The HRT Music Streamer II: Asynchronous 24/96 for $149.95!

The Music Streamer II (MS2) is the little brother to the Music Streamer II Plus (MS2+). If you’ve read the review of the Plus model, then you know that these HRT DACs are solid performers as I found the Plus model to perform better than the Cambridge DacMagic, which was my previous favorite $300+ range DAC.

The MS2 is the entry level model to the High Resolution Technologies DACs, and it offers 24/96 asynchronous USB DAC capability for as little as $149.95. For $200 less than the bigger brother, the MS2 comes with lesser THD, SNR, and noise floor figures. But of course the question is how the MS2 performs on real world situations. Like the MS2+, I received the MS2 from Scot Markwell of EliteAV, who’s the North American agent for High Resolution Products. But since the MS2 differs from the MS2+ by $200, I thought that I should write two different reviews, with two different comparisons for the two DACs, just based on the price bracket. Throughout the review, it’s important to separate the two DACs as they only differ by a plus sign in the model number: MS2 is the $149.95 model, and the MS2+ is the $349.95 model.

The MS2 Plus in grey color, the MS2 in red color.

 

Like the older brother, the MS2 is simple to operate: USB in on one side and RCA out on the other.

 

Hadi has been very impressed with the performance of the MS2 DAC. Previously he was using the Nuforce uDAC with his Stax SR-404 Signature set up (poor Hadi, I know), and after changing to the MS2, he told me over the phone that the MS2 opens up the sound of the SR-404 Stax in ways that he never thought possible.

I played around with the MS2 as well, and I do think that the sound output is superior to what the Nuforce uDAC is capable of. The sound is much more transparent, and there is no bottom end coloration the way you get from the uDAC. What’s interesting, however, is to pitch the MS2 (a $145.95 DAC) with the Audinst HUD-MX1 (a $179.00 USB DAC + Amp), which has been our favorite sub $200 DAC unit.

Like the MS2, the Audinst also does 24/96 over USB. But that’s as far as the similarity goes. The MS2 is equipped with a PCM1793 D/A chip, which is the lesser version of the PCM1794 chip used in the MS2+. The Audinst on the other hand is equipped with the WM8740 D/A chip. Although D/A chips do matter, ultimately you can’t predict a DAC’s sound quality just by knowing the chip it uses, as there’s a lot of variables in the design of the circuitry.

Internals of the HRT MS2, with the PCM1793 D/A chip. PCB layout is a bit packed compared to the MS2 Plus.

 

Internals of the HRT MS2 Plus, with the PCM1794 D/A Chip. Notice the more spacious PCB layout with a more proper analog section out (just before the RCA jacks on the right side).


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162 Comments

  • Reply August 11, 2010

    Blake

    Another nice review. Wondering if you have ever had a chance to hear the devilsound dac? I think it could be another piece of the usb dac puzzle.

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Blake, I've heard of the name, but never auditioned it. Sorry.

  • Reply August 11, 2010

    Professor00179

    YES!! This is probably something I was looking for. I have noticed that the only UK retailer (on eBay) has few versions of Music Streamer and wondered if you are going to review it. In UK it costs almost 150 pounds, but I think it is still a very good value + you get nice USB connection, which many other DAC struggles with. While the whole product does not seem to be such a great value comparing to US prices I think it is still competetive. Wider soundstage comparing to Audinst and better imaging is exactly what I would like to get. Should pair nicely with K601 as it's mids-orientated and very relaxed and neutral. I have also noticed this version of Streamer with USB cards cable, but far more expansive – ~200 pounds. Although I would say that much cheaper cable would still do good. Any thoughts on how it could compare to Musical Fidelity V-DAC?

    • Reply August 11, 2010

      Mike

      Sounds like it’ll be a good combination with the K601! You know, I have the K401, K501 and K701, but I never heard the K601. Always wanted to do a K401-501-601-701 comparison before. 🙂

  • Reply August 11, 2010

    Professor00179

    Well, I suppose you could not hear V-DAC as it is not priced so nicely in USA from what I heard and at its US price it does not seem to be so good. At least based on what I heard… How would HTR Music Streamer perform when put against Dr. DAC2 DX? (only DAC section) I think this would be very interesting.

    • Reply August 11, 2010

      Mike

      Yep, sorry no experience with the V-Dac. It has quite a follower before the new generation DACs came out though. I wonder if it’s still be competitive today, as the DAC technology progresses very fast.

      I don’t have the Dr. DAC2 DX here right now (I’m lending it to a friend), but from memory, I think the MS2 still has the upper hand in instrument separation and soundstage, though the Dr. DAC2 DX has an overall smoother sound.

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Professor00179

    Hmm… I think that after 2 months (!) of looking for a new DAC I just found something that meets all of my requirements.:D The only thing I do not like is the price (in UK) though it is still competetive. I like the fact it is powered just by USB.

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      It's a pity about the pricing, I know. 🙁

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    glac1er

    Thanks for the review, Mike. I really like the MS2, especially for the price. It is neutral but not analytical, and has good synergy with my SR404. It doesn't mask the microdetails like my uDAC, and the decay is much more distinct and natural through the MS2.

