Logicform is a new audio company looking to break into the audio market. Their current – and only – unit, the Logicform NV1, is a USB DAC and pre-amplifier. It comes in a small black case, and it looks sweet enough with those green LEDs. Can the NV1 make a place for itself surrounded by companies like AudioEngine and HRT though? Read on to find out more.
Panda Tech Review believes in community responsibility, commitment, and in giving a voice to up-and-coming audio companies. It helps the community that we all hold dear, and it helps let the world know of all the new and cool stuff that startups make every day. PTR thus wishes to dedicate a section of this review to the backstory of Logicform.
Logicform is a new audio startup that has debuted with its NV1 USB DAC and Preamplifier. It is manned by the company founder Lien and a part time worker. The story starts out with Lien working at QSC Audio Products before finding leaving to work on his new startup, Logicform. Lien is passionate about audio, and in the processes of designing them as a hardware engineer specializing in digital audio products. He cites his drive to be in designing the best performing units for the best possible price; which we can see from the NV1 he just released.
All of Logicform’s products are built in house in the USA, utilizing Lien’s philosophies of design criteria.
The NV1’s full metal build is sleek yet intimidating with its DIY style case that’s packed with industrial components. The black case that the NV1 comes in looks like any enclosure a DIY-audio enthusiast will have come by. It comes with a front and back panel that can be easily removed through its Philips head screws. The kicker though, is that it isn’t a DIY audio unit. The silk-screening on the NV1 is professional and accurate; there are no blemishes or lack of color uniformity. What makes the NV1 different from most devices on the market – on first sight – would be its volume knob. It’s a digital free-spinning wheel with green LED’s uniformly spread around the circumference of it. Press it down and it turns red to signify that you muted the audio on the computer; it’s quite neat.
The metal is quite hard and there isn’t any freeplay in any part of the enclosure or the front/rear shields. The volume knob has a bit of freeplay in that it jiggles a bit, but its within general expectations for knobs to have a bit. The RCA and USB connector on the back are pretty well set as well. They aren’t easily ‘pushed’ back by the connector, and have a good look and feel to their metal housings.
In sum, the NV1’s body is beautiful to look at and hints at DIY nostalgia. Its solid foundation on the outside also complements its solid interior build as there is no rattle of sorts.
The Logicform NV1 has only three components to it. They are the front’s digital volume wheel, and rear line-out and USB input. Every single part of it needs to be ‘used’ or plugged in for the device to function. There isn’t any redundancy with extra plugs or features; it’s a basic unit.
The lack of any bottom grip on the NV1, and its light weight is a slight issue however. The USB cable I have plugged in and RCA cable are on the light and flexible side of cables already. The NV1 however, due to its smooth bottom, case design, and small weight makes it an object that swings with the cable. It’s hard to position the unit so its straight and aligned with your desk without having to manage the cables as well. Touching the unit, and any other interference with the front of it creates a lot of movement within the device. I would have loved if Logicform included rubber bumps or other standoffs so as to give the unit more cohesion with the surface it’s on.
The class 1 audio driver is very helpful with the NV1. This means that there is no need to personally insert an install disk, hunt for a driver on the website, or to configure the device. The class 1 driver allows your computer the ability to – near – automatically use the device straight from the box. Installation was a cinch, and I was able to use the NV1 in no time. Hunting for my RCA cable actually took more time than the setup.
The LED’s on the scroll wheel is really neat and fun to use. The green LED is powered on for as long as the NV1 is connected through USB. The light isn’t too bright, it has a nice intensity to dimness ratio in my opinion. Some people prefer it their stations to be absolutely dark at night though. The NV1’s green LED cannot be turned off which is going to be a bummer for those that prefer that. There is also a red LED function that comes on when the NV1’s scroll wheel is clicked. This enables the device to send a mute signal to the computer. Personally, I would have loved to see the green LED’s lower and raise in quantity depending on computer volume, but that’s a feature for another day.
The scrolling is very fluid and offers an extremely satisfying – but quiet sounding - click with each turn. It has to be one of the best parts of the NV1 that isn’t used frequently. The knob on the NV1 is connected on a hardware to software level. It lowers the ‘volume’ on the DAC which then sends a signal to the computer to show it on screen. The same principle is applied when muting. However, lowering the volume on the DAC on the computer cuts bits off the signal of course. Windows automatically upsamples any audio – unless you are using a bit perfect format – to help prevent from chopping off too much of the audio. For the most part, this makes it so that you can lower the volume as much as you want without any sonic issues, but do note that it is best to lower the volume through an analog amplifier than through Windows or the NV1.
