Dan Clark’s Masterpiece: Mr. Speakers Alpha Dog

Disclaimer: The Headfonia Store is a Mr. Speaker dealer and we sell the Alpha Dogs. I wish we were not a dealer, since this review came up to be so positive, but I want you guys to know the fact. We are also a Hifiman dealer and an Audez’e distributor. 

 

Some background first. Fostex created the T50RP headphone (review here) some years ago and it has become the most loved headphone for headphone modders in the Head-Fi world. After numerous DIY modifications by enthusiasts, we are starting to see commercial T50RP-mods in the market, each with their own brand name. Mr. Speakers is one of these commercial T50RP-mod producers, along with others like the Paradox, and ZMF (I’m getting one soon). The Alpha Dog is the latest T50RP-mod headphone from Mr. Speakers and it features the world’s first 3D-printed housing.

 

The Alpha Dog at the Tokyo Headphone Festival

The one headphone that finally replaces my ultimate T50RP-mod, aka the Thunderpants, is here.

Let’s go back a little bit to October of last year during the Fujiya Avic Autumn Headphone Festival in Tokyo, when I first met the Alpha. The day before the festival, I was meeting the Fostex team and among the agenda that day was that I had to return the Thunderpants loaner back. I was sad to see it go, but I had no choice. I have made several offers to buy the headphone from them, but I don’t think Fostex needed my money.

The next day at the Headphone Festival, was sort of a T50RP modding fest. We had the Fostex RP prototype which is a T50RP driver in a complete new open-back housing by Fostex themselves. There was also the latest iteration of the Mad Dog headphone from Mr. Speakers as well as the World’s first 3D printed headphone: the Alpha Dog. Of course Audez’e was also there with the new LCD-X and LCD-XC but I’m going to talk about these later. I got to listen to all of these different Fostexes and that’s when I first met the Alpha.

I got to compare the Fostex RP and the Alpha side by side, and as the Fostex guys asked for my opinion, I told them that aside from the different signature (Fostex RP is softer and smooth, the Alpha Dog more dynamic), overall the Alpha Dog is easier to like with its more dynamic sound, but is also superior in terms of technicalities compared to the RP. In Fostex’s defense, however, the RP is still in prototype stage and would see many future revisions.

I wrote a review of the Mad Dog from Mr. Speakers last year and I was not totally impressed with it. Not long after that review, Dan released the 2nd revision that had a warmer and fuller sound but with a more grainy sound. In Tokyo that day I was able to audition the latest version of the Mad Dog and it was quite a big improvement from the previous Mad Dogs. More spacious soundstage and better top and bottom extension. It sounded like a little brother to the Alpha Dog. More or less a similar voicing but without the depth and the three dimensional soundstage of the Alpha Dog, among other things like Dynamic Range and micro details. The latest Mad Dog, however, is still not quite the level of the Thunderpants.

I thought that the Thunderpants was so ahead beyond the other modded Fostexes and I was sad to hear that you can no longer buy them (I can’t comment on the Paradox headphones since I’ve never heard them. The Paradox review was done by Valentin). While Dan Clark is very passionate about what he does, previous Mr. Speakers headphones have never really attained the level of the Thunderpants, and I expected the Alpha Dog to somehow fall around the same league of the other Mr. Speakers headphones, only better. After all, the only thing I hear about the Alpha Dog is that it’s the world’s first 3D printed headphone. As impressive as it is, I didn’t immediately think that the sound would be improved from the Mad Dogs either.

Of course I was wrong. Here I am now, just like back during the Headphone Festival, blown away with the sonic quality of the Alpha Dog. I think the fact that the Alpha Dog is mostly promoted as World’s 1st 3D printed headphone steals a lot of the attention from the sound aspect. This is the best T50RP-mod headphone I’ve heard to this day. By far ahead of the previous Mr. Speakers and even better than Smeggy’s Thunderpants. I am relieved now that I have found a replacement to the Thunderpants that I could not obtain (Smeggy, the Thunderpants creator has disappeared and is nowhere to be found nowadays).

