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Sonic Satori - HRT Levels the Field with the MicroStreamer - Page 19

post #271 of 912

I hope to order one soon and await your impressions etysmile.gif

post #272 of 912
jarett, my advice is simple : this may well be *the* audio bargain of 2013. I havent plugged my MSII back in since I got the microStreamer and I dont expect to - it's that simple. Unless you have exceptionally sensitive IEMs, or an exceptionally hard to drive headphone, only the very pickiest of audiophiles would find fault with the mS for the asking price. If you want a rating - 4 1/2 stars from a possible 5, and that half a star is based purely on the fact that I wanted a longer USB cable than the one in the box ! I have at least hundred hours on mine, and it only gets better with each passing hour. The danger is that you will almost certainly want to upgrade your cans, but that goes with the territory. Apologies for contributing to the hype, but in this case it's warranted - HRT have knocked this one out of the park. estreeter
post #273 of 912
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

jarett, my advice is simple : this may well be *the* audio bargain of 2013. I havent plugged my MSII back in since I got the microStreamer and I dont expect to - it's that simple. Unless you have exceptionally sensitive IEMs, or an exceptionally hard to drive headphone, only the very pickiest of audiophiles would find fault with the mS for the asking price. If you want a rating - 4 1/2 stars from a possible 5, and that half a star is based purely on the fact that I wanted a longer USB cable than the one in the box ! I have at least hundred hours on mine, and it only gets better with each passing hour. The danger is that you will almost certainly want to upgrade your cans, but that goes with the territory. Apologies for contributing to the hype, but in this case it's warranted - HRT have knocked this one out of the park. estreeter

 

The only headphones i havent really enjoyed with my mS is the Alessandro MS-1. Other then those, all my others sound fantastic out of it. Out of every piece of equipment ive bought in the past this shoots waaaaaay above. Im definitely beating a dead horse but man oh man, its a great little piece of gear.
post #274 of 912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Townyj View Post

 

The only headphones i havent really enjoyed with my mS is the Alessandro MS-1. Other then those, all my others sound fantastic out of it. Out of every piece of equipment ive bought in the past this shoots waaaaaay above. Im definitely beating a dead horse but man oh man, its a great little piece of gear.

oh no, that horse is still very much alive my friend!

Looks like I'll be comparing it to the Meridian Explorer for a longer period of time this go-around.

 

I thought it wiped up the Explorer last time I tried,

but lets see!

 

I used it as the DAC ahead of my Ray Samuels The Darkstar because my other DAC went down for a moment, 

and BANG!!!!

 

also LOVE my NEw Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs w/ the MS!!!!

post #275 of 912
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemercer View Post

oh no, that horse is still very much alive my friend!

Looks like I'll be comparing it to the Meridian Explorer for a longer period of time this go-around.

 

I thought it wiped up the Explorer last time I tried,

but lets see!

 

I used it as the DAC ahead of my Ray Samuels The Darkstar because my other DAC went down for a moment, 

and BANG!!!!

 

also LOVE my NEw Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs w/ the MS!!!!

 

 

Thanks for posting that. I have been wondering about such comparo.

post #276 of 912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodcans View Post

 

 

Thanks for posting that. I have been wondering about such comparo.

anytime!!

 

As soon as I get it again, and this time for an extended period of time, I'll post my impressions after doing some extensive comparisons 

post #277 of 912

OK - fly in the ointment time. It's not a deal-breaker, as I have several headphone amps, but I refuse to rely on the digital volume control to attenuate the *very strong* line-level signal from this point forward - the mS will be used with a headphone amp or into an integrated amp and that's it.

 

If you listen to The Butterfly Effect's 'Gone' for as little as 15 seconds, you will rapidly get where I'm coming from. I had IEMs in my ears (universals, not customs thank God) when Windows 7 (or F2K..) decided that the track needed full volume,.At least, I'm hoping it was the OS/player and not the microStreamer - in any case, I tore my IEMs out and vowed never to use the headphone out again.  

