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"Mad Dog" by MrSpeakers, modified Fostex T50RP review  

post #1 of 6388
Thread Starter 
Hello, everyone. These arrived yesterday, but I was unable to listen due to getting oral surgery that day. The suspense has been killing me, so here's a review.
The retail price for these headphones, with leather headband, is 315 265USD directly from MrSpeakers. Normally, I would consider this steep. However, I got them for a very good price and, after listening, would now be comfortable saying they're worth every penny of the full retail price and more.
 
Packaging: A boring white box with a sticker on it saying that the leather band is included. 2 pieces of foam keep the headphones in place. Inside are the headphones and a business card. Grado's pizza boxes are more interesting, but I've yet to meet anyone that cares about the packaging as far as appearance. I do not believe the headphones were damaged in shipping and they were fairly secure in the box. I will not take packaging in to consideration overall.
 
 
Build quality: The build quality is pretty nice. There's no major issues - Fostex is pretty solid, and so is MrSpeakers. The headphones themselves are good. The only issue really worth noting is that the labels MrSpeakers provides can rub off and wear with ease. However, he's fixing that and will send replacements, so, I can't complain too much. The SRH840 pads aren't perfectly made, either, so be careful with the white stitching or you may pull it out. Of note, one of my earcups is loose or something now. Hopefully this will be resolved soon. Further contact with Dan has me thinking this will hopefully be resolved. The pads are kind of redundant now, since there's the new Dog Pads. I'll review them when and if I get them.
 
 
Cable: So far, so good. Near 0 microphonics. Seems durable. Hasn't tangled on me. I'm guessing it's the generic Fostex cable? +Respect to Fostex. The end entering the headphone is terminated with a 90 degree angle connector, and the opposite end is a standard 1/4 inch plug. It's easy to break the locking mechanism pulling this cable out, so be careful there.
 
 
Noise cancellation & Isolation: Pretty good. I can only just hear myself typing right now, with the headphones on (but no musc), and this keyboard is usually pretty loud. Obviously there's better out there, but I'd trust these on the bus as far as me not hearing other's conversations - or zoning out in a lecture. I wonder how much sound is leaked? Oh, my. Nearly nothing. I don't think a full sized headphone has ever been this quiet to other people for me. That's good. These headphones will do their job - mobile music powerhouse. These things beat out some IEMs in terms of how well they keep their sound to themselves (and you). I'm currently listening to a song, at average listening volumes, in a room I am not alone in. The other person in the room is watching the television, and it's turned up because they're partially deaf. My company can not hear my headphones nor can I hear the television (I can faintly hear it when no music is playing).
 
 
Comfort: The leather strap is nice. The pads are very comfortable and create a good seal. Comfort is pretty damn good - My HD598 are better but these are more comfortable than a stock T50RP and definitely more comfortable than any Grado I've owned. They also beat out the HD25-1 II, but I am somewhat unique in that those headphones were very uncomfortable to wear for me, where as others find them nearly ideal. To each their own.
 
 
Music test:
(Rig: Laptop -> HRT Muser Streamer II -> 18V JRC4556 Cmoy -> "Mad Dog")
(this is my standard portable set up)
I will listen to pseduo-random songs on these.
Artist - [Album #Track] Track (Encoding)
 
Gorillaz - [Gorillaz CD1 #11] 19-2000 (ALAC 16/44)
Sibilance is minimal, Bass sounds pleasant. This song sounds like it's supposed to - No obvious distortion. I like this song. Nothing is piercing. Hopefully this fairly generic song is a sign of things to come. Bass at the end of song is how it should be - Some other headphones struggle with the "WUB WUBwub wub" fading out. These do not.
 
Sublime - [Greatest Hits CD1 #01] What I Got (ALAC 16/44)
No sibiliance or piercing sound. Bass sounds great. Sound stage is impressive. The pan effect in the beginning of the song sounds fine, and doesn't sound irritating like it does on some headphones. Maybe it's because the soundstage is a little smaller than on open headphones? I don't know. I like it. It's pleasant and nothing's jumping out and hurting me.
 
