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LKS Audio MH-DA003

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by nostoy, Dec 4, 2014.
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  1. nostoy
    Hi, I have seen a new version of the DAC of LKS, someone on the forum has information, or had the opportunity to hear .....
    Leave the link:
     
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hi-end-LKS-Audio-MH-DA003-Double-Parallel-ES9018-DAC-decoder-USB-DSD-/111525053002
     
    I can not find reviews on internet.
     
    Many Thanks.
     
  2. b0bb
    This looks like LKS fixed up a lot of the complaints of the previous MH-DA002 model namely the use of 1970's era regulators in the powersupply. and cleaning up some of the poor signal routing.
     
    LKS has made a serious attempt  in improving the master clock as well as putting better in power supplies.
     
    I was originally looking at the Light Harmonic Geek Pulse Xfi, this new LKS DAC will give it some competition.
     
  3. nostoy
    A part of this:

    http://www.hiendy.com/hififorum/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=79247

    there is nothing else in the entire network. Only retail stores.
     
  4. Chodi
    I would check with these people in HK before buying. I believe they are the official distributor. http://www.mu-sound.com/9018d_index_en.html
     
    They don't show this new 003 version yet but they should have it unless L.K.S. changed distributors.
     
  5. b0bb
    Shenzhen Audio is also selling it
    http://www.shenzhenaudio.com/l-k-s-audio-mh-da003-es9018-2-dual-channel-decoder-amanero-usb-dsd-dac-crystek.html
     
  6. dspusr
    http://www.htpc.jp/v4/index.html
    the difference is transformer
    HTPC 3 piece
    LKS 2 piece
     
    c.f. arcadia DA
    http://www.arcadiada.com/
    http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/saikihiroshi/GALLERY/show_image.html?id=32292617&no=0
     
  7. Chodi
    So the real question is: Who is actually the designer of this project? Is it LKS in China or this Japanese company in your post? My money is on the Japanese company buying or copying the design from LKS. I see they have silk screened their name on the pcb. That suggests that they at least commissioned their own version. I think only the people in HK that were/are the distributor know the real story. It would certainly be interesting to know who really owns this design. If I had to guess, I would say that Arcadiada in Japan made some sort of deal with LKS so that they could market the product exclusively in Japan at an inflated price.
     
  8. nostoy
    http://www.volent.com.hk/?page_id=672
     
  9. prot
    The tech sheet sounds very good. Looks good too and the price is reasonable.
    Anyone who can post some listening impressions?
     
  10. prot
    This is suposed to be quite popular in china/hk, none of our asian members tested it?!
    Just wanna know if the amount of buzzwords in the product description does really translate into audible SQ improvements. Maybe a short comparison with some better known models in the 1-2K price range .. like AGDs, EElectric, Benchmark, Mytek, etc .. or some more expensive models if it truly punches above its paygrade
     
  11. b0bb
    Had mine for a few months now, a nice dac and quite a bit better then my Yulong DA8.
    The Yulong sells for around the same price.
     
    General description
    ===============
    The parts used in the DAC  are of very high quality and test out to be genuine.
    The advertising copy for this dac has a lot of buzzwords, I found to my surprise it did not fully describe the features of the dac.
     
    Hirez PCM DXD and DSD256 works as advertised, using it with Audirvana and the Raspberry Pi 2
     
    One major thing the standard LKS blurb did not emphasize was that the USB interface was galvanically isolated as was the I2S interface.
    This was a pleasant surprise when I opened up the dac.
     
    Technically this dac is much better implemented than the previous MH-DA002 and avoided the hamfisted use of the old linear regulators.
    This dac uses the LT1763 ultralow noise regulators.
     
    Each dac has the critical AVcc 3.3V supplied with its own regulator.
    The 1.2V digital and analog core supplies share the same requlator, unfortunately, but each dac has its own regulator,
    a little annoyed as to why LKS decided to penny pinch at the last moment, old habits die hard...
     
    Sound quality
    ============
    Presentation especially presence of the performance is much better than the DA8, the stock LKS tends to the bright side like a lot of ES9018 units.
     
    On really complex passages the Yulong can sound confused and incoherent but the LKS is not affected, bass extension and lower midrange presentation is superior to the Yulong, material like the double bass and cello sound quite muddy on the Yulong in comparison.
     
