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  1. #1

    HRT Music Streamer II compared to Audioengine D1

    Hello,

    I had created a topic for advice on a budget DAC. In the end I had a Music Streamer II (basic) brought from Germany, it arrived today.

    I haven't even plugged it in yet so it's probably too early for buyer's remorse but I would like to ask if anyone has opinions regarding the Music Streamer II (basic) versus the Audioengine D1. They are similarly priced, and both received very good reviews.

    I would have had to wait a few more weeks to buy the D1 from Turkey and didn't have any more patience. Both would probably cost the same (but the D1 would be under warranty in Turkey).

    I won't have the chance to test the Audioengine D1 at home with the same system, so I would like to ask for your advice to form a general opinion about how the two compare and what their sound characteristics are like. I hope the Music Streamer II will satisfy me (I'm aware it's an entry level DAC) so I won't be left wondering if the D1 would have been a better choice.

    Thanks in advance, and sorry if these "entry level" DAC's are a bit boring to talk about.. (I tend to become obsessed over electronic stuff, so also sorry if the topic itself looks weird since I didn't even listen to the HRT yet.)

  2. #2

    HRT Music Streamer II compared to Audioengine D1

    The HRT Streamer II is an EXCELLENT DAC and while have not heard the D1, I'd venture to guess, without any hesitation, that the HRT Streamer II is the SUPERIOR DAC. A better comparison to the D1 would be the HRT Headstreamer, which would VERY likely also be a superior DAC/AMP. HRT is a top notch brand with amazing support at that!

  3. #3

    Listening to Music Streamer II

    Hello,

    Thank you for the message. I also read many good things regarding HRT's lineup, and did not hesitate before ordering the Music Streamer II. I installed it at the end of last week and have listened about 3-4 hours from it.

    That said, I could not find the noticeable increase in quality I had been hoping for. When I first plugged it to my computer I had to use a very low-quality cable for a few minutes, during which it sounded very weird, then went out to buy a "common" cable (claims to be gold-plated). Now the sound is better - better than the onboard output of my iMac, with some more detail, and a bit more "body" to the sound. Still, it's not noticeably more "fun" to listen to, the bass does not have more presence, and in the first day of listening it was a bit fatigueing.

    Do you think it will get better with burn-in? Should I get a better quality cable (like, 30-40 $)? Could using a very poor cable, originally intended for video and mono output from a dSLR camera, for 10 minutes or so have damaged the DAC? Or plugging it to USB and disconnecting for a few times while the computer was on? (I heard a faint "bump" from speakers each time it got plugged in, probably normal, and I did not notice a change in sound after these.)

    Or did I have my expectations too high? I knew I was not going to get the sound quality of a 400 $ DAC; but still, I'm underwhelmed so far.. I'm hoping it will get better with a few days of burn-in.

  4. #4

    What is the rest of your system?

    You do not need to spend extra on USB cable especially with the HRT DACs which are both asynchronous and have a galvanic power isolation (i.e. minimum "inaudible" noise"). What is your DAC plugged into? There may be other components in the chain that are the "weak" link.

  5. #5
    Señor Member Jud's Avatar
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    Wait for burn-in

    I've only had two DACs in the past 20+ years, and I thought they both improved significantly with burn-in. Give the DAC a chance before you start getting all obsessive over whether you made the "right" choice.

    I put "right" in quotes, because when can you be absolutely certain you've eliminated every other choice in the world that might possibly be a little bit better for around the same price? You can't. So my advice would be to stop thinking of this as some sort of equipment competition, and simply see whether you enjoy listening to your music after the DAC has had a chance to burn in for 100 hours or so. If you do, great, you made the right choice.
    The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein
    One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

    MacBook Pro w/SSD, music and Audirvana Plus on RAMdisks -> Mapleshade Clearlink USB Plus -> Semi-customized DAC (for detail see http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/jud/ ) -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature. Cabling: Omega Mikro/Mapleshade

  6. #6

    Rest of the system - Burn-in

    Dear bulmanxxi and Jud, thanks for the replies.

    The DAC is plugged into an iMac (2010), with a budget USB cable (Nuforce Impulse). I know this cable is not going to make a big difference (it may not make any difference at all with an asynchronous and galvanically isolated DAC) but it would be difficult to find something like that in Turkey and it didn't cost a lot anyway.

    On the output side it's connected through a "2x RCA to 1x 3,5" cable to Audioengine A5 speakers. It's this cable I'm worried about; I couldn't find a better cable in the mall that evening so I bought one that cost around $10. As software and source I'm using iTunes, under MacOS, with 44,1/16 files ripped from CD's. Audio/MIDI setup is set to 44,1/24 and the 44,1 light is on on the DAC. Maybe I should give Audirvana a try.

    This is the first DAC I have ever had, so I didn't know what kind of improvement I can expect with burn-in. When I look at my message again it does look a bit "panicked" and, well, a bit like a whine. :/ I'll keep listening for a few weeks and see how things change. In the meanwhile I could look for a better interconnect (correct?) cable.