Nina Simone - [The Very Best of Nina Simone CD1 #21] Ain't Got No, I Got Life (Nina Simone vs. Groovefinder remix) (FLAC 16/44)
This is a fun song. Despite me expecting these to be very analytical, they don't bring this song down. Nina's voice is good. The horns are pleasant sounding, the cymbals are not piercing. Just noticed - While this song has been some what sibilant on other heasets, it is not on these. The esses sound like esses, not like esssssssssssssssssses. Nothing is louder than it should be - this is pretty nice. The HD598's are pretty poor at this particular song. While it sounds amazing on that pair, the instruments are sometimes drowned out, and when they're not, it's short bursts of piercing. I can get used to the flat signature on these "Mad Dog" headphones. Heart! Soul! Heart! Soul!
 
Leonard Cohen - [Old Ideas CD1 #01] Going Home (FLAC 16/44)
The sweeping isn't as loud as it is on my HD598's. Zero sibilance. Cohen's voice is very personal in this song (indeed, this whole album!) and this is really brought out. Nothing is too loud. Balance really stands out as being nearly perfect. The background singers sound fine, Cohen sounds fine, everything sounds fine. Very fine. Fine like fine wine. The instruments are ideal and the song is very nice.
 
LAB - [Devil Is A Girl #02] Beat The Boys (FLAC 16/44)
This song is rougher, by nature. However, it doesn't sound any rougher than it's supposed to through these headphones. Arguably, this is the only song I like on the HD598 as much as I like on this - for different reasons. The electric guitars are not piercing on either, but they're more present on the HD598. Unfortunately, they're more present than they're supposed to be. With the "Mad Dog", there is a much more accurate sound. The female lead does not sound sibilant. A good song, over all, and it sounds better than it ever did playing Fallout.
 
King Crimson - [In the Court of the Crimson King CD1 #01] 21st Century Schizoid Man (FLAC 16/44)
Sounds like 21st Century Schizoid Man. Some headphones I've tried have struggled to play this song. Soundstage/imaging is impressive. No sibilance. I'd be singing along if it didn't hurt to open my mouth (Sorry, I recently had impacted wisdom teeth removed). On many a 'phone, "Schizoid" sounds like "Ssssschizzzoid". The S being much more lingering and the z almost as lingering. On the "Mad Dog", it's sharp and quick. The bass is pleasant. The whole song is pleasant. The guitar at 3:40 has no issues nor do the drums that follow. It's all sounds right. I like right.
 
Journey - [Greatest Hits Live CD1 #01] Don't Stop Believin' (FLAC 16/44)
I believe this is the first song I've listened to recorded live through these headphones. Notably, there's little to no sibilance (Aside from where it's intended) despite the tendency for live recordings to not be of the best recording. Guitar sounds awesome, crowd sounds awesome, whole song sounds awesome. The drums sound and imaging is pretty good. This used to be one of my least favorite recordings of Don't Stop Believin' because of the comparitively poor recording since it's live. It's much nicer sounding, though. I don't think the headphone is "fixing" anything, it just isn't over exagerrating the problems.
 
The Silent Comedy - [Common Faults #05] Bartholomew (MP3 320kbps)
This song has a lot of singing by the group at once. It's actually pretty easy to differentiate their voices if you try. Despite the lossy encoding, nothing is bleeding together. On my HD598's there was more of the instruments (and voices) bleeding together. The bass in this song actually exists, now, though it's as it is supposed to be and is fairly weak. That's how this song is mastered - bass is just a whisper of a thump and more thump comes from the voices. No deductions for this headphone in regards to the first lossy song.
 
Daft Punk - [Discovery CD01 #04] Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (MP3 320kbps)
I like electronic music, however, most of it is pretty hard to listen to on the overly bright HD598's. It's damn near perfect on these babes. Unfortunately, the clicking inherent to this song (or, possibly, my rip. I will try to find my CD and re-rip it lossless to see if it sounds better) stands out. I can't deduct points for that, though, because it's not the headphone's fault. After the clicking in the beginning (which is present on any headphone I've tried, keep in mind, but just a little more obvious here) the headphone really starts to shine. The 'vocals' are good, the whole song's beat is awesome, the bass is awesome, and over all, I'm beginning to realize why I used to listen to so much electronic music. Purists, kiss it.
 