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      IMO, as a DAC, the MS2 is superior to the uDAC in every aspect, and I don't normally give gears high praises like that. I should be comparing the MS2 to something like the Gamma2 or Dr. DAC2 DX, except that I don't have them around anymore.

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Matt

    Love this review Mike! I currently have the audinst (in part because of your review) and have been loving it. It was great to see this compared directly to it. It sounds like it might have to be a future buy. I do have a quick question. I've been trying to decide which to upgrade first from the audinst. Should I replace the dac or amp portion of the audinst first? I'm not looking at this music streamer DAC, and the Schiit Asgard amp ($250), but can't decide which would be the best upgrade.

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      Sorry I missed your question Matt. If you haven't got an amp, then you need an amp first, like what Professor said. The Music Streamers don't have a built in headphone amp, so it won't drive your headphones.

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Matt

    Whoops, I'm *now* looking at this music streamer…etc. Sorry about that.

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Ozone3

    Great reviews for both MS2 and MS2+.

    Could you expand on the comparison between the MS2 and the Cambridge DacMagic?

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      You mean the MS2+ and the DacMagic? Please read the HRT MS2+ review here: http://www.headfonia.com/hrt-music-streamer-ii-24

      • Reply August 14, 2010

        Ozone3

        I had already read the comparison between the MS2+ and the DacMagic which is why I was wondering how the MS2 is faring against the DacMagic.

        • Reply August 14, 2010

          Mike

          Ah, I see what you're asking now. The DacMagic is more refined and smooth than the MS2. But it's also not as lively and doesn't have as much depth in the soundstage separation. In short, the MS2 is almost the same as the MS2+, but lacking the bits of refinement. For me, the refinement is very important and is worth $200. 🙂 I'm keeping the MS2+ as THE #1 Dac I use now. 🙂

          • Reply August 16, 2010

            Ozone3

            Thanks. Exactly the info is was looking for.

            I am thinking of combining the MS2 with the Imamp for a portable rig which should sound pretty sweet for $300. The next question is how this setup would compare to the Icon HDP (granted it's a little more expensive and you still need a power outlet). Maybe something you can address if you get to review the HDP. Thanks again for all your great reviews.

            • Reply August 16, 2010

              Mike

              Thanks Ozone3 for the kind comments. I will try to get a hold of a Nuforce HDP. 🙂

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Professor00179

    @Matt – if you look for separate DAC and AMP buy AMP first if the DAC you're wanting to buy has not got headphone out (many DACs dont:(). It might be obvious, but it is usually the last thing people check when looking for a new DAC. I have a friend who ordered a new DAC and could not plug his headphones as the DAC needs separate AMP just like MS2. I found myself in similar situation thought just before I ordered V-DAC I have realised it does not have headphone out and I have to buy AMP first. It worked out quite nicely to me since MS2 seems better than V-DAC.;)

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Professor00179

    Just for the record – what op-amps these DACs (MS2 and MS2+) are using?

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      Let me check and get back to you on that.

    • Reply August 14, 2010

      Mike

      The MS2 uses MC33078, and the MS2+ uses NE5534.

      • Reply August 15, 2010

        Professor00179

        Hmm… I have never even heard of these. Do you think that changing op amps in MS2 would bring significant benefits over the stock ones? The one in MS2+ sounds quite familiar, but the other one seems to be a complete 'exotic' stuff.

  • Reply August 14, 2010

    Khoa

    Mike, I recently discovered Headfonia and have to compliment you on your fine work. I especially enjoy the DAC comparisons that seem to be rare even on the internet. I do have one queston: Do you think a comparable DIY headphone amp (e.g. CMoy) can be built for the $30 price difference between the Audinst and the MS2?

    • Reply August 14, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Khoa,
      Yes you should be able to build a CMOY for ~$30 if you use a cheap tin can enclosure. You may even be able to squeeze some wima caps in there for that budget. 🙂

      • Reply August 15, 2010

        Khoa

        Are you convinced that the CMoy's sound quality is on a similar level to that of the Audinst? Thanks in advance for your reply.

        • Reply August 16, 2010

          Mike

          I've heard a few Cmoy builds, and I don't think they're as transparent or as resolving as the Audinst.

  • Reply August 16, 2010

    Blake

    Hi Mike. I am wondering if you could clarify the difference between the MS2 and the MS2+

    Is the MS2+ a bit smoother in the treble with less harshness/brightness? Is there any other differences?

  • Reply August 18, 2010

    Blake

    Hmm guess Im being ignored 🙁

    • Reply August 18, 2010

      Mike

      LOL sorry dude.

      The MS2+ is smoother overall, most noticeable in the treble but also in the midrange. The MS2 is a little harsh, but not really brighter. There is also better midrange and bass body on the MS2+.

      The technicalities are quite similar between the two DACs, ie how they separate the instruments, the soundstage performance, but the MS2+ is smoother and more refined.

      For entry level systems, the MS2 is fine. But if you have a mid-fi system or planning to upgrade, the MS2+ is recommended.

