Hello everyone and thank you for your interest! I'm answering several posts at once:
> Since I imagine you deal with pro users quite a bit, they will likely be confused by dual-4-pin XLR headphone sockets, which are no different to XLR inputs.
Correct. The same XLR female jack is used for microphone input on recording gear. We made the call that the pro users will not be confused by HiFi-M8, since it's not really a product for them. We may be working on a piece for Pro users as well. This home/pro duality that we live with at CEntrance is the reason we decided to stay with the same jack for now.
> I strongly recommend changing it to 1x 4-pin XLR socket and 1x 1/4" TRS socket. Audeze, for example, now ship their headphones with a 4-pin XLR terminated cable. I can only think of one company that is well-known here that doesn't ship amps with a 4-pin XLR socket for balanced headphone output.
This may need to be a running upgrade at this point. Not out of the shoot. I believe we should be able to do that in the future. I'm sorry that this would inconvenience you, Currawong and thank you for the feedback.
> After reading the blog this morning I got thinking about this more and I'm curious, what was the reasoning for going with flat, +, ++ instead of -, flat, +?
We felt that most headphones needed a slight boost at top or bottom of the frequency range. Listening tests with many headphones revealed where those "pain points" where on the spectrum. But, if we learn that this is not sufficient, we can change that to "-", flat, "+".
> Would there be an upsampling option to the data when the HiFi-M8 is connected to the phone / tablet device? Or even a minimum phase option for the DAC (unlikely, I think)?
There is no need for upsampling -- the DAC will give you exactly what's coming off the laptop/phone/tablet. The DAC will always work in minimum phase delay mode.
> It would be great if you can ensure that the device will be compatible with android devices like the Galaxy S3
This is a work in progress. What needs to happen, as you correctly point out, is Google needs to build digital audio functionality into Android and also ensure that device makers follow a particular standard in hardware. We are talking about bundling Android OS drivers for USB devices working in "device mode" (all standard USB DACs will be compatible) and/or supporting special hardware on the phone's circuit board to allow for "host operation" (only some DACs will be compatible). The latter is much more involved, so probably not as likely to happen in the near future. The former should be relatively easy, if Google gets their act together.
The difference between iPhones and Android phones is that every iPhone is built on the same hardware, which is, naturally, tightly controlled by Apple. With Android phones, every phone has different hardware, which is is why Android compatibility is such a moving target.
> I assume it's fine to connect the HiFi M8 to my desktop tube headphone amp using XLR to RCA cables for the times when I want to experience the distinctive sound signature of my tube amp? I know it's balanced to unbalanced, however I picked up some modded Atlas cables with at a bargain price awhile back so it's what I happen to have to hand.
Yes, the outputs will support not only headphones but line output as well. Both in the balanced and unbalanced configurations.
> I'm wondering if the announcement of a new Apple dock connector will change any of the plans here at all...the fact that it's all-digital should make things easier for DAC manufacturers, right?
Not sure about other manufacturers, but we believe that HiFi-M8 would be compatible with "the shadow of the 5". More testing is necessary, since for now "the 5" is just that, a shadow. Oops... Did we inadvertently spill the beans?
> So no 3.5mm headphone out? Will this product be at all compatible with custom IEM's and universals that are relatively sensitive? Meaning is the noise floor quiet enough for no hiss and the gain structure such that the lowest gain allows for a wide band of volume control?
Yes, no 3.5mm out. But we will bundle a gold-plated adapter for headphones with the 3.5mm jack, so you would be able to use any headphones. HiFi-M8 has three position gain switch, with enough range to accommodate all headphones on the market.
> Level control I assume is gain control, I assume it will be great with IEMs as centrance's goal for this product is to be as flexible as possible. Centrance as you may have noticed from its previous products(dacport, micport) are very low noise products, I assume the new one will be the same or even better.
HiFi-M8 will have a 3-position gain (level) switch and a normal volume pot. You'd adjust the switch to match the sensitivity of your headphones (over the ear or IEM) and then use the volume knob normally.
Looking forward to more comments and to seeing some of you at RMAF! (there will be beer).
Edited by mgoodman - 9/16/12 at 12:59pm