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6n1tu20ilY

 

I wasn't comfortable with the use of a 'slider' (prone to keypad/mouse signals accidentally pushing the slider all the way up) from day one, but this confirms - for me anyway - that anyone wanting to use this device portably or semi-portably (bedside rig etc) really needs to look at adding a dedicated headphone amp. Anyone contemplating hooking up speakers to a power amp and relying on the mS (or more accurately, Windows ..) for volume control really needs to think long and hard about that. Hopefully, the drivers in your speakers would go before your ears did, but it wouldn't be pretty either way. Whatever the technical pros of controlling signal strength in the digital domain, I like the security of having an analog volume pot between my fingers.

 

Admittedly, I am using a relatively battered laptop, but I haven't experienced this issue with any of my other USB DACs.  If the sound quality from the microStreamer wasnt so incredibly good, I may well have gone back to one of those DACs.

 

Intensely sobering experience, and one that I hope other microStreamer owners don't have to go through - caveat emptor

post #278 of 912
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

OK - fly in the ointment time. It's not a deal-breaker, as I have several headphone amps, but I refuse to rely on the digital volume control to attenuate the *very strong* line-level signal from this point forward - the mS will be used with a headphone amp or into an integrated amp and that's it.

 

If you listen to The Butterfly Effect's 'Gone' for as little as 15 seconds, you will rapidly get where I'm coming from. I had IEMs in my ears (universals, not customs thank God) when Windows 7 (or F2K..) decided that the track needed full volume,.At least, I'm hoping it was the OS/player and not the microStreamer - in any case, I tore my IEMs out and vowed never to use the headphone out again.  

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6n1tu20ilY

 

I wasn't comfortable with the use of a 'slider' (prone to keypad/mouse signals accidentally pushing the slider all the way up) from day one, but this confirms - for me anyway - that anyone wanting to use this device portably or semi-portably (bedside rig etc) really needs to look at adding a dedicated headphone amp. Anyone contemplating hooking up speakers to a power amp and relying on the mS (or more accurately, Windows ..) for volume control really needs to think long and hard about that. Hopefully, the drivers in your speakers would go before your ears did, but it wouldn't be pretty either way. Whatever the technical pros of controlling signal strength in the digital domain, I like the security of having an analog volume pot between my fingers.

 

Admittedly, I am using a relatively battered laptop, but I haven't experienced this issue with any of my other USB DACs.  If the sound quality from the microStreamer wasnt so incredibly good, I may well have gone back to one of those DACs.

 

Intensely sobering experience, and one that I hope other microStreamer owners don't have to go through - caveat emptor


i preferred using a headphone amp with the micro as well, i liked the control it gave me, and boy that line level output is hot !

post #279 of 912
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

OK - fly in the ointment time. It's not a deal-breaker, as I have several headphone amps, but I refuse to rely on the digital volume control to attenuate the *very strong* line-level signal from this point forward - the mS will be used with a headphone amp or into an integrated amp and that's it.

If you listen to The Butterfly Effect's 'Gone' for as little as 15 seconds, you will rapidly get where I'm coming from. I had IEMs in my ears (universals, not customs thank God) when Windows 7 (or F2K..) decided that the track needed full volume,.At least, I'm hoping it was the OS/player and not the microStreamer - in any case, I tore my IEMs out and vowed never to use the headphone out again.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6n1tu20ilY


I wasn't comfortable with the use of a 'slider' (prone to keypad/mouse signals accidentally pushing the slider all the way up) from day one, but this confirms - for me anyway - that anyone wanting to use this device portably or semi-portably (bedside rig etc) really needs to look at adding a dedicated headphone amp. Anyone contemplating hooking up speakers to a power amp and relying on the mS (or more accurately, Windows ..) for volume control really needs to think long and hard about that. Hopefully, the drivers in your speakers would go before your ears did, but it wouldn't be pretty either way. Whatever the technical pros of controlling signal strength in the digital domain, I like the security of having an analog volume pot between my fingers.

