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Mr. Speakers Mad Dog 3.0 - 3.2 Amp Pairing Recommendation/Discussion Thread

post #1 of 372
Thread Starter 

Instead of clogging the appreciation thread, I thought I'd start one dedicated to sharing thoughts on pairing amps with all incarnations of the Mad Dog.

 

Right now, I have the 3.2 SE and a Fiio E17. It sounds nice to me, but I'm not well-versed in the world of amps - I don't really have a good frame of reference.

 

One question I have is regarding using an amp that has enough power for the MD: Can anybody explain this to me in layman's terms? I don't really understand why planar magnetics require so much power to reach their potential. Also, what would be the lowest amount of power provided by an amp you would recommend using to bring out the best in these headphones?

 

Hopefully this thread will turn into a useful resource/headphone amps for dummies sort of deal. I welcome all recommendations. If anybody wants to post a guide to good amps for the MDs (different price tiers would be nice), have at it.

 

Recommendations (so far, and in no particular order):

 

 

ALO Rx MKIII

Burson Conductor SL amp / 1793 dac

Emotiva A-100

JDS Labs C5

Fiio E12 (good for the budget-minded)

O2/ODAC

Schiit Vali (based on Purrin's audition with the Paradox, another T50RP Mod...Only $120!)

Schiit Magni

Leckerton UHA-6S MKII

Lehmann BCL

Taboo MKII (tube)

Audio-GD 11.32

Audio-GD 15.32

Ibasso PB2 (balanced)

Centrance HiFi-M8 (balanced and single-ended)

Sansui 5000A (vintage receiver)

Pico Power

 

More strong recommendations are obviously needed. I'll add to the list as they come in and eventually try to get a chart together with more info (price, portability, etc.) Wait and see time...


Edited by doublea71 - 12/10/13 at 12:46am
post #2 of 372

Okay I'll bite ....

 

I've used the 3.2 version but the general feeling that I've read is that the Mad Dogs scale very well with power. Lots of good clean power. There are posts of several members getting good results when pairing them with vintage amps/receivers (Sansui, Marantz, etc). There are several newer desktop amps that folks are happy with (Schiit Magni) 

 

On the high end portable side the Ray Samuels amps, the IBasso PB2, and the ALO Rx are pretty well thought of. I also imagine the Pico Power from Headamp would work very well. 

 

On the lowend portable side I personally recommend the FiiO E12 because of its abundance of power at a  < $125 price point, but I imagine there are other amps near that range that people are happy with as well. 

post #3 of 372
Thread Starter 

Thank you, sir! I may have to take a trip to the science threads to understand why these things respond so well to gobs of power (a phenomena that I've yet to experience), but this is a good start.

post #4 of 372

I AB'd the Pico Power and Objective 2. While there were differences in emphasis, they powered the headphone in very comparable ways and sounded very comparable as well. I really want to get my hands on a PB2 and see if more power makes a difference. 

post #5 of 372

Try not to get caught up in the more power vs less power "discussion' that always seems to occur .... 

 

Regarding my personal experience. I tried the MD's with a less powerful amp (ALO National) and they sounded HORRIBLE. The amp clearly ran out of power about 1/2 way on the dial and I heard tons of static at that point. By comparison, my M100's are really efficient and they sounded fantastic with that amp.

 

They sound great with my ALO Rx MKIII as well. Full and tight bass, great midrange, etc. It really gives me a feel for how they're supposed to sound. Directly out of my iphone the sound is nowhere close to this. 

post #6 of 372

I think this thread is a good idea, tried to ask about this as well in the Mad Dog thread and didn't get much response.

 

Very tempted to get an Asgard 2, would there be much difference between an Asgard 2 and an Essence STX for the Mad Dog?

post #7 of 372

My Mad Dogs are version 3.0:

 

(Version 3-Mad Dog with Alpha Pad purchased before March 17 or Dog Pad units upgraded to Alpha Pads

  • Even better comfort, isolation
  • Smoother neutral/dark signature
  • Warmer lower mids

)

 

Amps I've used:

 

1) Schiit Magni. Surprisingly, this cheap amp provides enough juice to power the Mad Dogs at really excellent levels (volume). Sound quality is not bad either, noticed a bit of grain up top when really pushed but other than that a fairly clean output without any rolloff.

 

2) Nuforce Icon HDP: This is a DAC/AMP/Pre-Amp all in one. As per usual NuForce amps I've tried, output is a bit "bright" which did go well with my Sennheiser HD600s I had before. BUT with the Mad Dogs it's really lacking. I can max out the volume and the sound, well, definitely not the best combination.

 

3) Lehman BCL: Changing the gain, it provides a whole lot of headroom to the Mad Dogs. Sound is pretty fast and linear on the BCL and I find it's a good combination for the MDs.

