The Centrance HiFi M8 thread
Jun 20, 2014 at 5:07 PM Post #4,921 of 5,996
Will the mini M8 be able to drive the balanced Hifiman HE6 or Sennheiser HD800?

 
c'mon man if you've done your homework, the HE6 question is clearly out of bounds since HE6 is one of the hardest headphones to drive, period.
MG explained mini-M8 as for IEMs (and other easy to drive headphones).
 
if mini-M8 can push out 63+mW of good power at 300ohms for the HD800....well....have to wait for the specs to know
 
Jun 20, 2014 at 5:13 PM Post #4,922 of 5,996
c'mon man if you've done your homework, the HE6 question is clearly out of bounds since HE6 is one of the hardest headphones to drive, period.
MG explained mini-M8 as for IEMs (and other easy to drive headphones).

if mini-M8 can push out 63+mW of good power at 300ohms for the HD800....well....have to wait for the specs to know


Oops sorry teach...I was slacking in my homework...sorry bout that :deadhorse:

You're right, let's wait for the final specs :p
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 3:34 AM Post #4,923 of 5,996
I tried the mini-m8 at the Tokyo Fujiya Spring headphone show earlier this year, it really is more for IEMs and portable headphones.
 
 

Centrance and the many Hifi-M8 types...and who is that?
 

 

 

Centrance hifi-M8 mini. Sounded just as good. has a gain switch.
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 3:36 AM Post #4,924 of 5,996
And a couple of Currawongs photos from his Tokyo Show impressions thread
http://www.head-fi.org/t/718466/tokyo-2014-fujiya-avic-headphone-festival-report
 
he is a better photographer and reviewer than I. imho.
 
Centrance
 
The first time I knew about the M8 I thought it'd be too big, but that didn't stop it being wildly successful and currently on back-order. When I saw this neat unit, I thought "Bingo!". Take out all the extra controls, put the gain switch on the front, lower the power on the headphone amp for a longer, 10-hour battery life and squeeze everything into a small case and this is what you get. It still has enough grunt for the LCD-X and XC though. The pictures are of a plastic prototype, but the final version should be much the same. The volume is digitally controlled though, I gather, and the headphone out also has an optical digital output built-in.
 

 

 

 

 
Jun 21, 2014 at 3:41 AM Post #4,925 of 5,996
I like the more elaborate I/O (in/out) option of the Mini M8 but unfortunately it's more for IEMs only. Maybe the next M8 will be Super M8 with everything Mini M8 has with a true balanced amp that's capable of driving HE-6 and the likes.
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 9:44 AM Post #4,926 of 5,996
The IEM Mod is about lower noise floor not loudness.


Focusing on this Mod only, answer doesn't quite compute because:
A) I thought CEntrance said the mod would lower output by 6dB to full size cans?
and
B) why wouldn't CE make the noise floor as low as possible (in the original design) for all headphones?
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 10:08 AM Post #4,927 of 5,996
He guys, someone brought to our attention that there is concern here. Let me pitch in.

Indeed, the outputs are balanced on the HiFi-M8, as we've said all along. That's still the case and it's not inconsistent with our marketing. The proper way to say that is that they are "impedance balanced." This means that the output impedance on L+ and L- pins (as well as R+ and R- pins) is same and neither wire is directly connected to ground.
...

If someone got confused with the terminology used on the website, we apologize. This is a complicated subject to put succinctly into marketing collateral.

 
 
   
This was all decided at the outset, 2-3 years ago, when we involved the head-fi community in designing this product...

 
 
  1) Our website and blog have always stated that HiFi-M8 features balanced outputs. We never claimed that it was a balanced amp. Please let me know if anywhere in our materials this is said differently...

 
From Sept. 29, 2012,  post 96 of this thread says:
 
   
Q: Is the M8 a fully balanced DAC/AMP?
A: Yes.
 

 
 
Great find, thanks! If memory serves right, this is about the time (Fall 2012), still during the design phase, when we actually switched from a fully balanced path (yes, we had a version like that in the beginning) to a different circuit topology, with a single-ended, but more powerful amp and an impedance-balanced output. I still have the old PCB somewhere and can show that we did in fact test that fully-balanced version...

 
I have to say I'm rather disappointed with the way some of this has played out over the past couple of years. I was involved in this thread early on, in fact payment for my preorder was made on October 19 of 2012 only a few weeks after the September 29 post stating that indeed the M8 was intended to be a fully balanced DAC/Amp and I don't remember reading otherwise until it was brought up by Pink Panther a few days ago.
 
