Has the ASR review/hatchet job on the Musetec MH-DA005 Changed Anyone's Mind?

A little over a year ago, after seeing so many glowing reviews of the 005 on this and other fora, I bought the DAC and thought it made a great improvement over my Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ (which I now use on my #2 system). Recently, I came across the ASR review, which concludes that the 005 is a piece of crap. I know that ASR has a dubious (at best) reputation in this forum, but I wonder if its review has caused anyone to have second thoughts about the Musetec. I confess I was initially concerned by questions like, why hasn't Musetec responded to the horrible ASR review, if it is inaccurate? But, then, every time I listen to my system with the 005 DAC in it, it sounds glorious. Obviously, the guidance, "trust what your hear" is important, but I'm not sure I'd be as trustful of my ears if the negative technical review came from, say, John Atkinson, who has far more professional legitimacy in measuring equipment. I confess I have one more than one occasion refrained from buying a certain item because of his test results. (Where I live, it is not feasible to listen to amps in stores before buying, and one quickly grows weary of buying and returning expensive equipment on line, especially equipment that does not have stellar subjective and objective accolades).  


@yyzsantabarbara How does the volume control of the LA4 compare to that of the 07X? Are the individual inputs on the LA4 able to be individually configured gain wise like the 07X?

The volume control of the LA4 is maybe the best I have heard. It does click so that is a no go for many but I look at it as a feature and not a bug. The quietness of the LA4 is what separates the LA4 from the 07x. The Benchmark DAC3 HSC (a preamp + DAC) sounded better connected to the quieter LA4 preamp. I sold the DAC3 HSC when I was on that merry-go-round.

The gain on the individual LA4 inputs can be set separately for each input. That feature is referred to as BOOST on the menu.

I was considering buying the HOLO Audio Serene preamp for my second system. It measures a little better than the LA4 and is slightly warmer. There is a review comparing both and also a forum thread about it on Computer Audiophile. However, I decided to stick with a second LA4 because I know it works the way I like and the form factor is also better than the Serene for my needs.

I plan on a $2.5K LA4 preamp + $2.5K used Musetec 005 + $36.5K KRELL KSA i400 amp to drive KEF BLADE 2 Meta. This system will be amazing to my ears, since I have owned this before with the lower end KRELL and KEF LS50 Meta.

BTW - that push button feature of the 07x volume control was a bit of a pain because my wife’s dog liked to hang with in my office late at night, and he would bump into that volume and change the way the volume worked.


Nice of ASR to tank the resale value of the 005.......

Unless you're playing in MSB / dCS territory, resale value on most brands of DACs is a losing proposition. Not many are willing to buy into older digital tech. Prospective sellers could maximize resale value by listing here since the consensus is measurements don't make a difference in sound quality.

In the view of some of us it isn’t that measurements don’t make a difference in sound quality. It’s that sound quality is the ONLY important consideration.

The designer/manufacturer of this DAC has produced several DACs over the past 12 years or so. They have been sold world-wide, though mostly in Asia, principally in Hong Kong. Over the years this very small producer has gained a following. His following has been uniquely on the basis of his DACs’ sound quality. There is no promotion; there is no hype; there is no advertising. In all the reading I’ve done I have never before come across a set of measurements for the DACs going back to the LKS MH-DA002. Several folks, including me, have had an LKS MH-DA004 and on the basis of listening, basically said to themselves: if this is what he can do for about $1500, I MUST hear what he can do for $3200. I was also influenced by the quality of the parts within, and the overall construction. Others bought this DAC based on the reports only of sound quality. I think it is fair to say that, by and large, they like what they have heard and they are quite satisfied with the purchase. They have written as much. Extensively. Their DACs sound just as fine after the ASR report as before.

The designer has written that he designs by ear and not by measurement. He says designing for measurement is relatively easy for a trained engineer. At various stages he says he made changes that could improve measurements but reversed them if the sound quality, as he heard it, was not as good. If that makes people very uncomfortable, they should probably look elsewhere for a DAC. Over the course of this audio hobby, and some of us have been into it for a long time, that approach to design used to be celebrated. The designer has given an example in the lack of any feedback in his discrete analog stage. A lack of feedback is often advertised, and is generally understood, to yield better sound quality but poorer measurements. Op amp chips with feedback (and better measurements) are thought to yield a kind of clean but sterile sound, well recognized in several popular DACs on the market. In many other areas of audio, decisions are often made in favor of devices with poorer measurements than alternatives. That would include tubes and analog sound generally.

The ASR article certainly has opened up a useful discussion of measurements versus listening as criteria for audio component design and selection. It’s as old as audio. Recall that early solid state electronics were "proven" by measurements to outperform high quality tube units. Modern solid state? Modern tubes? Digital? Analog? Who knows?

Most of these thoughts were expressed (and now buried) in the long Musetec thread.


Unless you're playing in MSB / dCS territory, resale value on most brands of DACs is a losing proposition.

With all due respect this is nonsense. The DACs you mention are only worth buying ex-demo or used because they shed huge re-sale losses.

Max you would lose on a 005 would be about $800.00