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::Mad Dog VS A900 - The Next Chapter?::

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone :normal_smile : 

I hope I'm posting the right question in the right forum section... (I'm a noobie headphoner, only having come from Zalman ZM-RF6S to ATH-A900, and only having used a cheap ebay cmoy amp and my sound card's amp)

 

 

INTRO:

So, I read a lot about how much people like & recommend the Mad Dog headphones, and bought them. Coming from ATH-A900, I am not impressed, sadly. Here's my thoughts on the Mad Dog (VS A900)...

 

 

PROS:
-Neutral sound + slight bass boost? (subjective) MD reacts much better to various EQ settings.
-Mid-range is very full, apparent; there's definitely an "intimate" sound here.
-Great soundstage/instrument separation(for closed cans); I can't hear any of it on A900.

CONS:
-Heavy; 470g VS 350g.
-Strong clamp; the Fostex headband clamping bar is rather heavy-duty and clamps rather forcefully.
-Poor fit; the earpads are literally over 1" thick at the thickest point, which is TOO plush for optimal comfort, are rectangular shaped with rounded corners, which don't fit/seal as well as circular(or oval?), and the cups cannot swivel(they tilt up/down, but not swivel freely) at all for better fit. Since there is so much weight, and the fit is poor, the cups will slide off your ears if you tilt you head up/down much.
-TOO "isolated"; A900 sounds very open, airy, roomy, but MD is tunnel speakers. People say the MD isolation is incredible, but I can hear the same amount of outside noise with either headphone, pretty much.
-"Indie" cable; basic, thick rubber-plastic cord with lots of bends in it(with silver connectors), unlike the A900's braided, kink/bend-free, smooth cord(with gold connectors).
-Treble; it sounds like the treble/highs are muted, VS A900. If I "Treble" EQ it, it sounds a lot more harsh than A900's non-EQ treble.
-Dark; I guess I'm not a fan of neutral/flat sound, because it just sounds "empty", like the details are not popping out, and I have to actively/purposefully listen to pick them out. Maybe my amp is not good for it, but they are only 50 Ohm VS 64 A900. A900, even lacking bass & mids, is still "easy" to listen to; details pop right out, and I don't to "listen" to hear things.

 

 

TEST TOOLS/USAGE:

-ASUS Xonar STX sound card (tested with all impedance settings) - I don't think upgrading to something like the E12 amp would do much, and I'm not planning to upgrade the amp, honestly.

-FLAC/various kbps songs (mainly instrumental/classical, electronic & metal)

-FPS games (have never tested open headphones yet, but am happy with A900's "openness" - Are open cans better for FPS/positioning?)

 

CONCLUSION:

I will return the Mad Dogs, but what do I want instead? I'm not sure about HD600(weak stock cable, no swivel, open) or HE-400(heavy, open). I am generally OK with A900's comfort(~75%), and love how they sound compared to the Mad Dog, so I am thinking my safest bet is another Audio-Technica in the $300-500 range, with the real leather pads(should bring the comfort to nearly 100%). I think the great clarity/detail of the A900 at least partially comes from having a metal enclosure, and I'm not sure how wood compares, but I'm pretty certain I don't like how plastic (Fostex TR50) sounds. So, what are the next, natural steps up in the AT line(full-size, over-ear)? And does it sound like I would enjoy the HD600 or HE-400 compared to those?

 

Thanks! :bigsmile_face: 


Edited by CT007 - 2/22/14 at 5:34pm
post #2 of 32

What's your budget?

 

What kind of sound signature are you looking for? Does sibilance bother you? Do you want a bass heavy can? Unfortunately, i have no idea how the a900 sounds like so you have to be specific, though it seems you don't like dark sounding headphones(mad dog), and would prefer a more neutral phone. 

 

Open cans are definitely better than closed cans for gaming because of their wider soundstage.

 

I definitely don't recommend the he400 because of its messy treble. It has tons of sibilance, yet the headphone sounds dark as a whole.

