LH Labs, their Crowd-Funded Geek Pulse, and a bunch of updates

Been a bit of a wild ride this past week with the Geek Pulse. With all the articles here, you’d think it was the only thing happening this holiday season. While it may not be (and that’s unclear), there is a lot happening over there, so let’s get up to speed.

First up is the new LPS — yes, LH Labs is adding an option for an external linear power supply unit for the Pulse, their desktop DAC/amplifier combo for your personal headphone-based listening enjoyment. For those in the know, this is a no-brainer — the single biggest downfall of any component tends not to be the internal circuits or chips. It’s usually either the input or the output. In the latter case, the power supply is absolutely critical — and getting that right for anything with an analog output is almost as important as it is for anything with a digital input. I expect big this with this and that it’ll be a dramatic upgrade. Here’s the bad news — the Early Bird Special pricing of this external upgrade of $289 is all sold out, and was within several hours of the announcement (too quick for me to catch wind of, actually, which is why I didn’t mention it). There are quite a few of the $399 versions left, however and if you were a wise and sneaky audiophile, registering for the Geek Force on LH Labs’ website might return you a happy surprise (but you had better move fast). That’s update #1.

Update #2 has to do with that input I just referenced — yes, LH Labs has another upgrade that directly (and profoundly) impacts the input.

Okay friends, after a final couple of conversations with Crystek, we can announce that we’ve released a Femto Clock perk on our campaign at 3:00PM Pacific time today.

Here are the specs:

  1. Crystek special customized ultra-low jitter TCXO clocks x 2. (One at 90,316,8000 Hz, and one at 98,304,000 Hz) — 85 Femto (85 * 10 ^-15) Second Jitter in 100M Hz region.
  2. Sub 1.0uV voltage reference supported dedicated clock power shunt regulator
  3. This is all internal to Geek Pulse and Geek Pulse X.

A “femto” clock is a super-duper-accurate clock. It’s the abbreviated term for femtosecond, which is one quadrillionth of a second. If used properly in a circuit design (like we do!), it can greatly reduce or virtually eliminate periodic errors in interpreting a digital signal (aka ‘jitter’).

As you know, low jitter means a cleaner signal path, which results in a more natural listening experience. We’re VERY excited about this great new perk! Thank you all for insisting we add it.

Quite frankly, this is probably the one thing to get with the Pulse, if you get no other upgrades. A Femto clock is pretty sexy and those chips are absolute dynamite. At an Early Bird Special price of $129, you should jump. In the last hour, half of the available 250 slots are already taken. Whoops.

There are other upgrades, too — including a better USB cable, a USB-connector-on-a-ball-joint widget, a Bluetooth module, balanced circuitry, and more. The Indiegogo campaign page is getting a little crowded at this point, with only 8 days left to go, so if you haven’t jumped in and/or been keeping tabs, plan to take a few minutes to explore your options and build out your very own customized Awesomifier.

Finally, there’s another bit I wanted to note. The most savvy of you may have noted that the LH Labs crew is in fact giving away perks for referrals — and I’ve referred quite a few folks, so let me offer a few thoughts. First, I think the LH Labs folks are good people. They may surprise me, and if so, I’ll be first in line screaming bloody murder. But as of yet, I’ve seen absolutely zero sign of shadiness. If you’ve met Larry or Gavin (or any of the rest of the crew), you’ll know what I mean. They’re some of the nicest and funniest dudes in the biz today. So, no, I’ve had zero hesitations tracking their madness with some degree of zeal. Second, you may be interested to note that I am an investor. Yes, I bought in just like the rest of the folks that have gobbled up all the little goodies you were too slow to jump on. My money has gone where my mouth is (which is such a weird little saying). Truth is, I came in with the Geek (now called Geek Out) — but I was late to that party. I saw it, thought about it, was convinced that I could dilly and dally and jump in whenever … Yeah. That worked well – I did not get the best price on that little widget. Yep, I missed out and I was bummed. Which is why I’ve been sharing all this with you about the Pulse — so you can learn from my mistakes by not sitting on your hands bemusedly watching as the train went whizzing by inches from your nose. Third, all those perks I may or may not be getting for all those referrals? They’re going out to reviewers. Yes, that’s right. I’m putting all that shit to work — pronto. So you can learn whatever it is you need or want to learn. And then? It’s party time! Yes, I plan to let a few of you Johnny-come-latelys in on the fun with a happy little set of raffles. You’re welcome. So, while I do appreciate those of you angels so clearly worried about the color of my soul as you’re happily chirping away about all those bags of money that LH Labs will be giving away to referrers, I can cheerfully reply: “Bah Humbug.” Though, I have to say, “bags of money” would have been awesome. I mean, it is the holiday season after all, right?

