I bought the iStreamer online from NHT and it arrived last night.
First impressions, quickly hooking it up to my bedroom system (NAD C320BEE integrated amp, Paradigm Mini Monitors, Grado SR60)...
On the positive side, nice sound! A noticeable improvement on an iPod with a line-out dock. The sound was cleaner and clearer, with a bigger soundstage, more liquid and warm, and highs had more sparkle.
On the negative side, whenever the iPod has to "think" too much (like scrolling through a long list of albums), the sound goes choppy, stutters. I guess the iStreamer (or iPod) is prioritizing the user interface over the sound? That seems like a bad choice to me. I'm used to the iPod's interface being sluggish -- why compromise the sound?
Then I brought the iStreamer to work today, where I have a system in transition. I recently replaced my Shure SRH440 headphones (treble too harsh) with Denon AH-D7000. My headphone amp is a HeadRoom Total BitHead, so it's a bit of a mismatch, quality-wise. I figured my source (iPod) was worse than the amp, so I got this DAC as part of a gradual system upgrade.
Ugh. The iStreamer's output voltage is 2.25 volts RMS, which I guess is too high for the Total BitHead. The amp clips in both low- and high-gain mode, regardless of the headphones connected. So the iStreamer is unusable with the Total BitHead.
I wonder if that's the case with other portable amps. If so, the iStreamer really isn't a portable solution, even if you jury rig some kind of portable power supply!
So I guess I'll put this DAC in the home system until I upgrade my headphone amp. Disappointing.
Edited by Dan S - 3/8/11 at 2:56pm