It would help if you could hear it. But, we as a society voted to mostly kill off brick and mortar stores, preferring to read reviews or stick to known brands. Might’ve been hard to find a Sprout for demoing anyway.
I use my Sprout II every day. It’s almost a shame that I have a dedicated headphone amp, because the Sprout could replace so many parts, but I mostly just use it with optical input from my TV’s pass through, plus my bookshelf speakers or a pair of headphones.
This has had plenty of volume with no background noise with my speakers and all the full-size headphones I’ve used with it. I think a 90dB S:N could be an issue for amping sensitive IEMs, and maybe an easier to drive headphone, but I use it with my Sennheiser HD 650, AKG K612 Pro, and Fostex TH-X0-II. Recently, I got to borrow a pair of Focal Elear, but the stiffness and weight (and thick cord!) are not for me. None of these have any issues with the Sprout, and sound on par with a $300 headphone DAC/Amp, fairly plain sound as some have said but a tad on the dry side. I think it makes my planar leaf Chane bookshelves sound clearer and have better imaging than my $200 Yamaha receiver, and so it has become the audio centerpiece of my living room. Add to that, the Sprout has Bluetooth and vinyl pre-amp input features and I truly think it is a bargain. I’ve read that the original Sprout has a warmer sound to it, possibly due to the Wolfson DAC in it (I don’t know the model number, but I associate Wolfson with the 5th generation iPod and the iPhone 4S), but the Sprout II’s ES9016 DAC chip is still a fairly strong performer.
Only issues I’ve had with it:
1.) the Bluetooth receiver is always on, even if the Sprout has a different input selected, so I’ll often come home and find out my phone or iPad are silent because they are outputting to the Sprout.
2.) the hand remote is small, about the size of the AppleTV remote, and both can disappear from time to time. Also, the remote’s volume “steps” are very small, so it’s slow to change the volume. I find it fascinating that the remote is magnetic. Of course, the first Sprout doesn’t have a remote, so...