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Impressions/Opinions on HRT Music Streamer II + needed - Page 2

post #16 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345142 View Post

Got my Streamer II+ today and I have to say it's quite the improvement over my Audinst MX1, which is obvious (although the MX1 is a great and affordable product in its own right). Better soundstaging and detail retrieval are the most obvious improvements. I don't really believe in burning in circuits, but I'll post again after I've let the Streamer II+ run in for a while. So far, though, I'm definitely satisfied - no, impressed.


Interesting. I recommended the base Streamer II to a Head-Fier a month or so ago, and he replied that the MX1 was cheaper and he had read reviews which claimed in to was an improvement on the HRT product. I guess we all have different ears, but I am still very happy with the way the Streamer works with ALL of my music, not merely the percentage which has been brilliantly performed, recorded and ripped straight to lossless.

post #17 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345142 View Post

Got my Streamer II+ today and I have to say it's quite the improvement over my Audinst MX1, which is obvious (although the MX1 is a great and affordable product in its own right). Better soundstaging and detail retrieval are the most obvious improvements. I don't really believe in burning in circuits, but I'll post again after I've let the Streamer II+ run in for a while. So far, though, I'm definitely satisfied - no, impressed.


Interesting. I recommended the base Streamer II to a Head-Fier a month or so ago, and he replied that the MX1 was cheaper and he had read reviews which claimed it  was an improvement on the HRT product. I guess we all have different ears, but I am still very happy with the way the Streamer works with ALL of my music, not merely the percentage which has been brilliantly performed, recorded and ripped straight to lossless.

post #18 of 107

*here's an update - I had posted it under the HD 650 Appreciation Thread, but figured people might appreciate it here if they aren't checking that thread*

 

 

It seems these cans have a lot more going on than I'd even realized before!  I just replaced the E7 with the HRT Music Streamer II+ and all of a sudden, I have bass that is rattling my head.  I'd heard that the HD 650s scale well - but I wasn't expecting this kind of improvement!  The HRT MSII+ is just a chain replacement for when I get the Schiit Lyr (Since the E7 has no line out).

 

Also, they have about the same crunchy guitar mids as my SR80i (with better clarity and separation) - turning what had been rather laid back cans (for rock and crunchy guitars) into a very fun rock can!  Pony Express Record by Shudder to Think used to sort of fizzle with these cans....I had actually thought about getting a set of high-end Grados eventually and switching them out....but right now, it certainly wouldn't be worth it.

 

I want to go further into the bass - it really hits harder (impact?).  Drums slam whereas before they would sort of 'slurr' - I wouldn't have been able to pick it out without A/Bing the two DACs.

 

This really demonstrates how these headphones really do work better with some chains than others.  I'd have thought they were quite excellent before, but now....bass!  Mids are farther forward!  Sibilance is decreased pretty remarkably.

post #19 of 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

*here's an update - I had posted it under the HD 650 Appreciation Thread, but figured people might appreciate it here if they aren't checking that thread*

 

 

It seems these cans have a lot more going on than I'd even realized before!  I just replaced the E7 with the HRT Music Streamer II+ and all of a sudden, I have bass that is rattling my head.  I'd heard that the HD 650s scale well - but I wasn't expecting this kind of improvement!  The HRT MSII+ is just a chain replacement for when I get the Schiit Lyr (Since the E7 has no line out).

 

Also, they have about the same crunchy guitar mids as my SR80i (with better clarity and separation) - turning what had been rather laid back cans (for rock and crunchy guitars) into a very fun rock can!  Pony Express Record by Shudder to Think used to sort of fizzle with these cans....I had actually thought about getting a set of high-end Grados eventually and switching them out....but right now, it certainly wouldn't be worth it.

 

I want to go further into the bass - it really hits harder (impact?).  Drums slam whereas before they would sort of 'slurr' - I wouldn't have been able to pick it out without A/Bing the two DACs.

 

This really demonstrates how these headphones really do work better with some chains than others.  I'd have thought they were quite excellent before, but now....bass!  Mids are farther forward!  Sibilance is decreased pretty remarkably.

Glad you like yours...similarly, mine really brings out the best of my K702s.
 

post #20 of 107

I am using the HRT Music Streamer II ( not the plus version ) and I love it! simply wonderful granted I have not triad any other DACs on my setup. I find that this DAC works well with a range of music from jazz to electronic and everything in between. 

post #21 of 107

Well, the curiosity was too much to resist, so I ordered a Streamer II+ from Amazon as well normal_smile%20.gif It should be here tomorrow (courtesy of Amazon Prime - we order EVERYTHING from Amazon) so I will post some Apogee Duet comparisons. I figured it was only $350 and I can always send it back if it is clearly inferior. No fancy USB cables to try, but I do have a couple 12" shorties, so I am hoping that will suffice for now. If I really like the thing I'll order up a Cardas or something and see what I hear. Given the asynch connection and the power design in the HRT, I am not expecting big USB cable dependencies.

 

I'll be back Sat evening or Sun with initial results. 

