Light Harmonic's latest: decent DSD/DXD on a budget?

#1
I'm loving this new age of crowd-sourced funding. It seems to be enabling companies like Light Harmonic to determine demand for a product before they build it and get funding for R&D in advance.

Light Harmonic, the creators of the Da Vinci Dual DAC, have recently made a few spinoff projects under the moniker LH Labs that look quite promising for those who want portable DSD on a budget:

1) The Geek Out, a pocket-sized DAC + 1 watt class-A headphone amplifier that is designed to go wherever your laptop goes. This was a Kickstarter project and is nearing completion. It's got some exciting bits under the hood (including an ESS ES9018M chip) and at least on "paper" stacks up quite favorably to its competition (see here and here).

2) The Geek Pulse, a desk-appropriate DAC + 3 watt class-A headphone amplifier that is designed to live in your office, on your bookshelf, or wherever you might need super hi-res decoding. It has more inputs than the Geek Out (usb, toslink, coax) and RCA line-level out in addition to 1/4" headphone out.

I backed both of these projects and I can't wait to get my hands on them. I'm currently using a Meridian Explorer as the DAC in my office (which I'm quite fond of), but it caps at 24/192 and doesn't understand DSD or DXD at all. Both of these LH Labs projects promise to do native DSD/DXD decoding (including DSD64 and DSD128), along with a myriad of other hi-res bitrate and sample rate combo up to 32/384!

Anyone else get in on these projects?

UPDATE:

Gavin Fish has posted an update to the design of the Geek Pulse in response to investor feedback:

Changes & Updates to Geek Pulse Thanks to You!
This is not a final list of changes, this is just what we can commit to right now. We'll continually take your suggestions throughout the campaign.

1. We're removing the decorative "V" on the front panel.
2. We're changing from a glossy acrylic front panel to a metal one.
3. We're changing the volume control buttons to a large control knob.
4. We're adding informative LED's to the front panel to display sample rates, etc.
5. We're adding a gain switch so all ya'll with IEM's won't blow your ear drums out. We're thinking three positions: 3 W, 1 W, and 100 mW.
6. The headphone output and the line output will have discrete analog circuits.

We hear you on the balanced output idea. Stay tuned as we figure that out.

Geek Blue - A Bluetooth Stage that is Rad
This idea came from you! Geek Blue is a Bluetooth 4.0 stage so you can stream your music right into Geek Pulse.
 
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Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
1,514
71
48
Alpharetta, Georgia
#2
I just ordered a Geek Pulse. I will post a review once I get it but it may be April before I receive it.
 

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
1,514
71
48
Alpharetta, Georgia
#4
Sweet, Lee!

It'll be fun to compare notes when at last we finally get our paws on the prize.
I'm curious to see what they can do at this price point.
 
#5
I'm curious to see what they can do at this price point.
Looks like the Geek Pulse has gained a new add-on option: a fully balanced version (Geek Pulse X) for an additional $140 contribution. At the moment, it appears that it won't have single-ended outputs... but there's a lot of momentum in the community to change that. I wouldn't be surprised if Geek Pulse X gains some RCA connectors and a 1/4" headphone jack before too long... might make it a very convenient little dac/amp combo!
 
#6
I usually wouldn't reply to my own post, but it's been a while. Another new update today -- an add-on Linear Power Supply for the Geek Pulse!

Gavin Fish said:
As we get closer to the end of the campaign, we're trying our best to release the options you want as part of your Geek Pulse system. One of the major requests has been for a linear power supply. Larry and his team of engineers has been hard at work engineering the circuit that will give you the quietest power at an affordable price, and have come up with something that I think is remarkable.

Right now, everything is in an engineering prototype 1 stage. But the final product will fit into the same chassis as Geek Pulse and Geek Blue, so it will be part of a matching system.

Benefits of a Linear Power Supply
• No switching power noise!
• Unlike a battery, no need to recharge.
• Unlike a battery, a LPS has excellent system grounding.


