Originally Posted by ButtUglyJeff
No, you can only use this unit as a DAC/amp combo. Some "flavors" offer optical out to go to another external DAC. But non allow for DAC only.
You might want to look at the offerings from Cypher Labs or Venturecraft. They are DACs only. Of maybe look at the Fostex HP-P1. Its a DAC/amp that you can use as only an DAC...
Not exactly so.
HiFi-M8 with the 4-pin XLR output version and also the one with 4-pin RSA output version will give you SPDIF optical out. That output gives you digital signal prior to DAC. This way, it becomes a transport, exactly like Cypher Labs product you mention. You can choose to not use the DAC and amp portion of the HiFi-M8 and use an external DAC.
Alternatively, you can run the ANALOG output of the HiFi-M8 into an external Amp. The output is so clean that this is fully justified. In this case, you would use HiFi-M8 as a USB DAC, followed by your own HP amp.
We believe that you will end up using the integrated functionality, meaning the built-in transport, DAC and Amp, but the flexibility is there to use HiFi-M8 as a component device as well.