HRT Music Streamer II+ 24/96 USB DAC

First of all I want to thank Scot Markwell of Elite AV Distribution for sending me a HRT Music Streamer II+.

The HRT Music Streamer II+, or theMS2+, is a simple one box solution designed by high end audio designer Kevin Halverson of Muse Electronics. The MSII+ is the upgraded model of the Music Streamer +, which was first introduced around 2009. It is designed to do perform high quality USB Digital Analog conversion with its asynchronous transfer mode and a support of 24/96 resolution over USB. The HRT MS2+ is the bigger brother to the HRT MS2, which also does 24/96 asynchronous USB, albeit at a lower-spec noise floor, S/N ratio, and THD+N figures.


Opening the enclosure (Sorry, Scot), and I find a very clean PCB layout centered on Burr Brown’s highly popular PCM1794 D/A chip, capable of a theoretical 132dB signal to noise ratio, and Texas Instrument’s TAS1020b chip performing the asynchronous USB reception.



Operation is very simple, as the Music Streamer II+ only come with a USB port on one side and a pair of RCA output on the other side. The device draws power from the USB bus, and no external power supply is required. The MS2+ is supported on both Windows and Macintosh OS, although I’m using the MS2+ strictly on Mac.


The HRT Music Streamer II+ next to an Acer 10" netbook.

I talked to Kevin Halverson, who designed the High Resolution Technogies products about implementing an S/PDIF input to the Music Streamers, and this is what he said:

In answer to your first question, it is certainly within our capability to add a bi-phase input like S/PDIF; however it would violate a number of the principals we have for HRT products. Let me expound on this statement a bit.

First off, S/PDIF or any bi-phase interface for that matter is a vastly inferior interface compared to an asynchronous USB one, so other than support for some legacy products, it is a bit hard to justify. Second and probably more important is that all HRT products are single mission, they are intended to be extremely focused in their application. This allows us to more clearly define the function of the products and this optimizes the performance without impacting the price. There is a tertiary issue; the three Streamers in the current line are all bus powered so this would mean that if a bi-phase input were present a host (computer) would still need to be present to supply the power requirements of the Streamer.

The performance advantage of the asynchronous interface that the Streamers use also extends to an optical drive attached to the host. There is a distinct performance advantage to playing a disc on a host computer connected to a Streamer versus what would happen if a bi-phase input were present and the Streamer were feed a signal from a legacy device such as a transport.


HRT Music Streamer II+ 24/96 USB DAC
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118 Comments

  • Reply July 27, 2010

    Jose

    Hey Mike,

    Great read as always. Did you do the comparisons using only the USB input on the DacMagic or also used the optical imput? I know would not have been fair if the Music Streamer costed less, but since they are both about the same price… you get my drift.

    Jose.

    • Reply July 27, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Jose,

      Only used the USB connection on both. I thought that would be more fair.

      What do you think?

      • Reply July 27, 2010

        Jose

        Hey Mike,

        I also thought is was fair until I read that the Music Streamer was in the same price range as the DacMagic. About a month ago when I discovered that my MacBook had an optical out, was immediately astounded by the difference between the USB and Optical outputs, the DacMagic USB input is definitely not the best thing there is.

        Jose.

        • Reply July 27, 2010

          Mike

          Sorry, I still haven't got what you're trying to say.
          1. Price for both products
          2. Optical vs USB

          Then?

        • Reply July 27, 2010

          Mike

          I guess I should've included an evaluation of the DacMagic via an S/PDIF input to the Music Streamer II+ via USB, in addition to the DacMagic USB to MS2+ USB comparison.

          But anyway, the MS2+ is still quite livelier in overall character, where the DacMagic is smoother. No interface change will change that character. 🙂

          Cheers.

          • Reply July 28, 2010

            Jose

            Well, it did change for me, maybe I am being too subjective. Thanks for the great treatment Mike.

  • Reply July 27, 2010

    Blake

    Great review again Mike. How would you say it compares to the Pico Dac? I mean they are very similar products and in the same price range so I am wondering which 1 would be the better buy.

