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Hi

 

Just ordered the LKS Audio MH-DA004, which has twin ESS9038 Pro chips. I previously had the MH-DA003, with twin 9018's, which didn't sound great out of the box but really came into its own after some fairly simple modifications (different XO, better op amps, new regulators).

 

Plus side of the 9038 is 140 dB DNR, however it looks like these things are going to throw out more current and run hot, meaning harder part matching perhaps. Can anyone here share any experience/impressions yet of the new chip, soundwise or otherwise, either in stereo or dual mono configuration? I appreciate that implementation counts for a lot, but I'd like to hear any feedback nonetheless.

 

The MH-DA004 is about $1500, which seems reasonable for the architecture and features on offer. Components are reasonably spaced out for those of a tweaking persuasion.

 

thx

mac_and_dac

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It certainly looks like an intriguing design with many excellent design aspects, including the dual ES9038PRO DACs, dual toroidal linear power supply with 13 groups of regulation, JFET discrete output stage, Amanero USB module, Crystek femtosecond clock, Jensen caps, Cardas RCAs, Neutrik XLRs, etc... Surprised to hear that your previous DAC from them required mods to sound good, but hopefully they got this one right. Anxious to hear about your thoughts on its performance, when are you expecting to receive it? Best of luck and TIA for sharing!

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I also own one of their previous devices. I am very curious to hear your report on the new discreet output stage designed for Sabre chips. 

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2 hours ago, audio.bill said:

It certainly looks like an intriguing design with many excellent design aspects, including the dual ES9038PRO DACs, dual toroidal linear power supply with 13 groups of regulation, JFET discrete output stage, Amanero USB module, Crystek femtosecond clock, Jensen caps, Cardas RCAs, Neutrik XLRs, etc... Surprised to hear that your previous DAC from them required mods to sound good, but hopefully they got this one right. Anxious to hear about your thoughts on its performance, when are you expecting to receive it? Best of luck and TIA for sharing!

 
 

 

I have the stock Crystek 575 XO in a slightly modified Eastern Electric MiniMax Dac+ and that unit sounds very nice, but with the same XO in the MH-DA003 I found the sound really thin, as have one or two others. Someone recommended that I swap it out for the Crystek 950 (which in some aspects measures inferior) and this, to my surprise, sorted the problem out.

 

I'm only replacing the 003 because my soldering talent is not top notch and I managed to ruin the board. It was sound really good until I screwed it up.

 

The 004 should arrive in 7-10 days. I will share some initial out of the box thoughts.

 

I think the 002, 003 and 004 offer a lot of bang for the buck. I've compared the internals to some far more expensive DAC's and at times it makes me wonder how the expensive units justify the price tag, especially when they are single DAC chip designs.

Edited by mac_and_dac
missed a word

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On 25/3/2017 at 10:07 AM, mac_and_dac said:

 

I have the stock Crystek 575 XO in a slightly modified Eastern Electric MiniMax Dac+ and that unit sounds very nice, but with the same XO in the MH-DA003 I found the sound really thin, as have one or two others. Someone recommended that I swap it out for the Crystek 950 (which in some aspects measures inferior) and this, to my surprise, sorted the problem out.

 

I'm only replacing the 003 because my soldering talent is not top notch and I managed to ruin the board. It was sound really good until I screwed it up.

 

The 004 should arrive in 7-10 days. I will share some initial out of the box thoughts.

 

I think the 002, 003 and 004 offer a lot of bang for the buck. I've compared the internals to some far more expensive DAC's and at times it makes me wonder how the expensive units justify the price tag, especially when they are single DAC chip designs.

 

 Hello mac_and_dac

 

Any update on your new 004 dac, i am looking forward to know how good this one is compared maybe to something like the HOLO Audio or Gustard x20 pro. I need to replace my VEGA which i sold and this seems to be something very good at least for its Specs...

 

Please keep us posted!

 

 

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14 hours ago, mac_and_dac said:

Hi

 

The 004 is excellent, by far and away the best DAC I have listened to, and I have listened to a few (and still own five!).

