Micro-review: Paradox-modded T50rp vs MrSpeakers Mad Dog 3.2
Disclaimer: this micro-review is based on 2 days of listening, with an approximate total of about 5 hours of listening across both days. Sorry but no further comments will be made, as I don't have enough spare time for further listening due to an upcoming local meet, other headphones that I'll have to listen to, and a busy personal schedule.
- Source component: Plinius CD-101 (CD player) (Signal Cable Silver Reference power cord, directly into wall)
- Analog interconnects: Emotiva X-Series RCA
- Headphone amplifier: HeadAmp GS-X MK2
- Comparison Headphones: MrSpeakers Mad Dog 3.2
Setup Note: Since the HeadAmp GS-X MK2 has dual 1/4" headphone outputs, I plugged both the Paradox and Mad Dog into the amp to be able to "hot swap" between them.
Equipment Note: Other currently-owned and previously-owned headphones are listed in my profile.
- Alison Krauss & Union Station - Paper Airplane
- Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing-Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
- In Flames - The Jester Race
- Infected Mushroom - Vicious Delicious
- Julia Fischer - Bach Concertos
- The Crystal Method - Tweekend
- Trifonic - Emergence
Comfort & Fit
The Paradox wasn't as comfortable for me as the Mad Dog was, primarily due to the bumps on the underside of the headband. Much like the bumps on the AKG K701/K702 headband have done to me in the past, the bumps on the Paradox headband created points of pressure on the head that just left a sore feeling. The Paradox's earcups also didn't envelop my ears as fully as the Mad Dog and made contact with the outer part, which wasn't entirely comfortable either. Either way, due to the Paradox's ergonomics, I didn't feel like I wanted to wear them for extended listening sessions (more than 30 mins) and frequently had to take them off.
The headband wasn't easy to self-adjust either, as I had to push it up manually in order for the sliding mechanism to not move. The elastic tie from the headband to the frame simply made it frustrating to get a self-adjusting fit, as it made the headband too resistant to move without manual assistance.
In contrast, the Mad Dog was far easier to just put on my head quickly and more comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
The Paradox had an overall brighter and less bassier sound than the Mad Dog, with maybe marginally more clarity. It seemed a bit thinner in the mid-range as well, but only slightly. Not that this was a huge difference though, as the two sounded very similar - sort of like that they were sonic variations on each other.
I initially liked the Paradox's treble quantity but the more I listened, the more inaccurate that I thought it felt. It made the violins sound borderline screechy in the classical CD that I used (Julia Fischer's), which is not how I know them to sound based on my experience with that CD on my previous electrostatic setup (OII MKI & BHSE). This turned me off to the Paradox for any further classical-music listening. The Mad Dog had more accurate-sounding violins to me, as it had less screechy treble.
The Paradox sounded good otherwise with the variety of music I tested it on, with appropriately impactful mid-bass on the electronica, very good overall clarity throughout, and a higher-than-expected amount of treble.
The biggest criticism I had against the Paradox was that it was quite tense-sounding. Sort of like the music was being pulled in every direction and not really allowed to freely flow in its own direction. Everything I played on it had that feeling regardless of music genre. This leads to my second criticism (not as big as the sonic tension), which was the relatively small-scale soundstaging. It didn't sound very wide or open and had a pronounced "closed-room" sort of soundstage, not the "open-room" sound of the Mad Dog. If I had to guess the cause of this, I'd probably attribute it to the smaller earpad thickness of the Paradox compared to the thicker earpads of the Mad Dog (since the thicker earpads put the drivers further away from the ears).
And though the two headphones both had a good amount of bass, certainly enough to satisfy me for electronica, I'd call the Mad Dog's bass deeper-sounding with more apparent extension (but slightly more "plodge"), and the Paradox's bass more impactful in the mid-bass, and "tighter" as well. In fact, the Paradox's bass actually reminded me of my Audio-Technica AD2000, virtually nearing the AD2K's snappy & agile mid-bass.
I ended up thinking that the Mad Dog represents a better value at its $300 price, and that the Paradox at $495 is less of a value - but is still better than some other headphones like the AKGs & Senns of the world. That said, I'm definitely more inclined to recommend the Mad Dog over the Paradox, due to both its more-balanced sound and higher level of comfort. Though the Mad Dog might not look like much compared to the Paradox (especially the custom-painted varieties), I think anyone who cares about balancing sound vs price first and foremost would be better rewarded with the less-expensive Mad Dog.
Finally, thanks to FlySweep for the opportunity to listen to this pair of the Paradox-modded T50rp, as I never would've bought one directly from Paradox Audio (or requested a pair from them).
I agree with this review. As this is the same conclusion I came to a year ago when I compared the two along with the BMFs and the Thunderpants.