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Are Alpha Dogs the best / most recommended closed-back headphones under $1K?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I know that open-back 'phones are generally better, but for a variety of reasons I need the sound isolation that closed-back offer. With that said, I'm trying to narrow down my next buying decision to the best / most recommended under $1K. 

 

It seems like the Alpha Dogs are very highly recommended & rated everywhere, but I'm also considering the new Shure SRH 1540's… which are newer, but don't seem as well reviewed, BUT I do love their design & alcatera pads - I should mention, comfort is VERY important to me, but the Alpha Dogs also seem to do well in this regard.

 

Others I am considering are the B&W P7's (although I really don't like their design - I'd still go with them if they had the best sound tho) the PSB M4U-1, or the Beyer DT 770 Pro's. Are there any good ones in this category & price range that I'm omitting? Are the Alpha Dogs probably my best bet? They are the most expensive of all these, but they do seem to get the highest praise for both sound and comfort. I also like the design quite a bit.

 

I have also looked at the Fostex TH-600's so I should probably add them to the mix - same price as the Alpha Dogs, but I think I'd rather save up and go for the TH-900's instead of getting the 600.

 

Appreciate any insight here - thanks

post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hmm… the Beyer DT 770 Pro 250 Ohm's are only $164 on Amazon right now - significantly lower than any of the other ones on my list. I wonder if I should just try those and see how I like them, since they're so much less than all the others. 

post #3 of 15

For around $300, you can snag a new Mad Dog (or look for a used one and save a few bucks...I got my pair for $220 shipped on the marketplace). I bought a used pair about 6 months ago and they probably currently my favorite headphone (I haven't found any type of good synergy for my HD800, I can get lost in the music much easier with the Mad Dogs). Totally surpassed every expectation of mine. You do need to amp them, otherwise they are bloated and unimpressive, but once the bass is controlled...spectacular. A $100 Magni does wonderful with it and it scales up with better equipment (they love power). As far as closed backs go, unless you prefer the overpowering bass and recessed mids of Denons (AHD2000 can be bought for around $300), you won't do much better than Mad Dogs.

 

Just for the record, I love my Mad Dog enough that I have no plans on upgrading it, I'm buying the Alpha Dog separately.

post #4 of 15

You should probably mention whether it matters to you if the headphones can be used unamped or not and whether you would be willing to consider an IEM.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioops View Post
 

You should probably mention whether it matters to you if the headphones can be used unamped or not and whether you would be willing to consider an IEM.

 

funny that you ask that… I think I'm set on IEM's - I have custom molded UE 7's and some hifiman RE-400's, so I kinda feel covered on IEM's - although, I am interested in the new Sony XBA series. I was really looking at over-ear phones though.

 

I currently own the MDR-1R's, MDR-7506, and Fidelio X1's - all great, but all are low impedance that don't really need an amp.The thing is though - I LOVE amp's. I sort of have an amp fetish, and am very interested in getting a high impedance HP to see how it compares with my others. So, I'm really focused on closed-back, over-ear and higher impedance HPs. That said, I'll go with another low-impedence HP if it ends up being the best option. I am just very interested in hearing how HP's that NEED an amp sound, vs. lower impedance gear.


Edited by thievesarmy - 2/1/14 at 6:30pm
post #6 of 15

I moved on from IEM's pretty much and haven't look back, mostly due to the comfort issues and well-amped headphones tend to image better than IEM's overall. I still use my B2/Zo combo on the go, but I don't feel the need to explore IEM's any further. You will definitely want to amp a Mad Dog or an Alpha Dog or pretty much any Beyer.

post #7 of 15

I was thinking about getting a pair of RE-400s. Have you been happy with them?

 

In terms of my experience, the P7s have been my favourites so far, although it should be mentioned that they weren't neutral or laid back to my ears, so if you value either of those they might be a bit coloured or punchy for you. I haven't heard the fotstex, alpha dog or Nad hp50s.

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioops View Post
 

I was thinking about getting a pair of RE-400s. Have you been happy with them?

 

In terms of my experience, the P7s have been my favourites so far, although it should be mentioned that they weren't neutral or laid back to my ears, so if you value either of those they might be a bit coloured or punchy for you. I haven't heard the fotstex, alpha dog or Nad hp50s.

