Light Harmonic announced GEEK, a thumb-drive-sized device that plugs into a laptop’s USB port, processes the digital signal, and amplifies the output for clearer, more intelligible sound through headphones. The company hopes to bring the world of high-quality, high-resolution sound to a mainstream audience, minus the intimidating jargon associated with “audiophile” products.
“We wanted to bring good sound to a non-audiophile market, so that travelers, gamers, and music lovers can better enjoy the stuff they love,” said Gavin Fish, Light Harmonic’s VP of Sales. “We want folks to have fun, like we do. That’s why we call GEEK’s USB extension ‘Slacker’ (every geek has a slacker friend, right?), and use words like Awesomifier and Shareulator instead of digital-to-analog-converter and multiple-output amplifier. We don’t think you have to speak geek to enjoy GEEK.”
Continuing, Fish said, “This upbeat, nontraditional approach includes introducing GEEK through a campaign on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. , but crowdfunding allows us to introduce and pre-sell our product, conduct market research, and help fund production without going to banks.”
Traditional home audio products have a tough time in today’s marketplace, while the market in portable, personal audio based on digital downloads continues to grow.
“We all love the audio business,” said Fish. “The old-school industry is dying, so we’re trying to put a defibrillator on it, and help other companies in the business as well. We are bringing in small music labels to provide music downloads, and hope to bring music to the people the industry has left out: women, students, anybody who wants to enjoy music, minus all the audiophile crap.
“We’re in touch with our ʻinner geekʼ, and that’s why our product is called GEEK,” said Fish. “We think the Kickstarter community is open to this idea, and thatʼs why we’re here.”
GEEK (seen here on Kickstarter: http://kck.st/1d2vHAF) is, in technical terms, a USB DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that will process digital music files in all available digital formats in PCM, DSD, and DXD, combined with a headphone amplifier with state-of-the-art performance and spatialization software that will create a 3-D soundfield outside the listener’s head.
“High resolution music downloads are a major revolution in audio, like HDTV and Blu-ray in video,” said Light Harmonic CEO Larry Ho. “Most people don’t know about hi-res. GEEK will introduce them to all hi-res formats and enjoy music better, with no fuss. Movie dialog will be clearer and easier to understand for travelers on airplanes; gamers will hear that ninja sneaking up on them.”
Light Harmonic’s funding goal for their 30-day campaign was $28,000, intended to underwrite the design and tooling of GEEK’s aluminum enclosure. They were shocked when their humorous campaign reached the goal in 10.5 hours. To date, the project has reached over 500% of their fundraising goal.
“We are absolutely amazed at the outpouring of support from the audio and Kickstarter communities,” said Fish. “The warmth and intensity of our backers has just floored us. Our team did their homework, spent months preparing the campaign, and we are incredibly pleased by the response.”
Price and Availability
GEEK will sell in stores and online for $299; early Kickstarter backers were able to reserve the product at pre-launch prices as low as $99. Delivery of GEEK to Kickstarter backers will occur in January 2014; shipment to retailers, distributors and online sellers will begin in Q1/2014. GEEK will officially debut January 2014 in Las Vegas, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
About Light Harmonic:
Light Harmonic was founded in Sacramento, California in 2010 with the goal of producing the finest-sounding digital audio products in the world. The company produces the industry-leading Da Vinci DAC ($20,000) and Da Vinci Dual DAC ($31,000) and the LightSpeed USB cable ($999-$1999); all three products have received rave reviews and are sold worldwide through a network of dealers and distributors. GEEK is the company’s first mass-market product.