 

Sound Impressions

Let’s start with the best part first. The depth in the sound. The Alpha Dog is superior to every other T50RP-mod I know in terms of depth. Including the original T50RP as well as Fostex’s prototype RP headphone (in its early prototype stage, at least). You get a deep, three dimensional soundstage depth that rivals the Audez’es and better than any Hifiman I know. The background is black though slightly below the level of the Audezes. The soundstage is very wide and through the Studio Six amp sounds wider than even the LCD-3. The Thunderpants in comparison, though just as wide, lack the depth and the black background of the Alpha Dog.

Frequency extension is very good, almost rivalling the levels of modern dynamics like the Hifimans and the Audezes. You can feel that it’s pushing the boundaries of the T50RP driver, but I’m surprised you can achive so much frequency range from these pair of aging drivers. The dynamic range, again though not comparable to the modern orthos, are easily the best I’ve heard from a T50RP mod. The dynamics are good though a bit less explosive than the Thunderpants could be.

Lastly, the frequency balance tuning is easily the best I’ve heard among all headphones. Stock Alpha Dogs are tuned neutral from the factory, and the default factory setting gives you one of the best flat monitoring tuning I’ve heard among any headphones. Extremely flat with amazing clarity. Of course a flat curve is a bit too dry for my HD650 loving ears and so I tuned the adjustable bass ports to produce a fuller bass body which also extends to a fuller sounding lower midrange (The Alpha’s frequency balance can be changed by the adjustable bass port). The treble is a bit too present for my dark loving ears, but I’m far from saying that it has tendencies to sound hot. An easy fix for me is by recabling the Alpha Dogs to using darker sounding Canare cables. Listening to a live recording of Michael Bublé, the entire recording is reproduced without a flaw. The air and the atmosphere is perfect, the vocal sounded so present and real. Simply beautiful without any wrong tones or coloration. It’s jaw-dropping good. The Alpha also scales up beautifully to the Studio Six + Audio Gd Ref7.1 rig.

More on the next page!

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111 Comments

  • Reply January 27, 2014

    George Lai

    I love my Alpha Dogs too. Let’s see how the ZMF compares when you receive it, Mike. The ZMF has a serious price advantage though.

  • Reply January 27, 2014

    L.

    I listened to the Alpha Dog on the Studio Six @Soundconsult.nl and I was blown away with the sound quality. I think the AD is the best closed headphone I have ever listened to (the new audeze hasn’t reached me yet)

    Great headphone and if I would need a new closed one, I wouldn’t hesitate in ordering it.

    • Reply January 27, 2014

      Punit Shetty

      “best closed headphone I have ever listened to” – It betters even the TH 900 ?

      • Reply January 27, 2014

        L.

        Tough one. I listened to the AD on the great Studio Sic and the TH900 I only heard on the HP A8, so can’t really compare. Let me rephrase what I said;

        The Alpha Dog and the TH900 are the best closed headphones I have listened to. But don’t forget the AD costs only a fraction of the Fostex. So price/quality wise the choice is easy

        • Reply January 27, 2014

          Punit Shetty

          Heh..Heh…:-) you had me worried there. I can put off buying the AD’s for some time then. Let me be content with my beloved TH900 for the time being. 😉

          • Reply January 27, 2014

            L.

            Oh yeah, you shouldn’t worry

    • Reply January 30, 2014

      ohm image

      I wholeheartedly agree.

  • Reply January 27, 2014

    Anton

    Alpha Dog Compare with Fidelio L2?

    • Reply January 27, 2014

      L.

      Why compared an open dynamic driver to a closed modified Orthodynamic? that makes no sense as you won’t use them for the same things. Imho

      • Reply January 28, 2014

        Jose Gomez

        what for would you use each one?

        • Reply January 28, 2014

          L.

          First you should decide if you need a closed headphone or not. Once you’ve decided on that you need to decide on a dynamic/ortho. Then you can really start comparing headphones of the same type. Dynamic and orthodynamic headphones do not have the same sound. Read read read 😉

  • Reply January 28, 2014

    Jose Gomez

    Is there a difference between a dealer and a distributor?

