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  1. #1

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    Default Kickstart: Geek USB headphone amp from Light Harmonics

    Got this email this morning, don't know if any of you cat's are interested but thought I would share. It intrigues me, Note the DSD capability.....

    I might buy in but wanted to get the word out, could be a VERY interesting product and its pretty cheap (159 right now) to get in on the groundfloor right now (assuming it comes fully to market)

    Hi! You're probably familiar with Light Harmonic's state-of-the-art digital products: Da Vinci DAC, Da Vinci Dual DAC, and the LightSpeed USB cable. You might like their styling and performance--but are intimidated by their prices.

    Light Harmonic is bringing their digital expertise to the mass-market with the new "Geek", a portable USB DAC and headphone amplifier--with an MSRP of $299!. "Geek" leads the industry with its performance: hi-res PCM up to 384k, DSD capability, ultra-low noise and jitter from Da Vinci inspired- three-layer buffers and three clocks. Unlike some other devices, "Geek" has a real headphone amp, not just a pass-through-- so you'll have plenty of power
    and drive for powerful bass.

    "Geek" is being introduced on a Kickstarter campaign, which started on August 13th. When the campaign started, backers were able to lock-in a "Geek" at $99! As the campaign rolls on, prices will slide up a bit...but you can still get an incredible pre-sale price.

    Take a look, and come back us! http://kck.st/13I3xmd

    Our blog: compare "Geek" to those other guys http://mustgeekout.blogspot.com/

    Whatever you do, please tell all your friends--real, imaginary, and virtual-- about "Geek"!

    Thanks/peace out from Light Harmonic

    LM&M : Business Development for the Audio & Automotive Industries
    Parrish, Florida USA
    Who are we?

    I'm Gavin Fish. I work at Light Harmonic, a small group of geeks who do big things.

    Light Harmonic is a manufacturer of high-end audio equipment based in Sacramento, CA. We are known in our industry as the engineers and builders of one of the best digital to analog converters (DAC) in the world, called Da Vinci DAC.

    For the past two years, I've traveled the world demonstrating Da Vinci DAC in all sorts of stereo systems. I love Da Vinci DAC, and I love the people who buy it, but my typical customers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their home stereo. Again, I love my customers, but I REALLY want to bring the $100,000 experience that they get to the rest of the music loving world. That's why we've spent the last year developing GEEK.

    What is GEEK?

    GEEK takes a lot of the technology we developed when we were researching Da Vinci DAC, and squeezes it into one tiny little package that we plan on selling for $299 retail. Stick it into your laptop and plug in your headphones!

    • It's a digital to analog converter (DAC). Our ears can't hear anything that's digital; digital signals have to be converted into analog form before we can hear them. DACs are everywhere: in your phone, in your TV, in your laptop. The problem with those DACs is this: they suck. GEEK's DAC doesn't suck.
    • It's a headphone amp. Ever wish you could turn up the volume on your laptop just a little more? Being a traveler, I hate trying to watch movies on an airplane. Even with noise-reducing headphones, they're still hard to understand. Well, GEEK's amplifier is 10 times more powerful than the headphone amplifier typically used in laptops. That means you can really crank this sucker up. Not only is it louder, it's clearer.
    • It's a 3D awesomifier. Headphones can't really duplicate the way sound naturally reaches our ears. GEEK has 3D audio technology that moves the sound from between your ears to all around you.
    • It's a shareulator. GEEK has two headphone jacks!
    • It's high definition. Few sound devices found in computers today are able to play high-resolution audio. GEEK can play any current or anticipated audio format.

    Why do we need your help?

    For the past three years, we’ve been producing Da Vinci DAC by hand, in small quantities, and made-to-order (they're sold before we start building). For GEEK, the components are way too small to be assembled by hand. And in order to keep costs low, we need to have them manufactured automatically in large lots.

