Anyone who has ever tried to get decent audio out of a laptop know what a hassle that can be, which is why we’ve seen a plethora of new USB DACs pop up in recent years. The new Geek has a somewhat more prestigious pedigree than many of the offerings on the market, though; this 24-bit DAC and high power amplifier-on-a-USB-stick was designed by the same folks who cooked up the $20,000 Light Harmonic Da Vinci 384K Digital to Analog Converter. Don’t worry, though: Geek costs nowhere near that amount. Final retail for the device is slated at $299. A few lucky Kickstarters recently got their hands on one for as low as $99, though.
Surprisingly, for the price and pedigree, the GEEK isn’t just an amplifier and DAC; it’s also a full-on audio processor, which removes the hard left-right-channel divide typically associated with headphones to create a more natural soundstage that feels a little more like listening to actual speakers through actual air. A list of the box’s add-on features and specs made possible by the successfully Kickstarted project are as follows:
- Three Geek types: 1 – Geek, 2 – Super Geek, 3 – Super-Duper Geek
- Two outputs on all types (2 x 3.5 mm jack): line and headphones, both are variable in digital domain (64bit precision)
- Volume control: two buttons and software (Operation System main volume slider sends volume data to Geek which implements the volume change in its internal volume control)
- Line-out output impedance: 47 Ohm (on all types)
- Headphone output impedance: 0.47 Ohm (on all types)
- Max output voltage (line-out and headphone): 2.65 Vrms (Geek), 3,4 Vrms (Super Geek), 4 Vrms (Super-Duper Geek)
- Max output power (headphone, 16 Ohm): 450 mW (Geek), 720 mW (Super Geek), 1000 mW (Super-Duper Geek)
- Native decoded music format in PCM: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176,4, 192, 352.8, 384 kHz / 16, 24, 32 bits.
- Native decoded digital format in DSD: 2.822, 3.072, 5.644, 6.144 mHz / 1 bit
- “Class A” analogue output stage, THD+N better than 0.005 %, SNR is 103dB (none-weighted), 109dB (A-weighted)
- Sample rate indicator LEDs, machined aluminum enclosure in three different colors, with 6″ USB cable, driver for PC (plug and play on MAC and Linux)