    • Reply January 28, 2014

      L.

      A distributor delivers to dealers and doesn’t necessarily sell to end consumers

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/distributor
      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dealer

      The www is magic 😉

      • Reply January 29, 2014

        Mike

        Thanks L.

        As a distributor, I sell Audez’e to other stores as well as to customers directly. As a dealer, I only sell to customers (I got the headphones from the distributor)

        • Reply January 30, 2014

          John123John

          can you be both a distributor and a dealer? sorta like costco. wholesale~

          • Reply January 30, 2014

            Marc

            For different companies? Yes. You could be a dealer for one and a distributor for another. Being a distributor entitles wholesale while being a dealer means individual products.

  • Reply January 28, 2014

    Ismael Betancourt

    i just bought the Mad Dogs last week and now I am thinking of the Alpha Dogs, LOL. By the way I just auditioned the Beyerdynamic T1s and although they sounded awesome, the sound leakage was just too much. I definitely needed a good closed headphone and I believe for the price looks like I cant do better than the Alphas. thanks for the review

    • Reply January 29, 2014

      L.

      Let us know how you like it

  • Reply January 28, 2014

    spidermeng

    Have you try pair it with Alo Pan Am ?
    How the performance ?

    • Reply January 28, 2014

      Tronco

      Oh yes, I would also be interested how this pairing works.

    • Reply January 30, 2014

      ohm image

      Plenty of power for these via the Pan Am. And voicing is a good match.

    • Reply January 30, 2014

      Mike

      It’s very nice with the Pan Am

  • Reply January 29, 2014

    bmichels

    Dear sir,

    I have today a TH-900 that I really like, but I need to buy a “totally NON leaking” headphone to use at work and also… in the bed near my wife sleeping.- (and I don’t like IEMs)

    But I don’t want to trade SQ and listening pleasure for this

    so, could you tell me which of the 2 headphone, sigPRO or AD, leak the least, and which do you prefer in term of SQ and listening pleasure.

    Also, does the AD need much more Amplifier power than the PRO ?

    thanks in advance

    bertrand

    • Reply January 29, 2014

      Mike

      Hi Bertrand,
      Ultrasone Signature Pro you mean? I didn’t really spend much time with it — didn’t like the sound but on my head it didn’t seal as well as the Alpha.
      The Pro is probably easier to drive than the Alpha.

  • Reply January 30, 2014

    Ken Stuart

    I’m guessing a car trunk (or the British say “boot”). 🙂

  • Reply January 30, 2014

    ohm image

    Great review, and totally on the ball. These phones startled me more than any other closed-back headphones at the show. Light, comfy, and so well voiced. Love them.

    • Reply January 30, 2014

      L.

      Thanks man!

  • Reply January 30, 2014

    RainHeaven

    Wouldn’t using the bass port trade bass quality for quanity?

    • Reply January 30, 2014

      Mike

      Yes. A little, if you want to maintain the cleanest bass then don’t use the port tuning. Me, I like a fuller bodied bass rather than an ultra detailed bass. Nice to be able to get them both though.

  • Reply January 30, 2014

    Ted Tillholm

    Mike,

    Do you have a source for the Canare recable you mention?

    Thanks

    • Reply January 30, 2014

      Mike

      Ted,
      I buy them locally by the bulk. Professional studio supplier has tons of them.

  • Reply January 30, 2014

    StacyD

    Its not the first 3d printed housing by a LONG stretch.

    Some of us have made baffles and cups on our 3D printers as DIY headphone builders.

    Its an invaluable tool as you can take that GCode to someone with a HASS mill and have them mill you perfect spec 3D aluminum or hardwood cups.

    The resin printers are likely what he has here as you can print directly some acoustically dead material (of any amount of hardness you wan in the dual material ones). Laser sintering also an option.

    I also made a post on my own blog about I so dynamic headphone in large cup, sealed enclosures which have been deadened. I have no doubt based off of my CD3k / T20v2 hybrid how good they can really be. (Its an astounding difference).

