26 August 2013, Comments: 2

 August 2013         Anthony Garland

The latest Kickstarter to catch our attention is the Light Harmonic GEEK, an ultra-portable USB amplifier that uses very decent DACs with a form factor small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. On its own, this would not make it all that noteworthy; however, this one – unlike many homebrew amps – has been designed and created by the same engineers behind the Da Vinci DAC.

Even having a notable inventor was enough for us to take a closer look and what we found is certainly intriguing. Firstly, this USB 2.0 amplifier & D/A converter is going to be made from aluminum and also comes with Texas Instrument PCM1795 DACs that support sample rates from 44.1KHz to 5.6MHz. There will be dual 3.5mm stereo output so two sets of cans can be used at the same time. A built-in virtual 3D emulation to create surround soundstage where none exists tops off the features.

The only quibble we have over the GEEK is that they didn’t go for even higher grade DACs – we would have loved to have seen JRC MUSES 01’s – but this would boosted the price well past reasonable. While $299 may not sound all that reasonable to many, it might justify the cost if this DAC has been built as well as it sounds to be. Better still if you help fund it via Kickstarter you can get it for only $159. If the GEEK USB DAC sounds like something you would be interested in, we strongly recommend getting in on the ground floor as the lower priced ones are going fast.

  • Larry Ho

    Muse 01? I love that… Due to the cost limitation, could not put in GEEK… 😉

    Larry Ho/ Light Harmonic.

  • Okc Dave

    The cost is absurd, there’s “maybe” $35 of parts in it (probably closer to $25) besides the fancy aluminum casing. Not sure where the author gets the idea that DACs are expensive either, that TI DAC in it costs about $3.25 in volume. Higher end DAC chips cost closer to $6 in volume, easily within the budget on a $100, let alone $300 DAC box.

    The MUSE01 is an opamp not a DAC. It’s a mythological chip in that it is not superior to others from TI or National Semicon, just in limited supply that became a sort of snake oil product in the audio world. JRC is behind TI and Nat’l Semicon in opamp performance.

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