    • Reply July 28, 2010

      Mike

      Hey Blake. I don't have the Pico anymore so can't do the comparison. But tracing back to my Pico DAC review , the Pico is roughly at the same level of the Gamma2, although quite different in character. The DacMagic is better than both of them, and the HRT Streamer II+ is better than the DacMagic.

  • Reply July 27, 2010

    dex85

    Hi Mike,

    i second the great review. do you feel that DacMagic is a better performer with S/PDIF inputs? i read a review at one magazine and they measured that USB input of DacMagic has significantly higher jitter than S/PDIF inputs. also from you experience, how would you compare Streamer++ to Gamma2 DAC?

    thanks 🙂

    • Reply July 27, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Dex,
      I honestly never compared the DacMagic in USB and S/PDIF inputs on a direct A/B comparison. I usually use the S/PDIF input with CD transports and the Onkyo Ipod Transport, where the USB is used for connecting to my Mac. I bought a Musiland USB -> Coax but apparently it doesn't work with Mac. 🙁 So, I don't really have a reliable way of comparing both inputs. But if just from my experience of using the DacMagic on two different sources (S/PDIF or USB), I wouldn't say that the difference is that large. I certainly don't notice any noticeable degradation in the sound, although I don't deny that there may be some jitter differences between the two interfaces.

      The Gamma2 DAC is nice, but I really won't even compare it to the DacMagic. In my opinion the Gamma2 DAC is roughly at the same level of the Dr. DAC2 DX, and the DacMagic is better than both of them.

      The Streamer II+ is a very good performer indeed! 😀

      • Reply July 28, 2010

        thuantran

        Indeed the Musiland only works with their drivers, which is Windows only. I recommend you the Teralink X2 instead. This DAC is quite the performer, I think I might get this one when I really go for a separate DAC and AMP setup later.

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    KK

    It’s a pity you didn’t review the NuForce Icon HDP. It would have been an interesting contrast.

    • Reply August 3, 2010

      Mike

      Ouch, yea. The HDP, a lot of people's been asking for it. 🙁

  • Reply August 3, 2010

    Kyle

    Very good review!

    I'm in the market for a DAC in the $200 price range. HRT offers the Music Streamer II, which is a step down from the II+ for around $150. I wonder how that compares.

    Also, I've heard remarkable things about Maverick Audio's TubeMagic D1. It retails for around $200 ($220 with a tube), has a huge number of inputs and looks quite nice… Perhaps you could review one of these in the future? They have an amp they recently released as well. 🙂

    • Reply August 3, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Kyle, I'm working on a review of the MSII which sells for $145.95. 🙂

      No plans to review the Maverick TubeMagic for now, but I'll try to find out about it. 🙂

  • Reply August 9, 2010

    Professor00179

    Am I wrong or the price of Music Streamer has raised? I just had a quick look at eBay and it is now distributed at 328.99… british pounds… If it costed ~340-350 dollars then it would be a great product that suits my preferences, but at that price… I would look for something different. Seems like a lot depends on where you live when ordering DACs. In UK DacMagic price is 225 pounds so it is 100 pounds cheaper! Anyway – I think that comparing both units via USB connection is a bit unfair. Where DacMagic really shines is the optical connection not USB. At USB it can not compete with many cheaper DACs. Thank you for the review anyway;)

    • Reply August 9, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Professor, I think the 328.99 pounds price may be due to geographical locations, rather than HRT raising the price of its products.

      • Reply August 10, 2010

        Professor00179

        Hmmmm… that is possible. On the other hand I have found only one retailer of HTR Music Streamers so I believe the price raised quite a bit. Are you aware of some online distributors of this DAC? I have found one seller on ebay so far… I will continue to look for others though.:) Thanks for reply.

        • Reply August 10, 2010

          Mike

          I've emailed Scot of EliteAV Distribution and ask if he can help you with getting an MS2.

  • Reply August 10, 2010

    Professor00179

    Thank you very much for that!

    • Reply August 10, 2010

      Mike

      Sorry, just got word from Scot at EliteAV, that they can't distribute it outside of the US.

  • Reply August 11, 2010

    Professor00179

    This seems to be a pretty bad news.:( I thought it would be a great solution for me. Thank you VERY much again.

