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HRT Streamer II asynch update?


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Hey Chris and gang. I know Chris seemed interested in verifying the asynch implementation of the series II HRT streamers and was just wondering if there was any word on that. Looking into buying the midrange plus version and trying to gather any and all info. Also, if anyone has more info on the internal differences in the models (aside from basic specs listed) or impressions on the new pro version that would also be great. Thanks

 

PS Audio Quintet > Powerbook (iphone with apple remote app) > HRT Streamer II > Kingrex Pre-amp > Kingrex QS-01 > Devore Fidelity Gibbon 7.1\'s

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  • 1 month later...

I don't know much about the inner workings, but I just got a Music Streamer II+ yesterday from Kaplan Design and I'm very impressed with this little DAC! I like it much better than the V-DAC, or the original Music Streamer. Its presentation is very detailed and musical, without being fatiguing or analytical.

 

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Great to hear they are shipping and that you like yours. I wonder if anyone around here has heard the pro version. I think I'm between the II+ and a PS Audio DL III, although I also might just enjoy my system as it is for a while and see what develops.

 

PS Audio Quintet > Powerbook (iphone with apple remote app) > HRT Streamer II > Kingrex Pre-amp > Kingrex QS-01 > Devore Fidelity Gibbon 7.1\'s

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I have compared the Music Streamer II to the Hegel playing High Rez files from my macbook pro via Musical Fidelity V8 Headphone amp and XPSU V8 using Sennheiser HD 800 headphones .

 

With classical music masterfiles the Hegel sounded clearly the best with more of that important air and space, openness and microdetail reproduced.

 

But the Music Streamer II was surprisingly good for the money.

 

It sells for about 300 dollars here in Sweden.

 

The Hegel costs around 1500 dollars.

 

Next week I am going to listen to the Music Streamer Pro version.

 

But I suspect one of the limitations of all Music Streamer products so far is that they will only go up to 20khz.

 

In other words, even if they do handle 24 bits it is probably a bit like an SACD that has been recorded at 24/41 sampling rate.

 

You will get the bit depth but not the frequency extension.

 

That could be a reason why to me at least, 24/96 and above sounds better via a dac that has a frequency range up to 50khz or more.

Do I hear up to 50 khz ?

Most probably not.

 

But something seems to be happening to the overall sound if nothing or as little as possible has been shaved off.

Acousence has a visual screen shot on their website, showing what I am talking about here.

What I hope is that HRT with their hinted at, but still not even ready? Music Streamer HD that will supposedly do everything up to 24/192,will also provide 24/192 without shaving off harmonics above 20khz!

Anybody at HRT reading this?

If anyone is .

Please do it right all the way this time.

Don´t compromise.

Give the best you can.

 

 

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"Great to hear they are shipping and that you like yours. I wonder if anyone around here has heard the pro version. I think I'm between the II+ and a PS Audio DL III, although I also might just enjoy my system as it is for a while and see what develops."

 

I have the PS Audio DL III also, the DL III has a warm presentation with powerful bass impact. The HRT Music Streamer II+ thus far is straight down the middle clean and neutral.

 

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My HRT has arrived and I've been trying it out and it is probably still breaking in. First impressions are that it has a sweet, clear finely resolved sound with a wide stereo image. Not at much depth as I would like at the moment, and the bass lacks a bit of definition. It is completely unfatiguing to listen to.

 

 

 

Compared with my CD player or vinyl front end it doesn't have the same 'in the room presense'. When someone hits a cymbal your don't quite hear the metallic part of the sound, or you don't get the same bite and attack in the sound of an acoustic guitar. But I don't know if I'm listening to the sound of the HRT DAC or the sound of my MacBook and iTunes yet. I'm ripping with Max to 16 bit/44 KHz AIFF, and then importing to iTunes.

 

 

 

Anyhow I'm really pleased with my new DAC and cable combination - for the price I can't see how you can go wrong. It is perfect for trying out computer audio and getting your feet wet.

 

 

System (i): (Stack Audio Link/MoOde > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/Allo USB Signature/MoOde > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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I think I've found a potential problem with my iTunes setup. The HRT Music Stream II+ instructions haven't been updated for the 'II+' version. They don't mention the Audio Midi settings, but if you look at them they are 96 KHz/24 bit depth be default. With the older DAC having a maximum data rate of 44 KHz, the Audio Midi settings would have been 44 KHz, and you wouldn't need to touch them.

