Hi-Fi Corner: Don’t let the cuteness fool you, this little amp has tons of talent

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Who’d have thought that music-listening enthusiasts in 2015 would be spinning vinyl one moment and streaming digital music via Bluetooth the next? Indeed, a hunger for a more tactile music experience has resulted in a resurgence in records, but that same crowd that digs spinning wax also sees the value in the ease of streaming tunes from their phones. How, then, do you marry these two disparate audio acts, and do it with a dash of style?

We think the PS Audio Sprout amplifier does it quite nicely.

The Sprout is sleek, yet unassuming; hip, yet not ostentatious; slight in stature, yet jam-packed with power. Underneath its wooden hood lay a premium phono pre-amp, a top-notch high-res digital-to-analog converter,  and a low-impedance headphone amplifier, all backed by 100-watts of power that PS audio claims is enough to drive any pair of loudspeaker … that’s right, all of speakers, ever.

Related: Yamaha’s A-S2100 brings big-time class to your home stereo

While that may seem a bold claim, the Sprout seems to have the goods to deliver. This is an amplifier with a remarkably smooth sound for a digital amp, and its performance in both the analog and digital domains is of impeccable caliber. This little champ can make your records sing, then turn around and transform your digital music collection’s sound quality. Shoot, even Internet radio sounds pretty good through this thing.

But this thoroughbred will cost you a few … $800, to be exact. Sure, that seems like a lot for such a little box, but when you consider what this little box can do compared to space-hogging components many times its size, that premium price starts to make some sense.

We’ve only begun what we expect will be a long, enjoyable journey of music re-discovery using the Sprout, but so far we’re having a blast.