Issues with USB 3.0 and a Music Streamer II DAC?
Aug 2, 2011 at 10:04 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8


New Head-Fier
Aug 2, 2011
    Hi, I've been using a Music Streamer II DAC with my AudioEngine A2 speakers for quite a while now (Really enjoy both the DAC and the Speakers!) and I've had no issues over USB 2.0 with my desktop. 
    I just upgraded though to a new laptop (Going to be on-the-go now so I can't do a desktop anymore) and it has USB 3.0 built in.  I've been noticing some crackling and popping that pops up intermittently for no appearant reason or cause, and I'm wondering if my DAC isn't liking USB 3.0 for some reason. 
    My USB ports are backword compatible with both 2.0 and 1.1... so I figured there would be no issue running any USB device on them.  When switching back to USB 2.0, there is no crackling or popping, as expected.
    It sounds almost like a bad amp when it clips... and I have yet to find a trigger for it (ie, when I open certain programs or processes) so I can't see why this is happening. 
    Has anyone else had issues with USB 3.0 running DACs of any type, or more specifically, the HRT Music Streamer II? 
    I have the latest drivers installed for my USB buses and all other components on my laptop, so if there is an update fix out there for this, I have yet to find it. 
Aug 2, 2011 at 10:08 PM Post #2 of 8
Replying to my own post... I just had a possible cause pop into my head.   The Music Streamer II has no external power supply, it is powered by the USB port itself.  Could it possibly be an issue with the DAC getting some strange power levels through the laptop's battery?    Just a thought.   If this is true... could a quality powered USB hub help solve the issue? 
Thanks again for any help!
Aug 3, 2011 at 1:26 AM Post #3 of 8
USB3.0 isn't DAC friendly at all, that's a rather serious issue that no manufacturer is giving proper attention. For the time being, use USB2.0 ports, you have zero advantages on using USB3.0, so you're only bringing issues with no advantages.
Feb 6, 2014 at 2:54 PM Post #5 of 8
YES! Same thing here. I sent a message to HRT to see if they have any knowledge of this. The interference I get is the same as what I got on my old computer with USB2 when I tried to plug the DAC into a USB hub. HRT informed me at that time it was due to the power drop when you go through a USB hub. USB 3.0 power output is several times more powerful than USB 2.0, so I'm not sure what the problem is.
Feb 10, 2014 at 6:37 PM Post #6 of 8
After what seems like an unnecessary amount of email messages to and from the Chief Technical Officer at HRT (manufacturer of my DAC), it was finally divulged that no DAC can be fully supported through USB3.0. Why he didn't just tell me that before my sending him two rounds of system information, I do not know. It would've saved us both some time! All this company's products are connected via USB, so I really don't know how anyone with a newer computer can use their products!!
Feb 28, 2014 at 10:43 AM Post #7 of 8
An update to the issue I was having--
As I hoped, the OS update (10.9.2) that Apple released this past week seems to have addressed the problem (sooner than I expected!). Among the list of fixes was "Fixes an issue that may cause audio distortion on certain Macs."
I've listened to the HRT MSII for about 2 hours without any issue--hopefully this message isn't premature. The MSII is plugged into one of the four USB ports on the back of the computer, and I've been using all three other ports for other devices/peripherals including a USB hub. 
Mar 2, 2014 at 7:27 AM Post #8 of 8
From what I'm reading around, the main issue has been the usb port controllers that managed whatever was plugged into them. The controllers for 3.0 ports have not, until recently seemingly, been able to manage audio devices of any kind properly. Looking at old threads with issues, like this one, I notice most people very recently claim their issues have been fixed after some kind of update to their computer or they downloaded newer controllers (something I did). There is even one thread saying specifically the intel controllers just dont work right, but most of the other brands do like NEC or renesas.

So hopefully as time goes on, this problem becomes less common until its just non-existant, because pretty much every computer made today uses entirely usb 3.0 ports, and MAYBE one usb 2.0 port which doubles as a sata connection which makes that port kinda wobbly with stuff plugged into it.

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