For me the main selling point of the M8 was it's versatility, in particular the ability to connect it to either my computer or my iPhone and to use almost any IEM/headphone with it. I've never used balanced headphones before, I'm not terribly technically minded so I don't know the ins and outs of balanced, but I've read enough about it to be curious about trying a balanced setup so thought this would be the perfect opportunity. Boy am I glad that I put off purchasing a full-sized balanced headphone or balanced IEM cables for the 1Plus2's because the cost was for the proper cables and adapters was outside my budget at the time, I wouldn't be just a bit disappointed now, I'd be really ticked off.
 
This just adds to all the other little things like the delays getting the product out, then finally getting it after almost a year only to have them go on sale shortly thereafter for less than the pre-order cost. And then there's the silence regarding the high res update, the low level hiss with IEM's that requires a mod to fix and the rather noisy volume pots when turning them. None of these things in and of themselves are deal breakers, the M8 is still a really nice sounding, versatile piece of kit, but all these things combined are certainly leaving a rather bitter taste. And then there's this:
 
Having said all of that, a sneak peak to let you know that the upcoming Mini-M8 actually does drive the balanced output with a dual amp. Not as powerfully as HiFi-M8, so we could both use the dual amps AND extend the battery life to 11 hours (Mini-M8 is designed to be used mostly with IEMs, so output power is smaller than HiFi-M8, which will continue to sell and power all big cans). So with Mini-M8 it will be truly possible to hear the difference between a balanced driver and a single-ended one. And yes, the balanced jack will have about 6dB more sound level.


So now if we want a fully balanced DAC/Amp that works better with IEM's we have to sell the M8 to get the new Mini-M8. As a primarily IEM M8 owner who bought the M8 with the understanding that it itself did this and would work well with IEM's without the need for special mods I'm feeling more than a bit disenchanted. Will there at least be special pricing for previous M8 owners?
 

 
Is the plan to use the RSA connection for balanced? Why not a balanced jack like the AK240 and some other balanced high end DAP's use or a more robust solution like mini XLR's?
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 3:24 PM Post #4,928 of 5,996
Focusing on this Mod only, answer doesn't quite compute because:
A) I thought CEntrance said the mod would lower output by 6dB to full size cans?
and
B) why wouldn't CE make the noise floor as low as possible (in the original design) for all headphones?


1) Yes, the mod lowers output level. With it, the noise also goes down. They go down together. On big cans, which are not as sensitive, you need a lot of level and they cannot hear the hiss. On small IEMs, you don't need level. They are more sensitive (physically located closer to ear drum) and they can hear the hiss, so we bring down both the level and the hiss for those.

2) We are working against some hard core theoretical limits. Noise cannot be completely eliminated. There will always be some level of residual noise in ANY piece of gear. When you keep turning the level up, you will eventually start hearing some hiss. The manufacturer always needs to strike a balance between loudness and noise level in a product. With headphone amps this is especially tricky, since the louder it gets the more chance to hear the hiss. M8 gets VERY loud (louder than any other portable amp) and while the noise level is still extremely low, you can hear it with some very sensitive IEMs. For those cases we recommend the mod to actually reduce the power (and the noise). It's like reducing the power of a race car, to lower the chance of spin out.

We have performed the mod on less than 10 units so far, with thousands of units sold, which leads me to thinking that once again, we were able to strike a pretty reasonable balance there between the output level and the perceived level of noise.
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 3:27 PM Post #4,929 of 5,996
Chapeau!
I concur on the well struck balance.
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 4:13 PM Post #4,930 of 5,996
Quote from elnero:

"So now if we want a fully balanced DAC/Amp that works better with IEM's we have to sell the M8 to get the new Mini-M8. As a primarily IEM M8 owner who bought the M8 with the understanding that it itself did this and would work well with IEM's without the need for special mods I'm feeling more than a bit disenchanted. Will there at least be special pricing for previous M8 owners?"

Yeah, this is a tough one... I can only say that I never sold my iPhone 3 and simply bought iPhone 5, skipping a generation. The old 3 is collecting dust and serving as memorabilia. I accepted that technology moved on and never looked back. My new phone is better.

Mini-M8 in some respects is better than HiFi-M8 and in some respects is not. It's better in the number of inputs (4 vs. 2). It's better in terms of battery life (11 hrs vs 6.5 hrs). It's better because it has true balanced output amplifier that drives the + and - lines differentially, giving you more power. It's better because it's 30% thinner than HiFi-M8 and weighs less.

But -- it's not better in terms if output power (300 mW vs. 1.5 W). That's the main difference, which actually allowed us to bring you all the other benefits (smaller size, longer battery life, etc). That raw power in HiFi-M8 is expensive in terms of real estate and once you make the decision to lower it, a lot of options open up.

