REVIEW: Mad Dogs and the Project Ember 2.0
Jun 27, 2015 at 9:06 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6

punkaroo

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punkaroo is back after a long hiatus with a brand spankin' new review! ENJOY!
 
Project Ember 2.0, Amperex “Orange Globe” 12AT7 tube > Pico DAC > 11” MacBook Air, iTunes and ALAC tracks > Mad Dogs with Alpha Pads
 
I hadn't bought another pair of desktop/home use headphones since purchasing my Grado HF-2s. I had no need! You’ll have to pry my HF-2s out of my cold, dead hands! They are the perfect rock/alternative can, but I love them with electronica, industrial, trip hop and jazz too. They’re fun as heck and aggressive. I like to be as close to the stage as possible at a concert. Now you understand my love of Grados :)
 
The Mad Dogs blew me away with their crispness and clarity. Of course, the Bryston amp and DAC didn’t hurt, and I was equally mesmerized by them during my short, but highly enjoyable listening session at a meet. I couldn’t pick my jaw up off the floor! I bought my Mad Dogs off HF only a few short months ago and researched the hell out of appropriate amps until I settled on the Project Ember 2.0.
 
I never, ever thought I’d be a fan of such an overall neutral can. I can safely say I’ve heard details I’ve never heard before! Bass is very present, but it’s never bloated or out of control. Highs are crisp and clean but never fatiguing. Instrument separation is absolutely fantastic. These are never muddy or smeared. I understand why the T50RP is a popular choice for music production/mastering.
 
I started off with a Tung Sol 12AT7. It was a fairly MEH tube. It did the job alright, but it didn’t grab me and make me want to dance! Then my Amperex “Orange Globe” 12AT7 arrived. Now this is a whole new ball game! It has great, fast attack. It’s engaging and really fun. You can’t help by tap your feet listening, or sing along as I was! It’s not an overly aggressive tube, but it certainly grabs you and drags your butt onto the dance floor!
 
Speaking of dance floors, I listened to Madonna’s “Ray of Light”, and I swear I can hear a guitar pick strumming those first few opening chords. Amazing! There’s so much going on in this track, but every single instrument is heard perfectly. it’s really quite a treat. Synthesizers swarm around your head like bees. 
 
Me’Shell Ndegéocello - The Way
 
I’ve said Me’Shell’s album “Peace Beyond Passion” is like eating chocolate mousse. It’s rich, decadent, and ultimately extremely satisfying. So much bass funkiness! The opening notes of pure funk bass put an enormous grin on my face. Pure attack and speed. Not sure what kind of snare drum is used on this track, but it too has great attack and snappiness. Vocals are smooth. Saxophones and trumpets draw you into the centre of the track, alluring and sexy. 
 
Hozier - Cherry Wine
 
Hozier’s guitar picking is lively, vibrant and gorgeous. You can really appreciate this man’s talent. An incredible contrast to the dark lyrics of an abusive woman.  Hozier’s soft, crooning vocals are upfront. This track is live, and you can hear birds singly sweetly in the background. Despite it being live, it sounds like Hozier is in your living room performing. 
 
Garbage - The One
 
The intro made me laugh out loud with glee. The drums are crunchy, upfront and aggressive. Then the guitars come in, also crunchy, aggressive and in your face. Synthesizers swirl, and cymbals crash with shimmering control.
 
James - Seven
 
This song has a beautiful, airy, dreamy quality to it. Punchy and lively guitars, drums, trumpet and electric violin. The life-affirming feel of this song comes out in full force.
 
k.d. lang - Don’t Smoke in Bed
 
Lang’s vocals are upfront and smooth. Swoon. Strings are lush and absolutely gorgeous. The slight reverb on the guitar is great fun. The middle of the song is pure strings, drums, vocals and guitar. It’s dramatic, lush, and there’s a great sustaining SMASH to the snare. You’d have to hear it to know what I’m talking about! 
 
Placebo - Kings of Medicine
 
You can hear Brian’s guitar pick hitting his acoustic guitar’s strings in the opening chords. There’s a charming, clear, crispness to Brian’s vocals. Snare drum is engaging, fun and has great attack. Bass gives the song some great body and fullness, and it’s a little sneaky, throbbing in the background. Trumpets! Full, powerful and bound to put a smile on your face.
 
Roy Orbison - She’s A Mystery To Me
 
This song is very special to me. Roy’s voice is so utterly gorgeous in this track, haunting, rich and smooth with a slight reverb. Extremely engaging. Cymbals crash and are sustained beautifully. Piano adds stunning staccato in deep contrast to the dark guitar picking. There’s a type of hand drum played during this track along with the normal kit. For the life of me, I don’t know what they are, and my internet search has turned up absolutely nothing.  There’s a seriously sweet, great tonal quality to them that is very hard to describe, and simply must be heard. The recording of this track is absolutely breathtaking. 
 
Tori Amos - Blood Roses
 
Who the hell plays harpsichord? Tori Amos, that’s who. This terribly unique instrument is one moment, deep and complex, then comes up on top dancing, lively and alive. Tori’s playing is incredibly distinct, and her vocals like the harpsichord, one moment gasping and breathy, exclaiming I think you’re a queer! then unbridled and wild, displaying her immense talent and range. Oh, Tori. I love you.
 
Tori Amos - Caught A Lite Sneeze
 
This song is genius! Drums are upfront and immediate, with a great and satisfying grunt. The harpsichord plays and teases your ears. Tori’s vocals are breathy then full of anguish, anger and deep hurt: Didn’t know our love was so small.  The background vocals are some of the best I’ve ever heard, adding yet another layer of immense complexity, angelic and haunting all at once. 
 
I really, really love this setup. It provides great clarity, speed and attack. Bass is punchy, fast and full. Drums attack and have great speed as well. Vocals are upfront, full and rich. Instrument separation is unlike anything I’ve ever heard.
 
Jeremy, you’ve a damn fine amplifier here! And Dan, the Mad Dogs are a killer pair of cans! Hear, hear!
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 11:18 AM Post #2 of 6

Solrighal

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Nice review. Have you not tried a 6SN7 valve using the adapter? You're in for a treat, imo.
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 7:54 PM Post #3 of 6

punkaroo

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I only just bought the Project Ember. Is it a high or low gain tube?
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 8:25 PM Post #4 of 6

Solrighal

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Hi. The 6SN7's are all different. They need the adapter to work. It's available from the Garage 1217 site.
 
If you've just got your amp stick with the stock tubes for a while & see what you think. I don't know of anyone who's stepped up to the 6SN7's and went back again. They need the adapter because they only have 8 pins (octal) as opposed to the 9 pins of the stock config. They're also quite a bit bigger & generally run hotter too. Here's some pics of what they look like when mounted..
 

 

 

 
Jun 28, 2015 at 8:54 PM Post #5 of 6

punkaroo

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Damn you Zorrofox...now I'm on eBay looking at adapters and on thetubestore.com  LOL!
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 9:23 PM Post #6 of 6

Solrighal

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Sorry
redface.gif

 
Garage 1217 make & sell the 6SN7 8-pin octal to 12AU7 adapter here..
 
http://www.garage1217.com/garage1217_diy_tube_headphone_amplifiers_012.htm
 
Again, sorry. You have a PM.
 
Gordon.
 

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