      • Reply September 2, 2012

        carsten nielsen

        From what I understand, the price is set after the producers have evaluated upone the succes of the precedor and then projected upon how much the improvements, that you now mention beeing made, is going to differ the value of the MST II+, and for your evaluation, it match pretty good, for a minus: USD 50.000 -100.000 income earner, correct?!

  • Reply August 21, 2010

    Blake

    Thanks Mike 🙂

    I've got a Burson HA160 and a lot of mid range headphones. I guess the extra refinement of the MS2+ would be nice in the long run as I do like a slightly fuller smooth sound.

    • Reply August 21, 2010

      Mike

      Hey Blake. Yes in that case go with the MS2+ 🙂

  • Reply August 21, 2010

    Marcelo

    Another very nice review, Mike!

    In a few lines, could you please comment about PICO USB DAC vs. HRT MS2 ?

    I am planning to listen vinyl rips from my PC DVD-ROM player. Even considering that PICO will downsample 24/96 data to 16/44 (and upsample then), does Music Streamer offers many differences ?

    Best regards.

    • Reply August 21, 2010

      Mike

      Sound signature wise, the Pico is darker, while the HRT MS2 is livelier. The Pico, based on the price, should be compared to the MS2+, which is the more refined version of the MS2. If you're for a darker sounding DAC with plenty of bass and midrange body, then the Pico is a good choice. Otherwise, I think the MS2+ gives an overall livelier sound, with better instrument separation.

      Here is the review I did of the Pico with the AMB Gamma 2.
      http://www.headfonia.com/headamp-pico-amb-gamma2-

  • Reply August 24, 2010

    David

    Mike,

    looking at the picture of the MS2+ compared to MS2….. the reason that MS2+ to have more chips near it's analogue output is because PCM1794 is I out (current output) DAC, so it needs I/V conversion circuit to get voltage output.

    On the other hand, MS2 uses PCM1793 which is already a V out DAC. Thus it does not I/V circuitry…

    • Reply August 24, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks David, I wasn't aware of that. 🙂

  • Reply August 24, 2010

    David

    Mike,

    what is the 8 pin DIP chip that is socketed next to the USB connector, on both MS2 and MS2+?

    on MS2, aside from the MC33078, I see that near the PCM1793, there is also a soic chip near to it. Can you tell what chip is that?

    • Reply August 24, 2010

      Mike

      I've gotta dig up the high res files first. I'll get back to you on that later.

  • Reply August 31, 2010

    Audiophile Dac / Amp

    […] Join Date: Jan 2010 Location: Coimbatore Posts: 166 ^ Did you check out this? The HRT Music Streamer II: Asynchronous 24/96 for $149.95! | Headfonia. It says $150 Reply With Quote + Reply to Thread  Bookmark […]

  • Reply August 31, 2010

    Audiophile Dac / Amp

    […] Coimbatore Posts: 169 ^ Read the comparison between Audinst and Streamer II here: The HRT Music Streamer II: Asynchronous 24/96 for $149.95! | Headfonia If you go for HRT, you'd need a separate Headphone Amplifier as Brendon has already mentioned. […]

  • Reply September 2, 2010

    Ricardo Reis

    Hi. What about the uDac2 ?

    best,

    • Reply September 2, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Ricardo, I haven't had the chance to listen to the uDac 2. But compared the original uDac, the HRT MS2 is a very significant jump.

  • Reply September 4, 2010

    Yossi

    Hey Mike,

    Any chance you'll be reviewing the StageDAC?

    • Reply September 4, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Yossi, no I haven't really considered reviewing the StageDac.

  • Reply October 7, 2010

    Joejoe

    Is Streamer 2 that better than mx1?

    • Reply October 7, 2010

      Mike

      @Joejoe: Just the DAC Section, oh yes.

      • Reply September 2, 2012

        carsten nielsen

        Because there exist only what is needed and no energycosumption is beeing “abused” in nonrelevant circuts?!

  • Reply October 11, 2010

    Clinton

    Hi, I’m looking for a simple but quality DAC for my macbook & Audioengine A5 (active speaker) setup. I was looking at the MusicStreamer II (or II+) and also things like Matrix Mini i (or possibly your other recommendations like Cambrdige Audio/Dr Dax2 DX). The extra facilities of Matrix Mini i is ‘nice to have’ but I happily sacrifice those for quality in sound. I could use / but don’t need a headphone amp.

    What would you recommend / rate these DACs?

    • Reply October 12, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Clinton, I've compared the Music Streamer II+, Matrix Mini-i, DacMagic, and Dr. DAC 2 DX, albeit in different articles. You can check the individual reviews as I've always made the review with a comparison to one other DAC. I really don't remember how they rank in a 1-2-3-4 sequence, so you've got to read the articles. Sorry.

    • Reply July 27, 2011

      Anonymous

      What did you decide on? I just ordered a MusicStreamer II to bridge the gap between my 2010 MacBook Air and my Audioengine A2’s, and it’ll be my first DAC. How did your set-up turn out, and what were the noticeable differences?

