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Musetec Audio (LKS Audio) MH-DA005 Review (DAC)

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 194 83.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 23 9.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 3 1.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 12 5.2%

  • Total voters
    232

MaxBuck

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I hear you, but given the number of DAC combinations there’d be to test, the number of factors that would need to be controlled and the sample sizes such experiential testing would require (and the fact that it’s in the industry’s interest NOT to fund such studies), I think the audio waveform nulls are a perfectly acceptable substitute. If the analog waveform is moving air the same exact way then the sound will be the same.
I don't ask for ALL DAC combos to be tested head-to-head. I'd settle for a few such combos pairing DACs with similarly competent measurements but with different design topologies and/or widely variant subjective reviews.

I'd further specify that this ABX involve several testers, including both "trained" listeners (e.g. @amirm) and untrained. And I would be a poor candidate.
 

srkbear

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I don't ask for ALL DAC combos to be tested head-to-head. I'd settle for a few such combos pairing DACs with similarly competent measurements but with different design topologies and/or widely variant subjective reviews.
You sure none such tests have been performed? I’m going to go on a hunt since you raised this point ;)
 

elvisizer

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Silver plated cables, audiophile caps, femtoclocks (usb reclocking?), low noise, distortion in HF that people often confound with detail... The specs is the only thing is wrong here xD
ding ding ding- I think you've hit the nail here and this helps explain the trajectory of this thread as well.
This combination of characteristics is not accidental (including the inaccurate specs!) This DAC was designed to exploit the ideas of the subjective crowd from the get go.
If I felt less bad about ripping people off this is exactly the type of thing I'd design after datamining the hoffman forum lol.
 
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srkbear

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No, I'm not sure at all. Hope you find some!
For it to be valid, it would have to be prospective, randomized and controlled, double-blinded and with sufficient sample sizes in each arm to reach statistical significance (p<0.05). Since I can’t bear to go through the calculations to determine such sample sizes, I’ll see if there are at least any studies that have rigorous designs.

But please be aware—such experiential endpoints are so subjective and vague, and I’m not even certain of the null test definition. Does it sound better or worse? More clinical or musical? Cold or warm? What genre should we choose? How to we define matched controls—do they have to both enjoy rock? Jazz? New Age? Hearing acuity and upper frequencies decline with age—what age group do we target? Should subjects have baseline audiometry and should that variable be a case control method? What about headphone fit—how do we control for that? Ear shape? Glasses?

Honestly, I think the likelihood that two DACs with “identical” measurements would sound substantially different (if voltage-matched and played through the same amp and drivers) is so scientifically-improbable—assuming that their analog waveforms match—that pursuing a subjective study is more likely to provide bad data than anything definitive. But I’ll look nonetheless…
 

MaxBuck

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... please be aware—such experiential endpoints are so subjective and vague, and I’m not even certain of the null test definition. Does it sound better or worse? More clinical or musical? Cold or warm?
My greatest interest is simply listeners' ability to reliably distinguish one from another. The mantra here (and I'm not at all saying it's wrong) is that "there is no audible difference among all competent DACs; no one can distinguish among them." And I think that kind of blanket statement should be backed up by objective data before it is accepted as fact.
 

HarmonicTHD

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My greatest interest is simply listeners' ability to reliably distinguish one from another. The mantra here (and I'm not at all saying it's wrong) is that "there is no audible difference among all competent DACs; no one can distinguish among them." And I think that kind of blanket statement should be backed up by objective data before it is accepted as fact.
Have a look here. It also links a few studies. Maybe you find something which helps you in your quest. (Discard if you know it already. It is a sticky of this site).

 

brk

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I know Amir does this for free - so probably has no additional time for more work - but is there any way to distinguish whether some of these poorly measuring products - especially the expensive ones - are caused by design oversights or defective manufacturing? I am surprised by the increasing number of "innocuous" defective products reviewed at Stereophile recently, For example. a $6K amp is found to have a measurable difference between channels and the manufacturer responds with "oh, sorry - cold solder joint- here's a new one" (and then it tests fine). And that's for a review magazine - what Is the defect rate for us scrubs who just buy the product and listen to it?
 