  • Reply August 25, 2010

    Iyayy

    Hi Mike..
    im wondering how far off is the MS II+ from the lavry da11.
    I know its not valid, but i’d like to know how far (or close) these thing can get. I’ve heard the da11, but im not yet ready to go there.
    thx.

    • Reply August 26, 2010

      Mike

      Wow that's a very far jump. The DA11 should be superior in terms of soundstage image and other technicalities. Just go with the MS2+, then you can allocate the budget for a better amplifier. That should be a better combination.

  • Reply August 25, 2010

    Erick

    For those interested in how this compares to the Nuforce HDP, 6moons review compares it favorably against the HRT Pro:

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/hrt2/pro_4.htm

    Of course this raises the question of if, what and how much of a difference there is between the II+ and the Pro. Anyone have such an indication?

    • Reply August 26, 2010

      Mike

      Awesome! I'm glad that the HRT Music Streamers is getting more recognition… It's a great product.

  • Reply February 1, 2011

    Chalala

    Hey,

    would the MSII+ be an worth upgrade from s:flo2 in a desktop system? Just now I’m using the s:flo2 as source and thinking about an upgrade…

    Thanks.

  • Reply May 21, 2011

    Nick

     Hey Mike what would you think about me getting this to replace my regular ms2? I’m wondering as well where this dac is supposeed to be smoother would that make it so breakdowns arnt painful anymore?

     I have a  beyerdynamic t1 and an a1 amp as well so should I wait until I can afford something in say the 1k and up range or do you think this would do it justice?

    • Reply May 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      The MS2+ is a very good DAC, actually, and in terms of overall
      musicality I still prefer it to some $1K DACs including the Buffalo 32
      and the Lavry DA11. With the T1 it should be a good pairing, but I’m not
      so sure about the A1 amp. Last time I heard the A1 was very brief
      session, it was warm and smooth, but I am not sure if it’s transparent
      enough to the source behind it.

      • Reply May 21, 2011

        Nick

        Interesting I think I will try it then how much percent wise do you think it would be better then the ms2? I know its a hard thing to gauge but am curious nonetheless.

         Also which amps would you suggest? I’m curious about a naim headline, I really like the idea of the naim sound but I know their stuff is really overpriced in north america. Also are there any good tube amps i could try? I have never heard one but I’m worried they might sound too distant and laid back for heavy metal/hard rock?

        • Reply May 21, 2011

          Anonymous

          To be honest the improvements are mostly in the refinements, the small
          things, that’s what DACs are all about. So I really can’t put a
          percentage on the two. The MS2 is definitely the bang for the buck
          model, but if I have the extra budget, the MS2+ is going to be the one I
          go for.

          As for amps, I probably won’t recommend the Naim too much (from what
          I’ve heard). My Zana Deux matches with the T1 vey well, but it’s good
          for stuff like Aerosmith, though for hard core rock and metal, it may
          not be the best amp. Try the Burson Ha-160. It has an excellent PRaT
          factor, superb bass section, and it’s the best amplifier for fast
          progressive Rock to my ears.

      • Reply June 6, 2011

        Nick

        I have gotten the ms2 plus now and my system does seem much more refined although their is a hint of dryness left which I think might be the amp since I read a review on av guide saying there was a slight dryness to it. Did you see hear a hint of dryness as well?

         I think I might get a new amp as well next the other thing is too I have been listening to mp3’s ripped about 125 vbr side by side with .flac cd rips and I cant tell a difference? Is this the lack of transparency you were talking about or do you think its just lack of experience possibly? I would think the difference would be quite obvious.

        • Reply June 7, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi Nick,
          You’re talking about the A1 amp is it? Dryness may be more from the T1 than from the A1. If you’re talking about grain, however, then I think that’s from the A1 amp. It’s a bit tricky here to separate dryness and grain, and unless you have a second headphone/amp to do an A-B ing it’s going to be hard to really know which component is causing the phenomenon in the sound.

          Actually, depending on the recording quality, it can be quite hard to differentiate mp3s to FLACs, and although some people may make it seem an obvious difference, I think differentiating headphone cables are far easier than differentiating file compression formats.

          But most importantly is do you think your system plays your music well with the current set up? Is the musicality there?

