CanMania 2014: MrSpeakers brings the big dogs, howls at the moon


CanManiaMrSpeakers, is clearly on a mission. His flagship headphones, the Alpha Dog, is actually famous — it’s the first headphone to use 3D printing, in this case, in creating the highly sophisticated closed-back ear cup on the headphones. The sound of these headphones is, to near universal acclaim, class-leading in its price category — the $600 Alpha Dog is one of my default recommendations for anyone interested in what the high-end of headphone-base audio is all about.

Recently, MrSpeakers released a headphone slotted between his first effort — the $300 Mad Dog — and the flagship Alpha. The new headphone, called Mad Dog Pro, looks a lot like (as in, almost identical to) the Mad Dog, but sounds a lot like the Alpha. I think the Alpha clearly edges it out on the particulars of consequence, but the Pro gets close enough to make you salivate. Okay, maybe that’s just me. But at at $450, this is a winner. Super comfy with involving and articulate sound, the new Pro is a must-listen. Bow wow!

Dan was showing off his line, including the new deep black version of the Alpha Dog, driven from a set of electronics from Schiit Audio, the $750 Mjolnir amp and the $750 Gugnir DAC. The sound, with black Alphas, was extraordinary — deep silences, punchy bass and fine air … this was a system that made me wonder whether spending $2,000 anywhere else at this show would actually get me more. I’ll be honest, Schiit is a brand I don’t have a lot of familiarity with, and that’s clearly my loss. I’m pretty sure they’re breaking a rule, written down somewhere, that sound like this is supposed to cost more. Those jerks.

For comparisons, there was also a Woo Audio WA6SE driven by an Auralic Vega DAC. This system was more than 2x the cost of the Schiit system, and while it wasn’t anything like twice as good, it was different. Tubes vs solid state isn’t exactly a fair way to cut this onion, but there was some softness not present in the Schiit stack, but with that, some tonal roundness. I’ve spents some time with that Woo amplifier and it’s an excellent piece of kit, and the Auralic Vega is a class-leader in itself. It was really fun to hear how clearly the Alphas were able to pull these two systems apart.

Reference level sound at prices that make many vendors gnash their teeth, that’s got to be a good thing for us consumers. Color me a fan — I’m really digging what MrSpeakers is up to and can’t wait to catch them at RMAF.