Back story aside, a fair amount of research has pointed me to the Mad Dogs. $500 is basically my ceiling. The MD's with the Magni/Modi seems like it would be a quality step up from where I am currently and right at my price point.
-- What are your thoughts?
1. Can anyone comment on the MD's with just the Magni from an on-board sound card vs M/M combo?
2. Would an O2 DAC/AMP combo be worth the extra money over the M/M combo? Or other DAC/AMP combo in the $200ish range?
3. Am I taking too big a step up from the M50's to really appreciate the MD's?
4. Anyone know of a place in Orange County, California that I could preview some Mad Dogs?
Sorry the post is so long. I look forward to your feedback.
First of all, I think the Mad Dogs are excellent headphones. Given your budget, there isn't a better option. You could get the baseline Paradox, but you'd have no room for an amp or source upgrade which leaves you in a worse spot. Even on the same amp, choosing between the Paradox or Mad Dog is more about personal preference; there's no wrong choice. Since I don't actually own the Magni or Modi myself, I won't comment specifically. However, I have a couple of Schiit products and have a great respect for them as a company. With a $500 budget, I know I'd personally go straight for the Mad Dog MM stack - without a doubt.
For the Mad Dogs, the Magni should be better suited to provide the current they need. For other cans, the O2 may be the better match, but from a pure spec perspective, the Magni is the better match.