          • Reply June 7, 2011

            Nick

            I would say its musical yeah a little dry or grainy I’m not sure what I would describe it as but I guess the thing is I think I had my hopes up a little too high for this stuff I mean don’t get me wrong I don’t mind paying good money for music and audio.

             But for the 2300 or so dollars iv invested in this so far it doesn’t seem much different then just a cheap pair of off the shelf headphones the only real difference I think I have been able to discern as far as these being beneficial compared to anything else is they are way more comfy the balanced sound is nice and the cymbals/hi hats and such actually sound decent through these which previously sounded terrible.

            Although I guess its possible I bought the wrong pair of headphones or amp for me maybe an lcd-2 would of suited me better? Or is all hifi more or less about spending an absurd amount of money for the last 5-10% in performance?

            • Reply June 7, 2011

              Anonymous

              Hi Nick,
              I think the bottleneck in hi fi set ups lie in the recordings you listen to. It’s like buying a Ferrari Enzo and taking it for a drive in narrow and congested roads. You’ll probably feel you’ll bebetter off riding a Toyota sedan to be better than the Ferrari.

              This is why conventional Hi Fi shops only play well recorded pieces such as Eagles’ Hotel California and very rarely modern pop tunes. The headphone crowd somewhat changes all these as we now have people listening to even Jpop (which have a pretty awful recording ingeneral) through their high end headphone system.

              While it is good to see people not limiting their playlist to a particular genre, it certainly will bring up issues in recording more than before as those recording defects are now very clearly heard on expensive headphone systems.

  • Reply May 30, 2011

    Timtam

    Hey Mike, have you heard anything about the new 2011 version of the MS2+? Do you know if it’s an improvement over the version you reviewed or just repackaged in a case similar to the iStreamer and MS2?

    I’m looking for a dedicated DAC to feed into the Matrix m-stage and LCD2/Grado SR225i. Do you think the MS2+ is a good fit for this price range?

    • Reply May 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      I heard about it, there are some improvements in the PCB design if I am
      not mistaken. Sound quality should improve a bit, but don’t ask me since
      I don’t have the newer 2011 version.

      The MS2+ will definitely be a good DAC for the LCD-2 and the Grado SR225i.

  • Reply January 4, 2012

    John

    Hey Mike,

    What would you say Music Streamer+ ($200ish) vs Music Streamer II ($120ish)? I am not sure if you have heard the non II versions but would you think the difference between MSII and MSII+ is roughly the same as MS and MS+?

    Thanks,

  • Reply January 5, 2012

    Chris

    hi Mike,  I am looking to purchase a solid state amplifier to pair with the HRT Music Streamer II+. I was interested in the Schiit Asgard but capacitor popping and heat is a concern for office use. I was wondering if you could recommend an alternative. 

    I have a pair of Grado 325i and Denon AH-D5000. Thank you.

    • Reply January 5, 2012

      Mike

      Chris,
      Try the Butte:
      http://www.headfonia.com/little-apex-the-butte/

      It’s an excellent little amp.

      • Reply January 5, 2012

        Chris

        I shouldn’t run into any problems if I split the RCA out on the HRT Music Streamer II+ to the Apex Butte and a pair of active monitors, right?
        Thanks again.

    • Reply January 5, 2012

      Mike

      It shouldn’t be a problem, but I can’t guarantee it.

  • Reply February 3, 2012

    Rodrigo Pita

    Hi Mike, Have you compared this Music Streamer 
    II +  vs   the 2011 model Music Streamer
    II +? Thank You

  • Reply February 18, 2012

    Austin Morrow

    I’ve  noticed that my HRT Music Streamer II+ bypasses the sound card in my iMac. What feature is this called? Asynchronous?

    • Reply February 18, 2012

      Mike

      Nope that’s just the way all USB DACs work.

      USB DACs in practice do the same thing your sound card do, only with better quality (hopefully). So if you have a USB DAC plugged in and you select the output device to that USB DAC, then the OS won’t send the audio signal to the sound card.
      It’s like hooking up other peripherals, a webcam or a printer. You choose and you tell the computer which printer to output the text file to.
      Async is the protocol for data transfer via the USB bus where the timing of the data is dictated by the USB DAC. Adaptive is the other protocol, where timing data is dictated by the computer.