    Prior to launching this campaign, we’ve invested heavily in making 10 prototype GEEKs and establishing partnerships with the companies that will help us get the final version built and packaged. We spent several months on the circuit schematic and simulations. Then we hired a specialist to program the Gerber files and prepare the ODB++ exchange so we could get the printed circuit boards made. Once the prototype PCB’s arrived, we hired a local assembly house to populate them with all of GEEK’s components. In the meantime, we hired a mechanical engineer to prepare an enclosure for GEEK using AutoCAD and Solidworks. We’ve used a local prototyping company to 3D print the enclosures; we’ve gone through several of them and feel we’re ready to take the final steps.

    We’ve already purchased enough of the components that go into GEEK to assemble our first batch of 500 units. If our project gets funded, we’ll have enough to pay for final manufacturing and packaging. Specifically, we’ll use the money to mass produce the six-layer printed circuit boards, make the assembly stencils that the large scale machines use to know where to place components on the circuit boards, machine 500 of the finalized enclosures, package everything up, and get them shipped out of our fulfillment center’s warehouse. If we exceed our goal, we’ll be able to lower our cost per unit by increasing production numbers.

    Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

    GEEK has been successfully prototyped using various circuit designs and layouts over the past year. We've proven to our satisfaction that the product sounds amazing. The most difficult challenge we've faced so far is creating an enclosure that is both functional and beautiful within a budget that would allow us to offer it for $299.

    We have a design for the enclosure that we’re very happy with when we look at the 3D rendering. But one aspect of the design that we love is too intricate to be printed on a 3D printer. So we’re currently waiting in the queue for the machinist we contract with to mill some enclosures out of aluminum, which is the material we’ve decided to use for the final product. Once we are happy with the design, we’ll be ready to have the tools made to die cast the enclosures. We have allocated the time necessary to go through this process and still deliver GEEK to our backers on schedule. Any delays caused by this challenge will delay shipments, which is something we’ll work diligently to avoid.

    Another challenge we face is coordinating all of the contractors we’ve lined up to produce their part of GEEK on schedule. We’re going to make the circuit boards in Denver, the enclosures in Nevada City, CA, and the packaging in San Francisco. Final assembly is going to be done in Roseville, CA, and we will do quality assurance in our facility in Sacramento. In order to be successful, all of our partners must work together and communicate with each other very well. To address this challenge, we have a full-time employee that will coordinate with all of our vendors and oversee the entire process.
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 08-20-2013 at 08:57 AM.
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  2. #2

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    Hi, Guys! I'm Bill Leebens--I've been involved in audio for 40 years, was the director of marketing at Audiogon (back in the good ol' days), was the lead organizer of the NY Audio Show in 2012, and have worked with a number of high-end manufacturers including Engström & Engström, Vitus Audio, Amphion, Rogers Audio, and for the last two years, Light Harmonic.

    "Geek" is Light Harmonic's first mass-market product, following Da Vinci DAC, Da Vinci Dual DAC, and the LightSpeed USB cable.
    Geek will be made completely in the US: PC boards, stuffing, milled and anodized aluminum enclosures, all done in California with final assembly and QC at the Light Harmonic facility in Sacramento.

    Hope you take a look at the Kickstarter campaign--we're trying to bring serious audiophile performance to the mass-market, at a reasonable price. The acceptance shows that not just "audiophiles" want this.

    Oh--for whatever it's worth, I remember attending a Polk dealer dinner in Chicago for summer CES in 1989. Like I said, I've been around a while!

    Thanks for your interest!

    Bill

  3. #3

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    Default

    After looking at my initial post I realized it was a bit hard to see the links in the first quote, so I broke them out into their own post.

    __________________________________________________ _______
    Take a look, and come back us! http://kck.st/13I3xmd

    Our blog: compare "Geek" to those other guys http://mustgeekout.blogspot.com/
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

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  4. #4

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    This unit looks great for the price. Im interested in it. Thanks for posting the links

  5. #5

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    Default

    Sorry to bump the thread, but did anyone buy one.

