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CES 2016: LH Labs bring Geek Source, Vi DAC to life

  • ces2016The Geek force awakens. After striking the high end with the Light Harmonic-branded Da Vinci and Sire DACs and then wowing the entry level with the Geek Out USB dongle, LH Labs ultimately found themselves three campaigns deep into Indiegogo as production and shipping dates began to slip (for some backers). The upshot? Joy for those who received their products on time, frustration for those still tapping their watches – missteps LH Labs that attempted to correct by staggering production of a second generation Geek Out in 2015.

    Dropping into their 35th floor room at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas revealed a very different LH Labs: one that seems to have many ducks sat firmly in a row.

    Geek Out v2 has grown (quite literally) into a plus-sized battery-powered portable strap-on (the v2+) designed for smartphone use hitherto precluded by the original’s high current pull on the source device. Users are promised seven hours from a full charge but with zero surrender on the dongle version’s go juice: the Geek Out v2+ pours a full Class A watt into 16 Ohms via both 2.5mm TRSS balanced and 3.5mm TRS single-ended socketry, all whilst maintaining an output impedance of less than 1 Ohm. Street pricing via Amazon et al comes in at US$299.


    In the main system along the back wall, led by Pass Labs amplification driving Estelon floorstanders, proof of life of the long awaited Vi DAC (specifics detailed here) that lands in solid state (US$4999) and tubed-up versions (US$6999). The latter offers concurrent solid state output for the best of both worlds. That chassis design = pure class. And those tube pop-ups = foxy! Both versions are now in production, ready for distribution via traditional, non-crowdfunded channels beginning next month.

    Also on show, a prototype of the Geek Source music server/streamer, an offshoot of the Geek Pulse Indiegogo campaign. The black box offers five simultaneous outputs: I2S over HDMI , AES/EBU, coaxial, 2 X USB 2.0 and 1 X USB 3.0 and up to 4TB of internal storage. Control comes from either the Geek Source’s front-panelled touchscreen or LH Labs-coded web interface – one that’ll run on Mac, PC, iOS and Android. Roon Ready signage points to this server’s (eventual) secondary role as a Roon Endpoint. The Geek Source’s network connection can be wired or wireless.

    As soon as the four hundred Indiegogo campaign ‘pre-orders’ are fulfilled, LH Labs will flip the switch on full production for distribution via more conventional channels. Expect to see pricing come it a just under US$5000.

    Further information: LH Labs











    LH Labs’ Larry Ho gets animated at CES 2016.


    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram


    1. It’s more than a year now since I backed vi dac tube. Can’t hardly wait any longer. Is that right that geek source going to be close to $5000 or is that pricing for vi dac?

    2. Before even considering purchasing anything from LH Labs it’s advisable to read on Head-Fi about the numerous European Pulse Infinity backers (via an Indiegogo campaign) STILL waiting to receive our units 26+ months after first pledging for them. It’s an utter disgrace that LH Labs have prioritised Amazon fulfilment over outstanding backer orders, as Pulse Infinity units are currently for sale on, which speaks volumes about LH Labs appalling attitude and lacklustre commercial morality.

      • Gosh, yes, that is an interesting thread. Doesn’t seem to be any real light at the end of the tunnel either for the early backers and a number of the 130+ who are still waiting would clearly prefer to have their money back as the more time passes the more the competition nullifies whatever first mover advantage the product originally promised.

        John, in your article you refer to their new Indiegogo campaign for Geek Source and say ‘As soon as the four hundred Indiegogo campaign ‘pre-orders’ are fulfilled, LH Labs will flip the switch on full production for distribution via more conventional channels’ but based on Gavin Fish’s response to complaints in the thread that Andrew refers to, there is clearly a higher order imperative at work in LHLabs: they can’t afford to be too late in releasing the product through regular channels or the product fizzles out, and if they reach a point where they feel they need to drop the priority of their early backers, they will. I don’t know the company well but it would seem as though production issues are endemic and the likelihood of them failing to satisfy backer orders before they feel the need to go fully retail is extremely high.

        I’m not suggesting there is anything wrong with the coverage you have given them here – you’ve stated that they have had problems in the past – but your article does kind of draw a line under those and repeat their marketing mantra that ‘backer orders will be fulfilled first’ when that message clearly needs to be prefaced with ‘If all goes well…’.

        • I’m merely reporting exactly what Gavin Fish told me: that back orders would be fulfilled before units went out via dealers etc.

            • I guess this is where I must alight this conversation as I have no direct experience of such contradictory behaviour.

      • I *think* Gavin Fish said it was imminent but I can’t recall with certainty – you’re probably best off asking LH Labs directly.