    • Reply January 30, 2014

      L.

      First commercially sold 3D printed headphone then. Better? 😉

      • Reply February 3, 2014

        StacyD

        Indeed.

        3D printers are great and the new Carbon Fiber 3D printers will revolutionize this. Carbon fiber cups sound as good as wood and more durable.

        BUTTTT… I don’t have $5k so ABS and PLA for me.

        I would love for them to be willing to work on improvements and open source not the product, but the general shapes and dimensions of the Fostex T50.
        They seem to love the feedback and innovation on top of their product and being the first headphone company to do some open source and collaborative hardware can only be good for them and the end user.

        Mine are mostly mods on older T20v2’s and SFI drivers. I already have plans to post on my github once its decent and I can get some parts a bit better designed for durability (PLA in headband, ABS in cups and baffles, etc).

        But another day perhaps, too much always on my plate to finish.

  • Reply February 2, 2014

    Dave Zee

    Great review, Mike! Just ordered me a pair because of you. I have no idea how backed Dan is…I hope I get them within 4 weeks. BTW, my deckhanddavy channel is back! It’s under ‘new management’ now, ha! Name has been changed to Audio Unbox. Should be fun. Take care. -deckhanddavy

    • Reply February 3, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      I have a Mad Dog and I am on the upgrade list. I know they are fairly behind on the upgrades. My spot was suppose to open up in early January, and it hasn’t yet. If that is any indication, 4 weeks probably won’t happen. I know they say expect at least 6.

  • Reply February 12, 2014

    Gorboman

    dang.. better than thunderpants is definitely worth an audition, mike.

    • Reply February 12, 2014

      L.

      It really is worth it

  • Reply February 15, 2014

    Michael Ehlers

    Hey Mike. Great review!!. I have ordered the Alpha Dog, can’t wait!! 🙂 -and wrote to Drew from moon audio about what kind of cable he would think could go with the A.D. He said the Silver Dragon V3. Now I wonder if that would make the headphone to bright!. What do you think?.

    • Reply February 15, 2014

      L.

      Personally I wouldnt go for silver, go for a copper based one

      • Reply February 15, 2014

        Michael Ehlers

        Thanks Mr. L.
        I have actually thought about the Dragon V2 -the copper version as a bette choice..
        Maybe I should stick to that! :-)..

    • Reply February 15, 2014

      Mike

      I wouldn’t go for silver with these headphones. Too thin.

      High quality copper would be best.

      • Reply February 16, 2014

        Michael Ehlers

        Thank’s Mike!…Black Dragon V2 it is then! :-).

  • Reply February 23, 2014

    gyamashita

    as you requested, a black matte version will be offered soon. personally, i find matte black too plain, especially for something this forward-thinking. first 3D-printed headphone? well, let’s give it some pizzazz…i voted for the british racing green (BRG), but alas, black it is.

    on another note, i’ve been quite happy with them since receiving them this past week. i’m on the fence whether i’m going to keep them, though. i don’t find them more enjoyable to listen to than the denon D7000, though they do seal better and are more comfortable.

  • Reply February 24, 2014

    Ken Stuart

    Some news From MrSpeakers (all the following is quoted from Dan Clark):

    A little fine-tuning has been done on the Alphas.

    A few owners found the treble to be a little peaky. While most owners and reviewers seemed very happy, I always listen to positive and negative feedback to try to do better. I started working on an ear-side adjustment to tame the treble, but I thought it might be both fun and productive to bring someone from the community to work on this as well.

    With his deep roots in the T50 tuning, BlueMonkeyFlyer seemed a good fellow to contact, and he kindly agreed to take a look. Fortunately, he had done tests earlier on something directly related to our needs and had an insight to create a tuning square, which we’ll call the BMD (BlueMonkeyDot). The BMD started shipping on Alphas shipped starting Feb 10. A big thanks to BMF for his support on this!

