LKS MH-DA004 Dac

erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,346
I was looking for a new dac a while ago and Marvin turned me onto a couple of brands I was not familiar with. Musical Paradise and LKS. I was running a Grant Fidelity tube dac 11 with an old Mullard tube and wound up picking up a PS Audio Direct Stream JR. The DSJ was very nice but in my rig of T+A integrated, Tyler Acoustics Highland H2, it was a bit too much warmth and a I wanted a bit more on the top end. I love warmth but, I also like a clean fast but smooth top end. After doing a lot of reading and talking to Willie, I decided to take a chance on the LKS mh-da004 with the upgraded Amanero USB option.

The Dac arrived yesterday and I could not wait for a 100 hour break in before giving it a listen. Since I had the Grant and Aries Mini connected via coax already in the living room, I hooked it up this way and started streaming. I have had other DAC’s in the past like W4S dac2 but, I am limiting the comparison to Grant and DSJ since they are fresh in my head. Right off the bat the soundstage got wider and vocals seemed to stand out more but, it did not mess with the center stage. The tyler’s have an eerie way of putting vocals dead center if the recording is mastered to be center. Friends asked if my sound bar was on because they think the vocals are coming from it and not the speakers. The top end extended quite a bit more but, it does not fatigue and I do not find it too bright on my rig. My living room acoustics are quite dead so if I had a more lively room, my opinion might be different but, because the living room acoustics are dead, the top end sounded fantastic to me. The midrange especially in the vocals seemed to pop out more and had greater presence without moving the soundstage up. I have had speakers or different equipment over the years that would move everything up from the 20th row to the 5th row, this was not the case with the LKS. It kept everything where it should be as far as front to back but, it did make instruments extend past the speaker in a good way.

At first listen I thought the bass was lacking a hair but the more I listened, the more I realized it was not. It was tighter and much faster and a bit more realistic with a lot of texture. I put on Yuri Honing Walking on the Moon from his Star Tracks album and you can hear the bass being plucked. I then put on Stank, Dancing Flute& Drum, Get Behind the Mule and You Shook Me from the Audiogon Wake up your ears sampler ( totally recommend downloading this ). The wife came into the room while I was playing this and said she doesn’t know if she likes the new DAC as much. She said to her everything to her is a bit more in your face vs the others I have had in the living room. She said tone was really good and cleaner but it’s not what she is used to from the living room system. I think she got used to tubes somewhere in the rig over the years. The living room has had tubes in the chain somewhere for a long long time. This is the first time without a tube somewhere in the chain on this rig. I did not find it in your face, I found it cleaner and more defined. I think some of the top and in your face ( her words not mine ) will chill out with burn in. Remember at this point I only have 2-3 hours on the unit. Now this brings me to something Willie said to me on the MP2 MK3 vs the LKS, “top end is a bit smoother, and probably a bit more laid back”. He preferred the MP over the LKS for the same reason why my wife made that comment. The price was the same on both but, I went with the LKS since my amp was warm and smooth on top, speakers are warm and smooth on top, I wanted a bit more up front to even it out too much warm and smooth on top. Again, if my living room acoustics were a bit move lively, I might have gone the MP2 MK3 route. Even without burn in I did not find it to fatigue.

I was too lazy to change the Mini over to USB so I kept it running all night on coax using the internal hard drive to burn it in. I will change it over to USB next week. I do have a Wireworld Platumun USB cable and I also have a W4S recovery using an Ifi power supply and a curious short cable for it. This combo on the Aries Mini was indistinguishable from the Aries Femto on his rig ( before the G1 and G2’s came out ). The W4S I wonder how much better it will be on the USB? After break in on USB, I will try it with and without the W4S to see if it makes a difference on the LKS since it has the upgraded USB inside. More to come!

