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."


Nice post. You’re not the first to write of a WAF for this DAC, though we might have to redefine WAF. As you have only 40 hours on the DAC you have a lot to look forward to. With a CD player that might not be operating at its best, you may not be running on all 4 cylinders for CD playback. Eventually you may want to go to a better CD player as @wharfy has done (See Pro-Ject thread), or rip your CDs and go to streaming as others of us have done. It’s a fork in the road that deserves a lot of consideration.


I am waiting to hear back from The Repair Shop, the only authorized Meridian repair location in the U.S.  I really like the Meridian.  It has a solid feel, smooth drawer mechanism, and is built like a tank but if repairs are too costly then I will look at alternatives.  The Pro-ject transport gets rave reviews but I am also looking to get away from using my laptop as a streamer.  It's good to know that there is more to be had from the DAC whether spinning CDs or streaming.  The Musetec DAC is a keeper.

I am wondering if DAC stands for “Drive Anyone Crazy” !!

I am educating myself on forums and YouTube vids in my quest to upgrade from my Bel Canto DAC2 and a Monarchy DIP fed by a BLUESOUND Node2i via Cat8 Supra. I have a MFA MAGUS A2 recapped by Scott Franklin and I sure enjoy it and definitely want to keep it in my system. So now I am going “crazy” with all my choices ( budget up to 5K if need be but prefer 2-3K) but actually I am enjoying all the threads and being retired I have ample time to listen to music while reading. 
Some of the DACs I am considering are the Holo May, Musetec 005, Dennafripp Pontus II, RME, another Bel Canto DAC and Benchmark DAC3L.

An interesting note is that I was able to actually speak on the phone to a gentleman  at Bel Canto which was refreshing and when I called Benchmark twice I spoke with Rory who answered all my questions and was very patient. Rory to his credit volunteered their return policy and suggested I try it and return it if not happy. That is standing by your product and displays confidence in the product(s).

So, I feel like I need in an ideal world an R2R DAC and a CHIP DAC to compare and play around with.  


@agentwja  Of dacs you mentioned Denafrips Terminator more in this class, RME a step down, this based other's reviews and comparisons.


I agree it would be informative to audition both R2R and chip dac together, just be sure  both in same segment of market. I've seen too many comparisons of dacs with different topologies in different market segments where one comes out on top and the other condemned.


My take is the top dacs can all be pleasurable in right system, one is matching flavors more than resolving differences. The less obvious differences, which may include micro dynamics, timbre, tonality will take longer term listening to ascertain.