Think of the Music Streamer II as a product that makes the music coming out of your computer sound as good as possible. Technically, the MS II is an external sound card for computers. To improve your computer's sound quality the MS II takes over the job of processing the digital music stream from the computer that is critical to producing great sound. While its cost is quite low, its performance is anything but.
Like other HRT products, set up and operation is super-easy: just take a good quality USB cable and hook the USB input of the MS II into any available USB port on the host computer. The MS II automatically performs an "electronic handshake" with the computer and tells it that the MS II is here, that it is to get all audio signals sent to it instead of the Digital-to-Analog converter (DAC) that is built into the computer, and that it, the MS II, is in charge of all data-transfer timing instructions. Then just use a good quality set of RCA interconnects to attach the output side of the MS II to any available line-level analog input on your integrated amplifier, preamp, receiver, or powered loudspeakers, which gives you a volume control. The MS II connected to a computer is the equivalent of a high quality CD player with a fixed 2.25V output that connects into a music system just like a CD player would through the right and left analog output jacks.
Now you are ready to stream some music, either directly by playing a disc through the computers optical drive, or read as a digital file from your computer's hard drive. You will literally never need a stand-alone CD player again to enjoy all the music in your CD collection in high quality sound. If you happen to have other higher-resolution files (up to 24bit/96k) stored on your HD, you can also play them in their full native resolution (no up-sampling).
The MS II provides full support for playback applications such as iTunes and Windows Media Player, as well as numerous others, allowing a direct, great-sounding connection between your computer and your entertainment system. You can also listen to streaming Internet radio stations or music subscription services through the MS II in much better sound quality than from your computer's built-in DAC.
Powered by and connected to a host computer's USB bus, the MS II's circuit design and execution is on par with the more expensive Music Streamers, all of which boast a unique topology that, in totally isolating their power supplies from those of the host computers, allows an unprecedented degree of electronic isolation and quieting from these machines, so that having to listen to your computer's nasty background noise and other sonic grunge along with your music is now a thing of the past. Digital-to-Analog processing inside the MS II is given a big helping hand by HRT's proprietary asynchronous-mode data transfer software, which allows the MS II to take control of the transfer of digital information away from the computer and onto itself, effectively eliminating jitter in the digital data stream, further enhancing the MS II's sonic performance; all of the subtle timing cues that help to get the music's timbres and colors correct are preserved without degradation or distortion Utilizing native Audio Class 1.0 drivers (present in all modern PC, Mac, and Linux computers) there are no extra drivers or software to install. Simply connect it to your computer via a USB cable (not included), confirm that the MS II the chosen device in the computer's preferences area, and you are ready to go. LED indicators show the current sample rate (32k, 44k1, 48k, 88k2 & 96k), as well as the state of the MS II's mute circuit; you will always know at a glance your system's operating mode.
As with other HRT products, as firmware improvements become available, HRT's UpStream utility allows the Music Streamer II to be updated right from the computer's desktop in a matter of seconds.
Asynchronous Mode Operation eliminates timing errors (jitter).
Galvanic isolation of digital and analog stages.
Line-Level analog output.
Plug and play using standard audio class 1.0 drivers.
24 Bit operation.
Supports 32k, 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k & 96k sample rates.
Endplate LED lights identify sample rate.
Designed and manufactured in Southern California.
|Full Scale Output||2.25 Volts RMS|
|Frequency Response (20 Hz/20 kHz)||0dB/-.4dB|
|Noise Floor (DC to 30 kHz)||25 uV|
|S/N Ratio (DC to 30 kHz)||99 dB|
|THD+N (1 kHz FS 44.1 kS/s)||.002%|
|Data Rate||up to 96 kS/s|
|USB to Audio output isolation||> 200M ohm|
|Sample Depth||up to 24 bit|
|Power Requirements (USB Buss)||250 mA|
|Dimensions||5.1" x 2.3" x .875"|
|USB type||1.1 or above|
Okay, there's no other way to say this - this little red box is amazing. I had been running my system (Rotel Integrated Amp with B&W speakers) from the audio out of my laptop. Adding this to the system was THE BIGGEST IMPROVEMENT you can imagine, like being in a dark room and finding the light switch. I had enjoyed the clarity of the system before this but with the HRT the system sparkles. Worth every penny,
The Jazz Doctor
Just to let you know, I am totally besotted with my new Music Streamer II. It really is an amazing little red box. The sound is so brilliantly measured and controlled, but never cautious or boring. Rather, it's incredibly engaging and insightful, even bringing something fresh and exciting to music that I know really well. My CD player is now at serious risk of being made redundant!
