HRT microStreamer – Review

One of my friends insisted on making me listen to this little device, so he lent it to me for some time. It’s been a while now since I’ve had it. Sorry man, it was your fault you gave me such a nice product.

When I saw it for the first time, I was very skeptical it would impress me in any way, as it seemed too small to achieve that. As you may imagine, you haven’t read this intro if I wouldn’t have been impressed.

Intro and Specifications

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It is incredibly small (6.3 cm x 3.04 cm x 1 cm), almost the size of Audioquest Dragonfly, or a normal usb stick.

The build quality shows to be very sturdy as it has a strong aluminium enclosure.

I will enumerate some of the features even if there isn’t much to say in this department.

One of the most interesting features is that you can use it as dac/amp directly with your phone/tablet.

  • it is Asynchronous to eliminate jitter
  • it is USB powered
  • 24 bit capable
  • Plug and play using standard audio class 1.0 drivers
  • one line out stereo input & one 3.5 headphone jack output
  • led lights indicating the sample rate: 32k, 44k1, 48k, 88k2 & 96k
  • digital volume control

Volume control of microStreamers OCL (output capacitor-less) headphone amplifier is accomplished by using the digital slide control on the host computers music playback software to adjust microStreamerss internal analog volume attenuator. This clever analogue attenuation arrangement allows the full audio quality of the microStreamer to remain pure, clean and full-ranged, avoiding the known sonic degradation of digital attenuators.

Listening impressions and Tests

The tests have been done with   Sennheiser HD800, Audeze LCD-X, Focal Spirit ClassicFocal Spirit One, NAD HP50, AKG K550, AKG K545, Focal Spirit One S, Sony Mdr-1R .

I’ve tried it with a variety of headphones and it was a good match for all of them. It really impressed me when I tried it with the big boys like LCD-X and HD800. With LCD-X it was amazing and with hd800 it was just good being at the limit with the amplification as I had to listen to almost 100% volume with it. Besides that , it managed to handle HD800 in a very decent way as the sound was musical and consistent on all frequencies, even in the bass area.

With LCD-X I used it at 50% volume, leaving a lot of wiggle room.

Pink Martini – Anna

The drums at the beginning entered strong showing no signs of shyness. They were well rounded, punchy and energetic. The voices were well textured, transparent and very present throughout the song. The imaging was good and the instruments were well separated. The energetic vibe of the song was very well reproduced & transmitted by the microstreamer.

Leonard Cohen – The Gypsy’s Wife

The guitars and the instruments were well reproduced with good spring attack and sparkle. Leonard’s voice was clean and well put into scene with good presence and natural tonality.

Gothart – Sirdes

The voice from the beginning really startled me. It was like it whispered directly in my ear. I almost felt the breath as the texture and detail of the voice were very good. The instruments had good impact and extension.

Coldplay – Till Kingdome Come

The midrange on the microstreamer is excellent. I loved everything from the very clean and textured voice to the well extended and detailed instruments. The voice was very transparent and it had a very natural tonality. The guitars had a strong attack followed by a well extended and natural decay.

Rodrigo and Gabriela – Hanuman

The voices in this song were just amazing. Just kidding, this song doesn’t have any voices, just some really fast and impactful guitars. The microstreamer did a great job in showing the explosive energy of this song. It just makes you tap and move while listening to this song.

Mozart Harpichord Concerto – Allegro

The imaging and separation of instruments showed another good point about the microstreamer. The harpichord and other instruments had a very tactile presence showing good upper midrange and treble. This song showed me that the microstreamer can handle classical music with the same amount of awesomeness it can handle rock, electronic, pop, etc

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Summary

Bass

The bass is very good here. It has great kick, speed and good depth. The punch and speed often gives a very energetic vibe to the song.

Midrange

The midrange is awesome on the microstreamer. I loved everything about it, from well textured and clean voices that had very good presence, to the well extended instruments.

Treble

The treble was well extended and had a very nice sparkle attached to it when it had to and never showed any signs of harshness with any headphone I’ve tested it.

Natural Tonality

I’ve noticed a very natural and pleasant way that the microstreamer presents the voices and instruments.

Transients

The attack on it is one of the best I’ve heard in portable gear. It’s fast and strong and it’s followed by an extended and natural decay.

Energetic sound 

The microstreamer is capable of very energetic sound. If the song wants to transmit energy, the microstreamer will deliver with ease, making you want to tap and dance along.

Transparency

The sound was very transparent, actually one of the most transparent sounds I’ve found in portable units.

Imaging and instrument separation

The imaging was good and and the instruments well separated from each other and the voices. It doesn’t have the same holographic and big soundstage as FiiO X5, but it is well rounded and natural sounding.

Conclusions

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This little amplifier really managed to impress me. It has a very pleasant and well rounded sound from any perspective you like to analyze it. It was fun and engaging with any song and genre I threw at it. While it was a walk in the park to drive my small headphones, it even managed to drive both LCD-X and HD800 (even if on the virge with HD800, it still sounded very well with it).

Actually, with LCD-X it was amazing showing very good synergy, making it more musical and enjoyable, but keeping a transparent and detailed sound.

Considering the price and performances it will go up my recommendation list for sure.

Pros

  • Very good bass with good speed, depth and strong punch
  • Awesome midrange with clean, well textured voices and well extended and detailed instruments
  • Present, full bodied, clean and natural voices
  • Natural sounding
  • Good transparency
  • Good imaging and instrument separation
  • Well rounded sound from top to bottom
  • Genre master
  • Small and portable
  • Good and sturdy build quality

Cons

  • wasn’t stable with kernel streaming
  • didn’t manage to make asio to work with it