    I think spending years in computer hardware forums and comparing benchmarks etc. of new products makes it easy for me to fall for "equipment comparison". By the way, I'm also quite an obsessive person, so there's always something to worry about for me!

    Thanks again for the replies, I'll give it more time to burn-in. If you see any "weak links" in the setup, please let me know.

  7. #7

    Well, the answer to your

    Well, the answer to your "bass" problem is quite simple then - the A5 simply do not reach that low (they are quite overrated anyway - you'd do much better with KRK, M-Studio or Behringer and CHEAPER too). If you are looking for more bass, you would need either a sub or a new set of speakers. The DAC and the cable are not the issue here.

  8. #8

    Regarding the bass

    Hello,

    Well the bass is not a primary concern - from what I read online most people who switched to an external DAC experienced deeper bass and more sparkling treble, that's why I thought I would mention this. In my case, the treble is a bit better but the bass is the same. I'd appreciate a bit "tighter" bass but I'm not particularly interested in "bassy" music. Plus, I live in an apartment.

    I spent a long time looking for the speakers. First I considered "monitor" types but then, after recommendations, bought the A5's. I'm mostly pleased with them - they're much better than the "computer speakers" I was accustomed to. I'll ask around more the next time I will upgrade speakers.

    By the way, I'm not good at audiophile descriptions of sound, but the music does appear to have a bit more presence and "air" to it now. I hope the sound continues to evolve with burn-in.

  9. #9

    No DAC will "fix" the limitations of your speakers

    You can spend $10,000 on a DAC if you'd like but it won't do anything to make your speakers sound better than their actual capability. If you want better sound, you need new speakers or at least a sub. I use Behringer B3031A without a sub. Even the B3030A would still sound great. KRKs are also known for their "bassy" and "punchy" performance but they are not "airy". Have you considered headphones?

  10. #10
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    Have to agree with one of the

    Have to agree with one of the previous posters, the A5's are the weak link and are not capable of fully showing up the differences between dacs.
    The A5's are mainly for the ipod generation.
    If you want audiophile quality active speakers then you need to spend a fair bit more.
    Mac Mini>Chevron Audio Sabre UV player/Dac>Chevron Audio Paradox Pre>Leema Hydra 2>Leema Xavier speakers.

  11. #11
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    Software?

    What is your playback software? (sorry if I missed it)

    Straight iTunes?

    You will need Pure Music or one of the others to get decent sound.

    That will make a huge difference over the straight iTunes.
    Regards,[br]Rob McCance[br]Audiophile, Engineer for Cadence Design Systems, and Founder of Atlanta Real Estate Info[br]Mac Mini w/ Pure Music+iTunes>>Audiophilleo2>>Metrum Octave>>Passive Attenuator>>GFA555II>>JBL6332

  12. #12

    Not with the A5s

    Any software player won't do much to fix the shortcomings of the A5 either. New speakers or headphones are the key to a noticeably better sound.

  13. #13
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    Sorry but PM would be a total

    Sorry but PM would be a total waste of money in the OP's system.
    If you want something a bit better than iTunes then get BitPerfect from the App store for a few pounds.
    Mac Mini>Chevron Audio Sabre UV player/Dac>Chevron Audio Paradox Pre>Leema Hydra 2>Leema Xavier speakers.

  14. #14
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    There are a few audioengine

    There are a few audioengine skeptics on this thread but then what good is an audiophile discussion unless someone takes the time to diss products that other people like? The A-5s are not the weak link in your system given that they run all of $300. You can get better but you have to pay more; they are very enjoyable and the sound is good.
    Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)
    Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)
    Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)
    IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

  15. #15
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    Not with the A5s

    So he should update his A5s (whatever those are) and send the new equipment bad straight-iTunes sound?

    Sounds like a plan.
    Regards,[br]Rob McCance[br]Audiophile, Engineer for Cadence Design Systems, and Founder of Atlanta Real Estate Info[br]Mac Mini w/ Pure Music+iTunes>>Audiophilleo2>>Metrum Octave>>Passive Attenuator>>GFA555II>>JBL6332

  16. #16

    A5s and price

    To the contrary, there are cheaper and BETTER options. Like M-Audio bx5a for example. But the Behringers Truth with ribbon tweeter will be even better at about the same price. So higher cost doesn't determine better sound, this has been well covered and plenty.

    As for the software, it will not make as a dramatic difference as a new set of speakers or the addition of a sub.

  17. #17
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    Sorry but PM would be a total

    Sorry but PM would be a total waste of money in the OP's system.

    If you believe that you have never personally run iTunes naked, then run iTunes with Pure Music into ANY downstream equipment.

    Night and day.

    BitPerfect probably gives similar results. Anything to bypass the Apple CoreAudio Engine.

    There are also other choices. I suppose those are a "waste of money" as well.