Specs of Geek Linear Power Supply
• 110V/120V or 220V/240V 50/60 Hz AC input.
• 12V DC, 800mA output (uses the notoriously good power supply technology inside Da Vinci DAC)
• 5V DC, 500mA output in front panel via USB-A connector (Can be used with Geek Out via split USB cable to reduce power noise from computer.)
• 47,000uF Reservoir Capacitor (4700uF * 10) with zero switching off noise Schottky diode
• 30VA High Quality Noise Shielded Transformer


Special note: If you live in a country where your power is not one of the ones specified (Japan or Brazil, for example), please don't buy Geek LPS. Also note that the 110V/120V and 220V/240V is NON-switchable (i.e. is set at the factory).

Geek LPS Pricing

MSRP is $499. Early bird backers of Geek LPS can get it for $289. After those are gone, you can still get it for $399 through the end of the campaign.
 
May 11, 2012
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#7
I'm in for both geeks...

Let's see how they'll perform.

They're also providing upgrade perks for Femto clocking and linear power supply.

Quite an interesting approach to market.

Hope to see a more affordable version of the da Vinci dual dac soon.
 

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
1,514
71
48
Alpharetta, Georgia
#8
I have a Pulse on order with the femtosecond clock. I bet it will be excellent. They are now working on a $1 million stretch goal. If they get it they will add in some very high quality parts upgrades.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBP8PKDxUfs
 

Lee

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2011
1,514
71
48
Alpharetta, Georgia
#10
The one million dollar mark as been reached!

Amazing!

This little guy might get the audiophile community by surprise!

I certainly hope so.
It gets better. Gavin is sending an email out at midnight Pacific time announcing new features and seems like a new side project they have been working on. Too bad I will be sleeping then.
 

MylesBAstor

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,222
4
38
#11
It gets better. Gavin is sending an email out at midnight Pacific time announcing new features and seems like a new side project they have been working on. Too bad I will be sleeping then.
This sure sounds like a bait and switch. What happens to the end of the line when the orders stop rolling in?
 
May 30, 2010
15,331
605
113
Portugal
#12
I have a Pulse on order with the femtosecond clock. I bet it will be excellent. They are now working on a $1 million stretch goal. If they get it they will add in some very high quality parts upgrades.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBP8PKDxUfs
Lee,

Devialet raised 15 million euros - around $21 million. Remember that next time you are drinking champagne or cognac there is some probability you are sponsoring Devialet. :) http://en.devialet.com/devialet-an-epic-story/
 
#13
The Geek Pulse campaign has only 10 hours left! They're even offering deals on their original Lightspeed USB cable, along with their new Lightspeed S/PDIF and AES/EBU cables... including interest-free installment plans!

If you've ever wanted a Lightspeed USB cable, or are interested in the Geek Pulse DAC, the Linear Power Supply, the Bluetooth module, or even just a geeky t-shirt, now is the time!
 
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Johnny Vinyl

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 16, 2010
8,572
9
38
Calgary, AB
#14
I ordered the Geek Pulse with about 8 hours left in the campaign. This is my first foray into the world of DAC's and my buddy, who's 100% digital, suggested I give this a try (he ordered it as well). I guess its time for me now to start reading up on DAC's and getting edumacated.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,291
260
83
Manila, Philippines
#16
How many people can and do buy 20k and over DACs? It's not exactly a growth segment.

Not everybody's got a huge mother company subsidizing start up costs. Besides, I think from a purely objective point of view that the direct feedback from customers via crowd sourcing campaigns is very smart. Look at the VR goggle making teenager who started in his garage. He got backed big time by the owner of ID Software and now he's down to latency numbers lower than the big boys like Samsung and Sony. LH isn't the first to do this and they won't be the last. There's a product design and marketing efficiency with the model that is quite intriguing. It isn't just about the money per se. Interest rates are low and credit isn't all that hard to secure. What is lost in offer price vs end retail could just as easily be spent on independent market studies and you still wouldn't have customers built in.

Now You might say, sure but you are a distributor of LH. Yes but actually in the short term this does not put anything in our pockets. This is a factory direct deal. I already know many local backers. There's no way of knowing the saturation level. We have no clue how many customers will be left for us to sell the normal production runs to especially since the prices will no longer be promotional prices. Actually, we distributors should be irked. I however in all honesty am not. I think it is all really cool. :)
 
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