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Kevin's single-tasking Streamer II+ aims for the next level up. That's not $3.995 Resonessence Labs Invicta or $1.495 Wyred4Sound DAC2 turf. It's about being mo betta than the slurry of cheap slave-mode USB DACs with noisy SMPS warts which presently flood the market. That's price talk. Performance talk at HRT is drastically more ambitious however. But c'mon, really, could this USB-powered mini compete against <$3K contenders?

The extrusion's side walls were rather thicker than expected.

In the spirit of friendly duelling as set up by Kevin's email, I had a few challengers. I had the $349 NuForce Icon2 and $449 HDP. In the general vicinity perhaps—impossible to predict since it's so much more than just a DAC—I had Simon Lee's $2.595 April Music Aura Note Premier. Then the $950 Burson DA-160 also on review. The $1.849 Bel Canto C5i on my desktop was out. It converts all analog signal to apply digital attenuation. The €3.495 Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold with Voltikus as a very current 'designer DAC' option was my costliest comparator for these purposes. Where would the HRT fit in?

The Streamer II+ receives USB data with the TAS1020B transceiver. D/A conversion is via BB PCM1794. Two 78L05A regulate voltage. Then there's a 24C64WP CMOS Eeprom chip and at the analog outputs three OPA1612A with bipolar inputs from Texas Instruments.

The rest is Kevin Halverson's secret. A single PCB now handles the lot (last year's taller angular predecessor piggybacked a smaller secondary board). Plugging in the wooden-jacket Entreq Konstantin USB leash resulted in immediate signal lock. Switching PureMusic's player software for Mac to different sampling rates tracked without a hitch and switched the yellow light to the appropriate position. Hitting play produced instant sound. No install conniptions. Joy. For those who want it more complicated, HRT's support page has the answers. One man's joy is another man's yawn of course. What would it all sound like?