About this project
Thank you all so much for your support during our campaign! It's been a ride I'll never forget. Please keep in contact with us and follow our progress on this page, on MustGeekOut.com (you can still pre-order there), and on Facebook.
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!
Problem - If you're a high resolution music lover, a majority of laptop audio systems can't play any higher resolution than standard CD (16/44.1). That sucks!
- 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 high definition. GEEK can play any current or anticipated audio format.
Problem - A computer's headphone output isn't powerful enough! If you're in a crowded place, like a coffee shop, it's often hard to hear-- even with your computer cranked to 11.
- It's a headphone amp. Ever wish you could turn up the volume on your laptop just a little more? 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.
Problem - Headphones, and even desktop speakers, don't sound natural. This is because the speakers are too close to your ears. In a traditional stereo, both ears hear both channels. The left ear will hear all of the left channel and some of the right. The right ear will hear all of the right channel and some of the left. This is how a stereo image forms. But with headphones, and closely-placed desktop speakers, it doesn't work that way.
- It's a 3D awesomifier. GEEK has 3D audio technology that emulates the way your ears hear.
Problem - You want to share your music with a friend. So, you hand him or her one earbud, and you listen to the other. That sucks!
- It's a shareulator. GEEK has two headphone jacks!
Thanks to Ferenc Temerini for helping us sort out all of Geek's add-ons over the course of the campaign:
- 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 music format in PCM: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176,4, 192, 352.8, 384 kHz / 16, 24, 32 bits.
- Native decoded digital format in 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)
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.
Light Harmonic in the Press
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Risks and challenges
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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