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."


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.  

@kclone Congratulations!  You're in for a treat and I don't think it will take 400 hours for it to all come together.  How are you using the DAC, with a streamer, computer, transport?  What cables and inputs are you using?  If you have any questions there are several here who will offer some help or suggestions.  Have fun with it!

okay, listening right now, it does sound harder.  I have been listening at lower volumes because my tinnitus has been bothering me, but as I juice the volume it is a little harder/brighter, at lower volumes it sounds relaxed.   The good news is my system sounds very enjoyable at lower volumes, average about 50 decibels lately.  

In front of it I have a Aurender streamer with USB out.  I am using Duelund IC (similar to Belden 8402) into a Aesthetix Mimas integrated amplifier.  Speaker as Proac D48 Rs.  I may try it as a preamp later on, but I am worried it won't be as good as the tube preamp section of my integrated.  

One thing of note, since hooking up the 005 last night, it is not playing nice with my Euqi Core 1800 power conditioner.  Last night it seemed to cause a power surge after plugging it in, it shut down the power conditioner and the out let it was connected to. I hit the breaker and got back in business.  Then in the middle of the night, all my components plugged into the Equi Core were off, shut down.  I think the conditioner is dead or something, I'm afraid to plug stuff back in to it.  Right now all my components except the integrated amp (plugged into the wall) are plugged into a little Monster power strip.  

@kclone The 005 will swing back and forth for a month or so while it's breaking in. Don't worry if you get some awful sound while the break in is going on.

Sounds like your power socket is overloaded or the power breaker may be old and needs replacing. Check what else you have connected to the same circuit and the power capacity of your power conditioner.

If your Aurender has an AES/EBU and/or COAX digital out set it to Professional Level in the Aurender App. You'll get a better sound.