I recently bought a new pair of headphones, the Mad Dog (MD), which is a modded Fostex T50RP by Mr. Speakers, a Head-Fi member, with their new Dog Pads. I thought I’ll write my impressions here to share with you guys. It was originally written in an Indonesian headphone forum (in Bahasa Indonesia of course) and I’ll write them again here in English for the broader readers. Here goes…
I bought my Mad Dog with Dog Pads from a local store here. Fortunately they have stock Fostex T50RP, the previous MD, and the latest MD. So I can compare all of them. Indeed the MD is a significant improvement over the stock T50RP. They have an improvement in depth and much detailed sound. So, for sure I can say that the stock T50RP isn’t for me.
I continue to do an A/B-ing between the old and the new MDs, There were improvement in the bass section, just as the creator (Dan) claims it. But the improvement was also relatively subtle. I think Dan wanted to improve the bass but still keeping the sound signature that a lot of people already liked. In case you didn’t know, the old MD uses Shure SRH-840’s pads, while the new pads are designed by Dan himself and using lamb skin material.
Now I want to talk a little bit details on the sound improvements. As mentioned earlier, I noticed an improvement in the bass section. It has more bass body, plus a little bit of punch. In the previous MD, the bass was there but I often felt like I had to relax my ear muscles a bit to let get bass response to my ear drums. Maybe it’s just me, but it is what it is. With the changes in the new MD, I can hear the same bass quantity without having to relax my ear muscles as much.
The Dog Pads also made the MD sounded a little more toward dark, whereas in the old MD I felt a more bright / forward sound. In addition to the bass improvement, the high was also slightly elevated. Thus the mid sounded a bit recessed although it’s not when compared to the old MD. With the old one, the mid was more forward but sacrificed the bass section. It’s a give and take situation.
Comfort in the old MD was excellent already. The additional leather headband minimize stress around the dome of my head pretty significantly. When brought to a brief comparison, the 840’s pads felt more comfortable. But when using the headphones at a longer period of time, the Dog Pads performed far better. I expect the life span of the Dog Pads can be quite long since it uses lamb skin. I just need to use it as often as I can, if not every day.
Now for amp pairing. The store only had a limited number of amps. They’ve got an RSA Dark Star and other high end amps, but I stick to the smaller ones. I like to keep things in the affordable side. From a number of amps that I’ve tried pairing the MD with, I felt the most suitable to be paired with the new MD is still the ALO National. I tried pairing it with the ALO Pan Am, they’re still okay despite having to twist the volume pot to 2 o’clock to match my preference sound. Maybe I should have a setup that is better than a Sansa Clip Zip rockboxed with WAV files. Next I tried to pair it with the Matrix Mini and it became too dark. Lastly I tried pairing it with the ALO RX MK3B. With this amp the sound changed again. Head stage felt bigger, sound were a bit more open, a little to the bright side, and honestly it was quite impressive. However when the song on my Clip Zip played a trumpet (I listen to jazz by the way), whoa… too sharp for my taste. Too bad. So, I concluded until now, the most impressive setup for the MD is still iDevice -> Cypher Labs Algorhythm Solo -> ALO National -> MD with stock cable.
And because cable is detachable, it’s open for re-cabling experiments. According to a friend, the MD sounded dark and can be improved with silver cable from Homegrown. But I guess that is if your sound preference is more to the bright side. For me, I tested the MD with Oyaide cable with a Viablue jack on one end and an unknown jack on the other end, the sound became smoother which is more to my sound preference. I think I’m going to make a short cabled version for other purposes.
So there you go. A short impressions on the new Mad Dog by Mr. Speakers with Dog Pads. If you asked me was it worth it to buy the MD? I’m going to answer: Yes, they quite suit my taste and give a bang for my bucks.
I still need to complete my setup with a good DAC (HRT MSII or Dacport LX), good cables to connect my laptop to the DAC and then to my vintage Sansui AU-2200 amp, and then I’m all set. So let me know in the comments below, what DAC will go better with my setup?