    Many people like their Alpha Dogs as is, so it’s important to remember that due to ear shape, hearing, music choice and equipment not everyone will feel the treble needs adjustment at all. But if you do own a set and want to smooth or step down the treble, we will have an “Alpha Dog Obedience Kit” up on our website for $14.99 plus shipping (this just covers our cost).

    The kit will include 4 dots, allowing 1 or 2 to be applied to each side of the headphone. It will also include two felt tuning discs to insert under the Alpha Pads for those who prefer a slightly darker sound. The Obedience Kit will be available on our website at the end of next week. Sonically, you should expect:

    1) Smoother treble

    2) Somewhat larger soundstage

    3) A bit more bass punch

    4) Improved “black space”

    It’s a no-tools, 3 minute upgrade, and it’s fully reversible if you don’t prefer the sound. We’ll post a YoutTube video to show how easy the tuning is early next week.

    A big thanks to BMF!

    There is a physics explanation I won’t go into but the short story is that Fostex’s materials have some variations that cause peakiness in treble output on some but not all phones, and it can vary by lot. The peaks are narrow, they are not on every headphone, they are within spec, and they are at a frequency that some people are sensitive to, and others are perhaps not.

    But we’re OCD about continuous improvement and I know many of you share our passion for this, so we thought the best thing to do was just put it on the table in a way that is fun, reversible, and customizable.

    The BMD reduces two specific peaks by 2-3 dB with only about a 0.5dB decrease in the overall treble. Unlike the BMD the felt discs act like a broad band filter, trimming about 1dB off the highs for each disc to create a darker sound, if that’s your preference. They work with or without a BMD installed.

    Ears and taste differ widely, and in fact ear shape and geometry have an effect on whether you perceive a peak or not. If you are happy leave it alone!

    • Reply February 24, 2014

      L.

      thank you for the post, Ken!

  • Reply March 7, 2014

    dalethorn

    I was attracted to this of course, but hadn’t taken a third job to finance it yet. Then yesterday I heard a Mad Dog, and immediately ordered the Alpha Dog. Either of those headphones can sell themselves, once the headphone meets the ear.

    • Reply March 7, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      agreed. I have the Mad Dog and am waiting anxiously for my upgrade spot to open up.

      • Reply March 7, 2014

        L.

        Both are great, I slightly prefer the alpha Dog

        • Reply March 7, 2014

          dalethorn

          I was surprised. Usually that concept of ‘neutral’ sound worries people, me included. But the Mad Dog delivers it in a way that I don’t miss the extra warmth with the bass enhancements. It’s a different experience in sound from my other headphones.

  • Reply March 15, 2014

    Gabriel

    How is this compared to aV-Moda M-100 and a Sens Momentum?
    Thanks

  • Reply March 15, 2014

    dalethorn

    @Gabriel: M100 very strong bass over flat mids and treble. Momentum warm/emphasized upper bass, less low bass, good mids, lively lower treble, weak upper treble. Alpha Dog nearly flat/neutral top to bottom. I’ve heard the Mad Dog, but my Alpha Dog hasn’t arrived yet so I’m interpolating from the Mad Dog and the comparisons in this review. But maybe more important than the signatures here is the quality of the sound – the planar diaphragm is driven from many points similar to electrostatics while the ordinary dynamics are driven from a central point – and I’m sure most people can hear the planar superiority as long as all other properties aren’t far apart. I sure heard it with the Mad Dog.

  • Reply March 20, 2014

    Fabio_Rocks

    How does compare the ZMF with Alpha Dog? do you think they are in the same league?

    • Reply March 20, 2014

      L.

      ZMF review soon!

      • Reply April 14, 2014

        Fabio_Rocks

        24 days and no review! I just bought the ZMF, if I wait for your review maybe I get old 😛

        • Reply April 14, 2014

          dalethorn

          I’m getting old waiting for my Alpha Dog – the site said 3 weeks and now it’s approaching 6 weeks. But these are worth the wait.

          • Reply April 14, 2014

            Dave Ulrich

            Well, I was told I would get my email telling me to send my Mad Dogs in for an upgrade in early January. I still haven’t gotten it.

