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.