Oh well.

Anyway, if you’re up for an upgrade to what’s shaping up to be a desktop techno-marvel, you have 8 days left to find that stack of “leftover” holiday cash and start throwing wads of it at LH Labs.

Tick, tock.

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8 Responses to LH Labs, their Crowd-Funded Geek Pulse, and a bunch of updates

  1. Eric B. says:

    The way this is working is really frustrating to me. I was a very early contributor. At that time I thought it was for the DAC/amp as described, not knowing many changes and upgrades would come. But they keep adding and changing things (that I am not able to even buy unless I camp out by my computer?) that I will end up with a barebones model that is essentially obsolete before it even gets to me. I don’t understand the limitations on upgrades and things, they seem unnecessarily complicated and arbitrary – and discourages early participant. Congrats to everyone who’s getting a top of the line model, but it’s left a sour taste in my mouth.

    • Part-Time Audiophile says:

      Understandable, Eric. But I suspect you’ll be able to “make changes” after the campaign ends. If you have any questions — about upgrading, for example — just email Gavin.

  2. shimrod says:

    I was also an early investor in the combo bundle. I’ve since contributed toward both the LPS and the femto clocks. k

    I’m a little bemused by the mission creep. The pulse started as a geek out with a little more input capability due to the less constraining case size, now it’s metastasized into something more. How much more? The Out was competition for the dragonfly, the pulse was competing with budget desktop D/As. I’m watching the upgrades accumulate and wondering what’s a comparison product for the new, improved, two box, femto Pulse? The money I’ve put into this thing is well past my desktop budget, at this point it’s intended for a place in my main rig. LH has to realize that every upgrade is increasing both expectations and the potential for disappointment.

    • Part-Time Audiophile says:

      My expectations were high to begin with. $300 for a SOA desktop DAC/amp sounded like a pretty great deal. I think we’re up to a grand for the sundae-with-cherries version. That’s a lot of dough to drop on your desk!

      I guess we’ll have to wait and see what we see. At this point, it’s an investment — there’s no product. Based on my “insider knowledge” (I can read the campaign website), I don’t think they’re going to have any trouble finding the funds to make these [cough], so with luck, that’ll be sooner rather than later.

  3. Yohan says:

    I thought the base model of the Geek Pulse has not changed since they launched. It always was a DAC / Headphone / Digital Preamp in one box.

    Everything else is just upgrades to this base product. an XLR version, Femto clocks, Linear power supply, e.t.c

  4. TF Lyness says:

    Any thoughts on the Geek Pulse S? As in, is it worth it to have the dual mono even though I won’t have (and don’t want) balanced outputs?

    • Part-Time Audiophile says:

      Hard to say, but generally, a dual-mono is generally a good thing regardless of the output version or type.

  5. It’s no wonder that the company has scope creep. They keep adding goodies and keep getting money. It’s a tremendous business idea. Now they have raised almost 1 million dollars. If I was running this business I would be adding as many upgrades and features as I could get my hands on. That makes me question the actual improvements all of these upgrades will bring and how cost effective it is. I’m not saying that they are not being shady, on paper those upgrades make sense. But since no one has even heard the base product, you have to wonder how much difference would an upgrade make if you really don’t care for the base sound of the product.

    I am looking for a good dac/amp combo and have watched the Geek movement for a few months. The original Geek Out product has not been released (isn’t it overdue?), and has not been widely heard or reviewed by anybody who had enough time with it to give it a thorough review. And even before there is a general consensus that these guys can make good sounding products, they have a second product. From my point of view there is a high probability that the primary outcome of all this hype and money spent of product unheard will be disappointment.

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