 

 

 

I assume that means that iTunes will upsample Red Book CD data to 96 KHz. So I've changed the Audi Midi sample rate setting to 44 Khz, although the bit depth is still 24 bits rather than 16 bits as it isn't possible to change that. I don't know what the consequences of having a bit depth of 24 bits when playing an AIFF ripped at 16 bit depth. I'll have another listen this evening to see if it makes a difference.

 

 

System (i): (Stack Audio Link/MoOde > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/Allo USB Signature/MoOde > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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iTunes will resample the audio to whatever the rate set in AudioMidi is when iTunes starts ( so you have to restart iTunes if you change AudioMidi ). From what I've seen, it does an OK job, but it's better for it not to have a job to do.

 

Don't worry about the 24/16 bit thing - it will be set to whatever the maximum bit width of the DAC is, and it will fill the rest with 0's,

 

your friendly neighbourhood idiot

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

I've now had my HRT Streamer II+ for two weeks. Since I wrote about my first impressions it has improved a great deal. I felt the quality took a jump at the 80 hour mark, and that it carried on improving after that. I think it is best to assume it needs 250 hours like some other DACs and just leave it on shuffle/repeat for the first two weeks when you're not listening to it.

 

 

 

I think it would be a good idea to give a suggested break in period in the instructions. I had got the impression from the reviews that you could just take it out of the box, plug it in and it was good to go. Before the DAC is broken in, the treble has a slightly unnatural 'cheap digital' sound, and the bass is a bit loose and ill defined. After the second night of listening I was quite relieved to turn my HiFi off in fact.

 

 

 

On the fourth evening I tried 'Ah Um' by Charles Mingus thinking it would be a good test, as it has a lot going on and complex time signatures on some of the tracks. An MP3 of 'Ah Um' would most certainly be a very bad idea. Much to my surprise it sounded really quite good. Next I tried 'Last Train to Mashville' by the Alabama 3 which is mainly vocal/acoustic guitar. Again this sounded just fine with the guitar having reasonable bite and attack, and I was able to hear the resonance from the body. Finally, I tried 'Kind Of Blue' as I've heard it on lots of different systems. The saxes and trumpet sound was pretty spot on (and the tape hiss perfectly rendered). More tellingly I was actually taken aback by one or two of the solos - with the right system they still have the power to stun no matter how many times you've heard the record. My only criticism would be that the image was a bit flat.

 

 

 

I've recently joined the Society of Sound music club, and listening to 24/48 tracks I downloaded on the HRT is really impressive. The image is larger than 16/44 ripped CDs with a great deal of detail. I really think the HRT approaches the level of sound of my CD player, which is better than I was expecting. I've ordered a 0.5M Cardas Clear Light interconnect to use instead of the Siltech ST-38 G3 - I think a better interconnect might just push the advantage to the DAC over the CD player used with the Siltechs.

 

 

 

I was expecting the HRT DAC to be a 'practice run' to get the hang of computer audio before buying a better more expensive DAC that would really outperform my CD player. In fact with a bit more tweaking, the HRT may well be 'good enough' - if only I can get slightly tighter bass and more image depth out of it.

 

 

System (i): (Stack Audio Link/MoOde > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/Allo USB Signature/MoOde > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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  • 4 weeks later...

The product description states "asynchronous data transfer protocol," but is unclear to me if referencing the data transfer between USB reciever and computer, or DAC and USB reciever. I've yet to read "asynchronous USB" in any description. Anywhere.

 

This may explain the lack of bass definition and imaging.

 

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The DAC has asynchronous USB as used by the Ayre, Wavelength, dCS and other DACs. There is some discussion in this 6 Moons preview of the HRT Pro DAC:

 

"As do all current Music Streamer models, the Pro utilizes asynchronous transfer protocol. It also supports adaptive synchronous transfers for very old PCs which do not support asynchronous USB. All current Streamer models including the Pro use native Audio Class 1.0 drivers which are present in all modern OS. With any modern computer, the Streamer II, II+ and Pro work in asynchronous mode at all times. For over a decade now, asynchronous transfer has been part of the audio specifications though until recently, it has only been implemented in professional products. All current HRT models support this capability."

