Note that this only applies to the HiFi-M8 regular.
HiFi-M8 LX is not affected by anything in this post.
We finally cracked the bug with the bootloader that prevented the field upgrade from working correctly. We are testing a new bootloader code here, to make sure everything is done correctly and no bugs are lurking within.
As a quick reminder, the 24/96 capability was originally envisioned as a field-upgradeable firmware download.
We created a mechanism to upgrade the firmware in the field, and that mechanism works well. However we found that it didn’t work well for precisely one type of an upgrade — the 24/96 upgrade.
This was frustrating and we promised to all early adopters that we will pay to have their HiFi-M8 shipped back to CEntrance so that we could perform the upgrade. That offer still stands.
All of the early adopters will get the free upgrade to the new bootloader, which will allow them to download the 24/96 code when that becomes available.
The 24/96 feature itself is not available however. We are still working on that. Just to give you a glimpse into the complexity of the beast, HiFi-M8 has several operational modes and it boots into the appropriate mode depending on which device is in front of it. There is a lot of hoop-jumping to do. We have created the “hoops” for ourselves to jump through with the new bootloader code (the ability to switch modes). Now we are actually jumping through the very hoops we have created (developing the actual 24/96 capability). Yes, this is extremely convoluted and difficult. We may have 24/96 working in late September or early October. That’s the current estimate.
For all early-birds, the new bootloader and 24/96 will be free.
Here is the extra benefit of being an early-bird: 24/96 functionality might end up being a paid mod for new customers.
A couple of people reported over the weekend that they had heard radio interference with their cell phones connected to the HiFi-M8.
One person heard interference at the Mook festival in Singapore and another, who lives in US also heard some strange sounds.
We jumped in to investigate. We ran the unit through its paces. Again. And again.
We opened up the chassis (left) and ran the HiFi-M8 (bare) without any metal shielding provided by the case. We called the phone, we texted it, we emailed and browsed. All while listening to music at loud and soft levels.
We tried this experiment with iPhone 4 and iPh0ne 5.
Nothing… Not a trace of the familiar modem sound.
HiFi-M8 is shielded from Radio Frequency Interference very well. We use the same shielding techniques in it as we use in our broadcast equipment that needs to survive the environment of a radio station tower. That’s a hostile RF environment with a very strong radio signal present nearby.
Later today we learned that the second customer only experienced interference when running some other equipment, so the findings there are inconclusive.
iPhone 4 pressed against HiFi-M8 during RF test
We are still very interested in learning about the case in Singapore.
Is SingTel (the local cell phone service provider) using some very different frequencies than AT&T or T-Mobile in US? This could be the case, but it’s still very hard to believe that we have shielded against some frequencies and not the others. We will continue the investigation and report if more information is uncovered.
But for now, we feel that the unit is well protected even when left outside the metal chassis. Inside the metal chassis, RF protection is even stronger.
This is a short post. We are working on the packaging issues. The goal is to try to avoid making 8 packages and instead figure out how to use 1-2 packages with a way to differentiate the actual unit inside (CMB, RSA, 4XL, or PRO).
This is tricky, since each model has its own peculiarities.
Michael Goodman is the Managing Director and Chief Product Architect of CEntrance. During an active career in audio spanning over two decades, Michael worked as a recording studio owner, live musician, electronics engineer and corporate VP.
Michael holds an MBA from Kellogg, Masters Degree in Computer Science from Loyola University, a BS in Electronic Engineering and a BA in Music Recording. Michael loves developing cutting-edge audio products and blogging about it when he has a chance.