Admittedly, I am using a relatively battered laptop, but I haven't experienced this issue with any of my other USB DACs.  If the sound quality from the microStreamer wasnt so incredibly good, I may well have gone back to one of those DACs.

Intensely sobering experience, and one that I hope other microStreamer owners don't have to go through - caveat emptor

I think that it is a very healthy practice, especially on this forum, to post the negatives. I haven't experienced what you have described. However, my only two complaints regarding the uS are the following.

Intermittently, the device transmits USB computer noise. I can't reproduce it reliably and I can't 'cure' it reliably. But it has happened to me several times and is really annoying.

Second, the level of the line out seems to be way to high for my office system amp/preamp, to the point it is virtually unusable. I therefore default to the headphone amp out, which is fine, but from a purtist's standpoint is suboptimal.
post #280 of 912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by woodcans View Post


I think that it is a very healthy practice, especially on this forum, to post the negatives. I haven't experienced what you have described. However, my only two complaints regarding the uS are the following.

Intermittently, the device transmits USB computer noise. I can't reproduce it reliably and I can't 'cure' it reliably. But it has happened to me several times and is really annoying.

Second, the level of the line out seems to be way to high for my office system amp/preamp, to the point it is virtually unusable. I therefore default to the headphone amp out, which is fine, but from a purtist's standpoint is suboptimal.

I agree with you regarding it being healthy to include any and ALL experiences, positive and negative!  

I never expected everyone to bask in the same experience as I did with the microStreamer.  

 

I never expect that in any of my reviews, because not only are we all individuals with different tastes that, IMO,

factor into the interpretation of sound more than anything else (a graph will NEVER tell you how an amplifier sounds

- it is NOT a window into its soul - but the hears can get there) - but we're also talkin' electronics here!

 

Somethin' bound to happen sooner or later.  So NO worries.

 

Fortunately for me, the only time my HRT microStreamer was noisy was when Stan (aka @weirdfishes) plugged it into his Toshiba

laptop at the recent LA regional HeadFi Meet!  - BUT - he just rebooted and there was no issue (he plugged in while running numerous programs).  

I've NEVER experienced any noise using any of my MacBooks and now w/ my iPad.

 

As for the line-out: It is a standard 2.25v line out jack - so I believe you may have a faulty unit!

If so Kevin Halverson (CTO of HRT and is in this thread - though very busy) will take care of you.

 

PLS PM me with your email address.

I'll forward you email along to Kevin for ya.

 

Peace,

 

Mercer


Edited by mikemercer - 7/25/13 at 7:20pm
post #281 of 912
Thanks for the feedback guys. Mike, no need for me to return my microStreamer as it's fine from the line-out : I just felt I needed to mention the one sticking point that, for me anyway, has rendered the headphone out a no-go. I would have a problem asking HRT to recreate the problem with my unit when it could conceivably be the laptop (touchy keypad springs to mind), Windows 7 or F2K. I can see why HRT made the design decision they did, but I prefer to use the line-out into a headphone amp and leave it at that. As I said, I have zero issues with the sound quality of the DAC, and believe it to be worth several times the purchase price on that basis alone.
post #282 of 912
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Thanks for the feedback guys. Mike, no need for me to return my microStreamer as it's fine from the line-out : I just felt I needed to mention the one sticking point that, for me anyway, has rendered the headphone out a no-go. I would have a problem asking HRT to recreate the problem with my unit when it could conceivably be the laptop (touchy keypad springs to mind), Windows 7 or F2K. I can see why HRT made the design decision they did, but I prefer to use the line-out into a headphone amp and leave it at that. As I said, I have zero issues with the sound quality of the DAC, and believe it to be worth several times the purchase price on that basis alone.

   That says a great deal.  I've been using it as a DAC more often as we're moving and the rigs keep getting shuffled around.

post #283 of 912
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemercer View Post

   That says a great deal.  I've been using it as a DAC more often as we're moving and the rigs keep getting shuffled around.

