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It's no secret. I admire the iPod. Unlike Apple I believe in its potential as a quality digital transport for audiophile use. From Wadia to Onkyo, Peachtree Audio, Teac, Naim and T+A, certain audiophile companies agree. However, nobody yet has made a miniature $199 standalone iPod DAC to appeal to the iPod's actual core audience. Until now. Say hello to Kevin Halverson's iStreamer under the High Resolution Technologies banner. It's dedicated specifically to iDevices like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Measuring just 4.6 x 2.3 x 0.875", full-scale output is 2.25V rms with a noise floor of 28uV from DC to over 30kHz and an S/N ratio of 98dB. The included charger is an external power supply that supplies power to the iStreamer and charges the attached iDevice up to a rate of 2.1 amps for appropriately capable sources. Data transfer is host-mode master. "The iStreamer generates the clock for a jitter-free interface where we generate the SOF start-of-frame signals and our DAC is driven directly by our own local clock(s).

"The cable interface is a USB-A-to-Apple-30-pin link often called a sync cable. We supply it along with the other cables and charger/adapter. Our device syncs to 32, 44.1 and 48kHz data rates at 16-bit depth. The iStreamer also provides full support for applications designed to run on an iPad, iPhone or iPod. The iStreamer allows you to connect to a home entertainment, television or stereo system to listen in high quality to Internet radio, streaming music and movies from providers such as Rhapsody, Napster, Pandora, Netflix and other on-line services."

How many times has the high-end audio press talked of the need for bridge products? To become a successful crossover requires first and foremost a super attractive price. Small size is important too. So are clean contemporary looks. And white. White is big. An 'i' doesn't hurt either. Does it not seem as though the iStreamer had covered all the bases? As a headfi fan might retort, "... it's not battery powered, it has no S/PDIF and the DAC is probably not the very best."

Perhaps. But a product like the iStreamer shouldn't have S/PDIF. It shouldn't require yet another box. It should do everything necessary inside its own box to interface directly with a pair of powered desk-top speakers with just one set of cables. It's not about selling to audiophiles. It's not about ultimate performance. It's about mo betta performance than the iPod's analog outputs deliver solo. It's about becoming the next (first?) step in a young listener's life towards superior sound.

Of course we are audiophiles. We want to know how it sounds. Because it only costs $199 we think we know. It won't kill our $2.000 standalone converter. So what? That's entirely beside the point. The prior Streamers simply have quite the track record to sugget this one too should be very good value for the money. I know I'm buying one just as soon as they ship. If it is what I think it is, I'll be buying quite a few more to give to non-audiophile friends. Turn them into carriers of the virus. HRT gets it. Happy hunting under the full moon...
High Resolution Technologies website