 

I have enjoyed the audio of the RE-400's, but recently the sound cut out on one side, on their own without any cause or reason. I did some research and it seems that others have had the same thing happen. They're still under warranty so I'm not really miffed about it, but I have yet to send them in, mainly because I have been focused on using my over-ear cans. I have heard that HiFiMan's customer service is EXCELLENT - I just haven't called them yet. Overall for $100, I dig them. But I also have a fetish for Sony's product design, and when I read the reviews of the XBA-3's and saw an unboxing video, I began lusting after them.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioops View Post
 

I was thinking about getting a pair of RE-400s. Have you been happy with them?

 

In terms of my experience, the P7s have been my favourites so far, although it should be mentioned that they weren't neutral or laid back to my ears, so if you value either of those they might be a bit coloured or punchy for you. I haven't heard the fotstex, alpha dog or Nad hp50s.

 

I'd say the treble is laid back on the P7, just no in contrast to the HP50 (which is what they are generally compared to nowadays).  But yes, they are definitely not neutral, they have a bit of a bass bump to them, remind me of a laid back HP20 (IEM) actually.  Like you, I haven't heard the Fostex either :/ 

 

The RE-400's are probably the best bang for the buck that is around right now in the IEM world.  It's got a slight warmth over neutral, but is very close to being neutral.  It's a very enjoyable IEM.  I'd recommend going into the RE-400, RE-400/RE-600 threads for more information. 

post #10 of 15

I think you should really consider the TH600, I personally easily preferred it to the Alpha but i am apparently in the minority. I would possibly even rank the TH600 on par with my Markl lite modded D7K. Problem might be isolation where the TH600 is worse than the Alpha, but comfort for me was better with the TH600

post #11 of 15

Just to clarify, orthos like the Alpha Dogs and Mad Dogs are low impedance, but are insensitive, which is why they require an amp to drive them sufficientlly.

 

Something you might want to consider is buying a Mad Dog, seeing how you like it, and then upgrading to an Alpha Dog (Dan from MrSpeakers lets you upgrade your Mad Dogs to Alpha Dogs for $300, the difference in price between them.) after if you want something more balanced/neutral. The Mad Dog has a bit of a fun bass tilt and warmth that makes it addictive, but the Alpha Dog is far more neutral and technically impressive, not to mention sexy and luxurious. I LOVE the sound of the Alpha Dog, and I feel that it's closest to a reference closed-back you can get sans the LCD-XC. 

 

Just note that upgrading a Mad Dog to an Alpha Dog makes the return policy expire, while buying a fresh one doesn't. Really depends on what kind of signature you're after.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaed View Post
 

Just to clarify, orthos like the Alpha Dogs and Mad Dogs are low impedance, but are insensitive, which is why they require an amp to drive them sufficientlly.

 

Something you might want to consider is buying a Mad Dog, seeing how you like it, and then upgrading to an Alpha Dog (Dan from MrSpeakers lets you upgrade your Mad Dogs to Alpha Dogs for $300, the difference in price between them.) after if you want something more balanced/neutral. The Mad Dog has a bit of a fun bass tilt and warmth that makes it addictive, but the Alpha Dog is far more neutral and technically impressive, not to mention sexy and luxurious. I LOVE the sound of the Alpha Dog, and I feel that it's closest to a reference closed-back you can get sans the LCD-XC. 

 

Just note that upgrading a Mad Dog to an Alpha Dog makes the return policy expire, while buying a fresh one doesn't. Really depends on what kind of signature you're after.

 

Hmmm. Thats an interesting idea - I didn't realize you could upgrade the Mad Dog for the price difference… I may indeed try that. Thanks for letting me know! 

 

I'm not really sure what sound signature I prefer - I'm still new to this stuff. So far, I prefer my MDR-7506's, coming out of a Dragonfly & Schiit Vali, or my Fidelio X1's straight out of the Dragonfly. So I am eager to try new things, gain some more experience, and see what else I like. 

 

I went ahead and grabbed the Beyer DT 770's @ 250 Ohm since they were relatively inexpensive, and I'll be able to see how I like a higher impedance phone. Still, i appreciate all the suggestions & insights, as I will use them for my next purchase. 

post #13 of 15
Seems that I bump into a lot posts with the same concerns like me! (Closed, alphas vs th600...)
post #14 of 15
So how did the Beyers work for you pal?
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
I returned them. Not that they were bad but I just felt like I didn't need that particular model. I did end up getting some Mad Dogs, PSB's, and k545's, all used and great condition. I think I prefer the PSB and AKG's. But the real story is I decided to get some HD 650's for a great price used and those were like a new awakening for me. Hands down my fav's even though they're open.
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