I have a Liquid Carbon, serial number 47, and Massdrop sent me a Sprout II for review. Bringing together my thoughts, and will really get going after my wedding anniversary today.
Brief impressions: I bought the LC because everyone proclaimed how it was an awesome pairing with the Sennheiser HD 800, because it had a fantastic smoothness to the treble that was engaging and sweet without any need for mods, and does a great job of bringing out the potential in the bass range. $600 for the amp, and I totally love it (not as much as my wife, but I can have both ;).
Listened to the Sprout II for about 4 Hours with my HD 650, and an hour with my HD 800, without comparing side-by-side with my LC, I can state off the bat that I also don’t find this Sprout fatiguing. It’s enjoyable for long listens, and the size is slightly wider than the LC but less long (Both smaller than Massdrop’s version of the LC). It’s pretty fantastic to have the analog amp, a DAC with USB, Optical, and Bluetooth connectivity, and the speaker amp inside.
I did compare my Chane bookshelf speakers side-by-side to my fullsize, entry level Yamaha AVR, and those speakers filled in the mids and lows much better, haven’t had a hollow note yet while streaming Apple TV movies or music to it! An upgrade over the dedicated Yamaha speaker amp, also way more capable in this department than the Creative X7 ($399, now a days $299) was with the same Chane speakers (X7 was “ok” with my Polk Monitor II M40).
Addictive speaker setup, seems almost silly that this little box outperforms the Yamaha and gives me a ton of placement flexibility to connect my speakers and fill my livingroom with sound. Spoiler alert: I’m happy with it, but I’ll hammer out why in the full review. I suspect my LC will slightly edge out the headphone amp, and connecting my Chord Mojo (~$500) to the Sprout II should also outperform the Sprout’s built-in DAC, but taken as a whole package, the $599 Sprout II stands as a satisfying all-in-one audio solution piece!