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amirm

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I know Amir does this for free - so probably has no additional time for more work - but is there any way to distinguish whether some of these poorly measuring products - especially the expensive ones - are caused by design oversights or defective manufacturing?
It is design problem. We know very well that ESS IMD Distortion hump for example. It was there initially in many DACs until designers figured out how to solve it. No way it is intended distortion or a broken device.

Further, company had plenty of opportunity to come through with a new measurements or say the unit is broken but they have not.

In general, it is very hard to get a product to distort this way because it is broken.
 

srkbear

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It is design problem. We know very well that ESS IMD Distortion hump for example. It was there initially in many DACs until designers figured out how to solve it. No way it is intended distortion or a broken device.

Further, company had plenty of opportunity to come through with a new measurements or say the unit is broken but they have not.

In general, it is very hard to get a product to distort this way because it is broken.
How did they solve it by the way? It seems that Topping and Gustard have at least endeavored to utilize all eight channels of the chip. Could that be a contributor? Also I’ve been wondering what your view is of using dual ES9038pros such as in this mess and in the x26 pro. What’s the point of decoding the file in dual mono?
 

animatone

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I'll be honest this review surprised me... But first a little joke.

Man walks into his doctors office and says "hey doc how you doing?". Doctor says "I'm doing fine, how about you?"'. Man say's "great doc, feeling great, losing weight, exercising, couldn't be better! So what's my blood pressure? Doctor says "135/90". Man says "that's a bad measurement right doc?". Doctor says "but you feel fine right?"

Audio science and measurements correlate to something biological, but do not define anything biologically in it of themselves. So much as a blood pressure of 110/75 being better then 120/80. Is it really, is 105/65 better? Can either person discern, perceive or feel the difference? Maybe, but probably not. These scientific measurements of a biological phenomenon are not absolutes. They'll never be.

Ask anyone who works in the scientific field of medicine and healthcare. These measurements, laboratory tests, and diagnostic studies do not amount to the sum total of "physical" experience of most states of well-being and disease. They are a frame of reference, but no where near a defining maxim and vary immensely person to person. Often only leaving all but the extremes cases to go unnoticed.

I see patients who's diagnostic studies alone would make me believe they're wheelchair bound and permanently debilitated. These people walk in the door and say "they feel fine". This isn't the norm, but rarely do diagnostics frame a physical experience in an quantifiable and reproducible way. Honestly this phenomena is quite common.

I've had a chance to own not only this poor measuring DAC, but also one's more expensive and cheaper one's and I can honestly say I've heard better and I've heard worse.

I've heard better measuring, cheaper DAC's that don't sound close to as good as the 005. I've heard more expensive, better measuring DAC's sounding better then the 005.

Subjectivity is objectively real, when objectively measurements fail to explain perception.

It's translation error really.

And subjective reviews are very important, because given enough of them over time, and in succession, comparisons and patterns (not dictums) can be drawn.

I utilize science, and I believe it, but science has no heuristics, and doesn't equate to my absolute joy in life.

These kinds of reviews are important too, I will not discredit their importance , but all I'm saying is "I feel fine doc... I feel fine."
 
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amirm

amirm

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I see patients who's diagnostic studies alone would make me believe they're wheelchair bound and permanently debilitated. These people walk in the door and say "they feel fine". This isn't the norm, but rarely do diagnostics frame a physical experience in an quantifiable and reproducible way. Honestly this phenomena is quite common.

