A part of the growing HRT family, the £299 Linestreamer + is designed to put sound into the computer, not take it out. Capable of reaching up to 24/96 precision, it eschews 192kHz but in the process eshews the expense of the Apogee Duet or the Benchmark or the new QA-9 from Ayre.
The Linestreamer is in a similar grey lozenge to the Streamer II+ (only slightly longer). It is powered from the USB link (so audiophile cables that cut the power line are strictly off the radar). The host program controls the sample rate, it runs Class One USB, so no need for drivers or hoop-jumping, and has a set of peak lights by the gold phono inputs in case of overload. It’s basically as simple to use as a stone, and its limitation is what programs you use with it.
I used it taking the analogue output from a CD player and phono stage alike to see what kind of headroom the Linestreamer gives and what it sounds like in recording.
The latter is easy. It doesn’t sound. It’s inherently neutral to source component. No additional hiss or hash, not tonal irregularities or shifts, no veiling or unveiling… just what the source component fed it.
The former is hard, because I struggled to find anything that would overload it. That said, 2.25V full scale sensitivity is a bit low as some output stages hit three volts or more. But as this seems a notional problem rather than real one, the Linestreamer + wins out.
A good ADC should have no intrinsic character of its own. It should be a chimera, letting the source dictate the performance rather than influencing the sound. And that is precisely what the HRT Linestreamer + does. OK, so 192kHz fans will whine about not scaling the heights, but this is not a £2,000 ADC, or even a £500 ADC. It’s the ideal low-impact way of making your LPs make the jump to digital without causing a fuss, and for that reason alone comes highly recommended.
HRT Linestreamer +
Electrical Full Scale Sensitivity: 2.25 Volts RMS Input
Impedance: 5k Ohm
Frequency Response (20 Hz / 20 kHz): +0 / -.4 dB
S/N Ratio (DC to 30 kHz): 104 dB
S/N Ratio (A-weighted): 109 dB
THD+N (1 kHz Full Scale): .003%
THD+N (1kHz -20 dB): .001%
Jitter contribution (DC to 30 kHz): > 130 dB below full scale
Indicators: peak, sample rate & mute interface
Sample Rate: up to 96 kHz. Bit Depth; 24 bit USB
Transfer protocol: asynchronous
Manufactured by: HRT Technologies
Distributed by: Audiofreaks