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AXPONA 2014: MrSpeakers brings out the Dog Pack

CT6A6175 It's possible that you don't know who the smiling gent is, pictured here, holding the leash on his flagship product, the $599 Alpha Dog. This product has two interesting distinctions: one, it's widely acclaimed as one of the best closed-back headphones you can purchase today; and two, it has this nifty 3-D printed ear cup that designer Dan Clark says is not only more expensive to make than using traditional methods, it takes longer. Clearly, there's a reason for the effort -- and the MrSpeakers owner is happy to elaborate. There's really no other way to create that kind of internal structure -- and it's that structure, that rigid, reinforced and sonically excellent casing, that is responsible for the product's lofty regard. Well, that and the subversive pricing. Seriously. There's nothing out there that can touch this headphone at anywhere near this price. But that wasn't the news here at AXPONA.

No, here we got introduced to the newest puppy in the litter — the $449 Mad Dog Pro.

Slotting neatly between his breakthrough “entry-level” $299 Mad Dog and the top Alpha Dog, the Pro is an extraordinarily comfortable can. A Fostex mod like the rest of the litter, the Pro sounds far more like the Alpha than it does the Mad Dog. In fact, maybe uncomfortably close — this is a hot little minx. Very easy on the ears, with good extension and a totally non-fatiguing presentation; color me impressed. This segment just keeps getting better and better.

What’s new with the Pro?

The Pro takes the core Mad Dog headphone and incorporates the baffle and ear pad mounting system of the Alpha Dog, creating a phone that sonically falls right between the warmth of the Mad Dog and the spacious and dynamic sound of the Alpha.

The Mad Dog has a slightly “fun” audiophile tuning to it. There’s a touch of extra bass that makes listening to music a lot of fun, without drowning out the mids and highs essential to a great experience. We don’t crank up the bass until your ear drums implode, we deliver deep, articulate bass balanced with the rest of the music. The Mad Dog Pro opens up the soundstage for a more immersive experience, while adding speed and slam to the bass. It’s a great phone for EDM that is also an excellent all-around performer.

There’s another newbie, or rather, a variation on a theme — a new color for the Alpha Dog: Gloss Metallic Black.

Last bit I picked up on was the Doggie Treats. A $15 tweak package, the Treats are a set of pads and “tuning dots” that users can use to tweak the performance of their MrSpeakers headphones. The kit includes:

  • 4 tuning dots to apply to the “ear side” of the driver
  • 4 felt discs that can be inserted under the ear pad without removing the pads from the headphones.

The materials serve different purposes. The tuning dots will smooth the treble response, making it less peaky. It has a minimal effect on the overall brightness of the treble. The felt discs reduce all treble above about 3,000Hz by about 1 dB for one disc and up to 3 dB for two discs.

You can test the materials in any combination (only dots, only felt, 1 dot 1felt, etc) to shape the sound to your specific preference. A youtube video will be posted shortly showing how the materials are installed.

I’m going to be trying them on my personal pair of Alpha Dogs, see what’s what. More soon.

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Mad Dog Pro

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Alpha Dog in Gloss Metallic Black

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Cavalli Audio Liquid Glass, Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies, Auralic VEGA DAC, and an Astell&Kern AK120 digital player

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Alpha Dog in Black, Mad Dog Pro, Alpha Dog in Claret

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HiFi+ Editor Chris Martens investigating the MrSpeakers Lineup

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Doggie Treats on the Alpha Dogs

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About Scot Hull (975 Articles)
Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.