  • […] amp. There's not much on head-fi about HRT MS2 series, though there are reviews on headfonia: The HRT Music Streamer II: Asynchronous 24/96 for $149.95! | Headfonia + Reply to […]

  • Reply October 29, 2010

    Marian

    Hi Mike,

    thx for that review, just bought one for use with a synology disk station (NAS capable of streaming audio via USB) which i wanted to connect to my stereoamp. if it works and sounds like promised…man, that would definitely make my day (and weeks, months and years)!

    • Reply October 29, 2010

      Mike

      You're welcome Marian. I'm glad you're enjoying the system very much.

    • Reply November 7, 2010

      Martin

      Did your synology work with the HRT?

  • Reply November 29, 2010

    Brian

    Hi Mike,

    Just curious, does the MSII come with any cables? They don't exactly say and I don't want to end up buying the MSII just to end up waiting another week or so for cables…

    Thanks,
    Brian

    • Reply November 29, 2010

      Mike

      Whoa.. that's a tough question. I can't remember for sure. Can you try emailing the seller?

      Sorry if I can't help you.

      • Reply November 30, 2010

        Brian

        Ehhh I'm just wondering like a simple USB cable and RCA cables. On amazon it says its frequently bought together with a USB cable so that just got me worried. DAC's USUALLY ship with the cables right?

        Thanks,
        Brian

        • Reply November 30, 2010

          tingm

          Come to think of, you're right, DACs always come with a USB cable.

          • Reply January 10, 2011

            Rich B

            The HRT MUSICStreamer II comes with no cables. You will need a USB cable and RCA audio cables to connect it.

            Regards,

            Rich B

  • Reply January 21, 2011

    Vianney

    Hi,

    thanks for this review and congrats for this great site 😉
    It seams that HRT issued a NEW VERSION of its Music Streamer II.
    The new one is slimmer (iStreamer form factor), displays the sampling frequencies on LED (very handy to confirm the PC setup) and claims some Perf improvement.

    Freq. response (20Hz-20kHz): +0/-0.4dB (vs +0/-0.5dB on the old one)
    Noise floor: 25uV (vs 26uV on the old one)
    THD+N (1kHz @ 44.1kHz): 0.02% (vs 0.10% on the old one)
    SNR: 99dB (vs 98dB on the old one)
    USB to Audio output isolation: >200M ohm (vs >20M ohm)

    I guess they did not only changed the casing but also updated the internal design 🙂

    More info here : http://highresolutiontechnologies.com/pdf/HRT-Mus

    • Reply January 21, 2011

      Mike

      Thanks!
      I'll check on HRT with that. I actually know about the case redesign, but when I asked them about the internal, they said that the internals are pretty much the same. (or at least that's what I remembered).
      🙂

      • Reply January 22, 2011

        Vianney

        Thanks for the answer 🙂
        My guess on this is that since they had to update the PCB to fit the new case and add the LED info, they had the opportunity to add slight improvements on the PCB layout. That would explain the improvements on THD, noise floor and power isolation 🙂

        • Reply January 22, 2011

          Vianney

          Hi Mike,

          I found some complementary information on the web and I can confirm that the PCB of the HRT MS2 have been significantly IMPROVED !

          HRT MS2 original PCB (designed 12-29-2009) : http://static2.headfonia.com/wp-content/uploads/2

          HRT MS2 NEW version PCB (designed 08-02-2010): http://media.onecall.com/Image_Products/HRT/HRT-M

          As far as I see, there are few major improvements:
          – Upgraded power supply (now similar to the HRT MS2+) based onV-Infinity DC-DC converter.
          – output stage closest to the RCA connectors

          I'm convinced that it would be worth trying this new version. The gap with the MS2+ will become very small !
          The only remaining difference are the DAC and the output stage …

          • Reply January 22, 2011

            Mike

            Wow, the best entry level DAC just got better!Thanks for the investigation, Vianney!

  • Reply January 30, 2011

    Nick

    Hi Mike I had posted here before asking about which pair of high end heaphones to buy in the lcd-2 vs he-6 section I think it was and I ended up jumping on a pair of beyerdynamic t1’s with an a1 amplifier. I’m curious do you think this dac would be ok use to use temporarly? As the t1 kinda broke the bank so I dont have much more to spend then this atm or would I be better off with something else like maybe the plus instead? I do plan on buying a new high end dac once i can afford it though.

    • Reply January 31, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, for $149.95, I guess you can use this as a temporary DAC until you
      get another one. It’s pretty good, and you probably wouldn’t notice
      what’s missing until you get a better one.

      Congrats for the T1 purchase!

      • Reply January 31, 2011

        Nick

        Ok sweet thanks for the help I did end up ordering it although I think the dealer might of a been a bit of a snob because he tried to tell me that playing metal in 24/96 was like trying to sell mcdonalds food in a gourmet restuarant although he said he wasnt trying to offend me so I guess atleast he was honest about what he thought lol.

        • Reply February 1, 2011

          Anonymous

          That is a hilarious comment from the dealer. Lol.

          Hope you enjoy the HRT!