Fatboy Slim - [The Greatest Hits - Why Try Harder CD1 #04] Weapon Of Choice (MP3 VBR)
This song sounds good. Nothing that isn't the fault of the recording is present, and nothing seems to stand out. The bass is present, not overbearing. I like Fatboy Slim and I like this song (who doesn't? I think everyone whose ever seen the video's fallen in love with it - Chrstiopher Walken would make a Dick Cheney speech sound good if he was dancing in the background) Slim's voice is nice, none of the instruments or loops are bad. No sibilance. I really foresee myself re-ripping some of these songs that I only had in MP3 due to low listening now that I can fully appreciate them.
 
Lady Gaga - [The Fame Monster (Deluxe Edition) CD1 #06] Telephone (featuring Beyonce) (MP3 VBR)
I haven't listened to much 'pop' on these. This is definitely pop. It sounds as good as Gaga's ever sounded. Bass is nice, synths are nice, and Gaga's voice in this particular song isn't totally unbearable (This is not the headphone's fault, just my preference). The song sounds as good as it ever has, but, alas, Lady Gaga will never be a favorite of mine. I can assure you, though, if you're a big Pop fan, you're probably going to like the sound of these headphones as they can handle it.
 
Yoshihiro Sakaguchi - [DuckTales (NES) OST CD1 #08] The Moon Theme (MP3 256kbps)
I was curious how this would perform with chip tunes. As expected, the song sounds nice. A little piercing, but better than it's ever sounded before for me. If you listen to a lot of chip tunes or VG remixes, these will do you well.
 
Pendulum - [In Silico #03] Propane Nightmare (MP3 192kbps)
I want to note that I could not stand this song on my HD598 headphones. Instead, it is very good sounding here. Bass thumps just right. It's fast paced and there's no sibilance or piercing. I'm very happy right now, because I used to love this song back on my now defunct Brainwavz ProAlpha earbuds. Now I can love it again.
 
Dschinghis Khan - [Dschinghis Khan #17] Moscow(English Version) (MP3 128kbps)
A poorly encoded disco track. Surprisingly, it sounds good. Bass is there, the voices aren't blurred together, and there's little to no sibilance. Encoding problems are audible, but not too much. This sounds fine.
 
Shugo Tokumaru - [Port Entropy #10] Suisha (FLAC 16/44)
Let's close the music tests with what is one of my favorite songs to listen to on the HD598 - Suisha by Shugo Tokumaru, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist. Everything sounds good. The string instruments are not lacking. Shugo's voice is more present. There's no piercing with the high notes, where-as there is minor piercing with the HD598. Soundstage is very pleasant. The song flows well and is good. I don't foresee myself taking these off and putting the HD598's on just to listen to this song.
 
 
Final notes: It's worth saying that the headphones have been on my head for around 2 hours and I don't feel any discomfort. They're holding up well, and, although they definitely require more juice than my HD598, even my relatively modest portable set up seems to do them justice. If I can get a hold of an ODAC/O2 (I'm considering purchasing both) for home use, we'll see if there's any improvement. They also seemed to run fine out of my iPod, though the benefit from the better DAC and amp was noticable when running from my laptop. If I didn't need to put an icepack on my jaw, I'd continue listening to these and enjoying them. I do enjoy them.
 
I will update when I have a mint pair on the build quality and durability.
 
A big thanks to MrSpeakers for the well wishes and interest in my opinions (as well as letting the warranty carry over to the second owner, myself)... and his interest in his product as a whole and my satisfaction. "Mad Dog" is the new Magnum, in my book. To hell with Grado, I'm a Fostex man now. No, I'm a "Mad Dog" man now.
 
 
TL;DR Ratings:
Build & Cable: 9/10. The Fostex T50rp is very durable. MrSpeakers will be shipping out new labels for free to customers, so I'm confident any wear on the labels will be a nonissue soon. There's some points knocked off because of the cable being easy to break (as far as the locking mechanism), but otherwise these are very well built. (current issues not figured in)
Noise cancellation & Isolation: 8.5/10. Never had better with a full-size headphone. Admittedly, I've not demo'd many closed sets for this long, but these are pretty damn nice.
Comfort: 9.5/10. The HD598 is a 10/10, and these are very close behind. They don't clamp your head, they look nice, and I'm all around beyond satisfied with comfort. In fact, I forgot they're still on my head.
Sound: 10/10. I have never heard a better headphone at either the price I payed or the MSRP. They bring out the best in music by bringing out everything. You don't miss a thing with these guys, and that's awesome. These blow away any headphone I've owned, and I would safely say they're comparable to the LCD-2 (which I have only demonstrated).
 
