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 used the i2s hdmi connection for jay's audio cdt2 mk2 to l.k.s. 004 but found that the channels were reversed.

I plan on using the USB input on the 005 since I like my OpticalRendu for streaming.

Since I now only have 1 DAC in the office system I have been listening to the $900 Topping D90SE DAC with my CODA preamp and amp (slightly warm gear). I really like this Topping DAC. With the proper gear match the Topping is a contender for really excellent sound.

I may have to move the Topping DAC to another room if the Musetec is too similar  sounding to it. Some of the comments on this thread make me think it might be.


I'm curious about the soundstage in the Topping. I read a review that it had good width but poor depth. What is your experience with that?


As noted there is not yet a standard for I2S, so I'm not surprised it did not work correctly.  Many units intended to output I2S have dip switches within so that the proper connections are made.  That is generally done at the I2S out level rather than at the DAC.  The Jay's Audio device would then be compatable with all DACs with I2S instead of just a few.

Your solution is to make up a custom hdmi cable.  It would be much easier to make a custom ethernet cable* but the Jay's Audio device does not provide that option.  Making a custom hdmi cable is similar, but there are more wires.  As both Jay's Audio and LKS give you their pin designation, it sould be doable.  See "How to assemble a HDMI cable" on youtube.  Or you can do a search for outfits that will make you up the correct cable when you give them the info in your two manuals.  Obviously, it's just a matter of switching two wires.  You've come this far, so seems like a worthwhile project.

By the way, I'm guessing that you switched the channels elsewhere for listening.  How did you like the results through the I2S?

*Easy enough for me to have done it.

@melm I haven't tried it yet but I think reversing the rca outputs at the dac end would fix the channel reversal.