      • Reply February 18, 2012

        Austin Morrow

        Ah, yes, makes sense. I’m sitting here listening to the MSII+ through the Schiit Valhalla and outputting to the HD650, and I’ve gotta say, I like it more than my HA-160DS. Bigger overall soundstage, better layering, increased resolution and upper treble responses, with slightly tighter and more articulate bass.

  • Reply March 1, 2012

    Manji group

    Mike, is the hrt ms ii + warmer than audinst mx1? Cause I’ve tried living with the LX for a while feeding it to solo srg ii then hd 650, but somehow i like how the audinst pair with solo best, so my question is would the ms ii + be an upgrade of the audinst or not?

    thanks

    • Reply March 1, 2012

      Mike

      Yes the MS2 + is warmer than the Audinst, and yes technically it’s also better than the Audinst.

  • Reply April 25, 2012

    Victor Yu

    Mike,
    any DAC with even better bass performance + warm vocal? Or this is really a very good choice? I am using Asgard and WA6SE.

  • Reply July 7, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    I finally found a used like-new MS2+ on ebay to try as an upgrade from my MS2.

    I have to say that if your other equipment is equally good or better,
    then the difference between the MS2+ is a little more significant than
    the impression that might be given by your reviews. I did find one
    other reviewer who has compared them, and he emphasized the improvement
    more, while agreeing with you and I that the MS2 is definitely the
    better dollar value.

    However, it is true, that – while you do review plenty of “four figure”
    audiophile products, you probably also review more Fiio and Cmoy level
    products than this other guy – and those people might have problems
    hearing the difference, and so it is reasonable to emphasize that the
    $150 MS2 does have 80-90% of the improvements over the built-in sound
    card.

    In my case, while my Infinity speakers can be found used on ebay for
    $400 a pair, they do include the same tweeters as found in Infinity’s
    $30,000 speakers, so I get a very good representation of the harmonics
    in recordings.

    So, when I upgraded to the MS2+, I found that it cleared up the
    remaining grit and hardness that had been 80% cleared by the MS2. The
    effective on air and “hall sound” was dramatic – for the first time
    since storing my turntable, I heard images above and outside of the
    speakers, and the soundstage depth was significantly increased (an
    awesome CD for this is Opus 3 label’s Test Record One – Depth of Image).

    Also, this made me realize that there are two uses of the word “warm” in
    audio: 1) An emphasis of the lower midrange that is the resonance of
    voices and instruments, and 2) The absence of that “cold hardness” that
    was first introduced to audio by CDs. I think that the MS products
    remove that cold hardness of digital (probably due to jitter) and that
    is why they seem “warm”.

    Anyway, thanks for introducing me to these products !

    • Reply July 9, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for sharing with us, and you’re welcome Ken!

      Yea maybe I could’ve written the review a little better.

      The issue that I have to think about is that there are people who read this article but still can’t tell the difference, sonically, between an MS2 and a laptop sound card. So, I really don’t want to overemphasize the difference, since some people who are not that sensitive may find that to be just hyperbole, marketing talk.

      On the other hand I think it’s better when people have lower expectations to start with, then blown away when they finally hear the MS2+ model.

      But I think the bottom line here is that there are a lot of different ways of writing the “right” review, and it depends on a lot of factors.

      • Reply July 9, 2012

        khubmai

        ” But I think the bottom line here is that there are a lot of different ways of writing the “right” review, and it depends on a lot of factors.”

        This is a reason why i like to read headfonia.com.

  • Reply July 18, 2012

    Josh Lu

    Mike, have you compared it to the new audioquest dragonfly?
    I’m asking because I currently own the ms2+ and was planning to get my sister one for her birthday, but the dragonfly has been receiving much praise on headfi, comparing favorably to some pretty decent amp/Dacs (Jude preferred it to the fostex hp a3).

    • Reply October 22, 2012

      L.

      We haven’t tested the dragonfly yet, sorry

  • Reply October 21, 2012

    Gorboman

    I kinda regret having auditioned the MS2+. Because now I want one. 🙁

    • Reply October 21, 2012

      Nick Tam

      It’s worth every dollar spent 😉

    • Reply October 22, 2012

      Mike

      It was nice, isn’t it?

