A day at Axpona 2011: DaVinci DAC from Light Harmonic

Stereophile just blogged some details about the new DaVinci DAC from Light Harmonic. Never heard of it? Well, that’s because it’s pre-production now, with anticipated availability “some time this Fall”. As Stereophile mentions, the DAC supports up to a 384kHz sample over USB (actually, USB Class 2.0, so no driver required for Snow Leopard users). Jeff fondly referred to the unit as “the Darth Vader DAC” due to it’s, ah … unusual … shape. Let’s just say that the unit, which I think is terrifically neat looking, might have a less than universal aesthetic appeal. Bah humbug, I say. The damn thing can rotate on an internal axis! Yes, the base plate can swivel out from the top portion of the DAC, so the two sit at 90-degrees from each other.

How cool is that?!? But then, I’m not necessarily the most mature of individuals, so perhaps you should take that enthusiasm with a grain of salt.

Sound quality was quite good, played back via a pair of Sophia 2 loudspeakers from Wilson Audio. The rest of the gear was from Pass Labs with a Mach2Music Mac Mini acting as a source. Playback software was PureMusic.

Sound quality definitely goes up with resolution, but I remember being quite enamored of what I was hearing with straight Redbook. This is a very nice sounding DAC.

USB is asynch and apparently developed entirely in-house. Alternate S/PDIF inputs are also included. The DAC does no oversampling and no upsampling.

The beta unit at the show sported a hard-to-read LCD (not LED) display for showing the current resolution rate, visible only to those standing pretty much on top of the unit. We were told that there might be some cosmetic changes to the final-release version. Hopefully, it’ll be legible from the seating position.

Pricing is still TBD, but they were anticipating around $12k.

4 comments

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  • The sensitivity of the word “First” can surely stirs up a debate.

    In Light Harmonic, our focus has always been on R&D; working to develop the best quality product(s) and present that to our community. The design and engineering works for our 384K DaVinci DAC was started in early 2009; with continuous testing and development, Da Vinci debuted to several key industrial people in 2010 May. Then leading to the public debut of Da Vinci – 384K USB DAC at Axpona 2011, Atlanta.

    Being a start-up company that made up of only engineers, the focus for Light Harmonic Design Team is to bring the best sounding 384K USB DAC to the Audiophile community. With all the anxieties, excitements, anticipations of our “First” product, during the show, we were made aware by some kind folks two other products also claim can do 384K in the market.
    We humbly acknowledge that, however after some detail research, we found both of them required to install customized driver which means these are NOT USB 2.0 audio class standard compatible. One of them use only 192K-capable DAC chips which we doubt the bit perfect transferring path from USB to that DAC chip. Anyway, we sincerely hope that it is the sound quality from DaVinci that one can associate us with; this quality of music that have captured many souls and given many, the best sounding experiences one ever had.

    Here is what we saw from our product’s audience writing feedback….

    “Offered Up Some Of The Sweetest-Sounding, Natural Violin Sound And The Most
    Solid Stereo imaging I Have Experience From A Classical Recording”

    “Emotional, Musical, Out of Words….. Phenomenal”

    “Extremely Detailed, Open and Smooth”

    “Great – Can Hear All The Different Layers. Clarity & Coherence, Great Sound Stage –
    Sound Like Analog”

    “I Was Closing My Eyes, Imagining I Was At A Supper Club With the Orchestra And
    Musicians Right In Front Of Me. Beautiful”

    We are indeed humbled by many more of these great comments/reviews from those that visited us during the show. The response from the show is beyond what a first-time show exhibitor can ever imagine.

    Bringing you these experiences are what we at Light Harmonic is focus on and will continue to do so in our current and all future products.

    Thank you again for all your support, criticism and we continue to welcome any feedback anyone could offer.

    Please visit our website http://www.LightHarmonic.com for more details
    Come Register with us in My hifi Space and come join our facebook fan club!

    Your comments and feedback is what will make us better.

  • Good preview, but one glaring issue; “World’s first 384K DAC?” Funny, I have one at home now (M2Tech Young 32/384k), and have seen several more (Antelope Gold, MSB, Playback Designs) in the market. It leaves me with a little apprehension about this company’s overall knowledge of the space.

    Ted

    • Diogenes the Dog

      Yeah. Their marketing team seems to have missed a couple of competitors … LOL.