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."


@dbb "EKG if someone has an irregular heart rhythm without using a stethoscope to hear it with our own ears."

I basically said on ASR... Said person with arrythmia can also run faster, jump higher and lift more weight then person without arrythmia. So what does the presence of said arrythmia mean then?

So is a heart rate of 40bpm better then 80bpm... The 40bpm is Lebron James FYI... Now the 40bpm is a 1 year old infant. Context is important but theses numbers aren’t absolutes.

Yeah ASR is a tough crowd.


I totally get the rational of @toddk31 of returning the DAC. I may have done the same thing if I were in his shoes.

I look at it this way. I am lucky I bought the DAC and listened before these measurements issues arose. Reason being I was in the camp that my gear has to both measure well and also sound good to me. I likely would have returned the DAC.

However, today I have a changed my view on the measurements as a main criteria for keeping gear. The 005 has shown me that it is not the most important factor. BTW - I said this on the ASR 005 thread and people got offended, mainly because I heard differences in DACs.

Sometimes fundamental logic has to take centerstage. you have possession of a DAC in your home with easy access to your audio system. Would not the first rational step be to placed it into the system and simply listen? if not, why not? It is puzzling that the first inclination is to ship a newly purchased and unheard DAC off to be measured. Again why not hear it first in your own familiar audio system?

It is an "audio" component which would imply that it is to be used to listen to music reproduced in one’s home. I am trying to understand the logic of how test measurements supersede the optimal opportunity to hear and judge in your own system. Interesting priorities.


Another interesting (and obvious) question is do to different pieces of audio equipment that measure the same sound the same. If the answer is no, then the ASR philosophy goes down in flames.



I have read by this point in my career thousands of EKGs of my patients. That EKG analogy was awfully poor and misguided. ASR and Audiogon are clearly two very different crowds. Good that they both exist and readers can simply choose what suits them best.


@dbb Yes but it's your brain telling you it sounds different when the tests speak for themselves. How could one piece of wire sound different from another one? It's just impossible.

We're all scientists here so don't dispute the facts.

Jen Psaki and all her BS would get on great over there.