          • Reply February 11, 2011

            Nick

            Hey Mike I recently got my a1 amplifier and the hrt music streamer 2 dac and my Teslas are actually on back order so I got an adapter to try out my audio technica athanc7 headphones which are noise cancelling ones that were about one hundred and fifty bucks.(these ones here http://reviews.cnet.com/headphones/audio-technica-ath-anc7/4505-7877_7-32483459.html#reviewPage1 )

            So I’m wondering if I should be able to tell a diffrenece with this setup? Iv tried swapping back and forth several times and apart from a hiss that the amplifier seems to let out I dont seem to notice anything? I dont have any lossless audio even atm so I realize I’m not properly setup but still would think I would hear something?

            Lights are on indicating amp is working and I selected the dac in control panel plus the volume is at 100% and only when I change the volume on the amp does the music seem to change in volume. So I do believe its working at the very least.

            • Reply February 12, 2011

              Anonymous

              Hi Nick!
              Lol, yeah that is quite understandable, the NC7 headphones are probably not revealing enough. But the trick to be able to listen to set up differences is not to intentionally look for it. Just play the set up for a few days while enjoying the music out of it, then after a few days go back to your old set up and try to listen to the music again. Usually that method works better.

              Cheers.

              • Reply September 2, 2012

                carsten nielsen

                I do it on a few seconds on one and changes to another to be able to copare before the brain finds out. Is that an approved way of testingmethod?!

  • Reply April 7, 2011

    Equade

    Hey Mike, would the difference between the Music Steamer II and II+ be very large if I pair it with a Graham Slee Solo and Denon D5000?

    • Reply April 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Can’t tell for sure, but if you are in doubt, just go with the lesser one.

  • Reply April 29, 2011

    Anonymous

    Just received my MS2 10 minutes ago and I am surprised I have to turn my volume control up from 9 o clock to 11 0 clock to drive the same headphones (HD600), compared to my last DAC. Everything else is the same (source, amp, cables etc). Why would this be? It’s just a signal that’s coming out of the DAC.

    • Reply April 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, different DACs have different level of line signals. That’s what causing the volume dofferences.

      • Reply September 2, 2012

        carsten nielsen

        My old man, who made amazing 25 W speakers to his old B&O system and represents the grey gold group of oldings. He says, that the equipment gotta match/fit toghether, it was made to be used for a given set of speaker with a given amplifier and tape/LP player as the system is based on matchability…!

    • Reply September 2, 2012

      carsten nielsen

      That gotta make more disturbance/distortion in the music?!

  • Reply May 8, 2011

    Anonymous

    Would you happen to have some high resolution pictures available of the PCB pictures on page one of this article? I’d love to study them more closely!

    • Reply May 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi,

      Sorry I don’t think I can post that for you.

  • Reply May 10, 2011

    Anonymous

    Hi again
    I just purchased the HRT Music Streamer II so I figured I’d do this myself; take some high resolution images of the print board.
    I’m attaching pictures of the PCB of the front and back with a resolution of about 3 MP. Note that this is the newer version of the Music Streamer II. The oval version, with the LEDs next to the USB in. It seems to be called “Revision 5”.

    Cheers!

    • Reply May 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      The image attachment feature didn’t seem to work that well, so I’ve uploaded them to megaupload.com:

      http://www.megaupload.com/?d=URFTNE4M
      (I’m not sure if there are any better sites to upload images to)
      Enjoy!

  • Reply May 30, 2011

    lee730

    Hey Mike do you think I should get the HRT streamer II insted of the II+? I currently use Dennon AHD 5000, Sennheiser IE7/IE8. I would use the HRT with my Fiio E9 amp as I hear that work great with the Streamer II.

    • Reply May 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hmm.. depends on your budget, Lee.. both are awesome for the price that
      they sell for.

      • Reply September 2, 2012

        carsten nielsen

        Really, how big is the diff. I mean, I need for audiobooks, thats gotta be listenable, as perception is the key.
        I need a 2. DAC and MST II+ could be an option, but is it a lot diff. from MST II?

  • Reply August 14, 2011

    Grelaz

    Does The Music Streamer II make a good dac for the Schiit Asgard?  Considering buying both the streamer and the asgard.

    • Reply August 15, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes I think it does. HRT II + Schiit Asgard makes a very good $400 set up.

  • Reply August 18, 2011

    Brosekind

    will the hrt work well with jds lab cmoy?

    • Reply August 18, 2011

      Anonymous

      Sure it will.

    • Reply August 18, 2011

      DodgersKings323

      Good question because i just bought a CMoy!

  • Reply August 30, 2011

    Anonymous

    Audinst added features of dent does matter, ultimately. That can not predict the complete superior is just a alive the dent it uses, as there are many variables in the architecture of circuits.

  • Reply September 4, 2011

    Will

    Hi Mike, is there any shop in Indonesia selling this hrt ms2?or online ordering is the only way? Thx

    • Reply September 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Online is the only way.

    • Reply September 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Online is the only way.

  • Reply October 26, 2011

    acquiecse

    Hey Mike, I’ve been looking around for the hrt online, and is it me or did hrt update the shape of the stream II? Seems flatter now.

    • Reply October 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes they made changes to the enclosure, and I think they added a few LEDs as well.

  • Reply October 28, 2011

    UL

    The OVAL Streamer II+ is supposed to be MUCH better than the trapezoid one.  At least per Kevin, the CEO of HRT in our communications.  He did not claim just a small improvement but a huge improvement.  Anyone compared the two?

