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."


@americanspirit If you're still looking for a preamp, you might want to try a Hegel P20. I use it with the 005 and the McIntosh MC152. I found it was better than the McIntosh C47, more dynamic, detailed, and timbrely accurate.


thanks for the advice, I had considered buying the Hegel P30A but then the choice fell on the Musical Fidelity M8sPRE.

@americanspirit  I have a P30 which I use with a McIntosh MC402.  It's  very nice, especially with natural timbre. I hear the P30A won't be in the US until November or December. How does the M8sPre sound with the Mac?

I don't think you can use the Mac C22 as an example by which to judge the sound performance of all preamps with tubes.  I know that there are those who drool in front of the visual attraction of Macs.  However, the build of the C22 and its predecessor twin C70 leaves a lot to be desired.  There's a lot of empty space inside the chassis, only two of its six tubes support the preamp function, and it relies on chip op amps in its signal path. If I'm not mistaken all its caps are generic.  Typical for Macs there are no reviews to be found and information about their insides is very hard to come by. 

@sns is the tube guru in these parts and it would be interesting to hear from him on the general topic of the resolution potential of tubed pres.

Thanks @melm  I do love my tube pre, Coincident Statement MkII, 101D dht, and I do believe tube pre's and tube amps for that matter, are great match for 005. My take on 005 is it really excels with just the slightest added bit of warmth, harmonic development only tubes can provide. Doesn't need more than a touch of that tube warmth so the more neutral, modern sound tube amps/pre's just right. Also, modern top flight tube equipment needs not give up anything to SS in terms of resolution/transparency. This especially true with balanced pre, noise floor lower with balanced circuits, cables.


As far as the Musical Fidelity pre, I purchased MF M2SI integrated some years ago in a different setup, thought it very nice musical piece. Hit above its weight against a much more expensive class A SS amp. I too am not impressed with Mac, middling sound for the cost.


Update on new server, have JCAT Optimo S ATX LPS in house after 2 weeks wait for shipping out of Poland. Have new setup running but haven't listened yet, Euphony OS and Stylus player steep learning curve, this thing has ability to run direct from RAM, lowest latency (jitter) possible vs SSD. This setup should really test 005 potential, a number of individuals built virtually same server (minus the Optimo LPS) after having gone through previous lesser custom build servers over the years. Each considered this was best custom server they could build. Each of these individuals purchased Taiko Extreme server directly after this particular build, $35k last time I looked.