  • Reply October 22, 2012

    Vern

    Mike,
    I’m running the MSII+ from a Macbook Pro, and have a few annoying issues (Already contacted HRT about them, but they insisted it was an issue with my laptop vs. their DAC). I was just wondering if you stumbled upon the same issues in your journeys with the MSII+. I’m running the MSII+ with BitPerfect.

    1) Occasionally the DAC will just outright disconnect and not be recognized as a sound output source (Even while being powered by an external powered USB Hub).2) Occasionally the DAC will not disconnect, and it will still be selectable as a sound output source, but there is no sound being output unless I physically disconnect the USB cable and re-plug it in.
    3) Occasionally the left and right channels will get flip-flopped. This is also fixed by a physical disconnection of the USB cable and a re-plug.

    I can’t think of any patterns in which these issues occur, but they seem to only occur on the Macbook Pro vs. a PC.

    • Reply October 22, 2012

      L.

      1 and 2 happened to me a long time ago too. It actually was laptop related. Installed Asio drivers and never had a problem anymore (this as with an Audio GD Dac)

      • Reply October 22, 2012

        Vern

        Was this on a Mac OS? And I assume the asio drivers are free to download?

        • Reply October 22, 2012

          Mike

          I believe Lieven was talking on a PC. Asio should be free, but they’re for PC.

        • Reply October 22, 2012

          L.

          Mike’s right. it’s on a pc, no mac for me.

    • Reply October 22, 2012

      Mike

      Vern,
      I’ve yet to enconter any of those with any of my Macs..
      1. Does it happen if you’re using plain itunes with no bitperfect?
      2. Can you try it on another computer?

      I’m hoping they would send you a replacement unit, but they won’t do that you say?

      • Reply October 22, 2012

        Vern

        Even without bitperfect, the disconnects where the MSII+ is no longer a recognizable output occur… I’m not sure about scenario 2 without bitperfect.

        I could try it on another computer (and have for a short time), but I use my Macbook Pro as my main music source, so it is meaningless to me if it works on my PC and not on my Mac. The problems do not seem to exist on a Windows OS, which leads me to believe that it has to do with a driver/firmware issue. When I was the owner of the Burson HA-160D, I never had any of these issues, which also led me to believe it was an issue with the MSII+.

        The response from HRT was this: “Thank you for your follow up email. The channel swapping is a problem with the host (computer) as there is no possibility of hardware connected channels becoming interchanged. As for the disconnection, this may be associated with power management and/or allowing the computer to enter sleep or another low power mode.

        You can certainly consider an upgrade to either the firmware or to the entire Streamer, but I am confident that your problem (at least the channel interchange) is a computer issue.”

        I have checked online, and many people say their disconnect issue deals with the USB port not delivering enough power. I would’ve thought that my powered USB hub would solve the issue, which it has helped it occur much less frequently, but it still happens at least once a day.
        I have to admit that the issue of the interchanged channels is pretty annoying. Every time I start a listening session, I need to listen to a song in which I know the drums will occur on the right channel (When it’s not flip-flopped) to be sure the issue is not present.

        • Reply October 22, 2012

          Gorboman

          Have you tried different USB cable?

          • Reply October 23, 2012

            Vern

            Yeah, tried several USB cables. Kevin from HRT stated that it likely has to do with old firmware compatibility and compatibility with new Mountain Lion OS.

  • Reply November 15, 2012

    barjoyai baharu

    hi Mike, may i have your opinion here? i owned Audinst HUD-MX1 for about 2 years now and decided to upgrade. My thoughts are DACmagic + Schiit Asgard or HRT MS2+ with Schiit Asgard. I will be using with my yuin PK3 and Hifiman RE0. Which 1 is better in your opinion or do u have any better combination? I’m open to anything. Thanks !!

    • Reply November 15, 2012

      Nick Tam

      DAC section is miles ahead between the MS2+ and MX1. DACmagic is slightly behind the MS2+ and only if you need the additional input/outputs. Asgard is a far more powerful amplifier so it will be a definite improvement over the MX1’s built in amp. However, your output gear is somewhat limiting.