 

If you put to one side the discrete output section, the overall architecture isn't hugely different to the 003, so I guess the game-changer is the new ES9038Pro. It chucks out a lot of current, 4x what the 9018 put out as max, so quite fundamentally different it would seem.

 

Strengths are: imaging, neutrality, airiness, top end sweetness, grip.

 

Possible negatives are a slight shyness in the bass area, but this could easily be my overall setup so take this with a pinch of salt.

 

What I am hearing is what I expected from the 003, but didn't get until I modified it a bit. 

 

I bought the 004 to modify, but I am wondering whether I should even bother as the stock sound is so good.

 

I still need to burn the unit in more (only ~20 hours listening so far), and would like to try out the filters with extended listening, before I start changing things around. First change will be the 575xo, as mentioned, however it seems fine so I expect minimal benefits from that activity.

 

Shame there aren't more dual mono ESS architectures out there, it's a bit surprising - but at least this one delivers.

 

The THD+N measurements are industry-leading I believe, although in my experience this doesn't have a great deal of correlation with the SQ (unless the measurements are really bad).

 

Cheers

mac_and_dac

 

 

Thanks mac_and_dac,

 

If you get to hear something about comparison with say T+A DAC 8 DSD or vs Holo Spring DAC

 

I am trying to decide which way to go:

 

LKS 004

T+A DAC 8 DSD

Holo Spring DAC Level 3

 

In either case i want to upgrade to DSD512

 

Regards

 

Mike

 

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Hi Mike

 

I listen exclusively to PCM. There may well be better DAC options for DSD. The Amanero USB board on the 004 supports 384Khz sample rate for PCM, and whilst I have read in one place that it supports 512Khz for DSD, I am not sure that is correct. It would need to be checked with Amanero.

 

I looked at the T+A DAC last year, and was impressed with the design for separate signal paths for PCM and DSD. IIRC, the design was a little bit biased toward providing the best DSD sound. (I don't mean that as a criticism, by the way.) I really like the fact that they have put a great deal of thought into the general architecture, doing things largely their own way rather than following received patterns. The 004 is a 'traditional' design if you like, designed to get the best out of the ES90x8 chips. If you go down that route, then i would strongly suggest the dual mono architecture rather than a single chip. The latter sounds fine, but a chip per channel should be better sonically, all things being equal. (Dual mono architectures unsurprisingly usually measure better, for those who care...)

 

One downside of the 004 is that you will really struggle to get a demo anywhere. I don't know of any US or European stockists. I gambled on the 003 and was quite disappointed, but able to remedy the situation as the 003 seems to have been built to allow easy customization. I gambled on the 004 also, but at least had a reference point in the 003.

 

One thing to highlight on the 004 is that it has a digital volume control, which means you can theoretically bypass a pre-amp. I've used it and it sounds ok, however I still retain my preamp and use the DAC in fixed output mode as my little brain, rightly or wrongly, always starts wondering about quantisation noise when using the DAC at low output levels.

 

Actually, the output of the 004 is so strong that I will very shortly be getting rid of my preamp and replacing it with a Schitt volume control, running straight into the power amps.

 

Good luck with the decision-making, sounds to me like the T+A might be your best bet and probably one I would want to demo if if I were in the market for another machine.

 

cheers

mac_and_dac

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6 hours ago, mac_and_dac said:

Hi Mike

 

I listen exclusively to PCM. There may well be better DAC options for DSD. The Amanero USB board on the 004 supports 384Khz sample rate for PCM, and whilst I have read in one place that it supports 512Khz for DSD, I am not sure that is correct. It would need to be checked with Amanero.

 

I looked at the T+A DAC last year, and was impressed with the design for separate signal paths for PCM and DSD. IIRC, the design was a little bit biased toward providing the best DSD sound. (I don't mean that as a criticism, by the way.) I really like the fact that they have put a great deal of thought into the general architecture, doing things largely their own way rather than following received patterns. The 004 is a 'traditional' design if you like, designed to get the best out of the ES90x8 chips. If you go down that route, then i would strongly suggest the dual mono architecture rather than a single chip. The latter sounds fine, but a chip per channel should be better sonically, all things being equal. (Dual mono architectures unsurprisingly usually measure better, for those who care...)