    • Reply October 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      No I haven’t compared it. I was under the impression that there is only small changes, one of it being the sample rate indicator.

    • Reply September 2, 2012

      carsten nielsen

      Man, I kicked my MST II Oval to live recently this week only and speculated if I had missed something as there seemingly is 2 verisons, flat and pyramidalike. Mine, oval, rocks though!

  • Reply November 4, 2011

    Akiduki Xue

    Thanks for the review, good job Mike!
    I’m currently owning a DT880-600ohm and a K701, and I’m currently using Schiit Valhalla amp. I’m looking to get a DAC (around $200 budget), do you think MSII is a good match? How about Audinst MX1?

    I’m using DT880 for classic music heavily on CD, but for computer, I mainly listen pop or newage.

    Thanks!

    • Reply November 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Akiduki,
      Go with the HRT and skip the Audinst since you already have an amp (the Valhalla). The Audinst is good if you don’t have an amp, but DAC performance wise the HRT is better than the Audinst.

      • Reply November 4, 2011

        Akiduki Xue

        Thanks Mike, I’m wondering whether the HRT is bright or dark comparing to Audinst. In classic music, I prefer the bright characteristic of DT880 pairing with the Valhalla. But I think for pop I need a little bit more punchy bass and less treble, in order to compensate DT880.

        • Reply November 5, 2011

          Anonymous

          The HRT, similar to the Audinst, leans more to a dark sound.

          Are you sure you still want a bright sounding DAC? Most DACs are neutral to dark, I’ve yet to find one that’s bright.

          • Reply November 5, 2011

            Akiduki Xue

            OK, thanks again Mike.
            No, I need a dark sound DAC to compensate my DT880 for pop. So the HRT seems to be a best bet.

            • Reply November 7, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yes the HRT would be good though I do think you still need a different headphone for pop.

            • Reply November 7, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yes the HRT would be good though I do think you still need a different headphone for pop.

            • Reply September 2, 2012

              carsten nielsen

              Dark is Audioengine D1 but flat in mids and more flat in highs!

          • Reply November 15, 2011

            Akiduki Xue

            yes, for pop I use K701. I generally listen a lot of female vocal pop.

          • Reply November 15, 2011

            Anonymous

            Akiduki,
            The K701 is usually a headphone for Jazz, not quite a headphone for Pop. But if you like it then I guess it’s okay.

  • Reply November 11, 2011

    Kanon

    Mike, have you heard V-DA, supposed to be very good value. I wonder how it compares to MS2 and MS2+

    • Reply November 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      V-DAC you mean? No I haven’t heard it.

  • Reply January 8, 2012

    James

    I have here in front of me both the HRT MS and MS+ and these things are TINY!!!! I thought I got jipped with miniatures or something… idk why but i just thought it was going to be bigger.

    anyways just some fyi. 

    • Reply January 9, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks James. The MS and MS+ are roughly the same size as the MS2 and MS2+ right?

  • Reply January 12, 2012

    John

    Excellent review Mike and by happy coincidence I just received my MS2 in the mail today.  I thought my laptop had a pretty good soundcard and I have used it with a Superlux Ha3d amp as my bedside setup because I like to AB headphones relaxing in bed (the Ha3d as you probably no has 3 headphone outs which makes it great for ABing).  I am happy to say the MS2 is a significant improvement for a mere $149.  My bedside table is getting a bit more cluttered but it is the sound that counts.  Keep up the great work Mike your contributions are much appreciated.

    • Reply January 12, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, glad you are enjoying it John.

  • Reply March 21, 2012

    Chad Hadley

    Hey Mike, what are your thoughts on other dac’s around the $150-200 price range that would be a worthy competitor with the music streamer and pair well with the asgard amp.  The reason I ask is that I had bought the music streamer a few weeks ago and have had nothing but problems getting it to work.  I was able to get it working for a week and in that week it was bliss.  I have returned the streamer because I am sick of wasting so much time on it.

    • Reply March 22, 2012

      Mike

      Chad,
      That sounds awful. I assume you get the new version (different case than the one I reviewed)?
      The second best DAC I’ve tried under $200 for now is the Audinst HUD MX-1: http://www.headfonia.com/audinst-hud-mx1-dac/

      • Reply September 2, 2012

        carsten nielsen

        So the new version is a flat case with round sides, right?!

    • Reply September 2, 2012

      carsten nielsen

      I think there aren’t any competitors. I just had the D1 home, got 4 out of 5 stars i what hifi. Then I bought the MST II, which got 5 out of 5 stars. But really, the D1 is big in the bass, but blurry in the rest and without nuances in the mid/highs. Whereas the MST Ii is bloddy fine all over, but without beeing big in the bass though.
      Americans are starting liking small cars too, so maybe the preferation for big bass on cost on fine nuances is on return in USA?!
      Nature like energyconsumazionminimizationing, using the least amount of energy possible that is, and as this has only one USB and 2 phono out, all is used and non is unused and energy is beeing used at optimal levels. MST II rocks!

