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LH Labs to introduce Geek Soul

KEF R Series

Forever and Geek Pulse

Did you hear? LH Labs is back with something new. Yes, yes, there’s that Geek Pulse campaign that’s back on Indiegogo, as part of the new Forever Funding campaign. No, this isn’t a never-ending plan to drain your wallet via sketchy crowd-funded perks, but a limited time for folks to get in on a new, interesting, and based on feedback from RMAF this year, great sounding headphone amplifier/DAC combo. This round is scheduled to wrap at the end of December.

Between now and then, however, LH Labs will be returning to its bag of tricks. Remember all those nifty perks that supporters were clamoring for? Well, expect some of those. The first is going to hit tomorrow.

Say hello to the Geek Soul.

Geek Pulse is already pretty frickin’ great, right? Well, we don’t like to stop at mere greatness; we want to create a legend. So we’ve taken Geek Pulse Xfi, added a few little sumpin-sumpins, integrated Geek LPS, and put it all into a completely new 17” wide body that’s perfect for your home stereo. We call this tricked-out model Geek Soul.

Something magical happened when we were co-developing Geek Pulse with our Geek Force: we were given some crazy-insane feature suggestions! We were able to fit a lot of them into Geek Pulse, but some we just couldn’t fit into the original desktop chassis. With Geek Soul, you get all the technology of Geek Pulse Xfi and Geek LPS, plus:

  • A heat and airflow optimized, non-parallel wall designed chassis made out of high-grade T-6061 aluminum.
  • An ultra-low-noise bipolar power circuit.
  • A high-bandwidth, ultra-low low noise active cathode based tube output stage.

Geek Soul will be available as a perk option in the Geek Pule Forever Funding campaign November 5th beginning at 9AM PST. We’ll be releasing a limited amount of Geek Souls outfitted in various configurations two times per day, once at 9AM PST and again at 9PM PST.

The first available batches of Geek Soul will be released only to those who originally backed the Geek Pulse campaign and wish to trade in their Geek Pulse & LPS towards a Geek Soul. Once we are able to gauge the interest of each model, we’ll begin to open the option to pre-order Geek Soul to new backers.

 

A couple of interesting wrinkles:

  • The original tease mentioned something about DSD, which seems to have dropped out of the description for now, but more details will hit today.
  • There will be a “commission” system — instead of merely giving discounts based on referrals, there will be a bounty paid as well. No idea if that’s retroactive or not. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of this aspect, even if I might stand to gain. I’m just not sure it will inspire “good behavior” — one of the complaints about the last set of campaigns is how absurd backers got in their frenzy to get referrals. This is awesome for LH Labs, and I love the creativity, but personally, it puts me in the weird position of selling for them, even as I’m reporting what I think is actually an interesting product and an innovative approach. Not sure what to do here, but I feel like I got painted into a corner. Maybe I’ll just review and raffle off whatever it is I do get.
  • On the other hand, there’s this awesome trade-in/trade-up program:

Every Geek Pulse/LPS backer who contributed to our campaign prior to February 2, 2014 can trade in their Geek Pulse and/or Geek LPS or LPS4 for a 120% (this is not a typo) credit of their original contribution toward Geek Soul. Don’t worry, we’ll still send you your Geek Pulse/LPS so you can listen to it, enjoy it, and tell your friends about it. You won’t need to send your trade-in back until your new Geek Soul is ready to ship your way.

 

LH Labs and the feedback

I’ve heard from several readers, unhappy with the way the LH Labs campaigns have spooled out. From complaints about project delays to failures to deliver, audiophiles all over are pretty vocal when things don’t go just-so. So, I thought I’d ask about all that. Casey Hartwell, LH Labs’ Digital Marketing Manager, responded.