    You're not a rooob, you're a n00b

    ha ha!
    Regards,[br]Rob McCance[br]Audiophile, Engineer for Cadence Design Systems, and Founder of Atlanta Real Estate Info[br]Mac Mini w/ Pure Music+iTunes>>Audiophilleo2>>Metrum Octave>>Passive Attenuator>>GFA555II>>JBL6332

  18. #18
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    For what its worth I run PM

    For what its worth I run PM into £1500 dac, I also have BitPerfect.
    I know they are both better than plain iTunes but the differences are subtle and a decent dac/amp/speakers are required to fully appreciate the differences.
    Mac Mini>Chevron Audio Sabre UV player/Dac>Chevron Audio Paradox Pre>Leema Hydra 2>Leema Xavier speakers.

  19. #19
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    "To the contrary, there are

    "To the contrary, there are cheaper and BETTER options. Like M-Audio bx5a for example. But the Behringers Truth with ribbon tweeter will be even better at about the same price. So higher cost doesn't determine better sound, this has been well covered and plenty."

    As for the software, it will not make as a dramatic difference as a new set of speakers or the addition of a sub.


    Small point: this is nice example of a complete waste of time. But if it makes you happy to rip equipment that other people use and enjoy, by all means go for it. Have fun and enjoy the music.
    Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)
    Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)
    Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)
    IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

  20. #20

    Night and Day with PM??

    You are joking, right?? It's a subtle difference at best. And the A5 are not going to show much of it anyway. This is NOT the question raised in the original thread anyway. Don't go recomending Chakhta stones or whatever they are called next for a Winter/Summer difference... Gimme a break... The speakers can only do what the speakers can do no matter what you feed them. For better sound, better speakers or adding a sub is the FIRST step. All else should follow but the difference becomes much less incremental and sometimes even worse if you believe all the snake oil theories around...

    This is not a software thread. Keep it that way.

  21. #21
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    Pure Music

    Pure Music was a huge difference on this end. That's all I can tell ya.

    Straight iTunes was thin, dimensionless and practically un-listen-to-able.

    PM fixed all that.

    He can try PM for FREE for 15 days and try it himself. So what's all the emotions about.

    You people need to chill.


    Regards,[br]Rob McCance[br]Audiophile, Engineer for Cadence Design Systems, and Founder of Atlanta Real Estate Info[br]Mac Mini w/ Pure Music+iTunes>>Audiophilleo2>>Metrum Octave>>Passive Attenuator>>GFA555II>>JBL6332

  22. #22
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    Jeez (bangs head on wall)We

    Jeez (bangs head on wall)
    We know PM is better than plain iTunes but the OP would need some better speakers/amps to fully appreciate the differences, the same with his new dac.
    Mac Mini>Chevron Audio Sabre UV player/Dac>Chevron Audio Paradox Pre>Leema Hydra 2>Leema Xavier speakers.

  23. #23

    Everything matters

    I believe all the issues above in conjunction cause the problem, and not just any single of them. As pretty much everything in hi-fi, what you hear is how your system performs overall, and if there are limitations in it one will rarely sense any significant improvement by inserting a new, even a great, component.

    As was suggested, improve your music player first and check if you hear any difference. Pure Music will do a good job, and you can get demo, so no extra investments are needed to explore this option. Then, speakers - they are weak by all means. They are good in their price bracket though (300 USD for a set of active monitors), but they may well not be up to the task when you use HRT. Finally, what source files are you using? Lossy? If so, then nothing will really help materially.
    Main system: Music Server (Win 7/64+Foobar+JPlay) -> Furutech GT2 USB Cable -> Audiolab M-DAC -> Plinius 9200 (Chord Anthem interconnects) -> ATC SCM 40 w/Kimber Kable 8TC speaker cables

  24. #24
    Señor Member Jud's Avatar
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    Core Audio

    Slightly pedantic point:

    BitPerfect probably gives similar results. Anything to bypass the Apple CoreAudio Engine.


    The software players do make use of Core Audio. That is why, for example, the players don't offer Integer Mode on Lion: It isn't part of Core Audio on that OS.
    The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein
    One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

    MacBook Pro w/SSD, music and Audirvana Plus on RAMdisks -> Mapleshade Clearlink USB Plus -> Semi-customized DAC (for detail see http://www.computeraudiophile.com/blogs/jud/ ) -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature. Cabling: Omega Mikro/Mapleshade

  25. #25
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    I have and HRT MSII

    I am auditioning DACS for both my main system and my work system. I have the HRT Music Streamer II hooked up to a pair of AudioEngine A2s, and it sounds pretty darn good. However, I am using cables that cost as much as the HRT Music Streamer, and I do think they make a big difference. I have also auditioned a YULONG D100 and it did sound better, but I don't know if it's $300 better. I just bought a Schiit Bifrost to test as well and I can report on my findings. I also plan on buying an AudioEngine D1 to compare.

    (BTW, neither the Schiit nor the Yulong sound good in my main system, so I am still searching...)

    Long and short, to my ears HRT + AudioEngine makes good music. But spend money on good cables! They matter!

    P.S. I am quite happy with the AudioEngine A2s as near-field monitors. They took about a month or more to burn in, but they sound amazing now (especially for $199 speakers). And, before anyone flames me, my home system is quite dialed in, so I do have something to compare them to).


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