    I am using this with the HD800/Mjolnir and SR009/SRM-007T2. The former combination is unforgiving on bright material.
     
     
    Upgrade potential
    ==============
    Where the LKS comes into its own is when a modest amount of modification done.
     
    The bright topend of the ES9018 is made much worse by the use of the Crystek CCHD575, this is a femto clock.
    The sound is hard and etched. I replaced it with Crystek CCHD-950X which give it a more balanced presentation.
     
    The stock LKS (as with most Sabre32 DACS) is not very liveable on the HD800/Mjolnir combo.
    The Crystek 950X makes both the HD800 and SR009 sound good without any treble hardness.
     
    The stock opamp  used in the current to voltage converter idles at about 7-8mA,
    the ES9018 used as a 8-channel mono device requires the opamp to handle up to 32mA of current.
    LKS used the opamp in virtual earth configuration and has to sink and source this current completely,
    otherwise the ES9018 will flip and flop from current mode into voltage mode and back again.
     
    This means part of the output stage of the opamp is no longer operating in class-A beyond 25% of its operating range,
    that means the opamp drops out of Class-A operation at round 7-8mA.
     
    The replacement opamp is a discrete unit from Sonic Imagery which operates in Class-A up to 30mA.
    Still a little short of the ES9018's fullscale output but is significant step up from the stock unit.
     
    Replacing the I/V opamp improved the transient attack of the material while taking the hard edge off the sound,
    quite surprised how mellow the HD800/Mjolnir combination sounded without losing any of the clarity and transparency.
    (Mellow, Mjolnir and HD800 is something I would not use in the same sentence in normal circumstances) .
     
    On the SR009. I can hear the initial transient of hammer hitting the membrane kick drum, normally it is a dull thud on the Yulong.
    None on the clarity is lost on the SR009.
     
    The other major improvement came with replacing the integrator caps in the I/V converter with matched polystyrene caps.
    The stock Wima FKP2s were quite marginal. Some of the copperfoil polystrenes are visible in the pictures.
     
    The unbalanced section used 2 dual opamps which were replaced with the NJR Muses01 FET opamps
     
    I have also replaced the main output filter caps of the various voltage regulators of the digital parts of the dac with Sanyo OSCONS and Nichicon R7 FPCaps. The original Nichicon Muse caps were really quite unsuited to the job of providing low-ESR and high ripple filtering capability to the fast changing power demand transients of the digital side of the DAC.
     
    Picture of the DAC internals
     
    DSCN0463.jpg
     
    Closeup of the I/V converters.
    DSCN0468.jpg
     
    Future mods
    ==========
    Vishay Z-foil resistor for the I/V conversion resistors
    Vishay foil trimmers for the offset pots
     
    Future comparisons
    ===============
    Waiting for Schiit to get their schiit together and ship the Yggdrasil so that I can get one and compare.
     
  12. nostoy
    Thanks for all this information .... I'll be waiting for more ....
     
  13. prot
    @b0bb
    Many thx for all that info, pretty much what I was asking. A side by side compare with the iggy would be very useful too ... or any other DAC that you have.

    And a few extra Qs:
    1. I am quite happy with the Sparkos opamps in the minimax plus dac, any idea if those will fit? (more details http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/sparkos_ss3602_e.html)
    2. how's the quality of the Usb input? Do you think an spdif converter like the gustard u12 is still necessary?
    3. how about the pc drivers? Stable? Asio & wasapi ok? Any extra features or just plain drivers?
     
  14. b0bb

    Comments on the questions:
    1)The Sparkos SS3602 will fit, I tried pair of them on the LKS.
     
    2)No complaints on the USB, it is made by Amanero, it is used by Yulong on the DA8 and I bought a few of them for my other projects like the Soekris R2R DAC.
    If the bitstream clocks on the U12 are upgraded I expect it to make an improvement. I would use the LVDS I2S output rather than the SPDIF to the LKS.
     
    3)I am not using the PC
     
  15. AKAI
    Hi Bob:
    Thanks for the review, do you happen to have the pin configueration for the HDMI I2S output?

    I own a Wyred4Sound Dac2, similar ESS 9018 chip. I just ordered an Audio-GD DI-2014 with HDMI I2S output to be used with my W4S DAC2.

    Wonder if theLKS pin arrangement is the same?

    Thx

    MP
     
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