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CEntrance Hifi-M8 V2 Review (DAC and headphone amplifier)

AudioSceptic

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The engineers? They prefer to spend time with their families on the weekend and we respect that. All measurements are available of course.
No, the measurements. You said
Just don't have the plots yet - need to get from the engineers, and they don't work on weekends
So I took that to mean that you didn't have direct access to the measurements/plots. Perhaps they could be published on your website going forward?
 

radioman

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Again, which "additional dimensions"?
I think portable products should be placed in a separate category and evaluated against other portable products.

If you take all available DACs, big and small, wall-powered, usb powered, and battery-powered, balanced and unbalanced, low output and high output, and line them all up, all in a row, you will in fact compare them all at once. Some will end up on the left (good?) and others will end up on the right (bad?).

But this may be deceptive because desktop DACs, USB DACs and portable DACs are powered differently. It's easy to deliver high power in a wall-powered device. It's much harder to deliver high power when working with a battery. It's impossible to deliver high power when working off USB. So these are different categories and they are not apples-to-apples.

For example, you can not compare a USB DAC to a battery-powered DAC, because USB power is insufficient for any serious power output. We have done a lot with the DACport HD (Amir agreed and gave it a great review last year). But there are constraints with USB power and you cannot push beyond those constraints. A USB DAC will always fail when compared on power to the wall powered DAC. But it will certainly win in size, if small size is what you are after. That's an extra dimension that customers consider when picking a DAC.

Similarly, it's not appropriate to expect a battery-powered DAC to match the wall-powered DAC. It can come close, but it will never beat it. The battery is not endless like the outlet and a significant amount of ingenuity is required to make that work well. And that's why we don't see a lot of battery powered DACs with high level of output, capable of driving a wide variety of headphones. So portability is another dimension that is important to consider. It's crucial for those customers who listen on the move.

We believe that HiFi-M8 does a great job as a portable DAC. Many customers agree that it offers a lot of flexibility. The review could consider that parameter, as well as battery performance, STAMINA mode, which improves battery performance further, wireless operation with BT input, EQ, ability to drive 4(!) sets of headphones at the same time (which makes it very easy to start a piece of music and then quickly compare headphones at a store, at a meet, etc) and some other things, which you would consider while evaluating a portable product for its intended application (portable listening, headphone comparison, etc).

Many people here inquired why the reviewer entirely skipped testing the cool side, thereby neglecting HiFi-M8's ability to drive IEMs with pitch-black noise floor. This was a highly requested feature and we worked for over a year to achieve that. So that's another parameter (dimension).

In summary, HiFi-M8 exists in a dimension (product segment) that is different from Desktop DACs, USB dongles and pro audio gear. HiFi-M8 is designed for a customer who needs best performance and flexibility, on the go. This customer is quite different from the desktop customer, but they do exist and we designed the product for them.

Hope this helps to answer your question and doesn't feel like an ad, which wasn't my intention.

A quick update: We are planning to send some better looking plots to Amir and hopefully this will allow us to paint a picture, which is a little more balanced (pardon the pun).
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #145
Many people here inquired why the reviewer entirely skipped testing the cool side, thereby neglecting HiFi-M8's ability to drive IEMs with pitch-black noise floor. This was a highly requested feature and we worked for over a year to achieve that. So that's another parameter.
When you ship a huge "portable" product like this, the emphasis is on how much power it produces. If all I want is a few milliwatts with low noise, I wouldn't want to lug this thing around.

Note that I test all portable products including $9 dongles the same way.
 

NTomokawa

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HiFi-M8 is designed for a customer who needs best performance and flexibility, on the go.
Here is a portable DAC/amp that, at a quarter of the price (and probably size) of your product, handily surpasses it in nearly all metrics.

Granted, being assembled in China substantially lowers labour (and end) cost, but if I was (in your words) a customer who needs best performance and flexibility, on the go, well, guess which one of the two I'll be choosing...
 
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The mfr @radioman very quickly claimed he wants to have a closer look on this unit as it might been defective. At least until this to happen we should give him a 2nd chance. Other mfr don't even respond. Though other gear from this comp has been tested very well by @amirm.
I agree, and my comments were a bit harsh. Glad to see a manufacturer take the time to look into a product’s performance like they are doing with this one. Also, I didn’t realize it was an old design. Read the review on my phone and overlooked that part if it was mentioned. Looking forward to the findings.
I respect any manufacturer who comes on ASR and does the right thing.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #148
Also, I didn’t realize it was an old design.
That's not my impression. I believe it was announced last year and shipped now.
 
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That's not my impression. I believe it was announced last year and shipped now.
Thanks Amir. Still, I’m very impressed by the response of the manufacturer. They aren’t making excuses or trying to cover up anything. And they are from my home town of Chicago so I’m admittedly biased.
 

radioman

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When you ship a huge "portable" product like this, the emphasis is on how much power it produces. If all I want is a few milliwatts with low noise, I wouldn't want to lug this thing around.