I am currently using it in front of my Schiit Magni as a DAC and the volume knob is a welcome addition as is the extra power at times. As a DAC it still floors me every time I listen. I want to get around to upgrading the firmware so I can give it a try with my iPad, in that situation I think I will use the headphone amp on the MS as I really enjoy it's sound especially on my RE-400 IEMs.

post #284 of 912

I believe that I can shed some 'light' on the observations of the microStreamer with this host and IEM pairing.  So here goes:

 

Keep in mind that the two paths out of a microStreamer are in fact different.  The line output is from the differential output of the DAC to a set of active reconstruction filters and differential to single ended line driver.  The headphone output uses a different, path going from the differential output of the DAC to a digitally controlled analog attenuator and the low impedance headphone amplifier.  I suspect that the excessive noise floor problem is due to using a volume function associated with the media player (and hence one that reduces resolution along with level) as opposed to one that controls the microStreamer's internal analog attenuator.  

 

There is a test that will confirm my suspicion and and explanation of the behavior if my suspicion is correct.  

 

The test is rather simple; if the 'volume control' attenuates the line and headphone output, then it is associated with the media player and is the incorrect one to use.  If however, only the headphone output is attenuated, then the control is the correct one.  

 

My guess is the later in the case of this installation and that will impact the noise floor as the microStreamer's analog attenuator is at its maximum level at all times so the noise floor is also at its maximum level.  

 

In any audio signal chain, there is an optimum gain structure to provide the best S/N (signal to noise) ratio.  This is accomplished internally in the microStreamer with hardware (and a considerable amount of time to optimize that aspect of the design).  When one attenuates the signal level in the digital domain, there is no reduction to the analog self noise whatsoever; rather only to the signal is attenuated so the more attenuation (volume reduction) used, the worse the signal to noise ratio becomes.  

 

In addition to digital attenuation worsening the S/N ratio, it also robs resolution.  For every 6 dB of attenuation, there is a 1 bit reduction to resolution.  Consider that with only 30 dB of attenuation used (a very typical value for many), the 16 bit resolution of a CD source file (which had consisted of 65,536 possible discrete levels) has now been reduced to 11 bit resolution (and now only 2048 possible discrete levels).  Despite claims to the contrary all digital attenuation imparts resolution reduction as the magnitude of the sample is multiplied by a value of less than 1 (for if that were not the case, there would be no reduction in the amplitude).  

 

If this isn't clear and anyone has more questions, please feel free to contact me and I will try to go into more detail.

 

Kevin Halverson

CTO

High Resolution Technologies, LLC

post #285 of 912
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin_Halverson View Post

The latest version of microStreamer firmware adds support for iPad host's using either the HRT HMA-1 or the Apple camera connection kit (30 pin or Lightning).  As of mid July, the firmware version for the microStreamer is uS_1V2.bin or uS(NAS)_1V2.bin.

 

You can integrate any USB device on a Mac platform using the utility System Profiler, this will allow you to 'see' both the version number and the date.  On a Windows platform, you can download the USBView utility from the Support page of the HRT website for the same task.

 

As always, please feel free to send any questions to support@hirestech.com we are always happy to assist.

 

Kevin Halverson

CTO

High Resolution Technologies, LLC

 

Thank you for this post.  It, along with the many reviews on the web, got me to buy one.  Of course, the one I got (from an authorized retailer, BTW) did not have the latest firmware, but it was straightforward to get it updated using the procedure you describe.

 

I have compared the sound of the microStreamer with the Fiio E17 (which only works with the iPad if you have a "special" USB hub in place).  The microStreamer definitely has better sound from its headphone out than the E17 -- it has better imaging and a much more engaging top end.  It is truly an amazing device.  My ideal listening setup is now my iPad mini + microStreamer + Audio Technica W1000X, using the Equalizer app from AudioForge to do headphone EQ.   Glorious!

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