Light Harmonic DaVinci 384kHz DAC

With the rise of digital-audio servers, the role of digital-to-analog converters (DACs) is becoming ever more important. Those who want the very best DAC might do well to consider the DaVinci from Light Harmonic.

The DaVinci is an asynchronous USB DAC with a sample rate up to 384kHz and a resolution up to 32 bits. It includes a jitter-free, three-layer buffer mechanism and three temperature-compensated, crystal-oscillator clocks—one dedicated to USB signal transmission, another for files at multiples of 44.1kHz, and a third for files at multiples of 48kHz, up to 384kHz—and each one is selected on the fly according to the sample rate of the input file. A proprietary Duet Engine uses analog interpolation to effectively double the file's original sampling rate without digital upsampling, oversampling, or noise shaping.

According to Light Harmonic, the distribution of harmonic-distortion components is more important than the total harmonic distortion (THD), and distortion in the higher-order harmonics—say, the fifth or sixth order and above—causes far more audible damage to the sound than lower-order harmonic distortion. To address this concern, the DaVinci includes a proprietary Lower Order Harmonic Distribution (LOHD) system that distributes any distortion into the second-, third-, and fourth-order harmonics, which is said to eliminate any sense of harsh or edgy sound.

In addition, the DaVinci uses no digital filter to minimize digital ringing. Instead, there is only a pure analog lowpass filter whose corner frequency is automatically selected for each sample rate. Other audiophile features include complete isolation of the power circuits in the lower module and the digital and fully balanced analog circuits in the upper module, which also includes gear-shaped heat sinks that eliminate the need for a cooling fan.

Such a high-end DAC must carry a high-end price tag, right? You bet—$12,000 to be exact. But if you want the ultimate DAC, this could well be it.