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."



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.

Thank you for the valuable input! I have thought long and hard (for about 20 minutes, which is my upper limit nowadays it seems :)) about it and based on what I'm hearing it will be hard to justify spending an extra $2k+ on Holo Audio May. I like the fact that Shenezen Audio provides a 30-day return policy. So not much to lose if I don't ed up liking it. I'm going to purchase a 005 next month. I'm assuming they accept Paypal.



Also, since I'm using a tube integrated amp anyways (Audio Hungary Qualiton a20i), I think the 005 will provide the perfect yin for my yang :)


I agree with you that the 005 is probably at or near sota. In terms of comparing current sota to live music, I think we have a long way to go. On a 10 point scale, I suspect we are at a 5. There’s something about live music that doesn’t even let you apply sustained audiophile analysis. For me it is like the sound is entering your brain from a different door. Many times I have closed my eyes during a live concert and asked myself how is this different from the best reproduced music I have heard. I just don’t have a complete answer, but it is different and usually better (not always) is many ways, most of which I don’t even think I could articulate.