 

Keith

post #22 of 107
Thread Starter 

Awesome, looking forward to reading your impressions vs the Duet!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by khollister View Post

Well, the curiosity was too much to resist, so I ordered a Streamer II+ from Amazon as well normal_smile%20.gif It should be here tomorrow (courtesy of Amazon Prime - we order EVERYTHING from Amazon) so I will post some Apogee Duet comparisons. I figured it was only $350 and I can always send it back if it is clearly inferior. No fancy USB cables to try, but I do have a couple 12" shorties, so I am hoping that will suffice for now. If I really like the thing I'll order up a Cardas or something and see what I hear. Given the asynch connection and the power design in the HRT, I am not expecting big USB cable dependencies.

 

I'll be back Sat evening or Sun with initial results. 

 

Keith

post #23 of 107

Since everything else I'm really interested in is $1500 or more (Grace 903, Wavelength Brick, Metric Halo ULN-2, etc), I figured this would be a good calibration to see where I am with the Duet. My potential "low cost" option, the new Rega, is out for now since it only does 44/48 KHz via USB on Macs at the present. I have a growing library of 88/96k stuff from HDTracks and others. Nothing else below $1000 really had me excited (not that there aren't plenty of good units, I'm sure). 

 

Hoping to get a ship date next week from Jack Woo on my WA2. Also have a couple Pangea Signature power cords coming to try (they're cheap) for the amp and Mac Mini.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by third_eye View Post

Awesome, looking forward to reading your impressions vs the Duet!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by khollister View Post

Well, the curiosity was too much to resist, so I ordered a Streamer II+ from Amazon as well normal_smile%20.gif It should be here tomorrow (courtesy of Amazon Prime - we order EVERYTHING from Amazon) so I will post some Apogee Duet comparisons. I figured it was only $350 and I can always send it back if it is clearly inferior. No fancy USB cables to try, but I do have a couple 12" shorties, so I am hoping that will suffice for now. If I really like the thing I'll order up a Cardas or something and see what I hear. Given the asynch connection and the power design in the HRT, I am not expecting big USB cable dependencies.

 

I'll be back Sat evening or Sun with initial results. 

 

Keith


 
post #24 of 107

OK - got the Streamer II+ installed and a few preliminary observations. Bear in mind these are with a brand new unit, so things will likely change (I have iTunes repeating an album with the Ayre full glide track playing at the end of each album cycle).

 

FIrst call is the HRT is quite good - probably better than the Duet. There is an obvious tonal balance difference - the HRT comes across as even warmer than the Duet with a less forward upper midrange and treble, although the sense of air and space seems to be at least as good. I think there is a bit more dimensionality to the HRT. The Duet at first comes across as livelier and "better" in a HiFi sense, but with extended listening, the HRT seems to be a little more organic and dimensional, even though the top end is more polite (this is very similar to what I am hearing with Amarra 2.1.1 vs Pure Music 1.7). 

 

I'm going to let this thing burn in for a few hours and process some photos from this morning's photo shoot (birds at a local wetlands preserve) and come back to the HRT and Duet later this afternoon. 

 

My snap judgement is I prefer the HRT to the Duet except for the almost too warm/chesty tonal balance. Of course, I am using all Cardas cables (including Golden Cross IC's - probably the warmest/darkest in the Cardas lineup), so that could be in play. Also be aware that I am using the stock Apogee breakout cable with 1/4" phone plug to RCA adapters to the Cardas IC's - the forwardness/brightness could be the crappy little pigtail of microscopic wire in the breakout cable.

 

Unless something goes way off track, I would certainly say my initial bias was wrong - this is probably better than the Duet for less money and without the mess as a result of the Duet breakout cable. No trick FW cable for the Duet or USB cable for the HRT. Both are 12" off the shelf computer cables - no tweak audiophile stuff. 

 

BTW - it was plug and play on my Mac - hooked it up and it was instantly recognized and Amarra was immediately playing switching between 44/88/96 KHz as the track required. No problems there whatsoever.

 

I'll update this thread as things breakin and I get more ear-time on it. Not too shabby for $350. Maybe I should have gone for the Pro with Cardas adapters atsmile.gif

 

PS - my Computer setup is as follows just for the record:

  • 2010 Mac Mini, 8 GB RAM, 40GB OWC SSD (that was fun)
  • OWC Al-Pro Mini external 500 GB music drive (bus powered, 2.5"). FW connected with the USB HRT
  • OS X 10.6.5, all unnecessary services disabled. WiFi is on though to use my iPad to control it (Mini is headless)
  • Amarra Mini 2.1.1 as the primary player. Also have Pure Music  and Audirvana
  • AQ NRG-1 power cord for the Mini
  • All tracks either Apple Lossless (CD rips) or AIFF (hi-res downloads)
  • Brickwall series mode powerline filter/surge suppressor - no UPS
  • Running 32 bit kernel, Amarra is in cache mode, EQ off. It sounds better in playlist mode without iTunes, but I typically don't use it that way due to convenience.
post #25 of 107

