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."


My own experience is that the 5V line does not have to be blocked, though some do that.  I have heard no difference. I'm guessing that Pin 1 in the Musetec is not connected to anything.  So called "handshaking" is done by the ground wire (Pin 4) which absolutely must be connected or the USB connection will not be made.  It can actually be disconnected after the handshake and some people do that.

I too am loving this DAC, I’ve been ripping all my CD’s onto my Zenith and using a Matrix 2 SPDIF DDC with separate LPS and I2S to the 005 and XLR to my Technics SU-R1000. This DAC has become the star of my system and am really happy I made the jump (100% money well spent).

I would like to hear other peoples take on running I2S with the Musetec 005 and whatever DDC/reclockers that people a utilizing.

100% am a believer in the improved microdynamics and width and depth of sound stage with ripped CD’s over streaming.

Can’t again a better sound from my system then with this thing. But I’ll be honest the Technics SU-R1000’s phono stage might have the 005 beat (or equally as good).

I was floors when I calibrated my Ortofon MC Blue and played a LP with cartridge optimization and crosstalk canceling DSP from the SU-R1000. I have XLR outs from my TT and a separate LPS and I was just shocked at how on a head to head comparison of the amazing Musetec 005 and my digital array, my Vinyl sounds maybe even better.

I’m just smiling sitting in my listening room as my wife thinks I’m insane.


Have you listened to it through USB? I think that the consus is that this input method has been optimized over the others. The argument I have heard against a ddc to I2s is that it is unnecessary since this is what the usb input is doing.


I agree with @dbb. The Amanero board in the Musetec does exactly what the Matrix 2 SPDIF DDC does, converting the USB input to I2S. Moreover, it has the advantage of better clocks, a more sophisticated power supply and one less cable. Of course anything is possible and if it sounds better to you, then just enjoy it.

A better case can be made, I think, for a device with ethernet input and I2S output that will bypass the USB entirely. I believe we have already discussed that possibility.

I've been doing more listening with the I2S and will drop the DDC and just run USB from my Zenith and see what my ears think. I thought I2S had advantages over USB as far as data separation and was reading up on peoples reviews on the PS audio forums.

But if the 005 is already doing what the Matrix is, and doing it better, maybe it should go?