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."


The LKS converts and reclocks the digital signal. And perhaps more importantly, it does this powered by its own power supply that is separate from the DAC’s power supply.


I am not aware of ANY DDC in the market, regardless of price, that does this. I don’t think any DDC consumes from DAC’s power supply. In fact it would be very awkward to do it. Sometimes the USB is bus powered which means it draws <= 500ma (or <= 900ma for usb3) from the source.

I want to report my experience using a sonore ultradigital between my aurender A10 with I2s output into my 005, versus straight usb.  I received the sonore several days ago.  Upon initial installation, my immediate reaction after 5 seconds of music was that the music was more focused and detailed with greater resolution and a slightly more enhanced sense of ease.   Granted, I love my system using usb. 

Nevertheless, I have left the sonore in for several days and have listened through it for about 12 hours.  This morning, I listened to several very familiar and well recorded cuts (Guy Clark, The Dark, and Punch Brothers, Pride of Man) and then bypassed the sonore and again plugged my usb cable directly into the 005 and listened to the same cuts again.  I then swapped back to the sonore.  I can definitively say I prefer my system using the sonore.

On the Dark, it is easier with the sonore to hear the beautiful and subtle guitar playing of Darrell Scott in the right channel, and the harmony vocals are easier to distinguish individually.  Similarly, on Pride of Man, it is easier to hear the playing and harmony vocals of Chris Eldridge, sometimes deep in the mix, using the sonore. 

This is somewhat surprising but I'm going to believe my ears.

I am wondering, however, if I can get further gains with a different DDC, for example a Singxer SU-6, which isn't that much more expensive that the sonore. Thoughts and experiences?   I may order one and give it a shot.


This is a crazy hobby.    

@debjit_g  I think there may be some confusion. The L.K.S Audio USB-100 USB Audio Interface  can be purchssed with a separate linear power supply, the LPS-25-USB. I don't think the description meant that the power was from usb.

The LKS can perform its singular function without drawing power away from the DAC’s other responsibilities. I think there would be less noise kicked back to the DAC’s power supply as well.


@debjit_g I think there may be some confusion. The L.K.S Audio USB-100 USB Audio Interface can be purchssed with a separate linear power supply, the LPS-25-USB. I don’t think the description meant that the power was from usb.


@dbb There is no bus powered ddc that I am aware of which draws power from the DAC. Typically all of them are powered from the source. When ddc have their own power supply, which many does, the vbus is typically used for a handshake on the receiving end. Most DDCs doesn’t output USB but when it does, like the Innous PhoenixUSB, the transmitting end and depending on the DAC, the power is either drawn from the vbus or with its own external power supply when available. Moreover when the DDC is not outputting USB, like the L.K.S, there is no way to draw power from other transmit interface, like i2s, or AES/EBU or SPDIF.

In any case, they don’t draw anything from the DAC. Its the receiving end that draws the power, for example, in earlier USB based DACs, the USB board would be bus powered from its source, typically  a music server or a streamer or a ddc but designers have gotten smart and use their own power supplies to power them nowadays.

@car123 though I don't have direct experience with ultradigital but I have had Sonore products, Singxer and other DDCs before. I would venture a guess and say that a Singxer or a Denafrips would be at a much higher level than the ultradigital. Since you prefer the I2S route, I think you will get better results with better DDCs. Its worth a shot.