 

 

 

digger945: "..This may explain the lack of bass definition and imaging.."

 

 

 

I made those comments about my first impressions when I had just plugged the HRT streamer in for the first time and listened to it. At the time I had iTunes upsampling to 96 KHz from 44.1 KHz enabled which was wrong. The sound improved a lot after breaking in, and further improved when I switched from a Siltech interconnect to Cardas Clear. So I actually think the sound is really excellent, although I've now spend more on cables than the DAC itself. That's an issue really - is it better to have a cheap DAC with expensive cables or an expensive DAC with cheap cables?

 

My speakers are tiny and don't have much bass, and my room has bad acoustics with no curtains and carpets. My system doesn't image all that well whichever source I'm using, although it does make a very nice sound that I'm happy with. I also have no other DACs to compare the HRT with. So I'm really not the best person to do a definitive review of the HRT Streamer II+.

 

 

System (i): (Stack Audio Link/MoOde > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/Allo USB Signature/MoOde > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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I forget the name, their new model is supposed to do full 24/192 and come out this summer. It was demoed at shows earlier in the year.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I think the newest streamer is called "Streamer HD" if I'm not mistaken firedog. I would love to get a chance to listen to a HRT product at Canjam in Chicago next month.

 

Thanks for the reply Richard. Apologies for my premature post. I should have done some last minute research before drawing conclusions. I will look for the Streamer at Canjam next month. It would be a hoot if HRT had a spdif converter in the product lineup. With respect to cables and interconnects, the only way to know how they perform is to try them in your system. I am very pleased with my recent digital cable purchases.

 

Thanks again for the clarifications.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Long time audiophile...new to computer DAC. The Streamer sounds great and just what I need. Now the crazy part...has anybody used it in reverse? As a input device? Be kind...it's just a thought.

 

\"old school\"

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Long time audiophile...new to computer DAC. The Streamer sounds great and just what I need. Now the crazy part...has anybody used it in reverse? As a input device? Be kind...it's just a thought.

 

Sorry ... it's a Digital to Analogue converter. What you are looking for is an Analogue to Digital converter if you want to input audio into your computer.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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digger,

 

I spoke to Moon Audio today and the guy there said that he would be bringing some HRT products to CanJam, as well as some interesting headphones (such as the HE-5LE). Perhaps I will see you there.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Had mine on for 36 hours now. For the money I think this is seriously good value. I'm comparing it too an Exposure 2010 thats been slightly modified. I may even write a bit about the comparison given I have a friend bring his MF V-dac at the weekend.

 

Dedicated Mains Cond dis block. Custom Linux Voyage MPD server. HRT Music Streamer Pro, Linear mains powered ADUM Belkin Gold USB cable. TP Buffalo 11, Custom XLR interconnects/Belkin Silver Series RCA. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp.Van de Hull hybrid air lock speaker cables. Custom 3 way Monitors,Volt 250 bass&ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621Mid & D2905/9300Hi. HD595 cans.[br]2)Quantum Elec based active system self built.

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It would help if you mentioned what sound card you have and your receiver model phoneman.

 

Dedicated Mains Cond dis block. Custom Linux Voyage MPD server. HRT Music Streamer Pro, Linear mains powered ADUM Belkin Gold USB cable. TP Buffalo 11, Custom XLR interconnects/Belkin Silver Series RCA. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp.Van de Hull hybrid air lock speaker cables. Custom 3 way Monitors,Volt 250 bass&ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621Mid & D2905/9300Hi. HD595 cans.[br]2)Quantum Elec based active system self built.

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sound blaster x-fi xtreme sound card to a Marantz sr7000 (though I'm lusting for a Cambridge Audio 640r). I have not tried this yet as I will have to buy a 8' cable to make it work.

I'm assuming the receivers D/A converter is more important than the sound card end of the setup. Is the sound card just passing along the digital signal with out really affecting it or am I looking at this wrong?

As a side..any thoughts on a surround receiver that will be used mostly for music? I will use it for some tv and movies but mostly for music. So far the 640r is the top contender in my price range.

 

\"old school\"

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If you’re the type of Hi Fi enthusiast that spends hundreds of pounds on cables, has £20,000 system and complains about not being able to hear 30 KHz and 20 Hz signals through a particular piece of kit you should probably stop reading now; you’re likely to have a heart attack.

