CES 2014: Headphone, Earphones, and Related Electronics – Part 1

Earphones and in-ear monitors


Calyx is entering the market for portable high-res digital music players with its new Calyx M ($999). When used as a DAC the Calyx M is quite versatile, decoding audio files in any/all of the following formats: AAC, MP3 MP4, MP4a, OGG, FLAC, WAV, DXD, DSD64, and DSD128, supporting PCM data up to 384/32-bit resolution levels. But what makes the Calyx M special, we think, is its form factor, which looks much like an oversized (or actually, Samsung Galaxy S4-sized) iPhone, complete with a 4.65” colour screen and a beautiful aluminium enclosure. Much like the Astell & Kern HD players, this one makes you want to hold it in your hand and to play with it—an impression further enhanced by the Calyx M’s highly intuitive, proprietary M:USE user interface. Connectivity options are simple, yet effective, giving user’s the choice of play music from the Calyx M’s 64GB of built-in RAM, from optional plug-in SD-micro cards of up to 128GB capacity, or from external USB or Wi-Fi connections.

The bottom line is that the Calyx M is priced similarly to the Astell & Kern AK100, yet offers functionality comparable to the more costly AK120 or the upcoming AK240. That sounds like a potentially appealing formula to us.


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.

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