Back after a short break

Set up a tent or rent a cabin and escape into the wilderness - that's what I did.

As the Summer comes to a close, the leaves begin to turn. The evening chill starts closing in on you and already it smells like Fall here in the Midwest.

It’s only fitting to bask in the remaining warmth of the departing Summer by re-uniting with nature during the Labor day weekend.

And that’s what I did. The family went to a secluded little spot in Michigan and spent quality time with friends near a campfire.

While nights are getting chilly, the air was hot enough to swim during the day, so the weekend turned out great.

A relaxing break before the final push to build and ship the HiFi-M8…

A couple of notes for people who asked questions on Head-Fi.

We are shipping units steadily now and are working through the backlog created in the recent months, as we discovered and fixed several bugs, namely the 1/4″ reversal, new firmware, etc.

We are in fact building everything here in the US. That is actually slower than in Asia. We could have built units much faster at a Chinese plant. But the quality wouldn’t be the same. Our ears won’t be available to test each unit and make sure it’s perfect as it leaves the factory. So… we’ve chosen the slower, but higher-quality route.

Several dealers received stock recently. They are TTVJ, Moon Audio, Jaben, HiFi Heaven and a couple of others. They have been waiting patiently in line, just like the pre-order folks. We are not shipping large quantities to dealers.  Just about a unit or two here and there, even though some have ordered a lot more. We will satisfy the pre-order cue before we ship the remainder to the dealers.

Parts for the build

Today we have purchased the parts for the upcoming HiFi-M8 build.
You may remember that we are planning a large build in September.
That’s still on schedule so far.
We just dumped a lot of money into parts… too much to think about.
Parts should be arriving next week and then will be sent to our suppliers for assembly of the PCBs.
I will be keeping you in the loop on this production build throughout the next month.

About the Shipping Cue

Let’s talk about the shipment cue.

As many of you know, we’ve chosen a personalized way of dealing with managing the cue, but it’s taking its toll. Other companies, such as Headamp, just put out a spreadsheet with expected shipping dates, listing all customers at once.

We decided not to do that and to deal with everyone personally instead. However, the amount of email coming in is overwhelming. Stacie, who is managing the pre-order cue has asked me to post this here:

Dear Evaluation Unit Customers,

I have received an overwhelming amount of inquiries regarding shipping dates for preordered units.
Please refer to the following dates to see where you are in the queue:

We are currently shipping units paid-for between October 1- October 31.
If you paid between November 1 – November 30, your unit will be shipped before Sept 16
If you paid between December 1- December 31, your unit will be shipping before Oct 7.

A more detailed shipping schedule for orders placed in early 2013 will be posted here on September 23, and the rate of production is expected to increase markedly at this time.

I appreciate your patience and continued support. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email me [address removed to protect from spam bots - MG]


Webstore is back, and Video Review

Our Webstore is back.

You can place your orders and the security certificate on the site is valid. It was a temporary glitch, which is now solved.

Meantime as most reader probably know by now, Jude Mansilla has posted an excellent video review of the HiFi-M8., which you can see again and again here:

Webstore is OK

If you go to our web store today you may notice a message saying: “This Connection is Untrusted”.

Don’t worry. You can still trust us.

We are updating the security certificate today. This process will be complete shortly.

It’s safe to shop at, despite the warning.

Building a big new batch

HiFi-M8 is very popular. So much so that we ran out of stock pretty much right away.

We promised an awesome product. We delivered. We hear that people really like it!

We should be really taking advantage of that, but we don’t have stock at the moment.

We are making a new batch in September, a big batch — enough to satisfy all outstanding orders and then some!

We have allocated the original pilot production run to those who have waited the longest.

Now we need to build more and that means we need to wait.

This wait is killing me….

But this too, will pass and everyone will get their “Fix of M8″.

Breathe in, breathe out….

Watch next week

That’s all I am allowed to say today.

Look for something cool to come out on head-fi next week.

It may be related to HiFi-M8.

Whatever it is, it will come from the brightest minds out there.

That I can guarantee.

What flood looks like

My to do list for this week

This is my current to do list. It’s longer than usual, because of extra product release-related activity.

I sat down and put this list together from a bunch of little notes sitting on the desk, on the calendar, on the cellphone, etc.

This would normally be a no-brainer, but unfortunately, many items on the list are each a project in their own right.

Suddenly, we are not talking about “flying through” the list. Nope, we are talking about crawling through it.

And this is what “flood” looks like: A lot of stuff to do. Very little time to do it all. Things falling off the plate.

To do list, prioritized

Here is how I manage the flood.

I step into a coffee shop, get a latte and “turn off” the world.

I prioritize the list. I color code it. I take a deep breath and dive into it.

To the left is the processed version, where tasks are grouped into eight categories and prioritized. The categories range from Engineering, to Finance, to Marketing, to Consulting (our consulting business is doing well).

Grouping the tasks is very helpful, since several items can be accomplished at once.

Now that there is structure, we can attack the action items.

First Review is Glowing Positive


We have our first real review in!

This comes from a publication called headfijourney, familiar to our customers in the Asian market.

This review is unusually long, but very positive!

Here is the summary:


Final Thoughts

The CEntrance HiFi-M8 is a superb piece of equipment and a marvelous feat of engineering. Not only is it well built with tons of connectivity options, it excels at what it’s designed to do. It drives everything from IEMs to full-sized over the ear headphones and sounded stunningly good with all the headphones I threw at it but most of all, it brought out the best in the T1 (in balanced mode). Whilst it is certainly a portable device, it will not be out of place in a desktop system. I could happily live with the M8 as my main DAC/amp for headphones. Indeed, it may be the game changing no compromise combo that head-fiers have been waiting for.

At the time of writing, the M8 is peerless at this price range. It can certainly punch above its weight, way above, as a matter of fact. To get better results, you’d have to spend a lot more. If you need a great sounding DAC/amp combo which is small and light enough for you to take it with you on your travels, look no further. If you value compactness and simplicity, you just can’t go wrong with the M8. Plug in the USB cable from your PC/Mac and in an instant you have a high end head-fi system on your desktop. No fuss, no muss.

Managing Flood

We are entering the project stage known as “flood”.

Projects go through a number of stages, from “scared of the unknown”, through “getting somewhere”, to “too much at once”, to “done and lost all subsequent interest”.

There is a more structured project overview model out there, but this simplistic view demonstrates the main point. At some time, the tweaking is complete and you have some success. That’s when you enter the flood stage.

Sadly, many companies fail at this stage. Don’t get me wrong, many more companies fail at the previous stages, as they miscalculate the real costs of “getting there”. But success can also be taxing, which is less obvious.

The problem is some people tend to relax at this point, as if the work is done. Wrong! The work is just starting.

And that’s what we have with the HiFi-M8 currently. We need to ship, and we have a limited supply and we are frantically arranging additional production, and we are communicating with existing customers, future customers and media, who all want their unit right now. This can be taxing.

We need to live through about a month of this. More units should be here in late September. Enough to get out of back order.

Or so we we think.