HRT HeadStreamer Vs. HRT Music Streamer II
Technical Specifications of the two DACs:
|Full Scale output||1.40 Volts RMS||
2.25 Volts RMS
|Frequency Response (20hz/20kHz)||0dB/-.4dB||same|
|Noise Floor (DC -> 30kHz)||18 uV RMS||25 uV|
|S/N Ratio (DC -> 30kHz)||100 dB||99 dB|
|THD+N (1 kHz Full Scale)||.008%||.002%|
|USB to Audio isolation||no specs||>200M ohm|
|Power Requirements (USB)||200 mA||250 mA|
I'm not sure how to read it, which has better specs ^ ?
So, I'm looking for a new DAC, and soundstage performance is extremely important. I've read that the HRT DACs are very good in this regard for their price. If you know of any other sub $150 DACs that have better soundstage performance, please let me know!
This may seem silly, but I'm comparing the HRT HeadStreamer and the HRT Music Streamer II DACS trying to decide which one to get. My main prioirty is sound quality.
They both have identical DAC sections, so the main differences are:
- The Headstreamer has a headphone amplifier and attenuator with a single 1/8" ouput, while the Music Streamer II has dual RCA outputs.
- The Music Streamer II has an isolation stage
- The HeadStreamer outputs at 1.4 VRMS, the Music Streamer II outputs at 2.25.
The HeadStreamer seems like it would be more versatile, but I'm concerned it's not as good as a source as the Music Streamer II. It seems like the HeadStreamer would be best as a stand-alone dac/amp unit, While the Music Streamer II would perform better as a pure DAC-to-line-out device feeding an external amp.
I'm using this with Q701s BTW.
Some questions ?
- Is there a difference between a line out jack and a headphone amplifier jack, or are they the same thing?
- Would taking a line out of the Headstreamers HP out jack be equivalent to "double-amping", or is is just as pure as a line out jack?
- The Music Streamer II has an isolation stage, but I was told this doesn't matter with headphones. What about feeding other headphone amps?
- What is a common standard line level VRMS? Is 1.4 VRMS considered low?
Music Streamer II clips with E9
I currently have a FiiO E9 amp, and apparently the E9 clips with inputs greater than 2.1 V. The HRT Music Streamer II is 2.25V. The HRT HeadStreamer outputs at 1.4 VRMS, so that wouldn't cause clipping.
You would think that digitally attenuating the volume for the Music Streamer II on the computer would fix this, but from some reports it doesn't seem to:
I may upgrade to an amp like the Matrix M-stage in the near future - so this clipping issue may very well be a moot point.
Some quotes from HRT
Differences between the two DACS
"the HeadStreamer has a single, 3.5mm output. It can be used to direct drive headphones, or with a simple 3.5mm to RCA cable, it can be used as a line level analog output. In answer to your second question, both the Music Streamer II and the HeadStreamer are use an identical DAC section. What the HeadStreamer lacks compared to the Music Streamer II is the isolation stage. This is very important (and virtually unique to HRT products) for driving mains powered devices as it provide absolute isolation between the digital (computer) and analog (audio) sides of the Streamer. In the case of the HeadStreamer this feature was not included (as headphones would not benefit from it). The HeadStreamer adds a very unique attenuator and headphone amplifier in its place. The one feature very worthy of noting is that the attenuator is under complete host (computer) control but is a purely analog device. This approach avoids the resolution robbing downside of a computer digital attenuator and simultaneously avoids the poor tracking of a potentiometer (knob) based volume control. Effective, this is the best of both approaches and avoids all the downsides. The reason for the price difference is that the isolation stage is more expensive than the attenuator and headphone amplifier.
There are some differences between the HeadStreamer and the Music Streamer II when used as a line output; the HeadStreamer's FS (full scale) output level is a bit lower at 1.4 VRMS versus 2.25 VRSM for the Music Streamer II. The isolation stage that the Streamer II offers can be important for any mains powered device. If your just driving headphones then the HeadStreamer is clearly the appropriate choice. If your going to driver anything other than headphones, then the Music Streamer II is the best choice.
E9 Clipping problem w/ Music Streamer II
"....Your description of the issue you are having with your Fiio E9 is most certainly clipping. The dynamic range of this products input stage is very limited. I would suggest that instead of pairing a Music Streamer II with this headphone amplifier, that you consider a much higher performance solution the HRT HeadStreamer. Not only would this eliminate the clipping problem of the E9, the HeadStreamer is lower in cost and would be a better choice for a headphone based system. Should you decide to stay with the pairing you have (Music Streamer II and Fiio E9) there are some things that can be done to eliminate the behavior but ultimately a better headphone amplifier is a much better approach.
Edited by chicolom - 11/27/11 at 11:33pm