It's sometimes difficult to buy something like this without being able to hear it first and relying on other people's ears. Special thanks to @marvda1 and @displayname for taking the time to answer all of my questions.
Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Aries Mini, LKS MH-da004, Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC

Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, , W4S recovery,Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11

Comments

  • displaynamedisplayname Posts: 662
    The real special thanks goes all to @marvda1 because I wouldn't have had ears on both units enough to have an opinion on them if he wasn't regularly such a gracious host!
    But great review, and glad you found a unit that fits well with the rest of the system. It'll keep you busy for a bit between breaking in and swapping out various cables :)
    Analog: MoFi MasterTracker > MoFi UltraDeck > Sutherland 20/20
    Digital: Cambridge CXC / Streaming > Cambridge CXN v2
    MastersounD Dueventi > Usher T-515 or Arcam rHead > Hifiman HE4XX
    Discogs
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,346
    I made a mistake on the upgraded usb, it is "- power supply and clock. Musound uses two expensive Crytek Cchd-957 ultra-low time base jitter active clock, and separately designed a ultra-low noise linear power module for the work of USB and not Amanero .
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Aries Mini, LKS MH-da004, Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, , W4S recovery,Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11
  • halohalo Posts: 5,555
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,346
    I got ya covered. Pm coming
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Aries Mini, LKS MH-da004, Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, , W4S recovery,Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11
  • GlennDogGlennDog Posts: 2,270
    Congrats Brian!

    Look’n forward to your impressions . . . following!
    Power Rogue M180 monos & Adcom GFA 5802
    PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant 10
    Rears Salk SuperCharged Surrounds
    Source PSA PWT into NSD Supremo
    Pre/Pro Integra DHC 40.1
    LCD Samsung LN46B750
    Mains Salk HT2-TL
    Center Salk HT2C
    Pre Cary SLP-05
    Wires WW & MIT
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 4,038
    I love mine. that big soundstage and crystal clear voices with tight deep bass is to die for.
    while the musical paradise can be tailored to your sound preferences it might take you a while ($$$) to get the right mix of caps, tubes, and dac chip but it is a lot of fun along the way.
    Amplifiers: MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800,Kinki Studio EX-M1
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: L.K.S MH-DA004, Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI,
    Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkIII
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra II
    Speaker Cables: Organic Audio Organic Reference 2, Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9,
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Argento Organic Reference 2, Argento Organic 2, Gabriel Gold Reckoning
    Power Cables by: Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • JuanRJuanR Posts: 705
    Hey guys,

    I have my Cary Audio Dac 200-TS (use CBS Hytron 5814WA tubes - but roll in others) connected to my Marantz SR7012 receiver in "Pure Direct mode" to bypass the Marantz processing. This I believe gives me the "true" sound provided by my dac. I have also gone directly from my dac to the amplifier without the Marantz (same result).

    Question is: Do you guys do the same? Eliminate other sources to get the "true" sound signature from your dacs? or do you connect them differently? I know the amplifier, cables etc. also play a roll on how the sound eventually comes out...

    I guess I'm questioning the impact each component has on adding to the flavor of the other components...Does less equal more?

    Juan
  • marvda1marvda1 Posts: 4,038
    I have read a lot of people say going through a preamp sounds better than dac direct.
    I would think this to be the case unless you have a $20k+ dac that designs it's pre amp section for top notch audio.
    Amplifiers: MasterSound Compact 845, Ayre v6xe, Consonance Cyber 800,Kinki Studio EX-M1
    Preamp: deHavilland Ultraverve 3
    Transport/Dac: L.K.S MH-DA004, Cayin Venus cd-100i, Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkI,
    Musical Paradise mp-d2 mkIII
    Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra II
    Speaker Cables: Organic Audio Organic Reference 2, Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9,
    Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme
    Interconnects: Argento Organic Reference 2, Argento Organic 2, Gabriel Gold Reckoning
    Power Cables by: Cullen Cables, 6sons Audio, Swiss Cables
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,346
    On my old W4S dac2, Grant and the PS Audio DSJ, I tried direct and I liked it better through the pre every time.
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Aries Mini, LKS MH-da004, Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, , W4S recovery,Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11
  • GlennDogGlennDog Posts: 2,270
    marvda1 wrote: »
    I love mine. that big soundstage and crystal clear voices with tight deep bass is to die for.
    while the musical paradise can be tailored to your sound preferences it might take you a while ($$$) to get the right mix of caps, tubes, and dac chip but it is a lot of fun along the way.

    Compounding the options on the MP, AK4499 modules are slated to be available this summer.

