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HRT HeadStreamer Vs. HRT Music Streamer II

Poll Results: HRT HeadStreamer OR HRT Music Streamer II?

 
  • 22% (2)
    HRT HeadStreamer
  • 77% (7)
    HRT Music Streamer II
9 Total Votes  
post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

HRT HeadStreamer Vs. HRT Music Streamer II

3454cea9_3f57639bdffb5e7b84571bea96f06104.png         Vs.       productII.png

 

Technical Specifications of the two DACs:


                                                                HeadStreamer      Music Streamer II
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 ?

 

  1. Is there a difference between a line out jack and a headphone amplifier jack, or are they the same thing?
  2. 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?
  3. The Music Streamer II has an isolation stage, but I was told this doesn't matter with headphones.  What about feeding other headphone amps?
  4. 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 2.25Vfrown.gif 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:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/581735/distortion-clipping-with-fiio-e9-and-hrt-music-streamer-ii

 

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.

Please do consider the HeadStreamer as I feel that this would be an ideal solution for your needs."
 

Thanks!

 


Edited by chicolom - 11/27/11 at 11:33pm
post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

Is amping the Headstreamer's headphone out double amping? 

post #3 of 11

Of course it is.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Of course it is.



So...the Music Streamer II would be the better source assuming an external amp is used?

post #5 of 11

Of course it would.

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by chicolom View Post

"....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.

Please do consider the HeadStreamer as I feel that this would be an ideal solution for your needs."
 

Thanks!

 


This is a bold statement. I mean sure I can believe that the hrt is better than the e9 sonically but to just flat out recommend it for any headphone is bold. Is HRT saying that the headstreamer can drive almost any headphone without compressing dynamics? Would it at least drive 250 ohm beyers or 300 ohm senns as well as a desktop headphone amp? That is the 64,000 dollar question.

 

post #7 of 11

Actually to rephrase that.... will the headstreamer be capable of driving the dt250-250, hd600, Beyer T1, and the hifiman he500 just to give a few examples?

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Good question.  I think it's designed to compete against things like uDac's, iBasso's, and FiiO's.  I'm guessing the amp will drive things about as well as those units, but not on par with desktop amps.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
post #10 of 11

hello,

I have a possibility to buy a headstreamer for about 90euros(used), that would go with Adam a3x monitors,

I know that Music streamer II would be better(isolation stage), but is the difference in sound significant?, is it worth adding 50e and buying MSII? or maybe the difference in sound quality is hardly recognazible

 

thanks

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nameless85 View Post

hello,

I have a possibility to buy a headstreamer for about 90euros(used), that would go with Adam a3x monitors,

I know that Music streamer II would be better(isolation stage), but is the difference in sound significant?, is it worth adding 50e and buying MSII? or maybe the difference in sound quality is hardly recognazible

 

thanks


 

I think it comes down to whether you already have another amp. If you already have another amp, it makes sense to get the HRT MS II.  If your looking for both an amp and a DAC, and your headphones aren't hard to drive, then you could get the headstreamer.

 

The Music Streamer II should have better sound quality, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to hear the difference.

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