 

I was after a DAC. I wanted to find out if using a computer based audio system could give me similar or better music reproduction compared my current CDP based system. I’m in my fifties and a long term Hi Fi and music enthusiast. While I consider myself computer literate I’m far from an expert.

I’ve read a lot of reviews and other opinions on various forums on the subject of Digital to Analogue conversion. I am still amazed by the posts that ask will a particular piece of equipment sound better than another in their system, even more amazed by some audiophiles beliefs in what does and what doesn’t contribute to sound quality and what they are prepared to pay for products that have been proven to be sonically no better than another at a fraction of the cost. I have built a number of Hi Fi components over the years and I’ll modify anything from saucepans to motorbikes.

I listen to all types of music from chart pop to classical.

 

a) The first criterion has got to be, how much are you willing to spend? In my case £180 ~ $300

My current CD player falls into the midrange band of commercially available equipment. Given the breakdown in costs for producing and marketing such a product £180 ~ ($270) seems a very generous allowance for the DAC component in this range of equipment.

 

b) Next comes what do you want to do with the kit? In my case I’m looking to replace my CD player completely so that means I’m not interested in how the DAC sounds connected to a CD player or whether it has a headphone amp/pre amp included.

I am however very interested in how it will sound through my current Hi Fi (minus CD player) set up and how much trouble it’s going to be to connect up in the optimal manner. I’m happy enough with CD sample and replay quality so 44.1 KHz, 16 bit is fine. I also want to play internet streamed radio through my system and maybe even DVD sound.

 

c) How much messing and expense about do you want buying or making cables, power supplies etc?

Ideally I want to plug it in and listen to music. I want to bypass as much of the computer sound processing as possible and I certainly don’t want to be buying or making cables until I find a DAC that gives the right sound.

 

d) Do you care what it looks like?

I don’t, but I appreciate that others will.

 

I settled on the HRT. It has received consistently good reviews. Asynchronous data processing and USB connection would seem to have a lot going for it.

 

My Kit:

Source: Exposure 2010 CD player with Philips Transport and a few component changes.

PC with onboard sound on Asus M3A-H/HDMI. Realtek drivers with asio4all. Foobar2000 and Winamp. OS, Windows XP.

Laptop: Sony Vaio VGN-FS285E

Amplification: Exposure 25RC integrated. Quantum Electronics 102 Pre Amp Quantum Electronics 2x 207DA Power Amps (modified) World Audio HD83 Headphone Amp (modded kit)

Speakers: Heavily Modified Volt Boxer.

Efficiency; 10 watts for 97db at 1 metre.

Crossover at 400Hz and 3 Khz.

Volt B250 Bass. Volt ABR (tuned at 20Hz). ScanSpeak 13M8621 Midrange. ScanSpeak D2905/9300 Hi Range.

Hand built crossover (designed by Volts David Lyth) air core hand wound chokes, polypropylene capacitors.

These speakers will handle frequencies from 60 Hz to 22 Khz within an error of around 6db. Below 60Hz the performance drops off at around 1db per 1 Hz. I can’t measure accurately past 20 Khz, but I probably cant hear past that anyway.

Sennheiser HD 595 Headphones

Cables and Power: Hand built interconnects, power cables (1.5 mm cores fully shielded) and line/distribution conditioner fed by an APC 700 UPS power supply.

 

The Specs

 

Exposure 2010 CD

Output level: 2V RMS

Frequency Response: - 20Hz-20KHz ± 0.03dB

Total Harmonic Distortion: 100dB, A weighted

Digital Outputs: SP/DIF, Coaxial and “Toslink” Optical

Power Consumption: 25 W

Dimensions (HxWxD): 90x440x300mm

Weight : 7.0 kg

Price £600 + around £100 of mod components. I believe the current model is £680~($1020)

 

HRT Music Streamer 11

Electrical:Full Scale output 2.25 Volts RMS

Frequency Response: (20 Hz/20 kHz) 0dB /-.5 dB Noise Floor: (DC to 30 kHz) 26 uV RMS

S/N Ratio: (DC to 30 kHz) 98 dB THD+N: (1 kHz FS) 0.010%

USB to Audio output isolation: > 20M OhmI

InterfaceData Rate: up to 96kS/s Bit Depth: up to 24 bit Transfer Protocol: asynchronous

USB type: 1.1 or above

Power Requirements (USB buss): 200 mA

Dimensions: (L x W x H) 105mm x 55mm x 34mm

Price £138~($207)

 

I haven’t mentioned the performance with the Quantum kit for a number of reasons; it’s an active system, I doubt if its comparable to anything commercially available and this “review” is meant for the reader who prefers to use his ears and a bit of common sense rather than flex his wallet.