I've had a chance to own not only this poor measuring DAC, but also one's more expensive and cheaper one's and I can honestly say I've heard better and I've heard worse.
You haven't "heard" anything. You have perceived something with your brain using all of your senses and experiences. Now maybe you tell me in medical profession doctors routinely prescribe medication that has not been through controlled testing. In here though, we follow the science which calls for any subjective testing to be "ears only." I suggest you watch this video of mine:


Subjectivity is objectively real, when objectively measurements fail to explain perception.
Objective measurements can't explain fantasies or imagination. Hopefully you know this from your medical profession.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I utilize science, and I believe it, but science has no heuristics, and doesn't equate to my absolute joy in life.
Wait till you experience science in audio. It is exceptionally liberating when you know the "why" and "how." You will save a ton of money which you can then put into other life's enjoyments. Without science, you will be chasing you tail, believing in all kinds of things that are not real.....
 

Lotus78

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I wonder if this with so-called burn in in electronics is confused with burn in by, for example, car engines? But it's about mechanics and moving parts, which is another matter.:)

"The right way to break in a new car
Many drivers wonder whether breaking in a new car is still necessary or if this practice has been superseded with the advances in technology. The answer? Yes and no...

Doing an engine break-in used to be a standard procedure with new cars. And it’s still the case that you should avoid running the engine at high RPM for the first 1,300 miles."


Note, just a thought, speculation on my part.:)
In the racing world a fresh engine is at its best. It’s all down hill in performance after it’s first revolution.
 

animatone

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You haven't "heard" anything. You have perceived something with your brain using all of your senses and experiences. Now maybe you tell me in medical profession doctors routinely prescribe medication that has not been through controlled testing. In here though, we follow the science which calls for any subjective testing to be "ears only." I suggest you watch this video of mine:



Objective measurements can't explain fantasies or imagination. Hopefully you know this from your medical profession.

Show me a measurement for why I like chocolate ice cream and grey cars? Sense and taste aren't that simple. I might not have either of them though.

Mola Mola Tambaqui measures better, and I would agree sounds better (my favorite DAC).

Gustard X26 Pro measures better, but I like the 005 better (detail, soundstage depth and width).
 
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amirm

amirm

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Show me a measurement for why I like chocolate ice cream and grey cars? Sense and taste aren't that simple.
Music is the ice cream. We are not here to judge that. We are here to judge the thing you serve it on.

That aside, the right analogy would be which chocolate ice cream you like. The food industry routinely uses blind testing:


But you refuse to do so in audio.
 

brk

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It is design problem. We know very well that ESS IMD Distortion hump for example. It was there initially in many DACs until designers figured out how to solve it. No way it is intended distortion or a broken device.

Further, company had plenty of opportunity to come through with a new measurements or say the unit is broken but they have not.

In general, it is very hard to get a product to distort this way because it is broken.
Thank you. I saw that response on the other audio forum, where the designer said he lacked the requisite testing equipment to test the DAC. Crossed that DAC off the list...
 

brk

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I'll be honest this review surprised me... But first a little joke.

Man walks into his doctors office and says "hey doc how you doing?". Doctor says "I'm doing fine, how about you?"'. Man say's "great doc, feeling great, losing weight, exercising, couldn't be better! So what's my blood pressure? Doctor says "135/90". Man says "that's a bad measurement right doc?". Doctor says "but you feel fine right?"

Audio science and measurements correlate to something biological, but do not define anything biologically in it of themselves. So much as a blood pressure of 110/75 being better then 120/80. Is it really, is 105/65 better? Can either person discern, perceive or feel the difference? Maybe, but probably not. These scientific measurements of a biological phenomenon are not absolutes. They'll never be.

Ask anyone who works in the scientific field of medicine and healthcare. These measurements, laboratory tests, and diagnostic studies do not amount to the sum total of "physical" experience of most states of well-being and disease. They are a frame of reference, but no where near a defining maxim and vary immensely person to person. Often only leaving all but the extremes cases to go unnoticed.

I see patients who's diagnostic studies alone would make me believe they're wheelchair bound and permanently debilitated. These people walk in the door and say "they feel fine". This isn't the norm, but rarely do diagnostics frame a physical experience in an quantifiable and reproducible way. Honestly this phenomena is quite common.

I've had a chance to own not only this poor measuring DAC, but also one's more expensive and cheaper one's and I can honestly say I've heard better and I've heard worse.

