I unpacked the HRT streamer II, there is a picture of it in the box and it is different than the actual unit. The picture is angular, and this one is rounded. That confused the crap out of me when I was looking to buy one. There's another picture on the front of the box that is the same one as I have and says HRT Streamer II as well, so who knows. It did not come with a USB cable, so I pulled the one off of my printer.
Installation was a breeze. I plugged into my desktop, and it immediately installed successfully as 'Music Streamer II'. I went into sounds and tested the device on 16Bit 32k, 44.1k, 48k, 88k2, and 96k and 24bit 44.1k, 48k, and 96k - everything went well.
The device is much smaller than I had anticipated, it measures 5.5 inches from the tip of the RCA outs and it's about 2.5 inches wide. This would be ideal for laptop use. It is solidly built, I would not be worried about the device being damaged if I traveled with it. The fit and finish is just alright, there are gaps in between the rubber rings around the RCA outputs and the metal cover.
I was hoping to A/B this unit with my Monitor Audio speakers that I am used to, but I broke one of the tweeters. So, now I have a pair of Tyler Acoustics Monitors that I got from Trey (thanks, man!).
First I used Silver IC's to connect the dac to the pre.... BIG MISTAKE. speakers sounded like ASS. Everything was so incredibly harsh that I could not stand it. I changed it out with the only other copper cable I have at hand... some $.02 thing that came with a cheapo dvd player. Much better. Need to invest in some cable.
So now the setup looks like:
JRiver WSAPI>HRT Streamer II>Aragon 24k>Adcom 5800>Tyler Monitors
On another input I have my Creative Audigy 2 ZS sound card connected directly to the pre.
First I warmed everything up on some random music.. ben folds, soco, counting crows... I wasn't really listening.
I started the A/B with Ben Folds - Emaline at around 75db
I went back and forth four times with this one.... if there is a difference it is really subtle. I can't give a nod either way on this one.
Next up, Pixies - Here Comes Your Man
Again, extremely close. I might give the nod to the sound card.
Next, Bright Eyes - Lua
Difficult to tell
Soul Asylum - Black Gold
Again, if I had to distinguish these two devices, it would be impossible.
I tried to play a 24/192 track and had no success on the HRT, it obviously doesn't support it... my sound card had no problem with this track.
I will continue to listen to the HRT as I get used to the Tylers. I might also do an A/B with my laptop... but at first glance, the HRT does not seem to outperform my sound card.