 

I’ve had a lot of Exposure kit over the years. I’ve always found the Exposure kit has the ability to draw you into whatever you’re listening to; it conveys the emotion and rhythm of the music well even if it isn’t the last word in detail and extreme frequency resolution. That’s what I’m looking for in any computer/DAC system; that same musical involvement. I’m not really interested in perfect reproduction if it leaves me cold and listening to the Hi Fi instead of the music.

 

 

On its arrival I used a USB cable supplied by my ISP for their router not having anything else to hand to plug it into the PC and a pair of my hand built interconnects to connect it to the Exposure RC25. The USB lead was a bit short and the music streamer sort of hung there the strain being taken up by a generous application of Blutak at the the USB socket. The PC recognized it straight away and I left it on playing an internet radio station through Winamp for the next few days while I waited for some better quality USB cables ordered over the net; one 3 metre Belkin gold and one 0.5 metre Belkin Pro (total cost £10.49) and set about a few plug and lead changes to get all my kit using the APC 700 UPS and sensibly placed. I also built a reasonable quality switch box to make A to B comparison easier.

 

My PC is pretty rudimentary. It’s built primarily for gaming and it’s noisy. I coped for about an hour listening to the pops, spikes and EMI noises before I gave up and gave the laptop a try.

I’m going to assume that the majority of PC’s are similar in this respect, noisy, and while these noises weren’t loud in comparison to the music they were intrusive enough for me decide that if that was my only option for DAC listening then the whole idea was a non starter. I have no doubt it is possible to get a considerable noise reduction on a PC if you shut everything apart from the bare essentials to run the sound driver but at what cost to usability? I imagine it might even be possible to set a profile just for listening to music but you would really need to know a lot more about computers than I do, or am interested in learning. The whole idea behind this digital revolution everyone keeps telling me is it’s versatile and convenient. I have my reservations about multi tasking in general and particularly in this one area I want whatever is producing to the music to concentrate solely on the task at hand.

It’s worth mentioning that in the process of trying to get various “enthusiast built” methods of accessing the Kernel drivers Microsoft hide under a pile of user friendly junk, I locked up the entire computer at least three times, WINMM Audio Compatibility driver threw all it’s dollies out of it’s pram and pissed of back to Microsoft. The Open AL drivers sat in a corner and sulked when I loaded up UT3, the gloriously user unfriendly Realtek interface and its driver mates sat around with smug looks on their faces and got in the way at every opportunity, Real alternative and Silverlight wouldn’t talk to the BBC anymore so I missed the news and I was considering calling the whole thing off.

Out of everything I downloaded and installed my “best app” award goes to Exact Audio Copy. It didn’t join in with any of the drama. I put a CD in the drive, it more or less sorted itself out when I said I wanted perfect copies and got on with the job time after time despite the chaos surrounding it.

Obviously, none of this reflects on the Music Streamers abilities if everything else leaves it alone.

But “plug and play”, don’t make me laugh!

However, the above is apparently nothing compared to the problems my mate had trying to coax beautiful music out of his V-Dac using SPDIF.

 

The Music Streamer had been powered for around 100 hrs when I sat down for some serious listening.

 

I listened to everything using the laptop. I used the 0.5 metre Belkin Pro for USB connection. The RCA interconnects were also 0.5 metres in length, fully shielded by double dense copper braid. The conductors are 28 gauge pure solid copper terminated with good quality gold plated plugs. All the tracks were ripped with EAC and compressed by Flac at the highest settings EAC can give you by default and stored on a partitioned drive on the laptop.

I listened to all the rips at 44.100Khz and at 16 bits. I did try 24 bit replay but I couldn’t hear any difference; not surprising really given the very best one can hope for from eight zero’s is a higher noise floor to play with.