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Lucca Cecin

    Mike, is the MS2 a significant improvment towards the FiiO E7, mine is burned and I don’t think the guarantee will work, so I’m thinking in buying it(the ms2), I will use it with a LD MKIII + HD600.

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Mike

      Lucca,
      The MS2 is a huge improvement from the E7.

      • Reply April 21, 2012

        Lucca Cecin

        Nice, but I don’t know if is worth to buy a U$100,00 model I’m considering buying an U$300 model, but I dont know if they are really worth the money, i’m considering DACs like bifrost, ms2+, etc. What do you think mike?

        • Reply April 23, 2012

          Mike

          Ahh.. these worth the money questions are always hard to answer. 😉

          I’m a reviewer so for me source quality is very evident and I’ll always try to get the best source.. but I know some people who can’t seem to hear a difference. So, I really can’t tell you what to do here. 🙂

  • Reply June 15, 2012

    boonh

    Hi Mike, nice to see this article!
    I wonder which system matches Ultrasone Pro900 better: 1. HUD-MX1; 2. HUD-MX1+Little dot I+; 3. HRT MS2+Little dot I+?

    Thanks for the advice.

    • Reply June 15, 2012

      Mike

      I’m not sure about the Little Dot 1 part. I think the HUD-MX1 alone is good for the Pro900. The HRT MS2 is a better DAC than the HUD, but you need to find a different amp.

      • Reply June 15, 2012

        boonh

        Thanks for reply!
        I just read another article about Matrix M-stage in your website. And I found you used HRT MS2 with Matrix M-stage, do you think this combination suits Pro900 well? How is it compared with HUD-MX1 alone?

        • Reply June 15, 2012

          Mike

          The M-Stage, I honestly have never used it with the HUD-MX1, but the M-Stage is a much more powerful amplifier. Still, the Pro900 is not that difficult to drive so Im not sure if you’ll gain much from the M-Stage’s power output.

  • Reply June 19, 2012

    Stephen Loke

    Hey Mike,

    Can this DAC work in a portable rig with an Ipod Classic and a JDSlabs C421? Or must it be on a computer system?

    Thanks.

    • Reply June 19, 2012

      Trent_D

      Computer, USB DAC only.

      • Reply June 20, 2012

        Mike

        What Trent said. Thanks, Trent.

  • Reply June 29, 2012

    Rogier Schreurs

    Brought mine back yesterday, when I first used it I was completely baffled; how could my room be filled with so much different sounds? Sounded pretty amazing through my E11 and DT990 too… But after a week I noticed that somehow the flow was missing in my listening experience. It was waaay to analytical, musicality seemed to have had left my sound completely.
    So yesterday I rigged it up with some Musical Fidelity amps in the Hifi store and it was the same ball game. And it wasn’t just the headphones either, I’ve tried the set up with HD 600, 650, 700 and 800, some grados and nothing happened for me. And when i switched to de Dacmagic Plus everything dropped into place, especially with my own DT990.
    Too bad though I really liked the idea, portability and the level of detail on the Streamer. Gonna save up for a Dacmagic (Plus), it somehow does miracles with every aspect of the sound in my Beyers.

    • Reply June 30, 2012

      Mike

      I don’t know what’s wrong with the set up, but I think the HRT are among the most musical sounding DACs I’ve listened to.
      But hey, if you don’t find it to be good then just go with your ears.

      • Reply July 1, 2012

        Rogier Schreurs

        Haha, well something’s probably wrong with my ears, seeing i find the HD 800 one of the most boring set of cans ever. But I will indeed go with your advice and stick with what my gut tells me. By the way I don’t know if anyone here listens to Jamiroquai, but it’s one of my main three artists that i listen to. The thing is that I can’t seem to be able to find any good headphone-amp-dac combo’s on which it sounds as good as it does out of my speakers…

        • Reply July 2, 2012

          Ken Stuart

          What are the other two artists ?

          • Reply October 18, 2012

            Rogier Schreurs

            George Michael and Simply Red 😉

            • Reply October 19, 2012

              Ken Stuart

              You need to explore more !

              • Reply October 29, 2012

                Rogier Schreurs

                Explore?

                • Reply October 29, 2012

                  Ken Stuart

                  Music and musical genres.
                  1920s Jazz, 1960s Blues, 1990s Techno, 18th Century Classical. For starters.
                  Not that I don’t like those three artists, I do.

                  • Reply November 1, 2012

                    Rogier Schreurs

                    My music collection covers everything mentioned above ;), the only things I don’t listen to is Hardcore and many of the relatively new artist don’t seem to get on the right side of my judgement. I just mean that these are the three artists that are the core for me, I always fall back on them after a while they sort of haunt all my playlists haha.

                    • September 6, 2014

                      Rogier Schreurs

                      Would like to mention I’ve had an HRT Microstreamer for over a year now. And it’s like peas and carrots together with my Musical fidelity X-Can V8P and DT990 250Ω’s. I can’t for the love of me figure out why I didn’t like the MS II and do like this one so much, when it’s said that they’re basically the same internally.

