Kaplan's Korner

December 10, 2015

Little Sprout, Big Inside


Respect the Sprout

I always get a kick out of how short some of my favorite movie and rock stars are. Especially my favorite action heroes. You can get a lot out of a small package. That’s what the Sprout from PS Audio in Boulder Colorado is like. Small of stature but packed with features and mighty of heart.

It features a phono preamplifier for vinyl, a Bluetooth receiver for music streamed from smartphones, a high-quality hi-res DAC to handle anything stored on a laptop, enough power for any speaker, and a headphone amp that drives even the toughest loads.

The operating principal of the Sprout seems to be simplicity. Which is pretty cool considering all it does.

Connect the left and right speakers. Plug the turntable into the left and right analog inputs. Attach the ground to the ground post. Turn it on. Rock out.

Do the specs even matter? We’re rocking some vinyl here.

I was able to put the Sprout through its paces in a number of configurations.

We first hooked the Sprout up to a pair of Linn Kaliegh floor standing speakers and a Technics SL1300 automatic turntable in my son’s room. The Sprout rocked the Linns with ease.

Then my kid switched the Sprout to Bluetooth and started playing his digital library. Very nice. More compelling sounding music.
Next I snatched the Sprout away from the small system and hooked it up to the PSB Imagine T200’s and the Clearaudio Performance with the Clearaudio MM Maestro Ebony cartridge. While the Turntable might have been a little overkill for the built in Sprout phono stage, the sound was smooth, compelling and tons of fun.

Next I hooked the Sprout up to my iMac for some near field listening. The Sprout smoked the $1,100 DAC I’ve been using and sounded crazy good through the Napa Acoustic speakers with and the WyWires Silver USB cable. Too good for background listening, I kept getting sucked into the music and out of whatever I was working on. I bet I could get used to it though.

I’ve listened to the Sprout now for a number of weeks and found the Sprout to be well built, extremely handy, you can plug it in anywhere, and perfect for entry level or a second system.

At $499 it’s a steal. Get one at your local PS Audio Dealer or online at


Rocking Riva

Last June at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach I walked into a room and was bathed in some great sounding music, which was generated from a small box on a chair in the middle of the room. The Riva Bluetooth speaker had me looking behind curtains for sub woofers and satellites. Nope. Just Riva. So I was pretty stoked when they offered me one for review.

The timing was perfect as I was just about to start delivering the Tower Records Documentary issue. The RCN World Delivery Vehicle has pretty crappy sound. The cassette deck eats cassettes. So I tossed the Riva in the passenger seat and grooved on the 20,000 songs available to me via that cloud thing on the apple.

At about $299 the Riva Turbo provides an impressive 26 plus hours of battery playing time, a USB charging port for your phone or other devices, a speakerphone which was really handy driving all over heck delivering papers and it seems to be build like a brick temple to music. It takes a licking and keeps on rocking.

My daughter came home from college and fell in love with the Riva and went on about how the RIVA would make the PERFECT gift for that freshman’s dorm room.

She’s right. The Riva is that high quality Bluetooth speaker that sounds great and goes anywhere. No doubt the Riva will still be rocking as solidly when she graduates in four years. Five years?

Happy Holidays Everyone.



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