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Paradox and Mad Dog Comparison

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 

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 I've also poured over a variety of old and new measurements for both headphones (including new and older/outdated iterations of each) from a variety of sources to help solidify my thoughts, though I do hope for more measurements of both headphones in the future from more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! beerchug.gif


Edited by hans030390 - 1/5/13 at 10:37pm
post #2 of 64

Though some will disagree with you per minor nitpicks, including myself tongue.gif I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts.

 

You've waited quite a while to do this, so hopefully it was rewarding.

post #3 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by paradoxper View Post

Though some will disagree with you per minor nitpicks, including myself tongue.gif I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts.

 

You've waited quite a while to do this, so hopefully it was rewarding.

 

 

+1

post #4 of 64
Nice comparison thanks
post #5 of 64

Yeah, excellent comparison. One thing I would add is that I found the Paradox to have a narrower/more closed-in soundstage compared to the Mad Dog, and because of this the Mad Dog gives more of a sense of scale and space that I did not get with the Paradox. The Paradox was definitely more intimate sounding as you noted. 

 

Both truly excellent headphones, and great values in their own right though! Nice write-up.

post #6 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by hans030390 View Post

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).

 

 

I certainly appreciate your thoughts on this and had been interested in reading them since you first commented about posting them a while back.  Thanks for the effort.

 

On your note about the ability to achieve similar results for less money, I thought I'd chime in just a bit.  It is certainly possible to extract similar performance for a significantly lower investment - especially for a seasoned modding veteran.  That being said, it will take plenty of trial and error to get it right (even if following a specific mod "recipe" for lack of a better term).  The other thing to factor in is your time.  How much is your time worth?  I think I could achieve a decent result doing my own modding, but I don't have a ton of free time and have plenty of other projects in the works (plus I'd probably rather just enjoy the music in my free time).  If you're just yearning for a project or completely strapped for cash, then doing your own T50RP mod is a great idea. I prefer to pay Dan and/or Luis for their expertise.

post #7 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cn11 View Post

Yeah, excellent comparison. One thing I would add is that I found the Paradox to have a narrower/more closed-in soundstage compared to the Mad Dog, and because of this the Mad Dog gives more of a sense of scale and space that I did not get with the Paradox. The Paradox was definitely more intimate sounding as you noted. 

 

Both truly excellent headphones, and great values in their own right though! Nice write-up.

 

Yes, the Paradox does have the smaller soundstage. Which is more technically accurate in that regard, I can't say. They both do well with imaging and positioning and have a great representation regardless.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzerdave View Post

 

I certainly appreciate your thoughts on this and had been interested in reading them since you first commented about posting them a while back.  Thanks for the effort.

 

On your note about the ability to achieve similar results for less money, I thought I'd chime in just a bit.  It is certainly possible to extract similar performance for a significantly lower investment - especially for a seasoned modding veteran.  That being said, it will take plenty of trial and error to get it right (even if following a specific mod "recipe" for lack of a better term).  The other thing to factor in is your time.  How much is your time worth?  I think I could achieve a decent result doing my own modding, but I don't have a ton of free time and have plenty of other projects in the works (plus I'd probably rather just enjoy the music in my free time).  If you're just yearning for a project or completely strapped for cash, then doing your own T50RP mod is a great idea. I prefer to pay Dan and/or Luis for their expertise.

 

Well, that's the idea. For those that can't spend the time modding, the Mad Dog and Paradox are great options. I just think that those with the time and motivation should consider going the DIY route...save some money and learn new things in the process! It's much easier to do now with all of the resources available compared to, say, just over a year ago. 

post #8 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by hans030390 View Post

 

Well, that's the idea. For those that can't spend the time modding, the Mad Dog and Paradox are great options. I just think that those with the time and motivation should consider going the DIY route...save some money and learn new things in the process! It's much easier to do now with all of the resources available compared to, say, just over a year ago. 

You make me feel bad about buying mad dogs, it's like take an easy way out.

post #9 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by syryanyang View Post

You make me feel bad about buying mad dogs, it's like take an easy way out.

 

LOL, of course not! I personally got tired of modding my T50RP, so I purchased a Paradox almost a year ago to be done with it. I ended up selling the modded T50RP once I got the Paradox. Then, down the road, I wanted to compare the Mad Dog to the Paradox. Now that I have a better idea of what I'm doing and have more resources available to me (especially BMF's work), I'd feel comfortable trying to mod a T50RP again with the hopes of not needing either the Mad Dog or Paradox.

 

There's nothing wrong with not taking the DIY route. I just hope more people will consider it! :)

post #10 of 64

Excellent write up hans!

Your preliminary write-up was one of the reasons I bought the Mad dogs. While I would like to try modding them myself, I don't feel that I have sufficient time to do so right now in my life, so I was more than happy to pay Dan to do all the modding for me.

post #11 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by hans030390 View Post

 

Yes, the Paradox does have the smaller soundstage. Which is more technically accurate in that regard, I can't say. They both do well with imaging and positioning and have a great representation regardless.

 

I'm curious as to what you mean by this. I figured that the bigger the soundstage (given that it has good imaging), the closer it would be to how music is mixed on loudspeakers, but since you suggest the imaging is the same on both, I was hoping you could elaborate on this a bit.

 

Either way, nice comparison. I've been having my eye on the Paradox for a while now, but it's sounding more like the Mad Dogs might be the way to go for me (given that I like things on the brighter side of neutral, and with slightly emphasized bass).  Can't wait to see some head-to-head comparison measurements on these though.

post #12 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by oblique63 View Post

I'm curious as to what you mean by this. I figured that the bigger the soundstage (given that it has good imaging), the closer it would be to how music is mixed on loudspeakers, but since you suggest the imaging is the same on both, I was hoping you could elaborate on this a bit.

 

Either way, nice comparison. I've been having my eye on the Paradox for a while now, but it's sounding more like the Mad Dogs might be the way to go for me (given that I like things on the brighter side of neutral, and with slightly emphasized bass).  Can't wait to see some head-to-head comparison measurements on these though.

 

I am not positive on this, but I believe a larger soundstage doesn't necessarily imply it's better or more accurate. I'm not one to really focus on soundstage or imaging unless something is noticeably off with it, and that's not a problem on either the Mad Dog or Paradox. The difference between the two is fairly mild. Nothing like comparing an open vs closed headphone. As far as I can tell, the Mad Dog is the slightly more open sounding of the two, but again, too close for me to really care about the differences.

 

I think the main reason the Mad Dog sounds brighter than the Paradox because the bass and lower mids are a bit less emphasized in certain areas (as mentioned). Whichever you end up choosing, I'm sure you'll be quite pleased! :)

post #13 of 64

Great review. Curious to see how you would compare a BMF pair to these.

post #14 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by steelle View Post

Great review. Curious to see how you would compare a BMF pair to these.

 

I hope to try a pair at some point...or, time permitting, mod one myself!

post #15 of 64

Have you had a chance to hear the new mad dogs with alpha pads and compare them to the paradox?
 

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