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HRT Music Streamer II Windows 8
Gear mentioned in this thread:
First setting the sample rate should be under audio settings in the control panel.
Second you wouldn't want to waste space on your drive with a 24/96 conversion of a 16/44.1 LPCM file. Stick with 16/44.1 in your favorite lossless container and know you're getting the exact quality and highest quality you can get out of a CD.
You shouldn't hear a difference with the DAC set at 24/96 when playing a 16/44.1 file. First thing is that your DAC can read 24bits per sample but if you feed it only 16 bit files it will only have the resolution of the source file it simply ignores the missing 8 bits. Practically speaking there isn't an audible quality difference between 16b and 24b., technically it affords a higher headroom and lower noise floor but the difference is minimal on the playback end but allows easier mixing and mastering during production.
As for the sample rate there will be no audible difference in the sound quality from one to the other. No matter what you do with the settings on your DAC the source is still 16/44.1 by using a sample rate that isn't an integer multiple of the original sample rate you technically risk getting additional distortion from the change in sample rates.
If you want to run it high set it at 88.2kHz.
I run my DAC at 176.4kHz but my highest sample rate is only 88.2kHz in multiples of 44.1. I do have 96kHz and 192kHz tracks but I don't even bother changing settings for them most of the time. As long as you are in an integer multiple of 44.1 you're doing good.
I wouldn't expect a worthwhile upgrade, your DAC should take you up to 24/96 anyways which is hi-res as it is. The sound quality should be just about the same HRT makes DACs that just output the digital signal honestly so there isn't going to be much of a change in sound at all.
I definitely know what you mean with regards to the curiosity thing. There were two reasons I picked the MS HD over the other models at a lower price point, one it supports 196kHz sample rate which is really unnecessary in my book but I like the support for it. The other reason is that it has XLR balanced outputs on it, with my current setup that doesn't do me any good, however on of my jobs is as a Theatrical Technician so having a bus powered balanced external DAC that is portable and driverless cross platform with full scale balanced output is great for me.
The MS HD is silent and has great sound quality, it's right at the price point of the Bifrost USB but doesn't require external power and has USB, does that mean it's better? No, it's just the unit that works well for me mostly due to size.
If you're itching to try something new give it a shot, maybe consider saving up for an even higher end DAC, though most high end reviewers claim the MS HD is as good or better than DACs upwards of $5k or more. (Though some claim that performance requires a USB power supply $100-200 to achieve, which I don't believe.)