I used Foobar 2000 with their asio plugin and asio4all to bypass the windows up-sampler for all ripped tracks and Winamp for net radio using direct sound.

For some unknown reason Foobar sounded better than Winamp. Maybe they retrieve and process data in a different manner (?)

 

The laptop sounded much quieter than the PC but still not completely silent. Using my speaker test rig noise was visible albeit at very low amplitudes, particularly within the 200 Hz to 6 Khz range.

 

From the outset of listening to ripped CD’s I found the Music Streamer sounded better than the Exposure in the midrange. I didn’t even need to do A to B comparisons to hear this. I wasn’t so convinced about deep base and high frequencies.

I played the re-mastered version of Stand Up by Jethro Tull. The track A New Day Yesterday is in my opinion a truly terrible example of re-mastering but the Music streamer made it at least bearable to listen to where the Exposure fails. With Prodigy’s Fat of the Land the Music streamer coped well with all the complexity and power of the music sounding less harsh then the Exposure.

 

Listening to Ace of Base Happy Nation, Anton Bruckner’s Angus Dei the HRT just sounded better and better the more I listened to it. Voices sounded unstrained, brass had no harshness and strings throughout the frequency range had a warmth and power to them the Exposure often overlooks in it’s enthusiasm to get on with it. I could make out the lyrics listening to Natalie Merchant more easily. Piano in Mozarts Concerto No 21 had a more lifelike quality. The drum playing in the re-mastered copy of Rory Gallaghers Do You Read me retained the same bite the Exposure gave it. There was plenty of rhythm and pace listening to Macygrays Sex-O-Matic Venus Freak

I was tapping my feet now and doing air guitar impressions listening to Ultimate Santana. In fact I had pretty much forgotten all this music was coming from a strange looking little metal box on the end of a USB cable.

When I sat down to listen the 64kbps ACC+ stream from Radio Paradise I quickly forgot about any quality limitations of the stream or DAC. I have yet to try a 128kbps ACC+ stream.

A few games of Unreal Tournament 3 was a further revelation of the versatility of having a DAC rather than powered desktop speakers even with the background disturbances coming from the PC. “Flack Master” has a completely new meaning (you need to play to understand)

Overall I listened to over 40 hours of music, not always intently and that’s something else that I found interesting about the Music Streamer. I could walk away from the ideal listening position or concentrate on other tasks and not find the music at all irritating or intrusive.

 

Through the headphones.

Oh dear. It all went wrong here. My headphone amp which is valve based and extensively modded (not that that should make any difference) didn’t get on with the Music Streamer. My headphone set up isn’t anything like as engaging as my speaker set up with or without the HRT. In general, headphones just don’t do bass; they can’t shift the air volume necessary. While the HD595’s are fine headphones I have found them to be very fussy about what they are partnered with. However, what my headphone setup can do is reveal all the badly mastered recordings and system noise with brutal clarity. Even with the laptop I got more noise than I was comfortable with. I also believe there is a mismatch between the HRT output and the HD83 input. I’ll need to get my log of mods out and see what I can do to sort this out.

 

Compared to my CDP.

Bear in mind the Exposure and HRT have identical frequency responses specs and only a few decibels difference in signal to noise ratio (I’ll let you do the conversion maths). The HRT sounded quieter between amplitudes and I found I could listen to it at lower volume levels. I’m still trying to work this one out.

 

Performed consistently well on every type of music I fed it.

Better separation.

Equally musical and involving

More forgiving of poor recordings

Easier to follow individual instruments

Less harsh sounding strings and brass

More solid sound stage

Excellent mid range performance

Comparable bass performance

Easier to listen to for long periods.

Versatility/portability

Small enough to hide in another enclosure with a T amp and power supply for example.

Plays anything you can play on your computer (if the drivers and apps you have don’t interfere) through the HI Fi (all this can be done with a decent sound card which I don’t have, or another DAC, but you may need some pretty long and costly interconnects if you’re not already set up for this and you don’t want to use USB connection)

I can access more music now through the net and getting to hear new music at a decent sound quality, if at all, has been an irritation for many years now.

 

Lacks a bit of pace and enthusiasm compared to the CD

It’s at high frequencies, guessing from 12KHz upwards, the HRT doesn’t match its overall performance. It’s not that its not there but the transient attack seems weak for want of a better description and decay falls off unevenly. It’s percussion that suffers. It seems a bit set back more than laid back. It is noticeable.

