HRT Music Streamer II

The HRT Music Streamer II is an asynchronous-mode USB audio converter, capable of high-end audio reproduction

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now 3
High Resolution Technologies Music Streamer II
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • A great-sounding digital converter for your PC

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

The HRT Music Streamer II is a great-sounding digital converter for your PC. It's a costly item for its small size and simple construction, yet a great investment for its big, natural sound, bringing to life the music in your digital library.

Would you buy this?

  • Best Deals (Selling at 3 stores)

  • 3 Hd Internet Smart Tv Box, Media Streamer Play... 189.90
  • Slingbox 350 Media Streamer 292.15
  • Cocktail Audio X10 Music Streamer/server Cd Sto... 548.00
See lowest prices

The block

Externally, the Music Streamer II is a rather innocuous lump of extruded aluminium just over 10cm long, in unassuming red paint. On one end is a Type B USB port (as used on printers). At the other is a pair of gold-plated RCA phono sockets.

A more expensive version, the HRT Music Streamer II+ is also available. The manufacturer's specifications show a measured performance of 0.008% distortion, in place of the standard HRT Music Streamer II unit's 0.01% figure for THD+N (total harmonic distortion-plus-noise); but other than being finished in black and a little longer in case length, neither designer nor distributor would be drawn on what material differences lie within.

To set up the HRT Music Streamer II, just plug into a spare computer USB port, and connect to a music system's line-level inputs. Power comes from the 5V USB bus, so no extra plug-in supplies are required.

Setup in Mac OS X, for instance, just requires selecting the device within the Output tab of Sound, from System Preferences.

In Windows, you'd go to Control Panels, Sound, and then select the device in the Playback tab.

Listening in

The HRT Music Streamer II possesses great subtlety in laying out the sound of recorded and streamed digital music.

The Music Streamer II impressed most with its freedom from glassiness, along with its even, 'unshouty' midband. This DAC is a real smoothie, yet one that doesn't over-compensate for digital edginess by smothering the sound in cotton wool. Music is heard relaxed and flowing, with precious little grain to intrude.

A classic opening from the Dave Brubeck Quartet – 'Blue Rondo A la Turk' – illustrates the ease with which this device can open up a seemingly simple arrangement.

The thrum of a single repeated note plucked from double bass had believable presence, showing more fundamental below and with more overtones ringing on above. The layers that each member of the quartet contributed in the song made more musical sense here; particularly the left-hand chord shapes under the right-hand melodies of the central piano.

By point of reference, a Cambridge Audio DacMagic rendered the song with a more muted thud to its bass line, while the now-splashy cymbal was, relatively speaking, more like you'd expect of a lossily compressed MP3 file. And all the while, the upsampling DacMagic remains one of the best sounding outboard converters under £250.

Stereo imaging from the HRT Music Streamer II unit was most noteworthy. With no steeliness to overly accentuate instruments and voices, as you might find from traditional USB digital converters, instruments sat quite naturally in left-to-right panned perspective.

In rhythmic terms, the HRT Music Streamer II was heard to 'time' well; that is, to enable the musical sense of songs to be plainly heard.

In fact, the HRT Music Streamer II brought out the lucid, soaring saxophone lines with such naturalness, we were reminded of top-tier analogue reproduction. This is not the usual sound of digital you might expect of your music collection.

Best of all was the 'easy' quality of audio – film soundtracks, TV sound, as well as music – experienced through the HRT MusicStreamer II.

There's definitely something in this asynchronous mode USB audio. At the highest level, this kind of technology is now in use on some of the world's finest (and most expensive) digital audio converters from British specialist dCS Limited.

At the other end of the price scale though, the HRT Music Streamer II is currently the simplest and by far the most affordable way to hear computer audio in a natural and relaxing new way.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: pc components, home entertainment

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?