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Light Harmonic GEEK out on Kickstarter with DSD DAC/head-amp

You’ll probably know of Sacramento’s Light Harmonic. They make the uber-deluxe $20K DaVinci DAC and $1K LightSpeed USB cable.  Today comes news that the Light Harmonic R&D guys have begun working at the other end of the price ladder.

GEEK is a thumb-sized portable headphone amplifier that is set to leapfrog the likes of Audioquest’s Dragonfly and Meridian’s Explorer, on paper at least. It’s currently in prototype phase and funding for GEEK’s further development is being sourced via a Kickstarter campaign.

“GEEK is the first portable DAC capable of playing DSD and double DSD files. It can play hi-res PCM files up to 384k, which is still rare for any DAC, but very rare for a portable one.”, says Gavin Fish (Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Light Harmonic).

First? Rare? Not quite – the Resonessence Labs Concero HP does exactly that – I currently have one on my desk – and Schiit Audio have a budget DSD bomb dropping soon.

geek2

“In addition to a DAC and powerful headphone amp, GEEK features proprietary spatialization software which produces the image of a 3-D sound-field around the listener”, continues Fish.

GEEK will run with TWO headphone outputs for sharing.

The first 100 backers of GEEK’s Kickstarter campaign can get their hands on it for US$99 . That’s a saving of the 67% on the RRP.  The next 100 backers get it for US$119.  Anyone wanting to become a beta tester for GEEK is being asked to pony up US$1000.

Light Harmonic expect to start selling the Geek through traditional outlets in early 2014 for US$299.

Further Information: Light Harmonic GEEK on Kickstarter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rneDi5dqlI

EDIT:  The $99 pledges all sold within three hours.

Written by John H. Darko

John H. Darko

John is the editor of DAR, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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18 Comments

  1. This seems like a no brainer. I signed up even though I’m not a big headphone listener.

    Does anyone know if this uses Anync USB transfer? And will it work as a line level source?

    Thanks!

      • Gavin was extremely helpful and answered my inquires within minutes. I can understand the skepticism some show but for me it was a no brainer. Since you can switch off the 3D and it works with 24/192 files (which my recently sold AQ Dragonfly does not) it will be worth it at the Kickstarter price for those of us looking for this kind of solution for situations like travel.

  2. If the “3D Awesomifier” really does what it says it will do and not sound like out-of-phase sound effects, then these guys at Light Harmonics will have made the most significant advance in headphone technology since the headphone itself. To release such technology in a $300 DAC would be crazy. I’m skeptical.

    However, if LH produces a great headphone/DAC that can process up to DSD files at the price, then they will be the current king of the hill. If LH wants to expand their market to the Beats crowd, which is a good business decision, then that crowd won’t know or care what high-definition digital is, let alone DSD. It seems ironic. Maybe it’s the 3D Awesomifier that is intended to be the universal draw.

    The big question is why hasn’t Beats released a tiny headphone amp/DAC for $250 that you can connect to a computer or a phone? Such a move would
    create a million “audiophiles” in about a month. I wonder if LH tried to strike a deal with Beats and couldn’t get their attention.

  3. Ugh so many things bother me about this. I hope that case is not final, why is the port in the middle on one and then towards the side on the others ? The whole 3d spacial presentation thing sounds gimmicky and honestly will probably be crap. I can’t believe they have sold out the 99 buckers but I guess 99 bucks is expendable to some people.

    • The case is just a place holder – hence ‘prototype’. LH’s PR tell me: “The finished piece will have a custom-cast stealthy enclosure.”

  4. The CONCERO HD looks like a terrific device but it is $850 compared to $299 when the Geek is released in January 2014. I was able to get one for $159 (all of the cheaper pledge options have sold out in just 5 days) and for its intended use it looks like a great buy.

    Also I think they are targeting a different market niche than the CONCERO. This is something I could quite easily give to my daughters and they would happily use it. Even though the CONCERO is something I would prefer because of its flexibility, it is just that little bit bigger and out of the price range for most younger people.

    • Totally agree – I was simply pointing out that the GEEK isn’t the first portable, DSD-capable DAC/head-amp. And yes, it seems that LH are more after the man in the street with their product.