    3. hi john, thanks for taking some pictures of the source, should have mine in a couple of months, looking forward to finally replacing my squeezebox touch.

    4. Did ANY of the crowd funding customers get any of their products on time? After almost two years, I ended up getting my money back after becoming a pest.

      • Only issue is that after that whole Indiegogo campaign I don’t trust their pricing. People are selling new and used gear way under the supposedly MSRPs. I am sure you can easily find a Pulse XFI or infinity with LPS for close to 1K. Not sure about that 5k pricing.

      • Michael, would you mind telling me how you managed that? I’ve asked for a refund multiple times, to no avail.

    5. I am also one of those early pulse backers. I backed the campaign in december 2013, and i still havent recieved the Dac.

      • It’s patently obvious that LH Labs don’t give a damn about backers STILL waiting for their pledges. This obnoxious customer disservice stinks. I hope that you’re listening Fishy!

    6. Nice article, and fair coverage I think. That said, I’m another domestic Pulse Infinity backer from Dec 2013 — and am still waiting for the unit. They had their reasons, but once LH Labs provided units for sale via Amazon before shipping to backers, I feel they cemented their reputation.

    7. Thank you for all your support. We are building, testing and shipping units as quickly as possible. It is a process, but we do believe you will enjoy your unit. We gained so much support for our project we played a lot of catchup and had to grow immediately. We will continue to ship until all our backers have their Pulse.
      LH Labs

      • Manny, how on earth can you misconstrue the negative comments and complaints in this section as support?!? Many backers are apoplectic that they STILL haven’t received their Pulse Infinity units and yet LH Labs continues to sell them on Amazon. Personally speaking, I’ll never even consider buying another LH Labs product as your business practices are just too darned shonky.

      • Almost 2 1/2 years after backing, I still have not received my unit. Yet, Pulse Infinity units are currently for sale on LHLabs still holds my money. When I do get my unit, it will no longer be cutting edge – 2 1/2 years is a long time in this market.

        Manny, please stop thanking for support : it sounds like you are trying to put a positive spin on comments from dissatisfied customers here. I am not longer supporting you, that’s for sure: no need to thank me!

        John, I’m really sorry about using your comment section for this, but I feel that it is important to speak up, especially considering the fact that LHLabs keep making new release promises, while pretending previous releases went ok.

    8. Well – additionally to all that has been written above – don’t Forget the immense Quality Problems that LHlabs has been and is obviously still having!
      On top of that have a look at the non transferrable warranty!

    9. Unfortunately, I’m one of those (victims) waiting for my pulse to ship. When I saw that it was on Amazon Prime, I ordered it while I wait. Since Amazon gives you two months for returns during the holidays, why not? It sounded really good!
      But my patience ran out when LH Labs kept telling me that it’s shipping next month… and then next month.
      I decided to forget about this whole mess and bought a Schiit Yggdrasil. Life is too short to deal with a bad company.
      When I received the Yggdrasil, just after 30 minutes of comparing, there is no comparison. The Yggdrasil blows the Infinity away in every aspect. Hands down.
      So the Pulse went back to Amazon early. No regrets purchasing the Yggdrasil. I really wish I had never pledge to LHL.
      They will never get another penny from me again.

      • The Yggdrasil doesn’t do DSD. With all the SACD rips in my collection that is reason enough for me to not even consider this otherwise fine DAC over the Pulse.

    10. It is laughable that they think anyone will pay anywhere near $5,000 for a product from a company with a lot going recent history of bad QA, bad consumer policies, and a very shaky history of promising one thing until they get your money and then changing it.

    11. I am appalled to read that the media still reports about LH Labs products. I am one of the backers that waited close to 2 years to get the geek pulse they had promised to arrive more that one year before it actually arrived. While I, and many others, waited for the product we had already paid, LH Labs kept launching more and more campaigns and products delaying the fulfillment of their promises. This is a company that can’t be trusted, no matter how much they promise to deliver. Their business practices are highly questionable. Be aware.

    12. I can confirm I have received both my Geek Out V2 Signature and Pulse DAC Signature Editions from LH Labs toward end of Q4 of 2015. I was also very frustrated waiting so long and remain irritated that other stuff I ordered from them has still not been delivered…However, I can catagorically state that the Pulse DAC Signature version with LPS4 sounds truly spectacular and was worth the wait. I’m reasonably satisfied with comms from them and my own competitor spec comparisons that whatever we receive from LH LAbs via the Indiegogo campaigns remains at the cutting edge and to their credit they have upped several specs and components along the way. Having said that, their after sales communications bears no resemblance to quality of their in-campaign communications. LH Labs definitely need to up their game in this regard, AND deliver promptly all the kit they have sold on Indiegogo. The

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