    Brian, How’s she sounding after 3 more days? Too soon, prolly 😜
    Power Rogue M180 monos & Adcom GFA 5802
    PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant 10
    Rears Salk SuperCharged Surrounds
    Source PSA PWT into NSD Supremo
    Pre/Pro Integra DHC 40.1
    LCD Samsung LN46B750
    Mains Salk HT2-TL
    Center Salk HT2C
    Pre Cary SLP-05
    Wires WW & MIT
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,346
    I was in Minnesota since Friday. Just getting back. i will let you know tomorrow. It's been running the entire time.
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Aries Mini, LKS MH-da004, Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, , W4S recovery,Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,447
    Better yet, how's it sounding in comparison to the other dacs mentioned.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,346
    Changed it over to usb on Tuesday and let it run. The aries mini has both outputs and makes it very easy to change between them. On this setup, usb sounds much better vs coax. Cleaner and the vocals pop out even more. The more listen to this dac the more like it.


    Lks mh-da004 vs the direct stream jr. The dsjr is a great unit and i think if my livingroom acoustics were more lively it might have gone a different way. Since my livingroom acoustics are dead, the dsj sounded a bit lifeless. It had a great tone to it, top end was a little too mellow for this rig. The lks top end is fast, clean, and very extended without sounding harsh or analytical. Mid on the lks pops out at you a bit more vs the dsj. Bottom end is a toss up. Both were solid and can produce great slam but they have a different tone to them. The Dsj had a bit more bass but i felt it was bit slower and in the 60-100 hz range, almost a bit much on this rig. The lks is a faster sounding bass. And can go just as deep as the dsj just a different tone to it. Remember folks, the Tyler's are wayyyyy too big for my room so between that and the dead acoustics, might be why the dsj wasn't a good match.

    The grant fidelity tube dac11 I still feel is a wonderful sounding dac. Very musical and responds well to a tube change. Since its only one tube in it, changes were not breaking the bank. For the price, i still feel this dac is darn good. The bass using a old mullard tube was great and using Siemens gold pin brought the top end out. The LKS gives me a wider soundstage then both the tube dac11 and the dsj. The lks gives me the top end of the gold pin Siemens, wider soundstage and digs a bit deeper then both the grant and the dsj.

    This dac might not be for everyone. If you have a bright room or overly bright speakers, you might find it a bit much. I personally like a lot of bass and a smother but still detailed top. On my rig and a dead room with very thick carpet and thick padding, it gives me what i want.

    Next up, I will add the w4s recovery and see if it gives any kind of improvement. On the old w4s dac2, grant and dsj, it made a huge impact for the better.
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse RCA, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R, Tyler Highland H2, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Aries Mini, LKS MH-da004, Wireworld Silver Eclipse SC

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T, , W4S recovery,Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11
  • ThortonThorton Posts: 1,288
    Congrats Brian. It always amazes me how much a change in component (especially a DAC) can change the overall sound and presentation. Finding the right synergy and adjusting to your musical sound taste is paramount. Let us know how the Recovery adds to the change. Congrats again and enjoy.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    Ethernet Filter: GigaFOILv4 with Keces P3 LPS
    Source: Roon via ethernet to DAC interface
    DAC: Bricasti M1SE
    Pre/Pro: Marantz AV8805
    Tube Preamp Buffer: Tortuga TPB.V1
    Amp1: Nord One NC1200DM Signature, Amp2: W4S MC-5, AMP3: W4S MMC-7
    Front: Salk SoundScape 8's, Center: Salk SoundScape C7
    Surround: Polk FXIA6, Surround Back: Polk RTIA9, Atmos: Polk 70-RT
    Subs: 2 - Rythmik F25's
    IC & Speaker Cables: Acoustic Zen, Wireworld, Signal Cable
    Power Cables: Acoustic Zen, Wireworld, PS Audio
    Room Treatments: GIK Acoustics
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 32,447
    Thanks for those comparisons Brian, puts things in perspective a little better.
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1420
    lsi 9's
  • GlennDogGlennDog Posts: 2,270
    Thx Brian! Good reporting
    I’m on the lookout for a new DAC… Just to mix things up a bit
    Power Rogue M180 monos & Adcom GFA 5802
    PS Audio PerfectWave Power Plant 10
    Rears Salk SuperCharged Surrounds
    Source PSA PWT into NSD Supremo
    Pre/Pro Integra DHC 40.1
    LCD Samsung LN46B750
    Mains Salk HT2-TL
    Center Salk HT2C
    Pre Cary SLP-05
    Wires WW & MIT
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