  5. As BradleyP suggest, it is ironic–if not weird–that if the common music loving person is the target, what relevance/purpose would be to include state of the art ultra-high-resolution file playback (particularly native DSD riding on top of a carrier PCM signal)? Ultra-high-rez and native DSD playback are currently of true consumer interest to only a small segment of the bona-fide audiophile community…not, by any stretch of imagination, of true consumer interest to the i-whatever/plug-and-play)common music loving person.

    I venture to say that LH is pursuing a rather clever marketing ploy of appearing and proclaiming to target the common music loving person, to begin, using Kickstarter as their campaign entry portal–to generate initial wide public attention, marketing traction, and sales volume–but they also have all grades of audiophiles as their target, thus,ultimately generating profits out of a High-Tec, large volume, low price business proposition that reaches the widest possible customer base…sort of a trickle-up approach (from the masses to the niche, not the reverse, trickle-down from the niche to the masses).

  6. “Ironic–if not weird–that if the common music loving person is the target, what relevance/purpose would be to include state of the art ultra-high-resolution file playback. . . ? Ultra-high-rez and native DSD playback are currently of true consumer interest to only a small segment of the bona-fide audiophile community — not, by any stretch of imagination . . . to the i-whatever/plug-and-play)common music loving person.”

    Predetermined niches are problematic when one’s attempting to predict trends. The price point of Beats Executives is directly related to the GEEK: LH noticed that the so-called common listener is willing to pay extra for what they’re told is better sound, and that Beats made sound quality relevant to audiences who grew up listening to music often designated as lofi. Ordinary listeners might not know what DSD is, but they’ll like having the option to play high-res files. They might even look into DSD software once they own hardware that can render it.

    • If the Kickstarter funding campaign is any indicator then he may have found a much broader market that he originally envisioned. Why would he want to do another DragonFly?

      A $299 one-stop digital solution for the ascendant computer-based music, gaming, and video convergence model. Why should he water it down it the chip already does it all, and he already has all of the technical learning out of the way on his flagship product? Target markets and business plans always change and evolve. Clearly, they are on to something with this promising product!

      • Junker wrote: “If the Kickstarter funding campaign is any indicator then he may have found a much broader market that he originally envisioned. Why would he want to do another DragonFly?”

        You sound as though you might be responding to the imbedded quote from Soundbite rather than my response to it. I not only agree with your statement (as quoted), but also made a similar statement:

        “Predetermined niches are problematic when one’s attempting to predict trends. The price point of Beats Executives is directly related to the GEEK: LH noticed that the so-called common listener is willing to pay extra for what they’re told is better sound, and that Beats made sound quality relevant to audiences who grew up listening to music often designated as lofi.”

        It’s an audience that includes but is not limited to the audiophile. V-Moda pioneered that approach with regard to fashion and different music applications (the M-100 and its arsenal of accessories is the Swiss army knife of headphones); LH seems to be focusing on the application aspect, or sonic versatility.

        • Just decided to up my backing for two Geeks – one for work and travel, and the other for use with my main stereo (probably with an iFi iUSBPower). Really excited about this product!

  7. I’m liking the idea of plugging this directly into an iFi IUSBPower… Just use one USB cable into this power supply, and a mini->RCA on the output side of the Geek.

    • Funny you should mention the iFi — I’ve been meaning to try that for ages and aegis.

      I’m still hoping that a powered hub or independent power source might allow the GEEK to work with certain android devices.

      We won’t know, unfortunately, until the GEEK is in users’ hands.

      The iFi would be a nice addition to my laptop. I can see it helping with the lamentable noise floor of certain of my DACs.

      • I just invested in this unit too, but i also will be getting a hiface2 unit. I run a 40TB, i7 2600K @ 4.8GHz,with custom external water cooling 16GB of 2400MHz ram, overclocked GTX 760 video, twin 24″ screens (soon 29″) 1Kw power supply, in a black monolithic Fractal Design define XL V3 tower (weight approx 70 odd lb).

        I am using a AB systems split USB cable power and signal separate – i built a custom 5.0000 V trimmed to 10uV low noise <4uV noise across audio band with 1A capability. as well built a custom strip-line usb impedance matching box to tune the computer output port to the dac input port – sharpens everything up- even with a $1 cable !

        like to talk, let me know, very happy to do so.

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