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hrtWATCH A VIDEO about HRT streamers to see how easy setting up a streamer can be.

The days of melon crates filled with vinyl music collections are gone, replaced by ever-larger digital music databases that they store on home computers, iPods, phones and the like. But the convenience and portability of digital music doesn’t always add up to the highest sound quality. For example, the sound card inside your computer doesn’t always have the highest quality digital-to-analog converter (DAC), so sound can be compromised. On the other hand, the USB output on your computer IS a digital connection that can send the information to an external DAC of much better quality.

That’s where the new generation of streamers from High Resolution Technologies can help: There’s the HRT Music Streamer II ($149), HRT Music Streamer II+ ($349) and the HRT Music Streamer Pro ($499). Each of these outboard DACs with USB input and analog outputs dramatically increase the sound quality of your computer-based music. The first generation of HRT products received rave reviews in  Stereophile and Home Theater Review, so you know these will be even better.

You can also check out the Chordette GEM ($799), which takes the process another step further with wireless capability via Bluetooth. So that means you can send the GEM a wireless signal from your iPhone or iPod Touch, for example, and it will deliver an improved digital sound to your system. Read more about the Chordette GEM at AV Guide.