• HRT Music Streamer II
Our Verdict 
Best DAC up to £200, Awards 2011. If you're after a USB only DAC, then this is a great buy
Ultra simple design
beautifully detailed, dynamic and precise sound
Not as flexible as something like the DacMagic
Reviewed on

If the acronym HRT made you think of Hormone Replacement Therapy, let us to introduce you to High Resolution Technologies, a USB DAC specialist.

The Music Streamer II, available through audiofreaks.co.uk, is its most affordable model, yet it's good enough to make the average laptop sound like proper hi-fi.

Take a look at the input end of the device and there are two clues as  to what makes the HRT special.

The first is that there are lights labelled with frequencies from 32k to 96k, indicating that unlike some rivals, the Music Streamer II can handle 24-bit files at 96kHz through USB

The second is the text saying 'asynchronous USB', which shows that it takes charge of clock duties when connected to your computer.

More after the break

Simply plug your computer into the USB connection on one end, connect your hi-fi using the analogue outputs on the other, and the small but solid HRT handles the digital-to-analogue conversion.

And it does so in serious style. Playing The Far Road from The Road soundtrack, the sound is precise and fluid.

The leading edges of notes are terrifically well-defined, but they degrade with organic subtlety and realism. Detail and dynamics are exceptional, revealing every nuance in the haunting recording.

It's simply a perfectly balanced, bold and beautiful delivery, and for a DAC costing just £150, that's an incredible feat.

Sure, if you've got multiple sources that need converting, something like the Cambridge Audio DacMagic might serve you better, but if you're after a USB-only DAC, this is a great buy.

MORE: Best DAC to buy in 2014


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