The reservations I had about the lower frequencies have gone. The bass is just a bit tighter with the HRT and what is lost in impact is more than made up for in tone. It produces the frequency but I measured a very rough 4% to 5% drop in SPL through my speakers. No I don’t know why.

 

Clean power, particularly for the computers seems to make a noticeable difference for the better. You can pick a UPS on ebay very cheaply but you’ll have to collect. They weigh a tonne. Replacement batteries cost around $15 I believe and should you happen to have a kit requiring a 12 volt supply you’ll have a battery and a charger with the unit.

 

Everything I learnt as an engineer tells me electrical components don’t burn in. Caps charge to their full potential within a few cycles. Resistors resist the same amount of current at a given temperature. Good quality copper is electrically identical to oxygen free etc etc. Anyway, the Music Streamer did sound better the more I listened to it or the longer it played; take your pick. I’m not going to trot out a load of meaningless clichés, suffice to say from first listen to now I have gone from impressed but skeptical to just plain impressed. The reality is, jitter, dither, bitrate, power supply etc effects all DAC’s, there isn’t anything you can do about it. Leave all that to the engineers and the forum talk. What’s much more important, for me anyway, is does it make music, is it better than what I already have and can I afford it?

I think the HRT Music Streamer 11 is a very competent product, irrespective of price. I would be interested in hearing the + and Pro. Possibly it’s greatest asset for someone in my position is being able to listen to streamed radio at a quality that still astounds me. All the problems I encountered were nothing to do with the HRT itself; it’s the computer and the rubbish software that may discourage the audiophile, particularly those of my generation.

 

Is it the last word in DAC performance?

I very much doubt it

Are there better DAC’s?

At the price, level of overall performance, ease of use, lack of needing “extra” kit to get decent sound out of it. I’ll take some convincing.

Have I listened to lots of other DAC’s?

Nope, I’ve heard a few in others peoples systems, completely meaningless for comparison purposes apart from my mates V’Dac which performed well in my system but didn’t match the HRT overall and a NOS DAC I built and didn’t like much.

Do I get paid or receive other “bonuses” from manufactures for good comments?

Nope.

Do I have a magazine circulation or web site to consider?

Nope.

Would I know a decent system if I fell over it?

Well, I know enough to know that a lot of expensive looking esoteric boxes don’t mean much when it comes to the quality of sound; it says a lot more about the person who coughed up the money for it. I also know enough to build my own stuff, test and rework, retest, until it puts a smile on my face.

 

Am I keeping it?

Oh yes.

 

The downside.

Getting Foobar 2000 and Winamp to bypass the windows up sampler in a satisfactory and stable fashion was a mission. I couldn’t get any of the Kernel Streaming plugins to work in a stable manner. Why the developers of the media/music players aimed at “audiophiles” don’t make it a priority to enable best reproduction as an easy to use standard is beyond me. I would even pay for a music replay application that was specifically designed with the audiophile in mind. I would want a similar interface to Foobar 2000, kernel streaming, or whatever is needed for direct unadulterated data transfer for a particular OS as standard, the ability to play any streamed media; a VLC primarily for audio perhaps. I don’t mind if it doesn’t rip and burn, link me to every net outlet for music purchase, and provide browsing capability etc, etc.

Something I’ve not seen much comment on is whether it is better to “normalise” ripped files and at what percentage. Get it wrong and it seems one may loose dynamic range. If you’re ripping reference files getting this right is important.

Was it worth all the aggravation compared to the ease of CD replay in a dedicated player?

Now I’ve got pretty much everything set up and about 30% of my CD collection transferred to hard drives for me I have to say yes. But, for someone new to computer audio who just wants an improvement in CD reproduction I very much doubt it.

Does asio really make an audible difference? Yes, definitely, at least to my ears with the HRT and my system.

