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The Neoteric Listener - The MrSpeakers Mad Dog Pro Headphones

07-17-2015 | By Dean Seislove | Issue 80

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"You paid too much for that junk! Take off those fake Vanilla Ice headphones and put on a pair of the real deal!" That's what I'd like to shout when I see somebody sporting one of those garish, neon metallic McHeadphones. Granted, that's hardly polite or inclusive, and who am I to go Grandpa Simpson on some poor soul who digs personalized ear thumpers? All I know is, I spend more time than most surrounded by headbumpin' diehards devoted to the headphones of Apple's newest subsidiary, and you would think that this would be a golden opportunity for me convert the iFidels by taking out an attache' case filled with some of the cool headphones covered in Positive Feedback. But I don't, at least, not anymore. Believe me, I've tried, but the naked truth is, for many of those used to monster sized sound, the high end cans seem…like something your dad wears when he sits out on the porch, "listening to his boring jazz trio" (a quote directed at me right between my eyes). Hey, I blew up plenty of car speakers in my day, so who am I to begrudge a pair of cans that whomp the bejeezus out of your eardrums? Still, there must be some way to make a headphones that sounds great when worn by those whose average decibel level and body temperature are the same.

Enter Dan Clark, of MrSpeaker's headphones fame. He quickly recognized that plenty of people want headphones with a little boost in the bass, so he modified his Mad Dog headphones (themselves a modded version of the Fostex T50RP model) to create a product that  "sonically falls right between the warmth of the Mad Dog and the spacious and dynamic sound of the Alpha." Before you shout, "Aha! Sell out!" let me clarify that the Mad Dog Pros (Pro and Pros are both referenced in the website, and I like the sound of Pros better) are still nicely balanced, nuanced, and agile in conveying instruments and vocals fully shaded. But there's no mistaking that the Pros give a touch of kick ass to your tunes. Even so, think brawny, not boomy, because there's no Beat-down here. To illustrate, the Mad Dog Pros are perfect for dreamy electronic grooves like Air's "Talisman," because the synthesized floor toms, vibes, and Moog tones need the Mad Dog Pros torque to avoid sounding like shallow ringtones.

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After all, no headphones are perfect, and even the top of the line headphones can sound a tad anemic with some genres and selections. For example, although I'm merely a tourist in the Electronica landscape, anyone who lives and breathes deadmau5 and the like should demand a pair of Mad Dog Pros as an inalienable right. And though I'm no grandpa, I certainly have an old timer's taste in roots, rock, and blues music.The blasting guitar chord that kicks off David Bowie's "Jean Jeanie" can intimidate speakers a whole lot bigger than the little ones sitting inside a pair of headphones. Despite gibes from the Starbuck's clerk when he sells me the next, best classic rock reissue, there's nothing boring about a Les Paul howling through a big stack, especially when its located about a quarter inch from your eardrums. The Mad Dog Pros convey all the squeals and growls that you could want from this rig, and that's really the heart of these headphones. They may not convey all the audiophile subtleties of the Alpha Dogs, but they're killer for those who love The Killers…or Kendrick Lamar..or any artist whose show requires an app to get in, and not a contribution to PBS. 

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Anyway, even though some headphones require ages of listening to get used to, you can dial up the Mad Dog Pros right off the bat. A little break in always helps, but it only takes a first listen to that are perfect for people of any age who lives to rave up, chill down, or rock out. Ok, that might be overstating it a bit, because the bass lift is actually more of a suggestion than a court order. It would be closer to the mark to say that this is a headphone of high end quality, but with a little added attitude to make them appealing for anyone who who is not a member of the flat measurement brigade. Also, to me, the Mad Dog Pros in transit sit a little heavy on my head, but their pads and comfort strap make them very amenable to long-term listening. By now, it's well known that MrSpeakers headphones deliver immediacy and tone to rival the top performers at a third of the price. These newest models from down San Diego way continue the tradition. However, if the Mad Dogs are the great mid-price all-rounder, the Alpha Dogs the audiophile choice, and the Ether the newest headphone statement, know that the Mad Dog Pros are a meaty muscle car that powers your music full throttle. Next time you want to say to someone who just bought a pair of big box headphones, "I know something that will blow away those ear blasters!" Hand ‘em a pair of the Mad Dog Pros. 

MrSpeakers Mad Dog Pro Headphones

Retail: $449

www.mrspeakers.com

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