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."


@branislav I was perhaps the first or one of the first people in North America to purchase 005 two and a half  years ago, purchased totally blind without a single review I was aware of. I had previously purchased LKS004 with intention to fully modify based on headfi 004 thread. Shortly after 004 purchase I discovered 005 which appeared to have far more potential than any modded  004 could possibly attain. At this point I purchased 005 and posted my impressions on headfi. Both Melm and Dbb  purchased 005 shortly thereafter, both posted positive impressions as well. At some point I mentioned posting reviews over here, the rest is history.


When first purchasing 005 blindly, never expected much more than upgraded 004, something I could live with for a couple years at best. Virtually instantaneously I could hear 005 would be far more than intermediate step to something better. When I posted my initial impressions on headfi I had no idea others would trust my impressions, this being Chinese dac, relatively inexpensive relative to my over the top impressions, and being new poster at headfi. Obviously, some made their own calculations, purchased 005 and heard the same overachieving sound qualities. The rest is history.


I wonder how long this thread can go on?  Between new owners posting positive impressions and longer term owners making systematic upgrades it seems to live on. If I could think of one thing that keeps it going for longer term owners its the extreme resolution of the dac. We upgrade our systems, new information uncovered, always seeking to uncover more of it's potential. That it does it with soul is really the more amazing thing, high resolving powers without soul gets old pretty fast.


Still waiting to hear this dac comparatively reviewed against the upper tier, thus far its held its own against dacs up to $10k. Specifically, I've seen short term comparisons to Mola Mola and Holo May..

The Tambaqui is a highly touted DAC and that speaks a lot for the 005. Was the comparison between the both done in the same setup ?

No, but you would think a complete Mola Mola system would get a boost through synergy, but didn't happen. That's over $30k of gear.

@melm  I just wanted to give you some credit for doing such a fine job on this thread The Mustec traffic belongs here in your good hands. You have done an outstanding job making people feel welcome and expertly informing them. My review helped kindle the fire but your commitment kept it going.

High praise is also due to @sns  for his pioneering effort in discovering the 005. He is an audiophile’s audiophile. I have learned so much from his posts. Yes, “resolution with soul” sums it up beautifully. 

Many others, including @yyzsantabarbara  and @technorob, to name two, deserve credit. 

There's a new review of the Musetec on the head-fi site here.  It was apparently purchased after considering several others.

I’ll save you the trouble of going there to look at it.  It was my post. 

I had been shopping for a DAC to go with my ZMF Verite Open-back headphones and matching Pendant SE tube headphone amplifier made for ZMF by Justin Weber at  I was seriously considering getting the Sonnet Morpheus ($3200) based upon reviews and people’s experiences in various forums and its ability to pair well with my headphones and amplifier and recommended by Zach of ZMF Headphones.  With the Morpheus, the I2S is the preferred input.  But, I would have needed to purchase a DDC ($300-$700) with USB input, I2S out, in order to utilize the I2S input on the Morpheus.  However, with further research, I was leaning in the direction of the Holo May L2 ($4800) or the Holo Spring 3 KTE ($3l00) due to their compelling reviews and ability to deliver clean signals through the USB input. 


Then I came across @dbb review comparing the Holo May (L2) DAC and the Musetec Audio (LKS Audio) MH-DA005 DAC ($3299 – I bought mine from Shenzhen Audio with a 10% discount $2969 and free delivery).  I then read the threads regarding the Musetec DA005 here and at, both containing compelling experiences and comparisons from seasoned audiophiles.  Within those threads, the Musetec is compared to several other DACs at varying price points, and the 005 holds its own or exceeds the performance of the comparisons.  That, along with a substantial savings in price, convinced me to purchase the Musetec MH-DA005 rather than the Morpheus or either of the Holo’s.


After a considerably lengthy burn in time on the 005 and some tube rolling in the headphone amp, I have finally reached that pinnacle of detail, richness, smoothness and natural presentation that I have been seeking for over 1-1/2 years.  I have a background in studio recording and live sound mixing, and the Musetec 005 is the real deal!  I am completely satisfied with my purchase and would do it again without hesitation. 

Thank you to all of you who have contributed your opinions and experiences regarding this marvelous piece of engineering.  The creator of this DAC, Jinbo Li, at truly deserves international recognition and attention for this achievement.