We feel that HiFi-M8 is very good and will be hard to unseat as the leader in terms of output power and sound quality. It will remain an awesome choice for large cans. Rather than trying to beat it with the next generation product, we decided to go after its drawbacks, which are size and weight.

We knew that many people don't use large cans and rather prefer IEMs. In the past, we tried to accommodate them with mods, etc., but frankly we were working at cross purposes with the HiFi-M8, as it was trying hard to be all things to all people. That's the drawback of crowd-sourcing. You try to please everyone and someone invariably ends up being unhappy.

Rule of thumb:

If you have large cans, you probably don't need to sell your HiFi-M8. It will serve you well for years to come.

If you want a smaller, lighter device that adds two more inputs and DSD, consider Mini-M8. Know however, that it will not drive all cans, so that's a limitation.

Regarding 24/96 compatibility with Apple, we worked hard for over two years and so far have been unable to extract that from iDevices. We did some research and noticed that no other manufacturer managed to do so either. At this point, I would not hold my breath. If something changes with apple, we will definitely let you know. Please note that 24/192 is still and always was available over the USB input. All you need is a CCK. You will lose the ability to charge the phone via the USB jack, and some portability, other than that, 24/192 is available if you need it.
 
Jun 21, 2014 at 7:16 PM Post #4,931 of 5,996
Yeah, this is a tough one... I can only say that I never sold my iPhone 3 and simply bought iPhone 5, skipping a generation. The old 3 is collecting dust and serving as memorabilia. I accepted that technology moved on and never looked back. My new phone is better.

 
Did you buy the 3G after Steve Jobs told you it would have an A6 dual core processor with crystal clear reception only to find out after you bought it that it was in fact a single core Arm 11 with low level static on your phone calls but if you wanted those features you thought you paid for in the 3G you could buy the 5?
 
We have performed the mod on less than 10 units so far, with thousands of units sold, which leads me to thinking that once again, we were able to strike a pretty reasonable balance there between the output level and the perceived level of noise.

 
Or a lot of people who received it didn't want to have to send it in for the mod and be without a DAC/Amp for however long it takes, pay shipping costs and deal with potential border hassles. I might be remembering this wrong but doesn't the mod itself cost $100?
 
That said, the noise level isn't horrendous, I've certainly heard worse. I know for myself I decided to live with it for a few different reasons but I wouldn't say I feel it's necessarily acceptable because I had thought this was one of the issues the gain switch was supposed to address.
 
Jun 22, 2014 at 10:26 AM Post #4,932 of 5,996
Working today at a coffee shop I realized that I forgot my Hifi-M8. So, I'm stuck listening with my ER-4PT IEMs through my MacBook Pro's headphone jack. "First World" problem, I know, but the experience is indescribably terrible in comparison.
 
It's amazing to consider how much I've taken for granted the experience of even my brief ownership of the M8 until today. Never again shall I leave home without it.
 
Jun 22, 2014 at 10:29 AM Post #4,933 of 5,996
  Working today at a coffee shop I realized that I forgot my Hifi-M8. So, I'm stuck listening with my ER-4PT IEMs through my MacBook Pro's headphone jack. "First World" problem, I know, but the experience is indescribably terrible in comparison.
 
It's amazing to consider how much I've taken for granted the experience of even my brief ownership of the M8 until today. Never again shall I leave home without it.

American Express and Hifi-M8 - Don't leave home without it.  
 
:)
 
Jun 23, 2014 at 7:33 AM Post #4,934 of 5,996
That would be great!  Do you like the M8?  Do you use an iOS device with it?  Look forward to your comparison.


I love the m8 with my hd 650. W/o the hugo i would've been contented with the m8 (it made the CLAS -db & RxMk3B+ moot for me). But once i got the hugo and it paired well with all my iem's, the m8 has been secondary. I'd like to stress that the m8 paired well with the hd650. But i sorta didn't like the hd650 & hugo combo.... Yet.

For me, everything comes down to the pairing.

In general terms i found the hugo more musical/analog than the m8 w/c sounded more neutral/clinical. For my hd650 its a no brainer, i'll use the m8. For my ie800 & jvc fx200 i can use both but prefer the hugo.

Lastly, in a 2 min listening session, i had the chance to demo the q701 in balanced mode with the m8. I couldn't stand it as the highs were piercing my ears.

I hope this helps.
 
Jun 23, 2014 at 7:43 AM Post #4,935 of 5,996
Of course it wouldn't be fair to compare M8 with Hugo based on price alone...it'd better be good for the price you pay for Hugo....but then again as you said....the M8 paired with HD650 sounds better than pairing it with Hugo says a lot about the M8 already 
smily_headphones1.gif

 

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