The hd600 might be good for you, though their soundstage isn't the best there is because of their intimate mids. Also, their treble isn't all that sparkly.

The x1 is a bit bass heavy, but has a good soundstage.

The q701 definitely has a big soundstage, but has recessed bass. You can however, get the memory foam earpad to improve its bass response without sacrificing much else. (q701 + memory foam earpad = k702 anniversary edition, theyre the same)

The dt880 is a bit more "v-shaped" than the hd600 but still neutral overall.

 

If you have the $$ you can get a hifiman he-500, which was pretty awesome when it was released at 899, and just godly at its current price of 599. It has a very overall balanced sound signature.

 

You should visit this thread, It has the many of the headphones i listed:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_K702

post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 

$300-500 is my budget.

 

I want a "lively, detailed, easy-to-listen-to" sound that has: good/great high details(like A900 AFAIK), at least decent/good mids, and good/great bass. The A900 has weak mids and bass, so I'm used to that, but details are nice & clear thanks to the good treble. I don't want any weird sound signiture...just want to put them on and have it sound great out of the box. A detailed, standard sound, I guess...A900 is a pretty basic model, I'd say. Nothing special here, as the review here points out.

 

I used that article/link you suggested(among many others) to narrow it down to:

-HD600 ($300-399 stock cable)

-HE-400 ($299 with velour pads)

-D2000 (~$300 used)

-ATH-A1000x/W1000x/A900LXTD (~$350-450)

 

And after further researching available reviews & frequency charts(compared to my A900) between these, the HE-400 seems to shine brightest overall, and probably has similar comfort to AT's. Surely it's got an "easier"/airier sound to listen to compared to the Mad Dog, being an open design? If I'm somehow discouraged from the HE-400, or if it ends up sounding bad to me, then I'll probably know which direction to go between the HD600, D2000, and higher-end AT.


Edited by CT007 - 2/23/14 at 12:10am
post #4 of 32
I feel like you just kinda described the way the dt880 sounds like.
The he-400 kinda has a weird sound signature. Its both dark and bright at the same time. It has a recessed upper mids/lower trble, then the treble increases exponentially from there.
The d2000 is definitely bass heavy.
From your choices, I'd go with the hd600. But I think you're better off with the dt880 if you don't want to wait and save up for the he500.
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 

Wow, I found a headphone store nearby...time to stop talking, and start listening! Going to bring my A900 and Mad Dog along, and bring the house down.

post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 

OK, now I got to hear a handful of headphones on a handful of different mainstream amps and CD players...

 

HE-300 (boomy bass, but still retains some of the attractive mids of the higher models)

*HE-400 (sold out - was told price drop is due to new model coming out soon!)

HE-500

HE-6 (killer mids, comfort is fine!)

Denon D7100

B&W P7

HD 558 (best fit, even though somewhat clampy)

LCD-2/3 (very similar padding material & thickness to Mad Dogs)

LCD-XC (this closed model sounded very bad compared to the open LCD's, I believe due to the 1" thick padding + closed design, that is very similar to the Mad Dog...terrible acoustics imo)

Grado $1200 something-or-others

DT-880 (awful)

T70 (awful)

 

STAND-OUTS:

-HE-6: Very attractive mids, like I've never heard before! A slightly dark/recessed overall sound, incredible mid detail, but lacking the upper clarity/sparkle of my A900. Possibly a headphone I could grow into liking, but that's not the way I want to play this game.

 

-LCD-2/3: A very well-rounded/equalized sound in bass, mids, and highs, similar to what I'm looking for. Similar sound to HE-6/HE-500, but vastly more detail and overall level sound. A bit too even sounding for my taste though, I think.

 

-HD 558: Interesting bass(slightly boomy, yet soft/non-fatiguing?) The mids and highs seemed to be equal, and the highs had a pretty smooth sound quality(very non-fatiguing, but also lacking some detail/sparkle).