 

One downside of the 004 is that you will really struggle to get a demo anywhere. I don't know of any US or European stockists. I gambled on the 003 and was quite disappointed, but able to remedy the situation as the 003 seems to have been built to allow easy customization. I gambled on the 004 also, but at least had a reference point in the 003.

 

One thing to highlight on the 004 is that it has a digital volume control, which means you can theoretically bypass a pre-amp. I've used it and it sounds ok, however I still retain my preamp and use the DAC in fixed output mode as my little brain, rightly or wrongly, always starts wondering about quantisation noise when using the DAC at low output levels.

 

Actually, the output of the 004 is so strong that I will very shortly be getting rid of my preamp and replacing it with a Schitt volume control, running straight into the power amps.

 

Good luck with the decision-making, sounds to me like the T+A might be your best bet and probably one I would want to demo if if I were in the market for another machine.

 

cheers

mac_and_dac

 

Good morning mac_and_dac

Thanks a lot for your time and explanation to give me a hand with this, very much appreciated!

 

Do you consider the LKS to perform good or excellent, specially for rock music, i want analog, involving, musical and emotional sound as possible. I had the Auralic VEGA and although is sounds very good it still has that "digital" glare, i wanted to be more detailed but not bright, voices to be vivid but again not brightened, background to be black with very low noise or zero noises...does the LKS performs like that?

 

Kind regards

 

 

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Zero digital glare, it's completely analogue but without any creamy smear.

 

I consider the performance excellent - as I've said, it's the best I've heard in the price range I operate ($1500-$2500).

 

Background is utterly dark and silent, as you would expect with the architecture and dual sabre chips.

 

I will reserve judgement on the 'involving' element, as my system is not perfectly balanced yet and there is still scope for more 'life' and 'emotion'. But I do not see the 004 as the reason for this, as I have run several dacs through my current system so I can differentiate the signature of a DAC from the system as a whole.

 

The only possible weakness may be in the area of bass - but again, my system is a little bass-shy as a whole so this may not be the fault of the DAC. I will know better in a few weeks when I have swapped out my power amps for something new.

 

All my DACs sound good, very 'analogue-y', and I could listen to them all without fatigue - but the 004 stands out for airiness, imaging and grip.

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I should add that I have a dedicated power regenerator for the 004 Dac. I've not listened to it without, so I don't know how much that is helping. The one I use costs around $650. (I have two units, the other is dedicated to the amplification.)

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2 hours ago, mac_and_dac said:

I should add that I have a dedicated power regenerator for the 004 Dac. I've not listened to it without, so I don't know how much that is helping. The one I use costs around $650. (I have two units, the other is dedicated to the amplification.)

 

mac_and_dac

 

Thank you very much amigo!

 

your comments are really helpful

 

Enjoy the music!

 

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On 4/18/2017 at 5:09 PM, mikicasellas said:

 

Thanks mac_and_dac,

 

If you get to hear something about comparison with say T+A DAC 8 DSD or vs Holo Spring DAC

 

I am trying to decide which way to go:

 

LKS 004

T+A DAC 8 DSD

Holo Spring DAC Level 3

 

In either case i want to upgrade to DSD512

 

Regards

 

Mike

 

 

I wouldn't waste your money on a lvl 3 holo.. those silver cores do nothing but look pretty inside the case. I'm sure those mods appeal to a certain crowd of fanatics...

 

Also notice there are no specs, test results or comparisons (that I'm aware of)  for any of those "Kitsune Tuned" DAC's. 

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@mac_and_dac

Have you actually tried to playback at DSD512 with 004?

I would like to know if this DAC does support DSD512. With previous models it was not the case regardless of what manufacturer claimed. 

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17 hours ago, bibo01 said:

@mac_and_dac

Have you actually tried to playback at DSD512 with 004?

I would like to know if this DAC does support DSD512. With previous models it was not the case regardless of what manufacturer claimed. 

 

I will try it when I get back home to the UK in a few days' time.

