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Mr. Speakers Mad Dog 3.0 - 3.2 Amp Pairing Recommendation/Discussion Thread - Page 6

post #76 of 372

Here's what I've used with the Mad Dog (2.0 through 3.2) and other T50RP variants:

 

O2/ODAC combo: Pretty good sounding unit. Convenient and easy to setup. Neutral and flat, but sometimes overly so (can lose a bit of dynamics). Treble can have a slight glare to it. I noticed a subtle improvement by replacing the gain opamp with an LM4562 (IIRC) and set it at 1x/2.5x gain vs 2.5x/6x gain (or something like that). 

 

Leckerton UHA-6S Mk.II: I think this unit sounds better than the O2/ODAC combo overall. It's also smaller/more portable and about as convenient as the O2. With A/B testing, I found the Leckerton to have a slightly fuller, slightly more dynamic sound than the O2/ODAC. The treble did not have the same glare problem. Measurements are fairly close between the two units, though you can find slight differences that might explain the subjective differences I heard (either way, both measure great). However, it simply doesn't put out the same power the O2/ODAC does. With a good recording (not subject to the loudness wars), there's a good chance you'll need to max out the volume on the Leckerton if you like your music fairly loud. Most modern recordings will hurt your ears if you max out the volume on the Leckerton. FWIW, I used the 209 opamp per someone else's recommendation. I've been told it subjectively sounds better than the new stock opamp but has more issues picking up EMR from devices (the original stock opamp was the 209, I believe). In my case, the Leckerton's power was almost perfect for me with the Mad Dog 3.2. For those that need more power, the O2/ODAC is a good option as well.

 

Auzentech Bravura (PCI-E Sound Card): If you have a desktop computer, I've found some sound cards sound quite good and are cheaper options than a dedicated DAC/amp combo. I thought the Bravura sounded more similar to the O2/ODAC, but it had about the same power output as the Leckerton. It's a surprisingly good sound card for headphones. It measures well too on reviews (as do many sound cards geared with dedicated HP amps). I think I got mine refurbished for $90, and I think it's a better deal for what it is than the O2/ODAC or Leckerton.

 

Vintage Receivers (this one will be long): In my case, this would be the Sansui 5000A. It is true what people say about many vintage receivers. They sound great! However, it is best to use a headphone with a flat impedance if you have a vintage receiver, as they tend to have a very high output impedance. This is not an issue for the Mad Dog, most planars, and other purely resistive (flat impedance curve) headphones. Someone else would have to explain why that is, as I have a very simple understanding of it. Of course, these receivers are big and bulky, and they almost all use RCA inputs. You'll also need a separate DAC. I personally use my Onkyo SE-200PCI sound card as my DAC, as I've always had a dedicated stereo setup with my computer.

 

Anyway, vintage receivers might not be the best when the sound output is measured compared to a nice, modern headphone DAC/amp. My Sansui is not ruler-flat in the FR, though it is pretty good. I'm talking a small roll off after 30Hz and 10KHz with a less than 0.1dB variation between those points (quite flat overall). Noise and distortion is quite clean above 2-3KHz or so, usually in the mid -90dB range (likely pushing the capabilities of my sound card's ADC when I measured). It's not as good below those frequencies, but this receiver was also built 40+ years ago and probably needs some restoration done to it. And when you account for that and my less-than-perfect setup (from both an output and input perspective...my sound card's external loopback measurements highlight its limitations), I'd say my Sansui measurements are pretty great. 

 

Measurements aside, I just think the Sansui 5000A sounds great. I'm sure other vintage receivers are the same way. I wouldn't say it's the best things in terms of resolution, black background, or ruler-flat response (though it's no slouch at all), but it just has a big, powerful sound to it. There are definitely benefits to hooking planar headphones up to speaker amps. When I say "big," I don't mean bassier. I don't mean a bigger soundstage (though you can get that from some receivers). My Leckerton in comparison sounds strained in comparison, like it has to "try" harder to produce the same volume. The Sansui in comparison at no point sounds like it is having trouble driving the Mad Dog. If I understood electronics better in terms of audio schematics and how everything fits together to affect and produce the sound we hear, I'd be able to give a better description of what I'm hearing, I think.

 

The cool thing is that you can find some decent vintage receivers on Craigslist or eBay for $50-100 that won't require much (if any) work to get a good taste of what they can do. :)

post #77 of 372
Thread Starter 

Thanks for sharing, Hans (assuming that's your first name). I'm going to add to the list.

