be enjoying your audio.
You just have to press the volume knob to turn it one and turn the source selection to pick your choice. You may also want to note the Bass Boost feature that offers some oomph in your low sound.
I connected the device on my HP Pavilion laptop via USB to see how it performed, and the results were satisfying. I was able to take full advantage of the onboard ESS sabre DAC, playing from TIDAL through a desktop application.
I played some of my favorite pieces from Michael Learns, and the vocal clarity made me feel like I was right in the action. Using my Elac Debut 2.0 B5.2 speakers, I received warm, somehow bassy results. I turned off the bass boost for a more natural sound. The Sprout100 offers all you may need is quality audio for your music. The sprout100 has built in subwoofer output and bluetooth receiver to make playing good music easy.
- A full-function amp
- Compact and portable
- Great inputs and outputs
- 3 5mm jack to plug and play your music
- Original sprout is a reputable brand
- Amazing lift in bass boost
- The competition is quite tough.
If you are looking for a simple, easy-to-use amplifier, the Sprout100 has got you covered. You get so much for the money with the Sprout 100 integrated like its headphone amp and MM phono stage. But you will not get a lot of features if you are that kind of user. Spout 100 defines a vision of elegant and simple for people who want to play excellent music at home.