 

It is worth noting that the 003 shipped with two types of Amanero board. Most internal pics of the 003 I have seen on the 'net show the 'standard' version. My 004 has the upgraded version. (Full of discrete parts, but probably the same chipset.)

 

Not sure if drivers will make a difference. FWIW, I'm running Audirvana+ off OSX El Capitan.

 

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2 hours ago, mac_and_dac said:

 

I will try it when I get back home to the UK in a few days' time.

 

It is worth noting that the 003 shipped with two types of Amanero board. Most internal pics of the 003 I have seen on the 'net show the 'standard' version. My 004 has the upgraded version. (Full of discrete parts, but probably the same chipset.)

 

Not sure if drivers will make a difference. FWIW, I'm running Audirvana+ off OSX El Capitan.

 

On the old model I have the upgraded usb too.

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Who'd you guys order the dac from? I got a 004 from szclever88 on eBay. The unit showed up with multiple scratches and marks, and What looks as though rcas had been plugged into it several times judging by the marring. I've asked for it to be exchanged for new one but he won't, wants me to return it for refund... what a hassle. If I do this i need to replace it from someon.

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Btw I've had a vega dac and the holo spring level three. I can say the lks betters both those dacs, the gustard x20pro betters the vega and the holo for that matter. And I concour with mac and dacs description of the lks sound.

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Hi Kirbyt

I got my 004 from wsz0304 on ebay.

Very good transaction, no doubts that I was getting a new unit all the way from Schenzen.

It took around 8 days IIRC from payment to delivery in the UK.

The unit arrived brand new, unmarked.

cheers

mac_and_dac

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On 4/19/2017 at 5:04 PM, mac_and_dac said:

I should add that I have a dedicated power regenerator for the 004 Dac. I've not listened to it without, so I don't know how much that is helping. The one I use costs around $650. (I have two units, the other is dedicated to the amplification.)

mac_and_dac:  The power re-generator (is an excellent idea) and has a profound, positive impact on digital front-ends. No one really knows what their digital can sound like until powered by a credible (i.e. decently designed) AC Power Regenerator --300-watt model is fine.

 

Try powering your DAC from the wall power.  It won't be plugged in there for long ! 

 

pj

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On 2017-5-21 at 0:38 PM, allhifi said:

mac_and_dac:  The power re-generator (is an excellent idea) and has a profound, positive impact on digital front-ends. No one really knows what their digital can sound like until powered by a credible (i.e. decently designed) AC Power Regenerator --300-watt model is fine.

 

Try powering your DAC from the wall power.  It won't be plugged in there for long ! 

 

pj

 

I am seriously considering a MH-DA004 to replace my Yulong DA8 II, and I am also very interested in power regenerators but it seems like the only option are the ps audio units? ($$$)

If you guys (mac_and_dac, allhifi) don't mind what power regenerators are you using with your dacs? 

 

Thanks

 

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Hi Darren: I am currently using a Blue Circle MR-1200 (1,200 watt) Balanced Power Supply (i.e. 'conditioner') for all of my source/front-end components, including CDP & DAC.

Equi=tech is one of the better known (and respected) brands in the USA.

 

Indeed, all of my (and others) amazing past experience with AC power regen's was with the PS Audio (P-300).

 

Look into Core Power Technologies (equi-core/power), not equi=tech, who were advertising a 300-watt AC power regenerator at a sale price of $999. (reg. $1,200 US$). This company also offers/makes "Balanced/ Symmetrical " Power units of 300W, and higher.

 

 pj 

 

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Hi

 

I use the following:

 

http://www.powerinspired.com/store/ag1500-ac-regenerator-1500w-psu-p-1742.html?osCsid=157a92426cdc1d807abb7a8654410226

 

This is the 1500W version, which costs 549GBP, which is around 700USD.

 

There is a 300W version which is half the price.

 

I have one for my DAC, and one for my power amplifiers.

 

I picked both up for lower than cost price, you can sometimes find them on ebay.

 

There are some very expensive equivalents out there, but I am yet to ascertain from the specs what they do beyond the units I own.

 

mac_and_dac

 

 

 

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