How does it work?:
Some people may be intimidated by the device but it is essentially just a computer DAC and a pre-amp. Most DAC’s have a pre-amp to boost the signal a bit before heading to the line out. There are various designs as to why it is done, but in this case, it is to add a bit of tonality and signal before heading to be exported through the line out.
The signal from the line out should then be plugged into the line input of an amplifier. The format of the NV1 is RCA so your amplifier should either accept RCA input, or you can use an adapter to change RCA to 3.5mm TRS analog so that it may be inputed.
For more info on what a DAC is, see the video below:
The Logicform NV1 will be reviewed with soley the Project-H unit. Other amps and DAC’s such as the Palaios Labs Iona and FiiO E12 were used with it, but for the sound section, it was tested soley with my bench unit. The main amplifier remained the same throughout and was a desktop modified Objective 2 amplifier. The DAC’s used were the Logicform’s own TI/Burr Brown PCM 1796 DAC and my own Cirrus Logic CS4398. I have access to WM8740 and PCM 1792A DAC’s as well, but they were not used during direct sound comparisons.
Highs: (slight veiling, but overall, fits the sonic range)
The NV1 is not as clear in the highs as I would like to be. They lose a bit of the sparkle, but the signal is very clean. There isn’t any fluctuation in the sound when highs are played which is good – this is pretty common with units at this range – but I would prefer a bit more presence in the highs for my type of listening.
Vocals and Mids: (Full laid back vocals, with a self-contained authority)
The vocals and mids take a slight dip. They aren’t as forward and present, but they do make up for it with more intimacy. The mids are not as ‘in your face’ which promotes it as a more passive system to listen to. But what really makes the NV1 shine is its mid-bodied focus. The NV1 produces a sound that balances the entire mid spectral range well – in the sense that one portion doesn’t sparkle more than others – which makes it sound more natural. More genres work well with the NV1 thanks to its slightly subdued mid-range. I prefer this type of sonic signature when I’m passively listening, so the NV1 wins big points here.
Lows: (Slightly reduced bass presence, but with a more pronounced punch)
The lows have a pronunciation in the mid-bass area. They are heightened a bit and offer good punch with the PCM DAC as opposed to the CS4398. While they aren’t as ‘loud’ as the CS4398, the lows offer a much more concrete ‘push’ in the mid-bass section – which most people want anyway.
Sound Signature: (laid back, well-bodied, with slight mid bass punch)
The NV1 almost has a V or U shape built into the unit in that there is a slight dip in the mid-range. There is a very noticeable reduction and slight muffling of sound when switching to the NV1. This slight curve is very noticeable especially among the vocal and the stage it is in.
The mid range has a slight veil to it centered around a good soundstage. There is a sense of space around the mids with the NV1, but the problem with them is that it is a bit self ‘contained’ and lacks authority. They practically do their own thing without regard for the other ranges. Imagine a band playing live, and now imagine the lead singer. Move him about 6 inches away from the mic and cover it with a layer of cloth, and give him a different microphone from the other members. This is the closest type of analogy I can come up with for how the mid range operates. Vocals have this muffling effect more than the mid instruments.
Overall, the sound signature of the NV1 is pleasing for listeners who want to listen to a warm, and slightly laid back presentation of their music. The NV1 is absolutely perfect for them. It offers a well-rounded sonic range that compliments the idea of a laid back signature.
The Logicform NV1 is a unique – but pricey - unit that does what it sets out to do. It adds warmth and signature to your audio system with its BurrBrown/TI DAC and Pre-Amplifier function. The unit is small, sleek, and works with almost every system right out the gate. Evidently more, this is one of the few units in where the lack of a dedicated power source didn’t feel like a limiting factor. The Logicform NV1 has a lot to add to the table, but it does it for a specific market. The small USB powered unit, knob style, and laid back sound signature makes it something that I would recommend for those that are looking for all that the NV1 offers. The drawback though would be the price of the unit. It is a bit expensive at $150 compared to other units from big name manufactures who are able to easily reduce costs. It’s laid back sound style also may be a bit discouraging for audio purists, and possibly even more so at this price range.
Overall, the NV1 has been an easy-to-use unit that packs a smooth sound in its industrial chasis. It produces a well-defined sound that works well with every genre I threw at it, and deserves recognition for what it does.
Build Quality: 9/10
Sound Quality: 8/10