Note that I test all portable products including $9 dongles the same way.
Of course, we appreciate and respect that you have a particular preference with regard to your portable DAC products. There is no right or wrong way to listen to music ;) And "huge" is in the eye of the beholder. This is by far not not the largest portable product out there.

It's interesting that we have found customers with a different preference than yours. Some have (and do lug around) more than one pair of headphones and constantly keep switching between them, as they change the tunes on the DAP.

I know, it's easy to question this behavior but it exists. We spent several years discussing these preferences with our customers (we do a lot of portable stuff so we are attuned to that lifestyle).

This is your website and your process. You have developed a strong rapport with your appreciative audience. We are guests here. But we do have 20 years of experience in audio product design, both as a design firm for over 100 pro audio customers and also, on our own. We are no strangers to communication and compromise, and we are always willing to learn.

We do have some measurement-related comments, as well as our own plots, which we plan to send to you for your consideration. We know you are busy and will respect your time and kind attention. Thank you.
 
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radioman

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Here is a portable DAC/amp that, at a quarter of the price (and probably size) of your product, handily surpasses it in nearly all metrics.

Granted, being assembled in China substantially lowers labour (and end) cost, but if I was (in your words) a customer who needs best performance and flexibility, on the go, well, guess which one of the two I'll be choosing...
Four outputs? 16-hour battery life? Calibrated meter? Balanced Bluetooth implementation? Ability to charge and stream at the same time? Over 1W of output power? Are all those things included?

Again, is the point to compare apples to apples?
 
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PeteL

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Here is a portable DAC/amp that, at a quarter of the price (and probably size) of your product, handily surpasses it in nearly all metrics.

Granted, being assembled in China substantially lowers labour (and end) cost, but if I was (in your words) a customer who needs best performance and flexibility, on the go, well, guess which one of the two I'll be choosing...
To be fair the NX4 don't have much power, and I believe that the point of the manufacturer lenghty answers was to consider other metrics (qualitative, features and quantitative), so your rebutal might be justified, but unrelated to the points he was putting forward. I am not saying the NX4 is not a better purchase for most, but there is no need for being dismissive and negative. The manufacturer accepted the poor review gracefully, and adressed the critics professionally. You don't like what Centrance has to offer with this product and that's fine, but there are aspects of this product that are not found elsewhere and it can appeal to some. Nearly all metrics is only according to the ASR Dashboard.
 
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amirm

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Again, is the point to compare apples to apples? I will accept if it's not. It's ok. This is not our site and we better respect its rules...
Please don't keep using this line. We have put no bounds on what you can say. Only rule we have is membership be polite, not nature of any argument you want to make.
 

radioman

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Can you publish your measurements in here or in your site?
Of course we can. However we prefer to make sure we discuss them with Amir first, to avoid having too many sources of conflicting information. Confusing people is not our goal. We are also interested in clarity, so we thank you for your patience as we attempt to employ an orderly process. This is about precision after all.
 

SIY

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Of course we can. However we prefer to make sure we discuss them with Amir first, to avoid having too many sources of conflicting information. Confusing people is not our goal.
The membership here is generally sophisticated and technical. You won’t confuse us. Where questions have come up, we have freely shared data among us and worked out reasons for differences. Amir is not a gatekeeper for data.
 

radioman

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The membership here is generally sophisticated and technical. You won’t confuse us. Where questions have come up, we have freely shared data among us and worked out reasons for differences. Amir is not a gatekeeper for data.
Respect that. And appreciate Amir's right to discuss the published review before additional data, opinions and judgements are thrown into the mix. This will come soon, everyone will be respected and will have access, no worries. That's how we treat all reviewers, from Stereophile to Absolute Sound.
 
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Here is a portable DAC/amp that, at a quarter of the price (and probably size) of your product, handily surpasses it in nearly all metrics.

Granted, being assembled in China substantially lowers labour (and end) cost, but if I was (in your words) a customer who needs best performance and flexibility, on the go, well, guess which one of the two I'll be choosing...

Are you sure ? with such low power available, as I read specs ... I can't even consider it more than my smartphone or my Qudelix 5K (which is perfect with my Beyedynamic Xelento, but not at all with most of full headphones)... I wonder what is the destination of this ? no power for many IEM (like the IER-Z1R and even no Bluetooth for smartphone connection for Qubuz), any good DAP like Fiio M11 provides far more power than this amp too.

As I am still looking a way for a way to provide 1.4W at 32 ohms in balanced mode through XLR4. I am still waiting for it to drive at home (where I want) some headphones with 42ohms and 87db.. If you know a real alternative, it would be nice to share it !

Actually the only serious way is to go to Sony DMP-Z1 at 10K€..
From these last weeks, I am considering ifi IDSD signature ... but exactly same price as M8 V2 (I ordered e few months ago).
My Xduoo XD-05+ was, till now, the best price/service available with 1000mw ( unbalanced) and really portable... but it's missing sometimes powerful clear impacts in low frequencies (not enough instant voltage available, low quality capacitors ?)
 
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