 
Overall:  9.5
 
Immense bonus points to MrSpeakers, who has been a pleasure to deal with.
 
As far as I can tell, the minor differences between the new revision of the Mad Dog and the previous revision are, well, minor. I may do a new subjective review in the future, but for the most part the headphones sound the same. A little better, maybe.

Edited by dorino - 12/6/12 at 11:15pm
post #2 of 6388

Hi, and thanks for the nice comments!  

 

A couple of thoughts:  

 

1) The box is plain to keep the price down.  Since this isn't really for retail, having a fancy box just adds cost and unless it's a super fancy (expensive) box, it just gets thrown out anyhow.  I want this to be about the sound vs packaging...

 

2) The cable is stock.

 

3) The "bubbling" is not a bubble, it's the word "lock" in the plastic.  If you press down a few time (don't rub) the bubbles ought to resolve to the word "lock".  Thanks for the feedback on this, I'll look into it more.

 

I don't think I ever shipped a unit with scratches but PM me a photo.  If it looks like something I did I'll take care of it.

 

Happy listening!

post #3 of 6388
Thread Starter 

Proof-read. I'm still a little drugged up (thanks, wisdom teeth!) and I had missed a few obvious spelling/grammar mistakes and left in a couple totally incoherent sentences. It should read fine now.

post #4 of 6388
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrspeakers View Post

Hi, and thanks for the nice comments!  

 

A couple of thoughts:  

 

1) The box is plain to keep the price down.  Since this isn't really for retail, having a fancy box just adds cost and unless it's a super fancy (expensive) box, it just gets thrown out anyhow.  I want this to be about the sound vs packaging...

 

2) The cable is stock.

 

3) The "bubbling" is not a bubble, it's the word "lock" in the plastic.  If you press down a few time (don't rub) the bubbles ought to resolve to the word "lock".  Thanks for the feedback on this, I'll look into it more.

 

I don't think I ever shipped a unit with scratches but PM me a photo.  If it looks like something I did I'll take care of it.

 

Happy listening!

1) That's what I thought, and I fully respect it. I thought I'd comment on the packaging, but, as I said, I did not think it was important enough to warrant any consideration. Packaging was secure, and that's all that matters.

 

2) I thought so, thank you for confirming.

 

3) So I started to notice. It's not a huge deal, but having it pressed down stock would be nice.

 

I will try to message you pictures. All I can say for sure is that the scratches were present right out of the box, so they were either your, AVU, or Fostex's fault.

post #5 of 6388

Nice impressions.

I just got a stock pair myself and was planning on either modding them myself or send them to someone else for modifications. Still haven't decided but I definitely find the sound stock a bit weird. Yes the bass is present, highs are a bit rolled off and vocals are clear but it seems that there's either too much reverb or some kind of distortion... (and no, it's not my system, all other headphones sound Ok...). So not sure if the stock sound is this bad or I have a defective pair! LOL!!!

 

Anyway, what's the difference between MrSpeakers mod and any others? Do you know? (Or if MrSpeakers wants to chime in, you are indeed welcomed to do so! :-p )

 

 

Thanks

post #6 of 6388
Thread Starter 

From what I've seen, as far as graphs, most of the major mods try to achieve the same thing (reference-grade sound), all to some success, in different ways.

post #7 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by gelocks View Post

Nice impressions.

I just got a stock pair myself and was planning on either modding them myself or send them to someone else for modifications. Still haven't decided but I definitely find the sound stock a bit weird. Yes the bass is present, highs are a bit rolled off and vocals are clear but it seems that there's either too much reverb or some kind of distortion... (and no, it's not my system, all other headphones sound Ok...). So not sure if the stock sound is this bad or I have a defective pair! LOL!!!

