Think of the Music Streamer II as a product that makes the music coming out of your computer sound as good as possible. Technically, the MS II is an external sound card for computers. To improve your computer's sound quality the MS II takes over the job of processing the digital music stream from the computer that is critical to producing great sound. While its cost is quite low, its performance is anything but.
Like other HRT products, set up and operation is super-easy: just take a good quality USB cable and hook the USB input of the MS II into any available USB port on the host computer. The MS II automatically performs an "electronic handshake" with the computer and tells it that the MS II is here, that it is to get all audio signals sent to it instead of the Digital-to-Analog converter (DAC) that is built into the computer, and that it, the MS II, is in charge of all data-transfer timing instructions. Then just use a good quality set of RCA interconnects to attach the output side of the MS II to any available line-level analog input on your integrated amplifier, preamp, receiver, or powered loudspeakers, which gives you a volume control. The MS II connected to a computer is the equivalent of a high quality CD player with a fixed 2.25V output that connects into a music system just like a CD player would through the right and left analog output jacks.
Now you are ready to stream some music, either directly by playing a disc through the computers optical drive, or read as a digital file from your computer's hard drive. You will literally never need a stand-alone CD player again to enjoy all the music in your CD collection in high quality sound. If you happen to have other higher-resolution files (up to 24bit/96k) stored on your HD, you can also play them in their full native resolution (no up-sampling).
The MS II provides full support for playback applications such as iTunes and Windows Media Player, as well as numerous others, allowing a direct, great-sounding connection between your computer and your entertainment system. You can also listen to streaming Internet radio stations or music subscription services through the MS II in much better sound quality than from your computer's built-in DAC.
Powered by and connected to a host computer's USB bus, the MS II's circuit design and execution is on par with the more expensive Music Streamers, all of which boast a unique topology that, in totally isolating their power supplies from those of the host computers, allows an unprecedented degree of electronic isolation and quieting from these machines, so that having to listen to your computer's nasty background noise and other sonic grunge along with your music is now a thing of the past. Digital-to-Analog processing inside the MS II is given a big helping hand by HRT's proprietary asynchronous-mode data transfer software, which allows the MS II to take control of the transfer of digital information away from the computer and onto itself, effectively eliminating jitter in the digital data stream, further enhancing the MS II's sonic performance; all of the subtle timing cues that help to get the music's timbres and colors correct are preserved without degradation or distortion Utilizing native Audio Class 1.0 drivers (present in all modern PC, Mac, and Linux computers) there are no extra drivers or software to install. Simply connect it to your computer via a USB cable (not included), confirm that the MS II the chosen device in the computer's preferences area, and you are ready to go. LED indicators show the current sample rate (32k, 44k1, 48k, 88k2 & 96k), as well as the state of the MS II's mute circuit; you will always know at a glance your system's operating mode.
As with other HRT products, as firmware improvements become available, HRT's UpStream utility allows the Music Streamer II to be updated right from the computer's desktop in a matter of seconds.