Light Harmonic – CES 2016


Light Harmonic is another company fresh off the fund-raising campaign trail. From their 35th floor suite in the Venetian it was easy to see that the company was still running at full steam into product development with a whole host of new digital products and revisions to their current lineup.



The most distinguished guest of the new product drop would likely be the new Vi DAC ($5k, $7k with a tube stage). The Vi tube option is actually capable of delivering both a solid state signal and its tube signal at the same time via the separate outputs in rear of the device. The front panel includes both a SE and 4 pin balanced output for headphones and the digital section does the heavy lifting via the popular ESS SABRE 9018 AQ2M chipset. The new Vi DAC should be ready to ship by the time these pixels hit the interwebs.


A newest update to the Light Harmonic portable line is called the Geek Out v2+ ($299). The new battery-powered mobile digital decoder and headphone amplifier can connect to an Android or iDevice (via CCK) as well as the standard USB computer output that previous generations utilized. The V2+ boasts a 3100 mAh lithium ion battery for up to 10 hours of playback time and two 3.5mm headphone jacks, one for SE use and one that is balanced. While most balanced headphone connections in this size range have been recently adapted to a 2.5mm size (like the ones featured on Astell & Kern DAPs), the guys from LH claim they have a technological solve for misappropriated SE/balanced headphone mishaps that have traditionally been capable of frying out your fav pair of SE cans. The 3.5mm benefit here is a connector that is somewhat more sturdy than its 2.5mm counterpart for even better long term use and durability. The same ESS 9018 chip from the Vi is covering digital duties with high resolution and DSD capabilities.


Tucked into the entryway were a couple of new products on their way to market. These little guys are arriving courtesy of a partnership with Los Angeles-based Starke Sound. The new Inspire 5 ($399) sound bar offers up 5 preset listening modes (TV/music/gaming etc.) and HDMI switching and processing (up to 4k) for multiple inputs. There is even a matching wireless sub ($399) to round out the package that features dual 8″ woofers powered by 500 watts. For the more mainstream consumer, the Inspire 5’s HDMI inputs can provide a unique A/V processor-free solution for the new Apple TV HDMI-as-the-only-audio-output conundrum as well.

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