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION / TEST RESULTS:

Beyerdynamic sucks, the LCD-2 nor HE's aren't particularly impressing me, probably due to being too equaled/reference-like, and none of these headphones have the up-front clarity/sparkle that I want to keep from my A900. I'm not sure why, but my Audio-Technica's seem to have a very unique sound compared to all of these other brands...with details being much more forward, and separated from the bass(due to metal enclosure? velour pads?). Velour sounds best to me, and I'm undecided on open VS closed. My speakers have that level/"reference"/"recessed" sound, but I need an emphases for detail in headphones. I think I can safely narrow my options down to these models:

 

-ATH-A1000x / ATH-W1000x / ATH-AD900(or X) / ATH-A900LXTD / ATH-A900X

-HD 600/650?

-AKG something?

-HE-400 (maybe...)


Edited by CT007 - 2/25/14 at 1:53pm
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by CT007 View Post
 

and none of these headphones have the up-front clarity/sparkle that I want to keep from my A900. I'm not sure why, but my Audio-Technica's seem to have a very unique sound compared to all of these other brands...with details being much more forward, and separated from the bass(due to metal enclosure? velour pads?). Velour sounds best to me, and I'm undecided on open VS closed. My speakers have that level/"reference"/"recessed" sound, but I need an emphases for detail in headphones. I think I can safely narrow my options down to these models:

 

-ATH-A1000x / ATH-W1000x / ATH-AD900(or X) / ATH-A900LXTD / ATH-A900X

-HD 600/650?

-AKG something?

-HE-400 (maybe...)

 

Upfront clarity/sparkle? Extreme microscopic detail supermonster? HD800 is your man. It's an extremely good headphone for classical/instrumental music, not to mention an out-of-head soundstage. As for electronic/metal, it's highly dependent on the quality of the recording. As an alternative to the hd800, there's the akg k812, though i have no idea how it sounds like. I'm hesitant to recommend the t1 since you said the dt880 was awful.

 

The sennheiser hd600/650 will sound worse than the audezes and the he-400 has recessed upper mids, which is where all the detail is. 

 

You're gonna need a proper amp though. For starters, you can get the schiit vali or the matrix m-stage. Which are the best budget options for hd800. (schiit vali is a tube amp with lots of power, while the m-stage is a clone of the lehman, the amplifier the hd800 was designed with)


Edited by b0000 - 2/25/14 at 2:51pm
post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 

I would definitely like to hear the HD800(even though it's a league beyond my budget), as I've heard it's got incredible detail. :) A lot of A900 reviews say it's a "classical" headphone, and I absolutely agree(for instrumentals in general). They also say it has "slow bass", but not sure what that means/sounds like.

 

Looks like the only nearby store that has Audio-Technica is across the border in Canada, but if I can get there without needing to buy a full passport, then I'm going ASAP to hear me these apparently rare cans that barely have any comparison reviews... :(

post #9 of 32

taking your budget into consideration, the best i can recommend is the akg k7xx line. However, i don't think it's much of an upgrade from your current phones. However, the k7xx line is considered to be the most detailed headphones in your price range. Quite a few people call it the "poor man's" hd800.

 

But like i said, i don't think it's going to be much of an upgrade. YMMV

post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 

It's looking like W1000x + replacement pads will be the winner. :normal_smile : K701 sounds like it's OK, but missing the magic of AT. I'm sure HE-400 will be too dark for my taste. If W1000x doesn't sound right, then A2000x probably won't either, and then I will just stick with my A900 and cry. :triportsad:

post #11 of 32
Thread Starter 

Got my W1000x, fairly impressed overall. Doesn't (seem to) have the ultra high-end details like I heard in some others, granted I've only had it for a few days. Headband clamp is weak, but not really a problem. So much bass, wow...lol. I hear a lot of new bass detail, for sure; very cool, but can get fatiguing also. The bass & much more even sound (VS A900) is keeping me from returning them, but I miss those extra fine details(and a better fit?). Overall, everything sounds "just right", but lacking fine detail. So, I think the A2000x is probably the better option at ~$500, or maybe HE-500 :\

 

Did some basic EQ'ing to boost treble, and things are sounding *much* better/less dark now. Now I am having fun! :gs1000smile: The mids might be a little off/awkward, but hard to tell.