            • Reply April 14, 2014

              L.

              Give them one more week, then start a riot 😉

              • Reply April 14, 2014

                Dave Ulrich

                I was think rather to use this opportunity to do a review on the Mad Dog/Pro.. Then, I start a riot.

          • Reply April 14, 2014

            L.

            Last I heard was 6 months… 😉

            • Reply April 14, 2014

              Dave Ulrich

              I know Dan said they can’t make them fast enough. I could hear exasperation in his typing.

              • Reply April 14, 2014

                dalethorn

                I will be happy to see my Alpha Dog with no evidence of cutting corners to increase production, however long it takes.

        • Reply April 14, 2014

          L.

          There was an issue with our ZMF headphone and we’re waiting for it to be replaced…

          • Reply April 14, 2014

            Fabio_Rocks

            Really? What issue?

            • Reply April 14, 2014

              L.

              It didn’t work as it should and had really bad sound. mike is handling it but it looks like it might take a while before we get the review up

              • Reply April 14, 2014

                Fabio_Rocks

                I think Mike will love the ZMF V2. The Bass on my set is HUGE 🙂

    • Reply March 20, 2014

      dalethorn

      If the Alpha Dog I’m getting sounds like they say, then it’s less warm than the Mad Dog or ZMF. I sure hope the AD isn’t too un-warm, because the MD and ZMF are just right.

      • Reply March 21, 2014

        L.

        It is just right!

  • Reply March 30, 2014

    Punit Shetty

    I want to buy a closed can for listening to music when my wife is watching TV. Have two questions :

    1) Do they isolate better than TH 900 ?

    2) How is the bass & treble when compared to Beyer DT 770 32 ohm anniver ed & HE 500 ?

    Thanks

    • Reply April 15, 2014

      L.

      Isolation is the same. Bigger bass

  • Reply April 15, 2014

    Joshua Chew

    I didn’t know that you had the HP-V1. Any chance of doing a review against the Continental V3?

    • Reply April 15, 2014

      L.

      HP-V1 review tomorrow! Nathan is doing it but I don’t think he has the V3

      • Reply April 16, 2014

        Dave Ulrich

        Which is fine, since neither does ALO.

  • Reply April 25, 2014

    dalethorn

    I got mine. Now I understand better, that they didn’t merely reduce the brightness to a normal level because of complaints that it was too bright. They reduced it to a level where the mid treble is a few db below the minimum for full (but not edgy) details. That’s compared to any number of headphones. I think a better treble would be like the Mad Dog, which was nearly perfect to my ears. The bass would not satisfy users who find the Mad Dog just OK, but I can get along with it.

    • Reply April 26, 2014

      Gary Thompson

      So you prefer the Mad Dog treble, and just get along with the bass? I’m anxious to hear more of your thoughts.

      • Reply April 27, 2014

        dalethorn

        I can’t compare directly because I borrowed the Mad Dog for just one week (a glorious week) several weeks ago. But listening at length the Mad Dog impressed me as perfectly balanced, whereas the treble in this latest Alpha Dog is too soft. Not by a huge amount, maybe 3 db on average. Someone suggested removing “dots” over the driver, but I see (using a flashlight) a few rectangular “patches” or whatever underneath the cloth inside the earcups. Not sure if I can remove any of those, but if those are treble dampeners it might help. I guess I’d have to remove the earpads first.

        • Reply April 28, 2014

          Dave Ulrich

          How is the impact?

          • Reply April 28, 2014

            dalethorn

            The impact is light. There’s no other way to say it. The complete seal of the massive earpads assures the best bass, and I have no trouble with any headphone getting a good fit and seal. So for anyone looking for impact who has used a Senn Amperior, Philips L1, v-moda M100, DT770-32, Soundmagic HP100, and others I’ve also used, the AD bass weight will be light compared to those, but may be more satisfactory in some cases because of the control and clarity. It’s hard to explain, other than when a lot of bass notes play on the AD, they get your attention in ways that the other headphones don’t because of the resolution and seemingly total lack of muddiness or hangover.