I've heard better measuring, cheaper DAC's that don't sound close to as good as the 005. I've heard more expensive, better measuring DAC's sounding better then the 005.

Subjectivity is objectively real, when objectively measurements fail to explain perception.

It's translation error really.

And subjective reviews are very important, because given enough of them over time, and in succession, comparisons and patterns (not dictums) can be drawn.

I utilize science, and I believe it, but science has no heuristics, and doesn't equate to my absolute joy in life.

These kinds of reviews are important too, I will not discredit their importance , but all I'm saying is "I feel fine doc... I feel fine."

As someone who does biomedical research for a living I disagree with your premise. The reason that measurements, laboratory tests, and diagnostic studies often fail - and sometimes miraculously - is because current knowledge explains only a sliver of a rumor of the human body. Only hubris allowed us to think that a biochemical reaction explains a mechanistic pathway, an animal model explains the cause of a disease, and an association study identifies causal risk factors. This is why more than 95% of randomized trials of well-reasoned medical treatments fail. I don't know enough about audio engineering to understand how much of audibility is explained by available measurements, but would guess it is a far larger fraction than in medicine.
 

srkbear

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I'll be honest this review surprised me... But first a little joke.

Man walks into his doctors office and says "hey doc how you doing?". Doctor says "I'm doing fine, how about you?"'. Man say's "great doc, feeling great, losing weight, exercising, couldn't be better! So what's my blood pressure? Doctor says "135/90". Man says "that's a bad measurement right doc?". Doctor says "but you feel fine right?"

Audio science and measurements correlate to something biological, but do not define anything biologically in it of themselves. So much as a blood pressure of 110/75 being better then 120/80. Is it really, is 105/65 better? Can either person discern, perceive or feel the difference? Maybe, but probably not. These scientific measurements of a biological phenomenon are not absolutes. They'll never be.

Ask anyone who works in the scientific field of medicine and healthcare. These measurements, laboratory tests, and diagnostic studies do not amount to the sum total of "physical" experience of most states of well-being and disease. They are a frame of reference, but no where near a defining maxim and vary immensely person to person. Often only leaving all but the extremes cases to go unnoticed.

I see patients who's diagnostic studies alone would make me believe they're wheelchair bound and permanently debilitated. These people walk in the door and say "they feel fine". This isn't the norm, but rarely do diagnostics frame a physical experience in an quantifiable and reproducible way. Honestly this phenomena is quite common.

I've had a chance to own not only this poor measuring DAC, but also one's more expensive and cheaper one's and I can honestly say I've heard better and I've heard worse.

I've heard better measuring, cheaper DAC's that don't sound close to as good as the 005. I've heard more expensive, better measuring DAC's sounding better then the 005.

Subjectivity is objectively real, when objectively measurements fail to explain perception.

It's translation error really.

And subjective reviews are very important, because given enough of them over time, and in succession, comparisons and patterns (not dictums) can be drawn.

I utilize science, and I believe it, but science has no heuristics, and doesn't equate to my absolute joy in life.

These kinds of reviews are important too, I will not discredit their importance , but all I'm saying is "I feel fine doc... I feel fine."
I don’t usually mention my profession on here, because there’s nothing about my particular field of scientific expertise that qualifies me to speak authoritatively on audio science (see the link below on ultracrepidarianism for more on this).

However, I am a physician, medical educator and university research scientist, so I feel that I can speak with some manner of authority on the medical analogy you have apparently invoked to suggest some validity behind anecdotal evidence. And regarding your claim that we can “ask anyone in the scientific field of medicine and healthcare” to confirm your hypothesis, I can say definitively that none of my peers would acquiesce to your grasp of the scientific method, and I think your argument, with all due respect to a colleague, is full of s**t.

 

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Lotus78

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I just upgraded my toaster oven along with this DAC unveiled 12 layers of army blankets from my speakers an added PR and slam that I would expect from a $1,000,000 toaster oven DAC combo with 22.7 hours of burn in.
Hopefully this is enough to lock this thread
 
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