  • What took so long with Geek Pulse?
  • The amount of input we received from the crowd around topics such as what tech they wanted featured in Geek Pulse, how they wanted Geek Pulse to look and the overall functionality of Geek Pulse was both amazing and somewhat overwhelming.  Basically we had 1,000+ people helping us design Geek Pulse.  The amount of time it took to prioritize what was possible with what might work was the biggest hurdle to overcome.  Larry and his engineering crew were hell-bent on incorporating as many features as possible while still keeping the price incredibly affordable.  That was a HUGE mark to hit.  The fact that we were able to bring Geek Pulse to fruition in such a short period of time (around one year) was simply incredible considering the scope of R&D work that was involved in the process.
  • A related complaint I’ve heard is that Geek Out was available for direct and retailer-based sales before the Kickstarter orders had been filled. Any comment?
  • The biggest issue we had with Geek Out shipments was that people hadn’t completed their surveys or confirmed their pledge after the Kickstarter campaign ended.  We’d follow up, send emails, make phone calls and chase people down to get them to confirm their order so we could ship their units, sometime to no avail.  We had the units ready to go and instead of sitting idle waiting, we did what any manufacturer would do…..sell product.
  • There’s a perception that LH Labs is launching new campaigns to pay for products already bought — that is, LH Labs is just attempting to squeeze as much as they can before they deliver anything. Not entirely fair, but the suggestion is that you all are having money problems. Any comment?
  • We launch campaigns around products that we’ve already been working on for some time.  With the overall concept and the ultimate goal of each product specifically defined, we turn to the crowd to improve upon what we’ve already spent countless hours creating, knowing that they’ll be able to provide us the input to make it even better.  Unlike many other manufacturers who pass on the cost of R&D to the consumer, the funds raised through our crowdfunding campaigns goes directly into our R&D budget to finalize the product. Crowdfunding for us is by NO means a stream of revenue what-so-ever.  As far as cash flow goes, we are not having any issues.  
  • When does the development cycle stop? Most companies “freeze” the development before funding — you all seem to have this precisely backward. Aren’t you making all this much harder than it should be?  Is this open-kimono, public development process sustainable? What lessons have you all pulled from this? What would you avoid “the next time”? 
  • Development never stops.  LH Labs is such a progressive company in that aspect.  If you stop you die.  Simple as that.  In reality, we’re actually four or five projects ahead of the one that we’re currently releasing.  Is it difficult? Totally, but isn’t anything in life that is worthwhile.  We’ve made mistakes and we’ve learned from them, Larry and Gavin have beaten it into our skulls that we WILL NOT repeat those mistakes moving forward.  I don’t necessarily look at it as what we would we avoid but what will we improve upon or do differently.
  • Speaking of which, will there be more crowd-funded LH Labs projects coming? 
  • Yes” is too obvious, “maybe” always incubates curiosity 🙂
  • About Soul: why a full-rack width? Why not go vertical? How am I going to fit this flying wing on my desk?
  • A full rack design provided many that we were striving for with Geek Soul.  That and our industrial designer, Kayla, produced some AMAZING concepts around nature blended with modern chic.  I think it’s time for a bigger desk, Scot.
  • How will Geek Soul map to the DACs from Light Harmonic? What’s common? What’s different
  • Just like our others DAC’s, Geek Soul shares the trickle down tech from Da Vinci and even features some from Sire. The manufacturing process with each of our DAC’s never changes no matter what price point they come in at.  Larry and his team are so incredibly dedicated to quality that they’ll never compromise any aspect of the products they produce simply because they come with a different price tag. 

Sound interesting? Go check it out yourself — better still, plan to check in often.

The campaign is now live on Indiegogo.

About Scot Hull (997 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.

6 Comments on LH Labs to introduce Geek Soul

  1. Great write-up, Scot! It’s a very exciting product… I’m still hoping we’ll get a tube output on the headphone amp and not just the line-out stage. We’ll see what time & the Geek Force bring…

    Oh, if you’re concerned about conflicts of interest and journalistic integrity and all that, there are a couple of options (in addition to the ‘raffle’ idea)…

    1. Remove the referral code from your IGG link… problem solved, simple and easy. 😉

    2. Use mine instead (http://igg.me/at/geekpulseaudio/x/5196195), thereby keeping your hands clean. (ba-dum, tssh! 😉

    • Part-Time Audiophile // November 7, 2014 at 5:06 PM //

      LOL — thanks for the suggestions. 😉

      As for the code, that’s how LH Labs keeps tabs on me! Lots of vendors use banners as sales tools, and many have special tracking URLs. They’re always looking for ways to quantify value. Click-through rates are always a terrible way to show engagement, however, so not sure how long that model is going to stand up or if it should.

  2. Richard Holbrook // November 5, 2014 at 4:10 PM //

    Hi Scott–If you’re going for (or planning to go for the Soul), which model are you planning on?

    • Scot Hull // November 5, 2014 at 9:10 PM //

      At this point, I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

      The Geek Soul is clearly being positioned as the best they’re going to offer in this space — at least, best so far. But the full-rack form factor eliminates the use-case I had in mind, which was right on my desk. So, I may well stick with the Xfi Pulse!

  3. I wish you asked him how the Geek Wave was coming along.

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