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, thanks so much for the debugging help.

My current and most problematic issue is the intermittent audio micro stutters I keep hearing. Once they start, they don't stop until I do something to address that.

The 005 is currently plugged into a HEDT worth a bit more than the dac itself. No i do not use a laptop or a streaming device because I dumped all of my funds into this device. I use it for both work and gaming, and, as such, it does contain a fairly high end gpu that is usually the cause of such background noise. This desktop has had more than one high end motherboard and multitudes of other parts swapped out to determine the root cause of the noise, but there was no single one component to blame. It seems its just the way PCs and power supplies are built these days - which really terrible noise isolation... Also, I don't have a free hdmi port to spare, so I'm plugging this directly into the usb input of the dac, which is why i wanted one with an amanero board to begin with.

I am a software engineer and I've already flashed the device and tried the latest drivers to no avail. I do strongly believe its a software issue, as its quite intermittent and random. I think flashing the dac last week and changing some settings alleviated some problems, but some remain. I think im still in the return window, so if I fail to resolve it I'm just gonna pick up something else.

If you want to know the amp im feeing into, its the HSA1B, but for sure its not to blame here.

@turcoda OK firstly the problem needs to be isolated, so you need a different source, a laptop, to feed the 005 using the USB. If this is satisfactory then it's most likely an issue with your sound card.

Try and use either the RCA Digital or Toslink from your soundcard to the 005 and see if this works. If it doesn't it could be the DAC.

If it does your USB is receiving too much noise maybe you need a well shielded USB cable or a USB cable with the power line removed.

Amanero boards are self powered.

Or try changing your soundcard and software to an audiophile one like JCAT and JPLAY

Or try the JCAT USB Isolator

The 005 like most DACs will have the occasional buzzing sound for one or two seconds during the break in period but it seems your noise is much more than that.

You may also try a different DAC but I doubt the DAC is the problem, but it could be.

Good Luck!


If you’re a software engineer you must know more about this stuff than I do.

But, the laptop I use is a small old ASUS running a Pentium and it works perfectly using JRiver. I have often thought that because it’s cheap and small (running storage much like a thumb drove) it may be quiet. Perhaps you can borrow a small laptop. Then at least you will see definitively where the problem is. Or perhaps buy one cheap second hand.

Alternatively, and very inexpensively, you can try a Raspberry Pi. If it works at all you can add an inexpensive "hat" for improved performance. That might keep you going for a while.

I guess the message is to get it away from your powerful computer if you can, and see if it was the culprit.