 

Anyway, what's the difference between MrSpeakers mod and any others? Do you know? (Or if MrSpeakers wants to chime in, you are indeed welcomed to do so! :-p )

 

 

Thanks

 

With regards to stock, the reason the mods exist is to reduce the resonances that exist within the design, so I think what you are hearing is pretty consistent with the standard product.  

 

With regards to other mods, I really would prefer to not directly answer that, as I would be far too biased.  I will simply say that I try to produce a very neutral yet fun product, and I make a lot of use of my engineering background to get them the way they are and to ensure that they are consistent and of high quality.

post #8 of 6388

Ok... but it seems that there's a 'consistency' in the mods as most of them just try to get them to a "neutral" sound and reduce the reverb/resonance by padding, etc... Ok. Interesting. I really started to think that the headphones were defective... (I guess that's what happens when one gets used to good sounding cans...).

 

Thanks.

post #9 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by gelocks View Post

Nice impressions.

I just got a stock pair myself and was planning on either modding them myself or send them to someone else for modifications. Still haven't decided but I definitely find the sound stock a bit weird. Yes the bass is present, highs are a bit rolled off and vocals are clear but it seems that there's either too much reverb or some kind of distortion... (and no, it's not my system, all other headphones sound Ok...). So not sure if the stock sound is this bad or I have a defective pair! LOL!!!

 

Anyway, what's the difference between MrSpeakers mod and any others? Do you know? (Or if MrSpeakers wants to chime in, you are indeed welcomed to do so! :-p )

 

 

Thanks


The stock T50RP has various problems that need to be solved in order to get a decent sound from them.

 

All the mods sound different as each individual uses his/her own reference in modding them. Mr. Speakers using his electrical engineering background to get them the way they are. I use my acoustic and sound engineering background to get them the way they are. Smeggy uses his ears and love of a certain sound signature to tune his and his consistency, even across different headphones, is remarkably consistent! IMHO, which one you prefer will depend on what you consider to be "reference quality".

post #10 of 6388

Thanks for chiming in LFF!

 

I will definitely have to 'take care' of my pair cause as they are right now, they're not really that good (even worse when I received the T50Rps along with the Signature Pros on the same day.... :-p ).

 

@Dorino

 

Since it seems that the previous headphones you had were mostly "bright" (treble + upper mids), do you miss the highs or any type of sparkle on your modded T50RPs?

 

 

Thanks,.

post #11 of 6388
Thread Starter 

I do not miss the highs, no. I still have my HD598s, after all (the pair I'm selling is surplus). I've experienced orthos before and knew, mostly, what I was getting in to. I did not expect this kind of quality, but I also knew I would be missing some highs.


Really, it's not that I'm missing highs. It's that I'm getting everything else on the spectrum, as well.

post #12 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by dorino View Post

...
 
Packaging: A boring white box with a sticker on it saying that the leather band is included. 2 pieces of foam keep the headphones in place. Inside are the headphones and a business card. Grado's pizza boxes are more interesting, but I've yet to meet anyone that cares about the packaging as far as appearance. I do not believe the headphones were damaged in shipping and they were fairly secure in the box. I will not take packaging in to consideration overall.
 
...
 
 

 

Actually, if you ever ordered a pair of Grado or Magnum headphones from Marty of Martin Custom Audio, you'd be greeted by a nice black box, the inside foam cut to hold the headphones securely and make a nice presentation.  However, that's just Marty ... paying attention to every detail.

post #13 of 6388
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post

 

Actually, if you ever ordered a pair of Grado or Magnum headphones from Marty of Martin Custom Audio, you'd be greeted by a nice black box, the inside foam cut to hold the headphones securely and make a nice presentation.  However, that's just Marty ... paying attention to every detail.

 

That's true. I remember getting some vintage headphones in a wooden carrying case, too, at one point. What I mainly mean the point out is that, while it can be a boon, it's not really ever a negative unless it means the headphone becomes damaged in shipping.

post #14 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by dorino View Post

Really, it's not that I'm missing highs. It's that I'm getting everything else on the spectrum, as well.

 

Nice. Thanks.

post #15 of 6388
Thread Starter 

edit - deleting this post


Edited by dorino - 6/9/12 at 11:25am
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