What happens when you offer a $299 portable DAC for a pre-release price of $99 through Kickstarter?
You get $172,229 in pledges with nineteen days still left to the funding period. Not too bad for "begging."
How did such a thing happen? Blame Larry Ho, Gavin Fish and Light Harmonic. This CA - based manufacturer of high-end audio products, including the Da Vinci 384K DAC and LightSpeed USB cable, isn't known for making "entry-level" stuff, which makes their foray into portable DACs all the more surprising. According to Fish, "The old-school industry is dying, so we're trying to put a defibrillator on it, and help other companies in the business as well. We hope to bring music to the people the industry has left out: women, students, anybody who wants to enjoy music, minus all the audiophile crap."
The DAC itself is a small rectangle with a USB connection on one end and a pair of mini-stereo headphone jacks on the other (suitable for headphone or line out). On one side are two small buttons for volume control, muting and turning on and off the "3D awesomifier" spatial enhancement circuit. Inside you'll find a Texas Instruments PCM 1795 DAC chip. It will play MP3, FLAC, Vorbis OGG, PCM from 44.1/16 to 384/24, DXD, and DSD (2.8 and 5.6) files. Yes, that wasn't a finger-fault; this little guy supports DSD, in native unconverted-to-PCM form!
Now it's time for the "WAIT THERE"S MORE!" part of the program. The GEEK will also come with a short USB cable that Light Harmonic has dubbed "slacker" which makes it less likely that you could break off GEEK's USB connector due to trauma. Also the Slacker moves the GEEK farther away from your computer so you still have access to the other USB ports.
OK, time for some bad news - if you want to help fund the GEEK at the $99 price level, you can't. So far the 1161 folks who have backed GEEK have taken all the $99, $119, and $139 pledges. Only $159, $1000, and $5000 pledges are left.
And what do you get for that $5000 pledge? Plenty. Here's the pitch, "First, you are going to get, of course, a GEEK. Then, you're going to get two official GEEK t-shirts. Then, you and one special friend are going to be our guests at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. We're going to put you up in a fancy Las Vegas Strip hotel room for three nights (January 7 - 10), and we're going to get you two exhibitor passes to the convention. Then you and your guest are invited to a catered, two-hour experience in our suite at the Venetian Hotel where you'll get to listen to a $500,000 hand-built stereo system...the system that inspired us to create GEEK in the first place, That's what you're going to get. Boom. (Airfare and meals are not included. Neither is any of the other stuff you'll do in Vegas but won't tell anyone about. We'll help you get your GEEK on, but we won't help you get your freak on.)"
You'll probably have a much nicer room in Vegas than I will.
And for you less high rollers, there's still time to get a GEEK for $159, but you better hurry because GEEKs are going fast.