 

The thread seems to be gaining traction, but all we have right now is a list. In the future, I'll update it and add information people will find helpful (MSRP/street price, output impedance, output at 50 ohms, etc.) It is in its simplest form, but rest assured that I do plan on making it more Mad Dog-user friendly, more like a handy chart that we see in other well-developed threads/guides. Thanks to everybody for sharing their impressions so far.

 

Cheers,

 

Aaron

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

post #78 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by doublea71 View Post
 

Thanks for sharing, Hans (assuming that's your first name). I'm going to add to the list.

 

It's not (nor is it my last). ;)

 

If anyone has any questions, just let me know. My experience with DACs and amps is fairly limited, but it is what it is. I try to read up on it where and when I can.

post #79 of 372

I just want to bring up some things I have found about power. It seems the power of the amp is the largest concern for people. Personally I think the quality of the amp greatly weighs in at some point. While the C5 may be a higher quality amp sound wise than the E12, it lacks a lot of power. However I personally have found at a certain power output the power advantages start to dwindle, and its better to search for a cleaner higher quality amp w/ decent power vs a super powerful amp. So far out of the amps I have tested the MC-C2120 (a speaker amp w/headphone jack) is the best sounding however I believe the E12 is more powerful than the C2120 out of the headphone jack (I have a hard time finding the specs for the headphone jack). Also the DX100 internal amp sounded better to me than the E12 and the E12 has a decent amount of more power than the internal amp of the DX100. The C2120 also felt like it had a decent power advantage over the DX100, however I felt the quality of amps were decently similar. The C2120 definitely had its advantage over the DX100, but the Ibasso still sounded quite good in comparison. The sound stage was slightly bigger, and the over all sound was smoother on the C2120. Which is expected as you are comparing a dedicated $600+ speaker amp to a $800 or lower DAP.

 

After reading this through, this may be a bit confusing at what I was getting at. In conclusion, I find that you have to have a nice balance between a quality amp and power. As if you buy a cheap receiver with a crappy amp (just for power), it may not sound as good as just buying a quality amp with a decent amount of power. No disrespect to receivers, as I am sure there are a lot of overbuilt receivers out there. My results in sound quality easily went like this E12<<DX100<C2120 yet the power output was more like this (if I am reading the power specs right, and from sound level that I heard) DX100<C2120<E12. 

 

Just a few notes- The DX100 (using line out) was the source of all music w/ 16bit/44.1khz or higher Flac Files, and the C2120 has low noise capacitors. 

 

I want to add that I love the E12, however MDs are just not that amazing sounding when paired with the E12, and of course compared to a higher quality amp. Which is to be expected as the E12 is only $100ish.

 

 

EDIT- crap, I should have refreshed before typing this. This post was more to respond the conversation on the last page. I just did not know who to quote.


Edited by gamefreak054 - 9/29/13 at 11:20pm
post #80 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by gamefreak054 View Post
 

I just want to bring up some things I have found about power. It seems the power of the amp is the largest concern for people. Personally I think the quality of the amp greatly weighs in at some point. While the C5 may be a higher quality amp sound wise than the E12, it lacks a lot of power. However I personally have found at a certain power output the power advantages start to dwindle, and its better to search for a cleaner higher quality amp w/ decent power vs a super powerful amp. So far out of the amps I have tested the MC-C2120 (a speaker amp w/headphone jack) is the best sounding however I believe the E12 is more powerful than the C2120 out of the headphone jack (I have a hard time finding the specs for the headphone jack). Also the DX100 internal amp sounded better to me than the E12 and the E12 has a decent amount of more power than the internal amp of the DX100. The C2120 also felt like it had a decent power advantage over the DX100, however I felt the quality of amps were decently similar. The C2120 definitely had its advantage over the DX100, but the Ibasso still sounded quite good in comparison. The sound stage was slightly bigger, and the over all sound was smoother on the C2120. Which is expected as you are comparing a dedicated $600+ speaker amp to a $800 or lower DAP.

 

After reading this through, this may be a bit confusing at what I was getting at. In conclusion, I find that you have to have a nice balance between a quality amp and power. As if you buy a cheap receiver with a crappy amp (just for power), it may not sound as good as just buying a quality amp with a decent amount of power. No disrespect to receivers, as I am sure there are a lot of overbuilt receivers out there. My results in sound quality easily went like this E12<<DX100<C2120 yet the power output was more like this (if I am reading the power specs right, and from sound level that I heard) DX100<C2120<E12. 

 

Just a few notes- The DX100 (using line out) was the source of all music w/ 16bit/44.1khz or higher Flac Files, and the C2120 has low noise capacitors. 

 

I want to add that I love the E12, however MDs are just not that amazing sounding when paired with the E12, and of course compared to a higher quality amp. Which is to be expected as the E12 is only $100ish.

