HRT Music Streamer II review

If you specifically want a USB only DAC, then the HRT Music Streamer II is an ideal product – it's small, solid and sounds perfectly balanced Tested at £150

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Best DAC up to £200, Awards 2011. If you're after a USB only DAC, then this is a great buy


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    Ultra simple design

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    beautifully detailed, dynamic and precise sound

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    Not as flexible as something like the DacMagic

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 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, 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.

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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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.

Read more about how we test