    • Reply November 16, 2012

      Mike

      Why would you need the Asgaard if you’re using the Yuin and the RE0?

      I think the set up is fine as it is. If you want to upgrade the DAC, get something like the HRT MS2+ and pair it up with a small amp like a Cmoy.

  • Reply March 1, 2013

    EraserXIV

    Is there anything comparable to the MS2+ and in a similar price range, but also with SPDIF inputs?

    • Reply March 1, 2013

      Mike

      • Reply March 2, 2013

        EraserXIV

        The D20 seems very interesting, does it support 24/96 over USB?

        • Reply March 2, 2013

          Mike

          No, I don’t think it does.

          • Reply March 3, 2013

            EraserXIV

            What a shame, though I’ve been using my Fiio E10 as a decent SPDIF converter and I guess I could continue to use that for 24/96 support if I do get the D20.
            I had initially bought my E10 though for transportable use so I would like to free it up if possible. Do you know of and/or recommend any good SPDIF converters?

            • Reply March 4, 2013

              Mike

              The E10 does a pretty good job as a USB>SPDIF to be honest. Unless you’re going to go with a $1,000 Audiophilleo set up, probably not going to notice too big of a difference.
              I’d just get another E10.

  • Reply March 2, 2013

    netmask254

    I saw HRT has released MS HD, which has higher spec (192/24) and balanced output, will we have a review of it in near future?

    • Reply March 2, 2013

      Mike

      Yeah, I saw. Too bad they’ve been difficult to deal with.

  • Reply April 16, 2013

    Victor Yu

    Hi Mike, I owned this DAC for more than a year and considering an upgrade to maybe a $1000 – $1500 DAC, any recommendation? My pairing amp is WA6SE and Burson Soloist.

    • Reply April 17, 2013

      dalethorn

      Any interest in playing DSD?

      • Reply April 17, 2013

        Victor Yu

        No purely AIFF and MP3 on MacBook, have you heard of Calyx DAC 24/192?

        • Reply April 17, 2013

          dalethorn

          Six Moons audio has a thorough review, and it looks really good. They have a better power supply now.

    • Reply April 17, 2013

      Mike

      The neko audio d100 is a good dac at that price range. One of my favorite, just a bit under the radar. Dark, spacious clean, analog, good bass, all that good stuff.

      • Reply April 17, 2013

        Victor Yu

        Have u heard of Calyx DAC from Korea?

        • Reply April 20, 2013

          Mike

          I have listened to the Calyx Femto a few times. Me and the owner, that it’s too bright and clean for headphones. Everyone else who’s heard it made the same comment that it’s bright sounding.

          • Reply April 21, 2013

            Victor Yu

            I prefer to use USB but Neko didn’t offer that, do you have any other recommendation?

            • Reply April 25, 2013

              Mike

              Good DACs are hard to come by, I’d rather use the Neko with a USB SPDIF converter than some other DACs that happens to have USB.

              Another good one is the Ayon Skylla II

              • Reply April 26, 2013

                Victor Yu

                Will Neko or Ayon gave me much better sound compare to HRT Streamer II+? I have no concept about USB SPDIF converter, any particular brand to recommend?

                • Reply April 26, 2013

                  Mike

                  The Neko and the Ayon are to the HRT like a Honda Accord to a BMW 7-series sedan. 😉
                  USB-SPDIF, there are many different brands. The best I’ve tried is Audiophilleo, but something basic from Fiio would do. Of course, better USB-S/PDIF gives better sound, but Audiophilleo are extremely expensive at around $500 to $1000.

                  • Reply April 26, 2013

                    Victor Yu

                    I noticed that the Ayon is much more expensive than the Neko, is it much better? Anything similar price range as the Neko with USB input good for recommendation?

                    • April 26, 2013

                      Mike

                      I’ve never done a direct comparison but I think the Ayon should be better.
                      Around the price of the Neko, you have the Lavry DA11, the Benchmark, the Fostex HP-A8. The Fostex HP-A8 is another brilliant DAC. I wrote about it here:
                      http://www.headfonia.com/tag/fostex

                    • April 27, 2013

                      Victor Yu

                      Good review Mike, I have Burson Soloist and WA6SE so I am not looking for another amp right now, so probably not the A8 I guess, for headphone, I use MS-Pro, HE-500 and W3000ANV, can you recommend one or two DAC for my upgrade from HRT streamer II+?

