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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.

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    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

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    LH Labs’ Larry Ho gets animated at CES 2016.

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    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.

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