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."


@jjss49 Whenever I go wine tasting in the Bay Area (Napa + Sonoma) I always ask for a straw.

.. (who has a Topping in his audio chain is probably a person who only pays attention savings so I don't expect it to have a high-end system alas ...)

I have a Topping D90LE in one of my systems and it produces a sound that bring me happiness. It was not about cost but more about synergy for this pairing.  Schitt Jotenhueim | Topping D90LE | RAAL CA-1a + SR1a 

I cannot bear the claims of superiority of pseudo science over human senses.

agreed that part is distasteful, but why harp on it?

you can see via amir’s system, he is not an audiophile, he is a clever tech dude monetizing a niche, a circle of like minded folks with like minded blind spots - he can be a robin hood in his own mind with eager followers...lots of advice givers in the world with weak legs they stand on

we are much more passionate about this pursuit, in our way, different from his, it should be water off a duck’s back, so to speak

this isn’t to say that what becomes ’recommended’ by amir is necessarily bad... we all know that any piece of equipment fits into a chain, that chain has a certain level of musicality and resolving power, and of course, synergy matters ... much of it is just fine, just like my $15 zin serves its purpose for me well...

interesting, just stumbled into this from john darko


| Chinese manufacturers produce DACs that respond perfectly to poor Amir's tests

By "Amir's tests", are you referring to fundamental tests of linearity, noise, and distortion that are staples of audio engineering? Do you think Mola Mola and Holo specifically produce DACs that "respond to Amir's tests" (they measured great)?

| In the engineering field, the analysis of the variables involved in sound reproduction is very similar to those that occur in the presence of tubulence

Are you trying to argue that perceived sound quality represents a complex interaction among many variables. Fine. In this case, a couple of those variables were found to be dysfunctional in single variable testing, Why combine them?

| Who has Topping in his audio chain is probably a person who only pays attention savings so I don't expect it to have a high-end system alas ...

Mine takes upsampled DSD256 from HQ player into an Ars Sonum integrated tube amp and Merlin speakers. I recognize this is not the highest end gear. Alas...



I wrote "some Chinese producers" and I mentioned "Topping, SMSL and Gustard" I didn't talk about brands that produce serious DACs, which in fact are not reviewed by poor Amir, just in order not to generalize about Chinese production.

the brands I mentioned have superb measurements in relation to a sound result not comparable (in default) with devices that have worse measurements.

this happens because the measurements made are based exclusively on a few and insufficient parameters able to describe the physical phenomenon. these manufacturers know this and take advantage of it by building and designing their own devices just to respond to these measures.

they don't care about the sound result, they noticed a big jump in sales following the publication of the results of the measurements, and that's enough to continue along this path that is not at all ethical.

I repeat that it is very easy to compare the sound performance of these low-cost DACs compared to the more "famous" DACs, just listen to them on high-level systems. anyone can pick out the differences, you don't need sensitive ears like a calibration microphone ... the two free pavilions offered by mother nature are enough!

up to now, based on all comparisons made on very high level systems (1.5-2 million dollars), the only "low cost" DAC that musically produces comparable results with DACs that cost 10 times more is the MUSETEC MH- DA005.

those who can afford it can compare it with the NAGRA HD DAC X, with the dCS Vivaldi APEX DAC or with the Gryphon Audio Kalliope. then we will resend for the ratings.

p.s .: the MUSETECH used for the subjective evaluation tests was included in a 100% Gryphon Audio chain as follows: Amplifier 2xApex Mono + Preamplifier Commander + Kodo loudspeaker