I've always maintained that whatever the mass market selects, audiophiles then perfect. Meaning that we make silk purses out of the format sow's ears thrown our way.
Leave it to Muse's Kevin Halverson and Classic Records' Mike Hobson to flip the idea on its head and bring audiophiledom to the masses. They've formed a new venture called High Resolution Technologies to market products that don't quite fit in line with their own company's offerings.
First up are two USB to analog converters called the Music Streamer ($89) and Music Streamer Plus ($249). Both products hook up to the USB port on a typical computer and convert the digital audio data to a stereo analog signal. Handy for using a PC or Mac as a music server or streaming web radio etc.
Both devices are similar inside except for the DAC, which in the Plus, according to Halverson, "is comparable to what you would find in a $2,000 CD player." Both products are also built in North America and Halverson claims they electronically de-couple the power supply from the USB output and all data paths from your computer to your preamp. The products should be available at dealers shortly. Go to hirestech.com for more info.