Musetec (LKS) MH-DA005 DAC

Some history: I was the OP on a four year old thread about the Chinese LKS MH-DA004 DAC. It achieved an underground buzz. The open architecture of its predecessor MH-DA003 made it the object of a lot of user mods, usually to its analog section, rolling op amps or replacing with discrete. The MH-DA004 with its new ESS chips and JFET analog section was called better then the modified older units. It has two ES9038pro DAC chips deliberately run warm, massive power supply, powered Amanero USB board, JFET section, 3 Crystek femtosecond clocks, Mundorf caps, Cardas connectors, etc., for about $1500. For this vinyl guy any reservation about ESS chips was resolved by the LKS implimentaion, but their revelation of detail was preserved, something that a listener to classic music especially appreciated. I made a list of DACs (many far more expensive) it was compared favorably to in forums. Modifications continued, now to clocks and caps. Components built to a price can be improved by costlier parts and the modifiers wrote glowingly of the SQ they achieved.

Meanwhile, during the 4 years after release of the MH-DA004, LKS (now Musetec) worked on the new MH-DA005 design, also with a pair of ES9038pro chips. This time he used more of the best components available. One torroidal transformer has silver plated copper. Also banks of super capacitors that act like batteries, solid silver hookup wire, 4 femtoclocks each costing multiples of the Crysteks, a revised Amanero board, more of the best European caps and a new partitioned case. I can't say cost NO object, but costs well beyond. A higher price, of course. Details at

The question, surely, is: How does it sound? I'm only going to answer indirectly for the moment. I thought that the MH-DA004 was to be my last DAC, or at least for a very long time. I was persuaded to part with my $$ by research, and by satisfaction with the MH-DA004. Frankly, I have been overwhelmed by the improvement; just didn't think it was possible. Fluidity, clarity, bass extension. A post to another board summed it up better than I can after listening to piano trios: "I have probably attended hundreds of classical concerts (both orchestral and chamber) in my life. I know what live sounds like in a good and bad seat and in a good and mediocre hall. All I can say is HOLY CRAP, this sounds like the real thing from a good seat in a good hall. Not an approximation of reality, but reality."



I agree with melm on the break in time. Also, you might have noticed, it seems most prefer the USB input as better than the others. I would stick with this one, at least in the beginning.

@dbb -Thanks for the advice. My Cambridge transport has either coax or optical. Which one is better for the 005?  And my Aurender music server has USB. I'm using an Audio Quest USB. Curious which USB audio cable you are using? 

I would have thoughtt the I2S input would have a closer signal path to the DAC and thus the best input. I plan on using USB myself from an Sonore OpticalRendu.


I had been using a solid silver cable with the LKS 004.  As opposed to other cables it gave it some extra body and high frequency extension.  For the Musetec I found it was unnecessary, and am now using Audioqest Pearl which is simply a solid copper cable.  But that is something I will experiment with.  As I said earlier, the Musetec is very responsive to what comes before it in the digital chain.

When I broke in my DACs I simply put a flash drive in my old Oppo 105 and let it run some files as a loop, not excercising any mechanical device.  One week of 24/7 should be enough at least for a good evaluation.  It is many years since I played a CD.  I proved to myself a while back that rips had clearly better SQ even with a simple set-up, though I appreciate that you have a fine disk player  Also, as I wrote earlier, the Musetec is really optimized for USB.   Anyway, someone who remembers Lafayette Radio probably has the time to rip his CD collection--as I did. 😀