The sound is superb. I am hearing parts of the music I've never heard before. I set the player (Media Monkey) on random and listened to everything from rap to country to rock to folk to flamenco. A Tom Petty song came on and I couldn't believe it: there were some 2nd guitar parts and harmonies I either never heard before or they had been so muddied up in the mix that they were unintelligible. I highly recommend this product. For $150, a good speaker system, so good quality connector cables you can have a fantastic music experience!
Stephen Keleher, CA
I believe I am your first customer from India. I bought your Music Streamer II a few days ago and I feel I have to complain about your product. I found that I cannot really listen to my badly compressed music anymore as I can easily hear all the flaws in the recordings. Thanks to your $149 DAC I will have to spend many many more times that amount on buying CDs to replace my poorly recorded collection. :D Now I am not new to good audio equipment. I have an Audio-GD Compass which retails around $345 with a Sennheiser HD650 for some time and so I had no real expectations from your 'cheap' $149 DAC. After my first listen I had to lift my jaw which had dropped to the floor as I was stunned that there could actually be such a huge difference between my earlier DAC and the Music Streamer. I could hear so many new things in the songs that I used to listen to for years together and the soundstage was also 3D like that I found myself turning my head to listen to some background sounds ! I was most surprised because I had heard 4 different DACs retailing between $80 - $179 before the Music Streamer including the rather popular Nuforce udac. The differences between all 4 of them was subtle at best and I sold off the uDAC as I believed it was an overhyped product and I preferred my Compass as it was more 'neutral'. Kudos to you guys for making such an amazing product for such an inexpensive price. I kinda thought all the reviews of how good your product was a bunch of baloney since I heard the equally hyped udac and found that it was not all that great but I can safely conclude that they were all spot on and I suppose the biggest indication that they are is the big smile on my face right now as I am re-discovering my music collection all over again. :) Cheers ! Brendon
Brendon Fernandes, India
This DAC seems to be able to really open up even compressed recordings in MP3 formats. This is quite good, it makes MP3s bearable to listen to again! Overall, the design is understated and fits in well with your desk. There aren't any annoying flashing lights or bulky wall and cable warts to hide..
I have been enjoying the Music Streamer II for a couple of months now and will be purchasing an iStreamer.......these products truly are timely and you deserve kudos and some more kudos for producing very listenable dac's that put to shame some very expensive products I've owned in the past.
Dean Singh, Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Just wanted to say thanks for spending time to answer my Streamer II questions. As requested, I'm writing back to tell how much I like what I'm hearing. In fact the sound is amazing! I'm a musician (drums) as well as a music major so I've played a lot of acoustic and electric Jazz, fusion, pop, classical (you name it) over the years and I know what music should sound like. I'm amazed at the clarity and imaging as well as the sound staging. I want to be an audiophile (meaning I read the magazines and would love the gear) but I truly know what is meant by the use of those terms. Lately, I've been listening to classical music and as a formal member of a college orchestra, I was hearing every instrument as expected as well as their exact placement, and could distinguish the placement every instrument. Thanks again for creating such a great product!
My shopping requirements were for a DAC that supported a minimum 24/96 asynchronous USB and provided sampling rate indicators. I auditioned several DACS from highly regarded audiophile companies that ranged from the $149 for the HRT II streamer up to $1600 for a certain Canadian manufacturers unit. The three best sounding DAC's were easy to listen too and provided very good sound fidelity. Although there was a slight difference in soundstage and detail with the higher priced DAC's the HRT got me 95% of the way and I could not justify the substantial additional investment. I bought the HRT and am absolutely satisfied at the ease of setup, great sound, low power draw and elegant, simple design. If you need a great USB only DAC for a steal of a price, just buy the HRT.
Tony Varela, Seattle
The Music Streamer II was capable of great subtlety in playing music. It impressed most with its freedom from digital grit. This DAC is a real smoothie, yet one that doesn’t overcompensate for brightness by smothering the sound in cotton wool. Music is heard relaxed and flowing, with precious little grain to intrude.
Well, the Music Streamer II has been in my audio system for two weeks now, and I am extremely happy with the way it's letting me enjoy the wide world of computer audio. I followed your advice, and am using the Belikin Gold USB cable and a nice pair of Audioquest Sidewinder interconnects. The music coming through my Rogue Audio tube amplifier and Vandersteen speakers is sounding simply wonderful, and I've been enjoying great old concerts via "Wolfgang's Vault" website. In fact, I'm probably spending more time listening through my computer and Streamer II than I am listening to vinyl records. For me and my musical habits, that's really saying a lot about the quality of your product.
Adam Edwards, New York