NYAV12: Light Harmonic

I think it was AXPONA in Atlanta last year that I first saw and heard Light Harmonic’s Da Vinci DAC. It was all-black. It rotated. It was pretty spiffy. It looked a bit Star Wars -esque.

I dubbed it “The Darth Vader DAC”.

A little over a year later and the Da Vinci is now ready for it’s close ups. Aesthetically, it’s pretty much the same, though the silver finish here at NYAV is new (to me).

Recently released, the non-oversampling, non-upsampling, non-noise shaping, zero negative feedback, 32bit/384kHz asynchronous USB 2.0-compliant, über-DAC is now ready for ordering. $20,000 gets you in line.

There’s a lot going on here. There’s the buffering, for start. All inputs are processed through a “jitter-free, three-layer elastic buffer”. Then there’s the clocking. “Three highly precise, -166dB phase-error clocks, one clock for 44.1k, 88.2k, 176.4k and 352k music sampling frequencies; one for 48k, 96k, 192k and 384k frequencies; and a third for the eUSB interface.”

Signals get interpolated in the analog domain to double the files original sampling rate. Again, no digital upsampling, oversampling, or noise shaping, takes place.

The power supply “features three dedicated R-Core transformers (one for digital circuits, one for analog circuits, one for conversions), six dedicated power circuits using the best capacitors available, and more than 40 super-shunt voltage regulators for digital interfaces, analog conversion, crystal clocks, (dual mono) analog output, and control circuits. Specially developed “nano noise” circuits power the digital clocks, and proprietary USB isolation circuits completely cut off any ground links between a music server source and Da Vinci.”

The rotating chassis highlights the dual-chassis construction. All power circuitry is completely separated and isolated from everything else. “The upper module houses power for all AC-toDC conversions, control functions, the display, and the clocks, while the base plate houses the digital and fully balanced analog circuits.” The two units are connected, but can rotate for better separation, isolation and cooling.

This thing weights over 60lbs.

Power and control came from Pass Labs: $16,500 X100.5 mono block amplifiers here paired with an $8,600 XP-20 dual-chassis preamplifier.

The $28k Sasha from Wilson Audio made everything all pretty music.

Light Harmonic’s Gavin Fish ran all the demos. The photos may not show it, but the lighting in here was all moody and dark. The only serious glow was on the banner and leaking out of the dials on the amps and from the band that circumnavigated the DAC in a very TRON-like band.

The music in this room wasd – e – e – p and powerful. Lots ofthwack. Treble was easy and extended. Everything else in between was pretty much faultless. I wish I’d have been able to drop tunes here, but the room was jammed and the demos were very smooth. But I can say this — this was another great sounding room. I’m a big fan of the Pass Labs gear, and whatever else they managed to do, they got those Saschas to sing like their lives depended on it. Gorgeous.

So, as long as you’re not a vinyl guy, or can live without, this is another finisher system. That is, get these bits and you’re done.


    • It’s no secret and I’ll make no bones about it — I think that DAC is hot hot hot. Feel free to let me know when you want/need a totally unprofessional review. 😉

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