I'm very happy with my Music streamer 2 (again, not the + version). It's more detailed and less colored than the DAC on the EF2A. It's a bright-ish sounding DAC but the bass that is there is really tight and detailed. :)

 

Maybe I'll upgrade to the + in the distant future.

post #26 of 107

khollister, FWIR the Pro is a very different animal to its lower priced Streamer II siblings - the warmth and 'politeness' you spoke of have reportedly been replaced by something sharper in the same vein as the Benchmark/QB-9. HRT also intend to move further up the DAC hierarchy with something called the 'HD'.

post #27 of 107

Update:  Definitely breaking in - the bloated warmth is gone. Instruments & voices still have a little more body than the Duet and the bass is definitely stronger. The Duet sounds to have some non-linear regions in the frequency response in the upper mids and treble - it sounds both more forward and grainier but more artificial and "deader" at the same time. The HRT is more organic and natural to my ear. Not sure I would characterize it as "warm and polite" at this point. I'm sure it is warmer and politer than something like a Benchmark (a unit I personally do NOT care for - very revealing but unmusical for me), but it has lost the Marantz 8 vibe it had when brand new.

 

I would classify it as a nice improvement over the Duet (with Apogee breakout cable) without being an "Oh My God!" moment (which is what I'm hoping for when I get the Woo WA2). 

post #28 of 107
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks for these impressions. I had a feeling that the Streamer would at least equal the Duet, really wonder how much of it may be due to the breakout cable. Think I'll be ordering one of these this week to test out as well.

post #29 of 107

A lot more listening under my belt (as well as several hours of playing brown noise thru the HRT to hasten the breakin) and my opinions continue to evolve. At this point, I'm not sure which DAC I like nor which is "accurate". The Duet is warmer and has a more forward lower midrange (quite the opposite of my impressions when the HRT was brand new) and the HRT a more distant perspective. Voices certainly have a "chestier" quality on the Duet and many instruments have a rounder, more present quality. However the HRT gives a slightly more focused, dimensional perspective at times. In many ways the tables have turned and I would describe the Duet as more "tube like" due to the midrange presentation. The bass has more weight on the Duet, but the HRT seems to have a slightly better focus and transparency to the bass (and maybe a slight advantage in extension). 

 

I am struck by the huge difference in the perceived room sound in the opening track of the Reference Recordings Tafelmusik album (purchased as a 44k download from HDTracks - my CD copy was quite scratched up and I didn't have the patience to let XLD try to rip it). In the first couple of seconds before the musicians start, there is a very audible "room" sound (I always suspected the air handler in the church/hall they were using) - it is rendered completely differently by the two units.

 

The Duet is rounder, fuller sounding, and the HRT is more delicate. Going back to my Marantz 8B analogy (a classic tube power amp from the early 60's for those too young to remember this stuff), the Duet certainly has elements of the magic midrange presence from that mold, whereas the HRT is a more modern, "accurate" type of sound. The HRT might well be more accurate, but I'm not sure I don't prefer the Duet - it has a rather pleasant euphonic effect that tends to involve me more musically at this point.

 

Of course I have not tried any fancy cables with either of these units and I still have the Apogee cable snake in the way. I really should try to fabricate something to get rid of that cable on the Duet and see what I think.

 

Not sure at this point whether to return the HRT - I might feel differently when my Woo WA2 tube amp arrives. It is interesting that when I had my Rega Planet CDP (and was using the exact same HD600's, Cardas cables and HR-2 amp), I was often trying to add warmth into the sound. In spite of the reputation of the HD600's, I usually felt the sound to be a little lean compared to my ideal mental reference, so the HRT might not be too far off. Of course I was also using the SAA Equinox cable a lot then as well (which I still have). 

 

PS - One More Thing ...

 

I think I would say the HRT has a more organic presentation of the soundstage the sense of the musicians being individuals. The Duet is a little less convincing in that regard, but it does a more satisfying job with the individual instruments/voices, if that makes any sense.


Edited by khollister - 1/9/11 at 8:12am
post #30 of 107

Another update - I think I have a handle on this now. The HRT is definitely more transparent, has a stronger sense of "room" or acoustic space, has a little deeper bass, has a more perceptible dimensionality to individual instruments and a more even tonal balance. The Duet is warmer with a more forward midrange, but the soundstage and transparency is worse. There is also something odd in the tonal balance I can't quite put my finger on.

 

While the mids are somewhat seductive at first listen on the Duet, it is pretty clear to me at this point that the HRT is probably a lot more accurate and is equally musical (or more so) in a different way.

 

However, one rather significant issue on a Mac - there is apparently a bug in how OS X handles 88.2 KHz on asynch USB connections and my unit glitches while playing 88.2 files. I received an email from Kevin saying a newer firmware had a workaround, but the brand new unit I got can't be flashed but needs a replacement chip (it is socketed). I am waiting on a reply to confirm he is sending me a newer firmware chip.

 

I think it is very hard to go wrong with this thing at $350. I also ordered a WireWorld Starlite 1/2 M USB cable to try.

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