I've been wanting to do a comparison write-up between my Paradox and Mad Dog for a while now, and I will now that I've had ample time to listen to both.
My listening sessions utilized the ODAC + O2 amp (combined unit from JDS Labs), FLAC music files (large variety of genres) played through Foobar2000 (Windows 8, WASAPI set to push mode with matched bit depth), Paradox No. 18 headphone with socks attached to ear pads, and a Mad Dog headphone with the comfort strap and "dog pads." I've also poured over a variety of old and new measurements for both headphones (including new and older/outdated iterations of each) from a variety of sources to help solidify my thoughts, though I do hope for more measurements of both headphones in the future from more sources to verify or reject my findings.
I've noticed many people consider the Mad Dog's to be more "fun" than the Paradox, generally with the implication of greater bass quantity. I don't agree with this...at least, not with my headphones, both of which have been verified to sound as they should. I do want to preemptively state that I think both sound fantastic!
The Paradox and Mad Dogs sound much more similar than not. At least, more similar than one might expect. Of the two, the Paradox is slightly darker and more intimate or close sounding. The Mad Dogs have a lighter, drier, slightly brighter sound to them. Again, though, I want to emphasize that they sound much more similar than not. They are tuned similarly. That's my attempt at brief subjective impressions. What follows next is mostly based off a variety of measurements (see publicly available measurements from Tyll, purrin, and Dan).
The Mad Dog is arguably more linear overall from 20Hz to 1KHz. The Paradox has a slight emphasis in the 60-300Hz range approximately. I have always noticed this to a small extent, and you can see evidence of it in both Tyll's and purrin's measurements. It gives is an ever-so-slightly thicker sound. I do not find it displeasing, as it is very mild and can make music a bit more lush sounding.
The Mad Dog has a similar emphasis around that area, but it is of lower magnitude. It also has a slight dip in the 40-80Hz range, giving it a slightly thinner sound. In these regards, neither is perfect. I would actually prefer something in-between when it comes to this area of the sound spectrum. I slightly EQ both when listening to account for what I've mentioned, and they both respond well to that.
They do have their differences, but they are quite similar beyond what I've mentioned...enough so that I don't feel compelled to write more about it. That, and I simply feel less convinced about my thoughts on their differences above 1KHz, and so I'll leave it with what I've said so far.
Some other notes...both are very comfortable. I quite like the custom ear pads Dan is using on the Mad Dog. The HM5/FA-003 pads used on my Paradox have more cushion, but they also get deformed too easily and take a bit of time to regain their shape. I do prefer the suspension headband used on the Paradox to the comfort strap on the Mad Dog, but I do have to admit that I was surprised that the comfort strap did actually help a good deal. I apply additional cushioning to both headphones regardless, as I seem to have a sensitive head.
Some might be wondering what my opinions are on pricing. Honestly, I feel that the Mad Dogs are a better value than the Paradox. I find that neither sounds truly better or worse overall than the other beyond one's personal preferences. Neither is perfect or "magical." Both are tuned very similarly...that is, to be relatively flat/neutral. I personally can't justify the ~$200 price difference, even though I do love my Paradox and ever so slightly prefer it over the Mad Dog in the end.
On the other hand, even the pricier Paradox is a great value when compared to other headphones on the market, many of which cost more for likely inferior sound.
However, there is also the fact that you can get very similar sound by modding your own T50RP, especially with people like BMF providing a plethora of information to help DIYers in modding the T50RP. For the DIYer, I can promise you that with some research and work (made easy thanks to the community!) you can get the same quality of sound for a lesser price (more time on your part, though, and that is highly variable).
In the end, though, either choice is a good one. I think both the Paradox and Mad Dog are fantastic headphones beyond just their sound, and I appreciate the love and work Luis and Dan put into their products. Both offer top-notch customer service. I could go on about that, but all I can say is thanks to the both of them and assure everyone else that they're in good hands!
Edited by hans030390 - 1/5/13 at 10:37pm