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."


Dam, what I'm hearing is that the galvanic isolation in the 005 is great, but not entirely perfect. I dont think i could justify spending 1k+ on an opticalrendu or similar device on the already expensive 005. I was initially considering something along the lines of an igalvanic 3.0. I think the Singxer can be had for roughly a third of the 005's price. Its still a tough call for me if I just wanna save some cash and call it a day. Even though there's over 10 pounds of upgraded electronics in the 005 over the singxer like you said, do you think 3x the price gets you a huge leap in performance?

Here is my experience using the usb input to the DA005. I am using a MacBook Pro laptop running on its battery until I get a dedicated streamer. Before the DA005 I was using an Ayre Codex DAC. I found that an UpTone IsoRegen benefitted the usb with the Codex. The sound was clearer, easier on the ears, and more musical. However, I did not hear this same improvement when I used the UpTone IsoRegen with the DA005.  Instead, I tried a device which converts usb to either optical or coaxial outs in an attempt to galvanically isolate the usb. I preferred the coaxial input over the optical which seemed to soften the music. The coaxial digital cable was a DH Labs silver sonic.  I liked the usb to coaxial conversion and listened to quite a bit of music this way.  On the Duende track from Bozzio Levin and Stevens, the bass guitar near the beginning was articulate and clean as it should be as compared to optical input which muddied those same bass notes.  Today just for comparison I went back to direct from the MacBook Pro using my Curious usb cable into the DA005 with nothing in between.  While the bass notes were clean and clear, they were also better articulated and music overall was punchier and more dynamic. So... I am currently listening to digital files and streaming directly into the DA005 from my laptop.  You might be perfectly happy with the DA005 without a reclocker but I would recommend you use a decent usb cable.  Overall, what I am finding is that some of these devices may benefit the DA005 in some ways but not in others.  

@turcoda It's much more than superior usb board in 005 that makes it a wonderful dac. Every aspect of 005 is well thought out, reason why it's been so positively reviewed. With 005 you won't be moving on to another dac for a long time, you can build up rest of system over time to take advantage of full potential of this dac. Can you say the same about the Singxer? Knowing what I know about the 005, if I were building a system I'd get the 005 and cross one more item off the upgrade list, this is dac for the long term.   My present system is culmination of well over twenty years building systems, this is likely my last system, I see no need to upgrade this dac.

Fair enough. Sadly I know myself better and I know ill be out shopping for new parts in no time, no matter what i buy : P The singxer crossed off everything off my list I wanted in a dac. Seeing as I'm a far cry from being an electrical engineer, I have little clue as to how the more expensive components in the 005 will affect the sound.

I just splurged and bought an HSA-1B amp recently and i feel like I spent way more than I should have already. Buying the 005 just exacerbates that feeling. But you're right, I'm probably gonna end up picking it up anyway...

Just put my 005 in the system a couple of hours ago.  First impressions are it is smooth and spacious.   I didn't hear the brightness others speak of, but maybe it's just smoother compared to the DAC card in my Aesthetix integrated amp.  I'll let it run in more then commit on the sound after a couple hundred hours.  As I understand it may take 350 to 400 hours to come into it's own.