 

4) Leckerton UHA-6SMKII. Excellent mobile amp. Drives the Mad Dogs to "Ok" levels with good sound quality but might be lacking to people that listen at higher volumes.

 

I was actually looking into upgrading my Home amp (Lehman BCL) with either a Lake People/Violectric amp or any other BUT it has to retain a smallish footprint (i.e. I WONT be buying a vintage amp any time soon...), so this thread comes at a good time ;-)

 

 

Thanks.

post #8 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by doublea71 View Post
 

Instead of clogging the appreciation thread, I thought I'd start one dedicated to sharing thoughts on pairing amps with all incarnations of the Mad Dog.

 

 

Single-ended Mad Dog and balanced Mad Dog?

 

I'm wondering if there is a comparison between "single-end Mad Dog + single-ended amp" and  "balanced Mad Dog + balanced amp", for example "single-end Mad Dog + single-ended CEntrance HiFi-M8" and  "balanced Mad Dog + balanced CEntrance HiFi-M8".

post #9 of 372

I'll point out that the "planars need more power" concept was discovered over 40 years ago with the first Magneplanar speakers...

post #10 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanBa View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by doublea71 View Post
 

Instead of clogging the appreciation thread, I thought I'd start one dedicated to sharing thoughts on pairing amps with all incarnations of the Mad Dog.

 

 

Single-ended Mad Dog and balanced Mad Dog?

 

I'm wondering if there is a comparison between "single-end Mad Dog + single-ended amp" and  "balanced Mad Dog + balanced amp", for example "single-end Mad Dog + single-ended CEntrance HiFi-M8" and  "balanced Mad Dog + balanced CEntrance HiFi-M8".

Generally hardly anyone has more than one of those combinations, so there are no comparisons.

 

In fact, the Alpha Dog was announced right at the same point that the Universal Mad Dog became easily available, so all such comparisons became of much less interest to the head-fi community...

post #11 of 372

Just as a recommendation maybe start a list of amps and maybe their general opinions next to them in the original post. If you are willing to keep up with it. It could become a lot of work.

 

As an example (imo)- The E17 works volume wise, but could use more power, and the synergy is not perfect. Will not get super loud

 

Anyways from my experience-

 

E17- See above

E12 works the best out of the fiio line, and provides a decent amount of power however the Synergy is not perfect imo. It could be cleaner and the closed sound stage limits the phone a lot imo. However this is the only portable amplifier that I found gets extremely loud (gain at 16). Though if you are playing a clean song you can play it pretty loud.

E07K- Works but is lacking power, will not get too loud. It also shares the same pairing problems as the rest of the fiio line.

 

As a Dap standpoint, the DX100 drives them well from the built in amplifier. However it could use a touch more power. Its a great pair with the MDs as it is clean and has a spacious soundstage, however some of these things could be gained from the DAC.

 

From stereo amp standpoint-

Mcintosh 2120- Works very well. Provides a nice smooth clean sound with a good deal of power. However its not recommended as it can only use the headphone output as long as there are no other outputs connected, and there is probably better more dedicated headphone amps at the price.

 

Onkyo M5200 and M5000- Provides more power than my DX100, however it is not clean sounding and has a lot of hiss at louder volumes. It seemed to become cleaner after using a pre-amped source. Overall I reccomend looking elsewhere but you can find these amps dirt cheap, and it works well as a dual input speaker and headphone amp. You can turn off the speaker channels completely with the push of a button.


Edited by gamefreak054 - 9/25/13 at 4:35pm
post #12 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by gamefreak054 View Post
From stereo amp standpoint-

Mcintosh 2120- Works very well. Provides a nice smooth clean sound with a good deal of power. However its not recommended as it can only use the headphone output as long as there are no other outputs connected, and there is probably better more dedicated headphone amps at the price.

Like what ?? For $600 ? :eek:

post #13 of 372
Thread Starter 

Has anybody had good results with tube amps? I have my eye on the Darkvoice 336SE...

post #14 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by kstuart View Post
 

Like what ?? For $600 ? :eek:

 

Lol, I have no idea. I was just guessing. I personally do not have the money to buy expensive amps (well more expensive amps I know how expensive this stuff can get). I am just mooching off my audio head dads stereo systems (college student living at home). I am personally into headphones while he is into entertainment speaker like stuff.

 

@doublea71- I heard that tube amps can be kinda warm for the sound signature of the MDs. Though I personally do not mind a warmer sound sig like some people do. I am kinda curious what experiences people have with tube amps as my dad was thinking of creating a tube headphone amp.

post #15 of 372
I've read that the Aune T1 does a good job with the Mad Dogs, and it's a tube DAC with an ss amp. Personally I like a warm and smooth sound so in the next couple weeks I'll be picking up a T1 to use as a DAC, Project Ember as an amp, and of course, a shiny new pair of Mad Dogs
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