Light Harmonic Geek Out 1000
Forgive me in advance if this seems premature - posting an Impressions AND Appreciation Thread dedicated to Light Harmonics Geek Out 1000:
I've been hearing positive things from other GEEK campaign supporters/early adopters, so I'm hoping some of them find this thread and contribute some thoughts on their experiences with this lil' beast of an amp/DAC! I'm still in the first impressions phase to be honest - but judging by my reaction to the prototype at CanJam, back in October 2013, and the more refined production component I received/own: I'm just gonna fall deeper in love with the Geek Out 1000 - Man something about that sentence is so cheesy, but rockin the Geek Out with my Audeze LCD-XC's and MOG, Spotify, Amarra, and various other streams (via my MacBook Pro Retina SSD) has kept a smile on my face for hours. I haven't reacted this way to a USB dongle-style amp/DAC since I first heard the HRT microStreamer (still-thriving thread and review). Now, there are other headphone amp/DACs like this that I enjoy as well: The obvious Audioquest Dragonfly, Meridian Explorer, and Audioengine D3 come to mind, but the Geek Out 1000, to this hobbyists' ears, lives in a class all its own.
The Geek Out 1000 prototype blew me away at Canjam at RMAF late last year:
It sounds like it's been refined since then! Now it has been a while so that could be in my head, admittedly, but a couple of friends also noticed this. They told me so without my sharing any thoughts on the production unit vs. the proto. So either way: Light Harmonic has built something special in the Geek Out 1000. The sound grabs me like one of my reference-level desktop rigs when I'm using my Audeze LCD-3's, HD800's, and other power hungry cans. The dynamic slam and richness of tonality from the Geek with the cans mentioned (and Amarra as source) are superbly executed. The bassline, kick, and various synth pads drop, ripple and curl during Tricky's "Somebody's Sins". The continuousness, the silkiness of the sounds, are sublimely textured and colorful. Its got that sparkle factor - the magic that keeps you glued to your headphones. Shlohmo's "Places"; a bass-heavy, knockin' minimal electronic r&b style track just booms. The bassline hovers throughout the whole track. There's no break in this low end tone that weaves in and out of the percussion and other elements. This is one of my favorite tracks to drive to late-night. The Geek Out 1000 handled it all with ease and grace.
The Geek Out's equal to the task when it comes to acoustic instruments too. The 70's guitar rift in Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" feat. Pharrell Williams is tight and focused. The strings during Mogwai's "Special N" are emotionally charged and spacious. They soar, and trail off naturally - the somber notes are palpable. This track gets me every time. I'm not sure what it is, but the chord progression reminds me of party nights morphing into early-morning laughter and good times with my closest friends. I always picture treasured moments like that when I hear that composition. I know that might sound wacky, but it chokes me up: In a good way. The funny things is, it's an instant listening tool for me as well! If the system isn't resolving enough I don't get that emotional vibe in the pit of my stomach. It's an instant reaction - and sometimes I get a piece of kit in for review, I play "Special N", and nothing... If it doesn't grab me emotionally it's useless for my purposes. Music is one of my drugs of choice. But the systems gotta translate the emotive power of the music as well as all the sonic ear-candy. Light Harmonics Geek Out 1000 delivers the candy and the feelings behind it.
I also love the look and feel of the product. It's got a very clean, modern aesthetic and it feels substantial in my hands. The Geek Out is bigger than other USB dongle/memory stick-like USB amp/DACs that have a similar form factor. It looks about twice the width of the Dragonfly and a little thicker than the HRT microStreamer. It's got two 3.5mm output jacks: a nice touch. It also handles up to 32-bit/384Hz as well as DSD (natively). That's fantastic. No more wondering if the DAC will handle the sample or bit-rates of the music I pick up when I use the Geek Out. It's like having an HRT microStreamer on steroids. I knew I was going to dig the sound of the Geek Out within twenty seconds of Shigeto's "First Saturn Return" off their No Better Time Than Now record. The track combines stripped-down jazz elements with classic 80's video game bleeps and pings. The soundstage is airy and dark, wide and deep. It's wide-open, a slick chill-out track - and the Geek captured all the nuances perfectly. Well, I'm sure it's not perfect, but what is? The sound and the vibe are fluid and engaging. The Geek Out's kept me glued to my MacBook for hours, browsing and listening to music I haven't spun in years. That's the mark of a great stereo amp/DAC: keeping me glued to the music. That makes it worth every penny to me, and I think I'm still far from breaking this badboy in!
To be continued...
Edited by mikemercer - 3/22/14 at 11:08am