CEntrance is best known in the high-end headphone/earphone community for its impressively power, balanced output HiFi-M8 portable headphone amplifier/DAC ($699). For T.H.E. Show 2014, however, the big news was the CEntrance has begun development work on a smaller, somewhat less full-featured, and therefore cost reduced version of the HiFi-M8 to be called the Mini-M8 (M8 is pronounced “mate”). As you can see from our photo here, the Mini-M8 retains some, though not all, of the elaborate user control features of the HiFi-M8, but in a substantially smaller chassis. Note: The unit shown here is a rough-and-tumble development “mule,” so expect the final Mini-M8 to look much more polished.
It is pretty easy to guess what might be missing in the mini M8:
1) No balanced out (no room for XLR)
2) No tone switches
3) No output impedance change -- I suspect 1 ohm will be standard.
I wonder if the optical out will be retained. Also wonder if the battery life will stay the same or get longer. If the other internals stay the same (DAC, Class A amp), it could be very popular, especially if it has another digital input not shown (coax in particular).
Although I too speculate with others, it is just that for me -- speculation. It is up to CEntrance to decide what goes in what, and for what price. I've seen other head-fi discussions on yet-to-be-released equipment turn into "if it does not have this, I am not buying" which in my mind is kind of silly given that there is nothing yet to buy.
What I do know is that the HiFi-M8 (have to be specific now that there's another M8 potentially coming out) with an iDevice as source is better than an iPod 5.5G amped, and that makes it worth carrying in my bag. If the mini-M8 comes close to the 'full-M8' sound quality, it will be special, and other factors (lighter weight, smaller size, and lower price) could make it even more attractive.
Finally, I appreciate that CEntrance is looking to move down in price. But it begs the obvious question: Michael, do you have any plans to do a "super-M8" going up the food chain now that you have staked out plans for a (presumably) lower-cost, fewer-featured model?
Its probably too early for a mini-m8 thread, although we do have a prototype photo.
One change I would like to see is having the headphone output and ipod input on the same side, so it can sit better in a pocket.
Spammed this here and there already today.
Check it out 24/96!
Apple touch 5G running latest OS, Flacplayer app, Hifi-m8 (idevice version) to CCK (Apple camera connection kit).