 

 

EDIT- crap, I should have refreshed before typing this. This post was more to respond the conversation on the last page. I just did not know who to quote.

 

This may come down to a matter of personal taste and preference. I happen to like the way the MD's sound with the E12 and Dan himself has mentioned that it is a good pairing. On the Alpha Dog thread there is mention of him doing a demo of the Alpha Dogs using the E12 and being pleased with the sound. 

 

I will admit that I prefer my music a little more colored with a strong low end so I'm sure that has something to do with why I like the E12 sound on the mad dogs. 

 

All that said, there are absolutely better portable amps for the MD's but at a $120 price point the E12 makes a very strong case. I really like my ALO Rx MKIII and I know it is head and shoulders better than the E12 but not 5 times better .... 

post #81 of 372

How is that E12 volume-wise? I have an E10 currently and I found the sound to be completely fine, but I have to run the amp at high gain with max volume to get decent volume on the Mad Dog. Is it the same with E12?

post #82 of 372

The e12 has much more punch and will reach adequate volume earlier with a larger ceiling of overall volume. 

post #83 of 372

^^^ +1 

post #84 of 372

Quite tempting to replace the E10 with one. What about an E17?

post #85 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andeby View Post
 

Quite tempting to replace the E10 with one. What about an E17?

 

I dont think an E17 would have enough power. Matter of fact I read in one of the threads that someone was very disappointed with the E17 and the MD's

post #86 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andeby View Post
 

How is that E12 volume-wise? I have an E10 currently and I found the sound to be completely fine, but I have to run the amp at high gain with max volume to get decent volume on the Mad Dog. Is it the same with E12?

 

Really? I had an E10 High gain this past summer, and I couldn't turn it past 4-5 as its wayy too loud on my Mad Dogs? I suppose I have the volume on 100% in Windows. I am way too sensitive?

post #87 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taveren View Post


It was mentioned somewhere in the mad dog thread that Dan recommends around 1W for the mad dogs to deliver optimum performance. Though additional headroom is always nice to have 6.5W would be way too much and is intended to power speakers.

 

Hmm...I guess that is the recommended minimum as it seems everyone comments on how great they scale with power. If that is true, then delivering 1W is not the optimal solution. No?

 

I am really not wanting to overdo it, but I am looking for a solution/upgrade to my Schiit MM stack if it would provide much better performance..amp and DAC wise.


Edited by eac3 - 9/30/13 at 9:32am
post #88 of 372

I don't recommend the e17 if you want to get a high percentage of the best that the MD  can offer. 

post #89 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by martybm5 View Post
 

 

This may come down to a matter of personal taste and preference. I happen to like the way the MD's sound with the E12 and Dan himself has mentioned that it is a good pairing. On the Alpha Dog thread there is mention of him doing a demo of the Alpha Dogs using the E12 and being pleased with the sound. 

 

I will admit that I prefer my music a little more colored with a strong low end so I'm sure that has something to do with why I like the E12 sound on the mad dogs. 

 

All that said, there are absolutely better portable amps for the MD's but at a $120 price point the E12 makes a very strong case. I really like my ALO Rx MKIII and I know it is head and shoulders better than the E12 but not 5 times better .... 

 

I agree with you, I was just making the point (without the consideration of price point) the E12 outpowers a lot of amps, yet it is not the best sounding. For $100 it would be really tough to find a better portable pair. Though if you have more money there are better pairings. The E12 just does not match the MD correctly. As I said earlier in this thread the amp has a more closed in sound stage which is disappointing as the MDs have an awesome sound stage for a closed can. Along with that I found that some of the micro details were lost with the E12. Which I also found with cheaper stereo amps. The onkyo M5000 and M5200 for instance, even with a good pre-amp loses the details of the stock built in amp of the DX100.

 

Just to add on the, E17 does an ok job at amping. It is too under powered imo as you can easily listen it to the highest gain at the highest volume.  If you have not bought anything yet go for the E12, It is an much better solution at a similar price. The E12 will make the MDs quite loud, and I often listened to them around the halfway point of the volume knob.


Edited by gamefreak054 - 9/30/13 at 10:06am
post #90 of 372
Quote:
Originally Posted by eac3 View Post
 

 

Really? I had an E10 High gain this past summer, and I couldn't turn it past 4-5 as its wayy too loud on my Mad Dogs? I suppose I have the volume on 100% in Windows. I am way too sensitive?

 

Definitely got pretty much normal sound level from max volume, but the difference from around 4-5 to 8 was barely anything. I got my E10 used though, could be dodgy. :p

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