  • Reply May 13, 2014

    jxhyde

    What a great review
    I am waiting for may AD and i have questions about the amp i can use with it.
    I have read good things about the Schiit Asgard , the lake people G103 or 109.
    Which one could be the better choice in this price if i prefer a warm sound ?

    • Reply May 13, 2014

      L.

      Can’t go wrong with Violectric/Lake People. G109 review soon on headfonia!

      • Reply May 13, 2014

        Alex

        I am also waiting on my ADs you think Vali and Modi will be fine powering it?

        • Reply May 13, 2014

          L.

          I can’t comment on Schiit gear. I don’t like their sound

        • Reply May 13, 2014

          dalethorn

          I got OK results with the tiny little Portaphile Micro. I haven’t even looked up the power rating, but I imagine at least half the amps reviewed on this site would drive the AD OK, as long as there’s enough power.

  • Reply June 2, 2014

    Eugen

    I have a sneaking suspicion the NAD HP50 is what this headphone wants to be for half price. 🙂

    • Reply June 3, 2014

      dalethorn

      My understanding of the HP50 is it has that “room feel” kind of warm bass, while the AD is very lean.

    • Reply June 3, 2014

      L.

      I’ll have it on Thursday!

  • Reply August 20, 2014

    breizh

    Hi Mike and all,

    do you think it’s a real upgrade in comparison with the AKG K550 ?
    could you tell me the biggest differences in sound ?

    Thanks a lot
    richard

    • Reply August 20, 2014

      dalethorn

      The Alpha Dog is very neutral, and I’d even say quite lean in the bass compared to many popular headphones, but that depends on the bass port setting that you can also adjust. The biggest difference is hard to describe, but if you haven’t heard a planar headphone, be prepared for an immersive experience, where the quality and detail (especially in the bass) seem unlimited at times. Instead of just a piston driver (dynamic), you have a driver that delivers sound evenly across its whole surface. An analogy would be that the dynamic driver ‘speaks’ to you, but the planar driver really holds your attention. Pretty amazing.

      • Reply August 20, 2014

        L.

        good one Dale!

      • Reply August 20, 2014

        breizh

        Ok it’s clear, the planar technology is very appealing ! thanks a lot Dale !

  • Reply August 26, 2014

    Da_Shnutz

    Hi all,

    Am planning on getting a bottlehead Crack for my hd700 based on Headfonia’s recommendation. However, am planning on getting the Alpha Dog as my reference closed headphone.
    Knowing that the HD700 and the Alphas are quite different, yet wanted to take your advice on whether the Bottlehead Crack would work for the alpha’s also, or would i opt for the more powerful bottle head Single Ended experimenter’s to run both … Or just go for a completely different amplification setup for the Alpha dogs. (getting into DIY amp, so any suggestions wold be great)

    Thanks!… and as always Headfonia reviews, such a delight to read and reread..

    Over n out

    Da Shnutz.

    • Reply August 26, 2014

      L.

      Thanks. I really recommend the Crack for the HD700 but I doubt it will be good for the AD. I’d suggest to go the ss DIY route

      • Reply August 28, 2014

        Da_Shnutz

        Thanks L for the prompt response.. Will definitely look into ss DIY. !!

        On another note, I’ve read on several dac/amp combos such as the fostex hpa8 as well as the asus… In your opinion are those units recommended for alpha dog?
        If not, would appreciate just a suggestion on a really good dac and amp (not necessarily combo) for the alpha dog …

        Many thanks !

        • Reply August 28, 2014

          L.

          Burson, Violectric, maybe even the Lyr. just get it some power.

  • Reply November 24, 2014

    Damian Bonadonna

    Hello,

    I might have missed it but, what’s the difference with the Mad Dog Prime aside for almost double the price?

    Also, will the Dragonfly v1.2 give a decent amplification? I guess that cellphone regular jack is out of the question.

    Damián.

