Geek Out


$299.00 Released February, 2014

Product Shot 1Geek Out by Light Harmonic's LHLabs division is an ultra-portable, high-end USB Class 2 Audio device (aka a "sound card"), a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC), and a headphone amplifier all-in-one. It was co-created by Larry Ho (the President of Light Harmonic) and Gavin Fish (the VP of Sales and Marketing), who solicited and incorporated many ideas for refinements and enhancements from the community of Kickstarter backers.

Features

The Geek Out performs the following functions:

DAC

Geek Out can play music sourced from various standard and high-resolution audio sources and formats. The Kickstarter campaign sported this image:

Headphone Amplifier

Geek Out has an integrated headphone amplifier. It actually sports a pair of output connectors for powering two headphones at once. It can also provide line-level output (via one of these connectors) for amplification by another device.

3D Awesomifier

Geek Out has a digitally-controlled analog "3D Awesomifier" circuit that provides for a more natural, loudspeaker-like listening experience. It is based on the well-known concept of "crossfeed" employed by other headphone amplifiers and adds some additional, proprietary psychoacoustic "secret sauce" that Light Harmonic has thus far been quiet about.

Colors

The Geek Out is available in the following colors:
  • Silver
  • Black
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Kickstarter Green(limited edition for Kickstarter backers)

History

Geek Out started as a Kickstarter project in August of 2013. During the campaign it attracted 2,146 backers who pledged $303,061 towards a $28,000 goal.

Geek Out was scheduled to ship in January of 2014, but due to a manufacturing defect that affected the first batch of units, shipment has been postponed to February or March. The issue (a sagging USB connector) and the reason for it have been fully disclosed by LHlabs here.

Availability

The Geek Out is currently available for pre-order at a reduced price of $199 via this url: mustgeekout.com.

Public Reception

Geek Out was demonstrated publicly at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, NV. It was well-received by those who tried it, many of whom were surprised and delighted that such high quality sound could come from such a small device, and that such a small amplifier could capably drive such headphones as the Audeze LCD-XC (which requires a nominal power output of 1-4 watts).

Specifications

As with any product, there's more going on underneath the covers than quick overviews will allow for. Here are some detailed specs gathered over the course of the product's development by a passionate supporter, Ferenc Temerini:
  • Three Geek types: 1 - Geek, 2 - Super Geek, 3 - Super-Duper Geek
  • Two outputs on all types (2 x 3.5 mm jack): line and headphones, both are variable in digital domain (64bit precision)
  • Volume control: two buttons and software (Operation System main volume slider sends volume data to Geek which implements the volume change in its internal volume control)
  • Line-out output impedance: 47 Ohm (on all types)
  • Headphone output impedance: 0.47 Ohm (on all types)
  • Max output voltage (line-out and headphone): 2.65 Vrms (Geek), 3,4 Vrms (Super Geek), 4 Vrms (Super-Duper Geek)
  • Max output power (headphone, 16 Ohm): 450 mW (Geek), 720 mW (Super Geek), 1000 mW (Super-Duper Geek)
  • Native decoded PCM: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176,4, 192, 352.8, 384 kHz / 16, 24, 32 bits.
  • Native decoded DSD: 2.822, 3.072, 5.644, 6.144 mHz / 1 bit
  • "Class A" analogue output stage, THD+N better than 0.005 %, SNR is 103dB (none-weighted), 109dB (A-weighted)
  • Sample rate indicator LEDs, machined aluminum enclosure in three different colors, with 6" USB cable, driver for PC (plug and play on MAC and Linux)

Hardware

From time to time, glimpses into the hardware in the Geek Out is revealed to the Geek Force and in interviews. Here are some of these morsels:

Operational Amplifiers

The original design for the Super-Duper Geek Out called for an OPA1612 as an "upgrade" to the OPA1652 used in the baseline Geek Out, because on paper the OPA1612 seems like it would have performance advantages. The final version of Super-Duper Geek uses OPA1652 but with better MELF resistors and higher bias voltage than the baseline Geek Out. According to Larry Ho, "in the final board of Super-Duper Geek, OPA1652 sounds still better [than the 1612]. The THD testing result is the same of both, OPA1652 sounds more organic and natural. So we decide to use OPA1652 in the end."

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