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."


@yyzsantabarbara Regarding the echo of the vocals on Band on the Run, I hear it as well and "echo" is the right word. The more techinal term for this is reverb.  In previous posts, when I talked about hearing nuances it was about these types of things.  It's thrilling to hear "new" reverb or to hear a hidden second or third singer that was always there but just now more evident. When I listen to familliar tracks, instead of focusing on the usual things, I focus on the nuances and it feels like I'm listening to the track for the first time again.

I'm about to conclude my Sunday afternoon listening session and I decided to swap the direction of the SR purple fuse in the Ferrum Oor headphone amp.  I did not like what I heard. The sound was less holographic, less refined, and more harsh. I just switched it back and things sound great again.  I've just proven to myself fuse direction is a very real thing.  At some point, I will perform the same test on the Benchmark LA4 preamp and the 005, but I'm in no hurry after this last test. 

Let's be all honest...if someone told you when this thread about Musetec was started that it was gonna have more than 1000 responses, would you have believed them?


Thanks for your post. You are correct. It’s been a bit of a shock. I thought when @dbb posted his very strong comparative review that the traffic would move to that thread. Perhaps it really should have. For some reason, though there were Musetec DACs bought because of dbb’s thread I’m sure, folks chose to express their satisfaction with the DAC over here. And so it grew.

This is not the first component that was virtually ignored by the audiophile media but gained acceptance via a thread on Audiogon like this one, populated by satisfied users. Some of us have learned over the years that a thread like this carries more weight than a "review." There is no substitute for hearing the DAC in your own system. As has been made clear, the DAC has been designed by listening at every stage of its development. The quality of the DAC makes itself known pretty quickly. The willingness to share by those who have bought and used it has been appreciated by those who came later. Although not an inexpensive DAC, it’s been regarded as a relative bargain by several with a lot of DAC experience.

So thanks to Audiogon for making this forum available.

@branislav I wonder how much more posts we have to go before A’gon closes this thread down. Yea, a bit cynical on my part, but some truth there too.

BTW - next week I am giving my 005 to a friend who has an incredible ear and is a manufacturer of audio gear. He will listen to it is for a few weeks to test out his new uber gear.