High Resolution Technologies HeadStreamer review

Want better sound from your laptop or PC? Buy one of these Tested at £145

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The HeadStreamer is a great upgrade for those who want better sound from their computer


  • +

    Impressive combination of insightful, entertaining sound

  • +

    small size and light weight


  • -

    Output limited to headphones

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

If your music system consists of a computer and a pair of headphones, HRT's HeadStreamer could well be just the product you need.

Your £145 buys a well-finished little box that contain a mini USB input and 3.5mm headphone output.

The former is asynchronous, which means the DAC controls the flow of data rather than the computer – resulting in a more-accurate sound. Power is accepted via USB, so this is a truly portable device.

Apart from a series of LEDs indicating the sampling rate of the input signal – the HeadStreamer's high-resolution support is limited to 24bit/96kHz recordings – there's nothing else of note to mention.

Amazing sonic performance
The story is rather different when it comes to performance. In this respect, the HeadStreamer is something of a sonic superstar. Compared with the output of our Apple MacBook, the HRT delivers a sound of significantly more insight and purity.

Where the laptop delivers a relatively hard and edgy presentation with the likes of Bon Iver's Perth, the HeadStreamer finds extra doses of space, refinement and detail.

Move onto the likes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony or Jay Z's D.O.A. (Death of Autotune) and the HRT's advantage becomes even more apparent, with its more varied dynamics and better defined leading edges. The ability to convey rhythms improves, too.

When you put it all together, the HeadStreamer makes an awful lot
of sense. If you add a decent pair of headphones, such as Grado's SR80is (£110) or AKG's K450s (£100), Award-winners both, you have a terrific sound system
for a very sensible amount of money.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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