    • Reply November 24, 2014

      dalethorn

      Assume you meant Alpha Dog Prime – it’s what I’d like to know too, since I sold off the Alpha Dog.

      • Reply November 25, 2014

        Damian Bonadonna

        Yes, I was meaning the Alpha Dog… I’m just wondering, as I saw a promotion for free shipping now. The Alpha Dog is 600$ and the Prime is 1000$, that’s quite a difference. I know that audio is the law of diminishing returns… but is it 400$ better? I think 500/600 is the max I would invest and also I have a Dragonfly v1.2 which may or may not drive it properly. A better, dedicated amp is out of the question now… pretty happy with the Dragonfly.

        Seems that everyone is praising the Prime… but.. 1000$ mmmm… I’m looking for a closed back outstanding headphone so open ones are not an option.

        • Reply November 25, 2014

          dalethorn

          The Alpha Dog wasn’t a direct improvement over the Mad Dog – it was a completely different sound, so knowing more exactly the difference to the ADP would help. The AD mids were fine, but the bass was questionable unless you got the port tuned right. The highs were also shy above 9-10 khz, so knowing how the ADP improves that would help. You’ll get some sound out of the dragonfly, but not enough power to get the best from the AD or ADP.

          • Reply November 25, 2014

            Headfonia_L.

            The prime again is a new headphone. From the 3 it has th best detail, clarity, dynamics and soundstage. It’s a reference sound.

            Now I do was surprised when Dan told me it’s price (this was before it was available). I wouldn’t have figured it was going to cost $999. that being said it is a very good headphone that is of a higher level as the Alpha Dog.

            It’s up to you to decide if the improvements are worth the price.

            • Reply November 25, 2014

              dalethorn

              So what do you think about driving either one with a Dragonfly, or other miniature USB-powered DAC.

              • Reply November 25, 2014

                Headfonia_L.

                I would strongly advise against it. I suggest a desktop amp or a powerful portable

  • Reply December 12, 2014

    Zoltan

    Isn’t the Alpha Dog’s frequency response quite limited? I’m no expert, but 16Hz to 18KHz? For example the Beyerdynamic T1 is rated 5 – 50,000 Hz.

    • Reply December 12, 2014

      dalethorn

      What’s the point of 18 khz when that frequency is recessed 20 db compared to 9 khz? Frequencies above 10-12 khz are “air” frequencies, i.e. harmonics only, and if those are very recessed, the sound deadens – for some people it’s very subtle and for others dramatic.

      • Reply December 16, 2014

        Zoltan

        Thank you fo your answer. However, in light of this, I don’t understand what is the “use” of the much higher frequencies (50-60.000 Hz) that other headphones are capable of reproducing if even this 18khz limit is “pointless”?

        • Reply December 16, 2014

          dalethorn

          Normally it’s expected that the higher number means that the upper “air” freq’s won’t be truncated, like happens with MP3 compression. But while headphones like the Senn HD800 or Stax SR009 really go high up, the Alpha Dog response is so weak at 10-15 khz that the higher numbers have no meaning.

  • Reply December 18, 2014

    Warren Nguyen

    Which one should I pick?
    Alpha Dog
    New Alpha Prime
    or TH900
    I am stuck between these 3…

    I am about to join Massdrop for TH900 at $1179 AUD.
    *I have Fostex HPA8 and Woo Audio WA6 as my system.
    HELP!!!

    • Reply December 19, 2014

      dalethorn

      Clearly the TH900. The AD’s are just mods, and at $1000 for the Prime, their value is being stretched to the limit and beyond. OTOH, the 900 is not a mod, and the price is a tremendous bargain. I got some deals from Massdrop, and no regrets.

  • Reply December 20, 2014

    Worth Talley

    Alpha prime review sometime soon?

  • Reply January 7, 2015

    Tronco

    I just got my hands on a slightly used Alpha Dog for a very good price. I wasn’t planning on buying another Headphone so soon since I just got a Beyer T70P but I am sooo happy I did. If you are looking for a closed back headphone for a fair price, don’t look any further. This is it.

    Just, wow!

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