        • Reply September 2, 2012

          carsten nielsen

          Maybe because on the stereospeakers (ext.), the sound is interactive with objects in the room and so making the digital sound analouge vs. direct analouge converted from digital (even when converted in a DAC) going into ones ears directly from the headpone speakers without worldly influence.
          In my opinion, digital can never become truely as analouge, once the cont. is broken, it cannot be restored. The best DAC will never be able to reach the qual. of my cassetteplayer Beocord 5000! It is truly amazing listening to this system with Beowox 5000!

          • Reply September 2, 2012

            NubTAM94

            Okay you can stop spamming and bragging about how great cassettes are. The reproduction of digital to analogue has been debated over and over again, and I’m pretty sure it is why we have something called “lossless” file formats I believe, don’t you think so?

            • Reply October 9, 2012

              carsten nielsen

              You know what the greatest thing is? They are dirt cheap in orig. good qual!
              How can loosless ever restore a process that was dynamical. Once nature is punked up, we may plant threes and clean water, but evolutions harmonic, dynamic presence is gone!
              By the way, I use cassettes as a reference guide only now, just to remember how stuff are to sound, my B&O does not have autoreverse and that is a bitch!

              • Reply October 9, 2012

                Nick Tam

                But cassettes are disappearing obviously. Yes digital could never fully reproduce the glorious sound of true analog, but we just have to get as close as we could. But at the same time, cassettes may or may not be technically superior, but it is that warm analog sound about them that makes them more preferable choice over digital.

                • Reply October 10, 2012

                  carsten nielsen

                  I am not sure you are entirely right.
                  “The man” writes:
                  “But after a week I noticed that somehow the flow was missing in my listening experience. It was waaay to analytical, musicality seemed to have had left my sound completely.”This tells me, that the continioutivity that are supposed to flow (in the unsubconsiously reference that one relate to), is too clearly not flowing when the DAC is good.OK, there can be preferences, but if one is to listen closely, one will find, that the MST II+ is warmer, but allso more muddled, much more muddeld as a matter of fact, and this is what I find, makes II+ more “warm” or flowing as the analyticalness here is more or less gone but so is detail. It is actually quite muddling to a point where, I am thinking of returning it as it is kind of more effective to listen to HRT MST II for audiobooks, but then again, it is “warmer” and hits ones emotions deeper so, it seems.
                  I think it is the continious unbroken flow that is wanted, rather than the warmth, which for me seems like an indicator of the contious unbroken flowING. And this can be manipulated with, making us paying big bucks for a better faked copyversion of reality.

                  • Reply October 10, 2012

                    Nick Tam

                    I do use the HRT MS2+. I’m not quite experiencing the overly warm as described here…

                  • Reply October 18, 2012

                    Rogier Schreurs

                    I believe it has something to do with the way in which my DT990 reproduces the high-low and high frequencies. some sounds are being emphasized this way and probably Jamiroquai music becomes a bit sibilant because of the amount of percussion in their music and also too bass heavy since the bass is mixed in quite thick. Likewise it might be that the sound signature of the MSII throws the frequencies further off balance.

                    • October 18, 2012

                      carsten nielsen

                      Well, according to my theory above described just now, then DAC’ed signal can be warm on expense of detail and sharpness will probably never be found with deep bass?!

                    • November 1, 2012

                      Rogier Schreurs

                      You mean that it’s either warm OR sharp and rich in bass?

                • Reply October 18, 2012

                  carsten nielsen

                  I belive, that “warmth” is a descriptive analogy, that can be used to define something, but it is impossible to 100% describe the undescribeble (analouge without words), which is why “warmth” is only a reconstruction of something comparable to analog signal. We need to look through and grasp the entire picture and see, that warmt, when decreasing sharpness and detail, CAN be muddleing sound (HRT II+ very much so I find).

                  • Reply October 19, 2012

                    Mike

                    Thanks, Carsten.

      • Reply September 2, 2012

        carsten nielsen

        I think, i am diggin it. He means, that he does not get carried through his musical experience. I think, that when observing music as an interactive process, the listener beeing needed to look into the diff. aspects to find musical likeness, then one will find, that “open” neutral is as close as you get to analouge. I listen to cassette tape, old audiobooks and music on my B&O system. Here the MST II is the closest you get for small money. The tapes still rule and run in my system, but 2. prio and for cont. play over several hours, MST II is a good alt.

  • Reply September 2, 2012

    carsten nielsen

    So, if changing the 1793 in my newbought MST II to a 1794, I got a winner?!

    • Reply September 3, 2012

      Mike

      Not sure if you can plug and play the 1794.

      • Reply October 11, 2012

        carsten nielsen

        Thanks, but if testing this out, first on another cheaper Aune version, I can just go back and – again – replace the 1794 with the orig. 1793 and so get same set up as original, if not working or ….?!

        • Reply October 11, 2012

          Mike

          Sorry, what do you mean?

          • Reply October 18, 2012

            carsten nielsen

            I was talking changing chip from PCM1793 to -74 as in II+, would do the job. But I found out, that the legs are entirely different aligned reg. their jobs, so it is not psosible to change chip!

            • Reply October 19, 2012

              Mike

              Yes, thanks for checking out the legs alignment.

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