 

Let’s say for the sake of argument you don’t have a computer and/or you’re considering a CDP upgrade. A CD player in the Exposure league is probably going to cost you £800. You can pick up new decent laptop for £500. You don’t have to spend £2000+ on the latest white offering from the fruit company. All the Music Streamer wants is data. You will need a reliable USB hub to transfer it from whatever storage medium you’ve chosen and decent updated to sound drivers. As I understand it the Music Streamer governs what it gets fed and not the computer. Add the £150 for Music streamer and USB cable and you’ve spent £650. You still have £150 to spend on a remote hard drive. If you’ve already got a computer and your CD player is mid range it’s a no brainer, you could probably cover the cost of the HRT, cables and probably a remote hard drive by selling the CDP and get an upgrade in musical performance into the bargain. In fact you can buy mine if you like.

 

Unless you have the same system components as me, none of this bears any relevance to how the HRT will sound in your system. However as a rough guide to this units ability to perform well in a system gauged by price it may be helpful.

 

 

Dedicated Mains Cond dis block. Custom Linux Voyage MPD server. HRT Music Streamer Pro, Linear mains powered ADUM Belkin Gold USB cable. TP Buffalo 11, Custom XLR interconnects/Belkin Silver Series RCA. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp.Van de Hull hybrid air lock speaker cables. Custom 3 way Monitors,Volt 250 bass&ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621Mid & D2905/9300Hi. HD595 cans.[br]2)Quantum Elec based active system self built.

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Hi-

Enjoyed reading your post.

 

Based on my experience, Foobar with kernel streaming sounds much better than with ASIO. If you can get it to work, it might improve the sound even more. (although there may be something about the HRT that prevents it from working with kernel streaming, I don't know).

 

If you want to try it again, make sure you have the latest Foobar version and plugin. I updated about a week or so ago to Foobar v1.03 w/kernel streaming and noticed an immediate improvement in sound over ASIO.

 

As far as Winamp vs. Foobar, audiophiles generally report that Foobar sounds better. I have no explanation for this other than the basic one that there is "much less going on" under the hood with Foobar, and apparently this means less manipulation of the signal and better sound.

 

I don't know how much you've customized Foobar, but there are also a lot of UI plugins that can turn it into a much more user friendly device. My setup has a great search function, displays album art and song info, and has an improved presentation/look of the titles. All of this makes the program much more pleasant to use, and doesn't seem to negatively effect the sound. Worth it if you are willing to invest a little time in the user interface.

 

Computer based listening is a lot of fun. Once most of us get a setup we like, we find that we listen to "more of our music and more often" than we did beforehand. Some of those titles you "forgot about" become part of your active library again.

 

Enjoy!

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I have been using MP for years and just downloaded Foobar after reading the last to posts. It is pretty bare bones, what have you added as plugins? I saw a non freeware DSP plugin, if you have used it do you think it's worth it? I use the SRS WOW in media player because of my odd speaker placement.

 

\"old school\"

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Hi firedog.

Pleased you enjoyed reading the post and thanks for the suggestion but > http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Foobar2000:Components_0.9/foo_out_ks

 

I guess thats me then given I've got M3A-H/HDMI Asus motherboard :(

Not sure about the laptop.

 

Dedicated Mains Cond dis block. Custom Linux Voyage MPD server. HRT Music Streamer Pro, Linear mains powered ADUM Belkin Gold USB cable. TP Buffalo 11, Custom XLR interconnects/Belkin Silver Series RCA. Exposure 21RC Pre, Super 18 Power (recap & modified). Modded World Audio HD83 HP amp.Van de Hull hybrid air lock speaker cables. Custom 3 way Monitors,Volt 250 bass&ABR, Scanspeak 13M8621Mid & D2905/9300Hi. HD595 cans.[br]2)Quantum Elec based active system self built.

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Try http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forum - there's extensive discussion and examples

 

In general there are lots of components to download. One called Custom UI seems to be a must. There's also quick search, album list, etc.

 

Basically I recommend finding a Custom UI online that looks good to you, and then "copy" it. Most come with some sort of list of plugins you need, and some people have actually packaged the definitions for you in something called an "fcs" file. I'm personally using a variation I did on one you can find here: http://www.uoregon.edu/~jroullie/mysetup.html

 

When you load an fcs file into foobar options, then all you have to do after that in many cases is install the plugins into the Foobar>components directory.

 

I use this one b/c it lets me easily find any track in my collection, and it works well with an "artist>album>song" filing/tagging system, which is what I use.

 

Once you've played around with setting up a custom UI, you'll get the hang of it.

 

 

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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