    Looks like they also came out with another option called the "Pulse" which is a desktop option.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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  6. #6

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    I got in in the geek when it was a little cheaper. I also got in in the pulse at the beginning and sice I already was a geek backer I got a cheaper price on the desktop version. Although they offered some upgrades like fully balanced, better caps/powersupply, clock, dual mono that I opted for. The pulse will go up against my w4s dac2! Might not be a fair fight but why not give it a try.

    Both they took suggestions from the backers and listened!. Things got added from the suggestions of the backers. All of them would actully answer in the forums and emails. It was nice to be a part of that and having a design team listening to the wants of their backers. It was nice to be a part of it and I hope it sounds decent!

    The usb unit I am going to use at work.

  7. #7

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    Btw. The desktop version early backer is closed. They hit over a mil!

  8. #8

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    I would love to hear your thoughts on both units.

    They look pretty cool!

    And should you decide to sell, let me know, I might be interested.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

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  9. #9

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    You got it. The usb unit I am really excited about. I also opted for the upgraded amp on it as well.

  10. #10

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    I am so sorry, I completely forgot about this thread. I received the Geek out a while ago. It has a few options for the amp, 450mw, 750mw, and the 1000. I have the 1000 and I will say it's quite nice. It is class A and runs warm. The unit is a little bit larger so while you can hook it strait to the usb port on a laptop, its much easier with the small usb extension that is supplied. I believe the small extension is made of the lightspeed usb they offer. Without it, i think it would bend.

    After you set it up, and set the laptop or whatever your using to use it as the default for the dac and sound device, it is quite nice. The Awesomifier is hit and miss on music. Some stuff it sounds cool to me, most it sounds better by itself. It has 2 sets of outputs,0 .47 ohm and 47 ohm to help match your headsets or to use into a preamp. I will say around the 70 hour mark is where it started sounding fuller and breaking in nicely.

    It does a wonderful job! I have used it with my old koss porta pro, Sony MDR-v6 ( still one of the better sounding headsets for 50-60$ but, it looks like they have raised the price since I got them a long time ago) , Sony MDRv700, and PSB M4u2 with the internal amp off. I found the Geek amp much better vs the internal amp. This is a clean, powerful headphone amp and the dac does a amazingly good job. Full DSD sounds wonderful!

    I have heard the dragonfly and while it is a wonderful unit, i thought it was a bit on the darker side where this is a bit more detailed. It depends on what kind of sound you are looking for. If you prefer a detailed type sound, this unit is for you, if you like a bit darker sound then i would say its not for you. It didnt matter what headset I used, it matched up wonderfully. I like having the option of having different Impedance . With the sony's they liked the 47 best. On the 47 side, I thought sounded a bit fuller. The koss portapro liked the 0.47 but they are a darker sounding headset to start with.

    The PSB are a fwd and detailed sounding headset. The Geek I think brought them to a different level. A few times if it wasnt for the weight of the headset ( they are a bit on the heavy side I think) I thought someone said something to me and had to take the headset off to see if someone came home. I noticed in a lot of live jazz music faint people talking in the back ground! It was Erie.

    The DAC on here sounds fantastic especially at this price point. One day I will put it up against my W4S dac2 just to have some fun. I do have the desktop version coming called the Geek Pulse with the upgraded Femto clocks as well as a LPS power supply. That will go against the w4s. It will determine if I am going to upgrade the w4s to the DSDSE version or keep the Geek Pulse.

    For the $ i paid for it, I say it was totally worth it. It is a wonderful unit. If you can live with a small unit on a dongle, the class A amp sounds wonderful, the dac does a darn good job and you can match up your headset to the outputs.

  11. #11

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    Ernie, thanks for that.

    I think its quite cool.


    I've got a DacMagic XS now for my Beyer DT-770's which is similar and it sounds quite awesome. Like it better than my Meridian Explorer I had, but not as much as my Audio GD unit.

    Really like the dedicted volume on the unit itself. Much easier to use when on your laptop and doing other things....

    Take some pics of the Geek if you dont mind, I'd be interested to see em.

    And if you ever decide to sell let me know as I would be interested in trying it lol...
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

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  12. #12

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    You got it. I got a red one. Still suprising on the sound / dac out of something this small can be.

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