PS Audio Sprout – The Mighty but Tiny All-In-One Amplifier

Admittedly, the concept of Sprout is not new: shrinking hi-fi components to a convenient size and reducing them to the essentials to keep up with the digital zeitgeist is an established strategy. Nevertheless, we find that the small all-rounder of PS Audio has earned itself a special mention amongst our bespoke products.

The Story of Sprout

First, there is something unusual in otherwise simply good history of Sprout, which is also a piece of family history at the same time. Then the vision comes a modern, easy-to-use, great-sounding and affordable amplifier for everyone to build of Scott McGowan, in his music lovers, PS Audio employee and son of company co-founder Paul McGowan, of the Sprout virtually his final examination in HiFi entrepreneurship intends to deliver. In implementing the first own project of Filius is not just in terms of the conceptual orientation of the product its own way, but also decides on an alternative financing strategy that meets all the modern spirit of Sprout: A crowdfunding campaign on the platform Kickstarter. This brings ultimately take the date fixed for the production of 36,000 proud 414,000 US dollars, so that the first Class D All-In-One amplifier of PS Audio – otherwise better known for high-end DACs and similar subtleties – is only a matter of time , Despite some uncertainties during the production the first units are already delivered six months later, and well received by customers and the trade press. Oh, the happy wedding of Scott McGowan and his fiancee still also belongs to the history, but we digress …


The front has been created with two simple questions: What do you want to listen to and how loud will it be?”. Your individual wishes in this regard tells you the little sound machine who comes dressed in aluminum and wood veneer, with on just simple manner by the actuation of two controls. The input selector is waiting for with the options vinyl, analog, digital and Bluetooth and can already indicate what the developers have in the mere 1.8 kg heavy crates housed everything. The second controller is responsible according to the initial question of the volume. In a remote control of these parameters you have to give as Sprout owner, it is located on the left nor a headphone output. The related amplifier has obviously found even a place in the tight housing and understood by both mobile and stationary earbuds all stripes

PS Audio Sprout Regler Nahaufnahme

The other inputs and outputs are located as usual on the back. The Sprout offers a typical phono input (MM cartridges, RCA), an additional analog input (3.5mm jack), a digital coaxial input and a USB input. Further features of the amplifier on compulsory terminals to drive passive speakers and an additional analog output (3.5 mm jack), so that for example, an additional powered speakers or subwoofer can be connected. The integrated Bluetooh module supports fortunately the aptX codec. If the transmitting device is also aptX compatible and the source files are resolved accordingly high, achieved the sound quality compared to a conventional Bluetooth connection as CD-level.

PS Audio Sprout Anschlüsse

Inner-Area and Sound

There may be good arguments against it, to write from our demonstration on a device immediately after returning. On the other hand is hard to believe that the enthusiasm for the Sprout tomorrow or next week something will have changed. The design is really successful, also the Sprout looks solid processed and so already makes the Installation and Connection wanting more. We first decide to start small and couple the outputs with the cheap but good compact speakers Dali censor 1. On the input side, it gets our test with the new Pro-Ject RPM to do 1 Carbon. Quick select the source – Vinyl. The corresponding controller still feels when switching to lightweight neither too stiff to, fit to behave also the screening of the volume control. A little to the right. A brief crackle. Here we go. Our bill goes on. The combo gives a pleasant plastic and coherent overall sound. In the bass range makes the small amplifiers no prisoners. Whether the “just right” feels as exaggerated or, depends on both the connected speakers as well as from the personal feeling. With regard to the figure of the remaining spectrum there is also no reason for complaint. Here, of course, is not every detail and frequency displayed in analytical perfection, but that’s neither the manufacturer’s claim nor the information collected by us signal chain. Listening to music with the Sprout should be fun and that does it – very even.

PS Audio Sprout Aufbauen und anschließen

PS Audio Sprout Vinyl-Digital-Set

Now it’s time to strain the integrated DAC once, finally, the digital to analog conversion is one of the proven core competencies of PS Audio. The USB port and the optical input, we can, however, be left and instead choose Bluetooth. Although the wireless standard for a high-quality transmission of music is not necessarily the first choice and it is exacerbated that our source device an older iPhone the aptX codec not supported, on the other hand, the use is under such conditions in everyday use not outrageous. And indeed remains of the disaster. The sound quality is still going even under these most unfavorable conditions in order, although a aptX-enabled source device is naturally tend to prefer. If it then something must be more: The DAC of Sprout processed naturally place extreme resolutions of up to 192 kHz / 24 bit.

iPhone und PS Audio Sprout verbunden via Bluetooth

After this thoroughly positive debut, we feel that the small all-rounder quite major challenges has grown. We pass over a medium solution and replace the previously used Dali censor 1 to an adult couple Dali Epicon 8 from. Although size and weight of the amplifier make up only a fraction of the speakers, the Sprout shows no fear of contact and brings the membranes without batting an eyelid neatly to vibrate. The competent control dial has about one-third of the potential path traveled when we level technically already located across the border that are generally well-known as “low volume”. Blade does the whole way, even, at least when we again leave the phono stage the helm. The Dali Epicon 8 reveal the weaknesses of a conventional Bluetooth connection but then quite mercilessly. Finally, one pair Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond also ran again. The mass ratio between the amplifier and speakers work here again absurd what the Sprout – we have now understood – but not interfere with the performance of its task. On the contrary, well above its weight class, this small powerhouse feels extremely comfortable and makes still fun.

PS Audio Sprout analog mit Pro-Ject RPM 1 Carbon

PS Audio Sprout mit Accuphase E-470 im Hintergrund

PS Audio Sprout auf einem Accuphase E-470


With the equally simple and coherent overall concept and an amazingly good sound succeeds in Sprout from the crowd stand out and to present itself as a serious, modern amplifier for all analog and digital life. The manageable and meaningful at the same range of inputs and outputs supported this impression and makes the small all-in-one amplifier more flexible than you might think at first. (Assuming an external WLAN Bridge) of an exclusive wireless use via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi up to the more traditional use with turntables and CD players to the optical input, everything here is really possible. Although our experiment a little unrealistic anmutet with the much higher-priced speakers, it shows quite clearly that the Sprout – quite possible initially operated in a smaller setup – even after an upgrade to a higher-value chain certainly its place knows how to argue. Apart from all clearly identifiable qualities are furthermore also to one of these devices, which is capable of an inexplicable “Do want” feeling trigger. In this sense we can only congratulate Scott McGowan on his shiny passed matriculation examination.


Inspired from our test on a small Vinyl-Digital-Set

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