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."


@sns ​​​​@melm thank you for answering my question. I was almost set to get the Holo Audio May Dac, but now I’m wondering if Musetec is a better buy. From what I’ve read so far I feel the May Dac is going to be more to my taste — bit more laid back (third row vs first), a bit smoother, and more analog-like. But is it worth an extra $2k? I know this is something no one can answer on my behalf. Another thing I like about Holo Audio is that they have a dedicated DSD engine. I have quite a few DSD albums which I play often, so this might be a deciding factor. 

my other concern is if the Musetec might be too revealing or unforgiving compared to the May. Tough decision!

@arafiq -I purchased the 005 and had the same concerns you did about 3rd row vs 1st; a bit smoother, and more analog, too revealing or unforgiving (and I don't have DSD albums). In my system (ARC, ProAc, Cambridge CXC and Aurender server) the differences between the 005 and the Holo May house sound are subtle and to my ears more pleasing-the articulation, fullness and staging are "all that". If you purchase from Shenzhenaudio you also have a 30 day return window. 



The May and 005 are more similar than different. Both have excellent 3-d palpalpability. The 005 is more like the sixth row. The May is less detailed but has a blacker background. I did not think the DSD mode was particularly better than the NOS mode in DSD. It had different sound. DSD is similar to pcm in the 005 but arguably may have a touch more solid texture. The 005 too my easr hhas elevated all sample rates to DSD sound as p÷rceived a few years ago.


Hi there. I hope it doesn’t look like the Musetec owners are piling on.😉

The Musetec uses what is sometimes call a Delta-Sigma chip, the ESS9038PRO, in fact two of them. Such a chip converts all incoming data to a DSD like format making its response to DSD files a perfectly natural function. They sound great.

R2R DACs don’t do that and some of them simply don’t respond to DSD at all. Schiit, for ex. That’s why the Holo DACs have a separate function. Beekhuyzen in his video review of the May says its DSD conversion is a bit less successful than its PCM conversion.

I would add only that I see the Musetec as a truth machine.  It will not hide the poor SQ of poor recordings.  As I read what the Holo DACs do, it seems that they will round off the harsh edges of lesser recordings.  That means to me that they may not reveal all the glory of great recordings.  Which you prefer is a matter of taste, and no one can substitute their judgment on that for your own.

Since getting 005 just over a year ago, I've made number of changes in system, not because 005 injection of some unwanted coloration, rather solely increasing resolving capabilities of entire system. And this to system that's long been pretty damn revealing.


With recent boutique tube insertion, burn in nearing completion, and subsequent resolution increases, I'm at point where I can make some conclusions in regard to 005.


There are components that commit sins of omission, others sins of commission. Sins of omission easy to achieve, less than maximal resolution may hide unheard sins of commission. On the other hand, sins of commission often committed, difficult thing here is determining which component causing it.


Of course one issue with determining  sins of omission is, how do we know we're suffering this if we have never heard the unheard. So, this is inherent problem with my nearly final conclusions in regard to 005. I can only say I've heard many other systems in nearing thirty years building systems/audiophile. I've heard best of best at shows, admittedly not best conditions, also many nice systems at other's homes.


Point of above, I've heard sins of commission and omission over long term. So, conclusion I'm coming to in regard to 005. This is one of those rare components that suffers no known sin of omission, this thing uncovers much previously unheard information, I presume 005 at or near SOTA here. And what about sins of commission, this I had been less sure of up to now. While resolving capabilities never in doubt, I had bit of doubt in regard to timbre specifically.  I detected a bit of what I'd call whitewashing, lack of color with 005, sense of performers in room, just lacking flesh and blood presence. With recent boutique tubes this lack of color nearly totally gone, flesh and blood performers in room, reach out and touch palpability, And so, try as I might, have not been able to find sins of omission or commission with 005, quite an achievement in my book.


It will be up to others to provide more context with 005, therefore, direct comparisons with other SOTA dacs. We already have that with favorable comparisons to Holo May and Mola Mola Tambaqui. While only anecdotal, it is what it is. Until more come along we only have this. As for me, I have no intention to provide that context as my pleasure with 005 instigates no motivation for this. At this point, all my near term efforts will be on analog side, my analog far behind digital.


In conclusion, while my experience totally positive with 005, may not be dac for everyone, in wrong system I could see how one could perceive it as analytical, 005 doesn't hide the warts. I can see it overwhelming one's senses with sheer resolving powers, but perception as analytical in long run. I can only say, one has problems elsewhere if this perception of 005 held, 005 capable of high resolution with natural, true to life texture and color.