Edited by CT007 - 3/22/14 at 3:05am
post #12 of 32

grats! But yes, planars have a distinct effortless sound while being detailed, unlike dynamics, which tend to get piercing. If you ever change your mind, the he500 (open planar) and the alpha dogs (closed planar) are your best choices.

 

And just a another thought, if you ever get into iem's try out etymotics (at least the hf5). Balanced armatures have a distinct timbre and are incredibly detailed.

post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 

Went back to the headphone store to compare my W1000x with the rest again, and boy, it really took a lot of testing for me to 'realize' this, but the HE-500 is AMAZING...

 

I listened for about 2 hours, comparing W1000x, HE-400, HE-500. HE-400 is complete crap compared to the HE-500. It's odd, but it makes sense about them lowering the price. I still wouldn't pay $100 for HE-400 though, because I want a headphone that SOUNDS GOOD, period. And HE-500 SOUNDS GOOD!!! =p

 

Like my initial, negative impression, the HE-500 sounds "dark", but what I noticed now is how much CLARITY and DETAILS there still are, even being "dark"! It's like all the harsh treble bits are magically turned down/muted, and you're left with perfect everything, bad nothing.

 

And why would I want a headphone like HE-6 or LCD that costs triple, with expensive amp needed, when the incredible HE-500 exists?!? Hi-five to China, whoa man! Seriously.

 

W1000x has been giving me mean ear/headaches. Here's my observations of W1000x VS HE-500:

 

 

W1000x:

-Bass, bass, everywhere, all the time, and it hurts! The bass sounds bad/muddy/jumbled, too, in songs with lots of bassy stuff going on.

-Most of the treble(and bass) volume sounds like it's too high(=too much pressure).

-Headband clamp is too weak/loose

-Fake leather earpads suck.

-Overall sound signature is too "vivid"/harsh/something

 

HE-500:

-Practically pressure/pain-free listening experience!

-Awesome clarity/details, even while sounding "dark"

-NOT bassy; it feels like the bass has been removed, compared to W1000x(doesn't hurt ears at all!), but put back into the midrange instead(to a lesser extent).

-MIDS. ARE. INCREDIBLE... Drums sound amazing, vocals sound amazing, guitars, synthesizers, bells, pianos, you name it!! If there is only one reason to pick HiFiMan, it's for the MIDS, baby! Now you can FEEL a bell sound, not just HEAR it! :D

-Fake leather pads are great(I've heard bad things about the velour)!

-Headband clamp is perfect! Great/at-least-average fit!

-Balanced, easy/"effortless" sound; it sounds like two small, personal speakers, pretty much(not like "headphones").

post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0000 View Post
 

...planars have a distinct effortless sound while being detailed, unlike dynamics, which tend to get piercing.

This is SO spot-on... Wish I had know that a long time ago :( Essential headphone 101 schooling, right there.

post #15 of 32

hehe it's so true. I think the lcd-2 are just as detailed as my hd800, it's just not as in-your-face. But it's still all there. Planars does bass and mids so well. I guess it's just the physics of the driver, though i'm not really sure.

 

And yea i wasn't too much of a fan of the he-400. Upper mids was too recessed and upper treble was too forward and sibilant. I returned it within a week and went straight to the lcd2 because it does vocals/mids and bass better than the he500. It immediately became my favorite phone. Music has never sounded so sweet.

 

As for the the he-6/lcd2... The he-500 has a summit-fi sound, where price becomes largely irrelevant as it's mostly about sound signature preferences. That is... until you get to high end electrostats (stax). Those phones are supposedly in a different dimension. I've yet to try any electrostats sadly.

 

Also, fun fact: The hd600 and it's brother the hd650 are the most respected and legendary headphones here in head-fi. And people generally agree that the he500 is the upgrade to the hd600, while the lcd2/3 is the hd650's upgrade. So yea, theyre good phones for sure.

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