                    • April 27, 2013

                      Mike

                      Well, the Neko is my recommendation.

                    • May 1, 2013

                      Victor Yu

                      How would you compare Neko to the Rein X3?

                    • May 1, 2013

                      Mike

                      I’m under the impression that the Rein is a brighter DAC while the Neko is extremely dark. I’ve never heard the Rein so I’m just saying based on what I hear from Lieven.

                    • May 2, 2013

                      L.

                      I wouldn’t call it bright, it’s neutral and musical but certainly not dark

                    • May 6, 2013

                      Victor Yu

                      Actually what are the benefits of an extremely dark sounding DAC on headphone listening? I’m not sure how to identify the bright and dark sounding but just want something to match my system well and significantly better sounding than the HRT Streamer II plus, any idea?

                    • May 9, 2013

                      Victor Yu

                      Hi Mike, any advice on this?

                    • May 12, 2013

                      Mike

                      Sorry I missed your question.

                      Better than the MS2+, something like the KingRex UD384 should be the answer. Like the Neko it’s extremely dark though.

                      If your headphone is bright, it’s best to fix it by: (order of effectiveness best to least)
                      Changing to a different headphone
                      Getting a dark amp
                      Getting a dark DAC

                      Dark means little treble amount. Bright lots of treble.

                      Cheers

                    • May 13, 2013

                      Dave Ulrich

                      So, the KingRex is similar in tonality to the Neko? I know what I am saving for next!

                    • May 13, 2013

                      Mike

                      Very similar, just a little less musicality and depth than the Neko

                    • May 13, 2013

                      Dave Ulrich

                      With my level of gear, I doubt I could tell the difference

                    • May 13, 2013

                      Mike

                      It doesn’t depend on the price rather the nature of your equipment.

                      Some amps and headphones are more transparent to the source, ie the Crack and HD650.

                    • January 31, 2014

                      Bryan Bilowol

                      Hey Mike, great review. I am wondering if you could help me. I just purchased a Schiit Modi and an O2 amp and while the modi was an upgrade over my onboard audio (realtek 1150), I feel as if it had sucked some of the warmth out of my music (I tested the o2 amp on my 1150 and it just made the sound better). My question is would the HRT MS2+ bring back some of that warmth (Modi vs HRT MS2+ debate I guess)?

                    • January 31, 2014

                      Dave Ulrich

                      You do understand that the O2 is not at all a warm amp.

                    • January 31, 2014

                      Bryan Bilowol

                      Yes I do, but I heard that the o2 is pretty much as good as it gets for amplification. If someone could make some suggestions as to how to get a bit more warmth to my x1s without bringing in not much (if any) distortion then I would love to hear suggestions :D.

                    • January 31, 2014

                      L.

                      We’re not O2 fans here man 🙂

                    • February 1, 2014

                      Bryan Bilowol

                      lol that’s ok, sorry for wasting time. I just feel like someone has taken the warmth vacuum cleaner to my music and sucked it (warmth) all out.

                    • February 1, 2014

                      Dave Ulrich

                      I would seriously look into another amp if warmth is what you are after.

                    • January 31, 2014

                      Dave Ulrich

                      I know Mike really liked the Fiio e7k/e9k with the X1. They can be had together for less then the MSII+. I don’t mean to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t like, but in my opinion, the O2 is hardly as good as it gets.

                    • July 12, 2013

                      Victor Yu

                      Hi Mike,
                      Have you tried the Schiit Gungnir? If yes how would you compare it with the rest that you suggested to me earlier?

                    • July 12, 2013

                      Dave Ulrich

                      They have trouble getting Schiit products, so no. They have been pretty good getting me review samples, but that might change after my Asgard 2 review gets posted…

  • Reply May 19, 2013

    Justas Ragulis

    I am looking for dac. What you think HRT MSII+ great with Grado SR225i ? Do you hear Grado with HRT MSII+ ?

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