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.