Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?

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neobop

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #20 on: 14 May 2014, 10:04 pm »
I wouldn't call the Alpha Dog more neutral necessarily. Compared to the king of neutral (in spite of alleged brightness), the HD800, the AD is weaker in the bass and very weak in the treble, with a steep rolloff above 9-10 khz - unacceptable for a rating as 'neutral'.

I once saw the response curve of a T50rp.  It looked like a straight line rolled off at each end.  I also saw curves of a couple of examples of Thunderpants.  The treble came back up with a Beyer's type peak in the treble, but it didn't go beyond the 0 dB line.

I don't think this driver is appropriate for the enclosure.  With a vented enclosure my T50 have great bass.  The AD look cool, but a bigger sealed enclosure won't do much in the bass department.  You'll get more extension, maybe some boom, but it will still roll off and lack midbass punch. 

Extra thick pads will put your ear further away from the driver and seems to defeat any treble extension from modifications (if there is any).  A set of Shure 840 pads with the center foam removed, are just about perfect with a modified stock enclosure.  Without the Thunderpants treble dot mod the extreme high end will still roll off, but subjectively it doesn't seem like anything's missing. 

From what I've read, I suspect the Alpha Dogs have gone beyond the capability of the driver.
neo   

brother love

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #21 on: 14 May 2014, 11:33 pm »
Mr. Speakers posted an Alpha Dog frequency response graph in post # 2927 of the Head-fi Alpha Dog thread:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/676095/mrspeakers-alpha-dog-revealed-the-worlds-first-production-3d-printed-headphones/2925#post_9891818

I'm not sure where the bass boost is at on the graph dalethorn, but there is rolled-off treble.

As of late, the Alpha Dogs have a tweaking kit with tuning dots & discs to tailor the sound slightly. Mr. Speakers now installs 1-2 tuning dots on new Alpha Dogs that addresses the 1.5 kHz slight roll-off.

jtwrace

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #22 on: 14 May 2014, 11:37 pm »
Further, if you ask Dan for an Alpha, he'll show it to you too.  He does every pair of Alpha's himself.

neobop

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #23 on: 15 May 2014, 01:36 am »
Based on my last 50 or so headphones, the industry standard "economy" design seems to be to recess the treble to hide the inevitable colorations. The Alpha Dog with a judicious and modest bass boost offers a nice bass sound with superior detail (compared to the other headphones I have). No complaints there. It would have been better if MrSpeakers were telling customers in advance "If you want bass like headphone x, y, z …. etc. then I'll set the bass control to that level before sending you the headphone". But apparently that's too difficult or problematic for him, yet the current solution seems worse to me, going for minimum bass. The Mad Dog was excellent, especially for the price. The Alpha Dog treble is OK with some EQ, but then I didn't expect miracles for $600. So for the price I got a beautiful handmade work of art that sounds very good with the sonic adjustments. I wouldn't defile this object d'art with someone else's earpads. I paid $600 for a Grado PS500, paid $700 for a Shure 1840 - the Alpha Dog doesn't seem like a worse deal than those two.

Well, I didn't say anything about their relative value, only about the appropriateness of the enclosure.  I've never heard a pair of ADs, so my comment is based on your perceptions.  In your post and review, you indicated the bass was somewhat less than desired.  This is meaningful to me as I often listen without EQ available.  I also wasn't suggesting 840 ear pads for the AD.  I don't even know if they will fit.  Although, the thicker the pad, the more distant the sound.

I read an article or something, that suggested these drivers are modified.  There were no details.  Do you know anything about this?
neo


brother love

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #24 on: 15 May 2014, 10:22 am »
Sorry dalethorn, I misread your early post thinking you said the AD's have a bass boost vs. you adding a bass boost.

The Alpha Dogs have a 1 yr. transferrable warranty. The warranty is NOT voided if you adjust the bass tuning screws.  They also offer a 15 day return policy.

Mr. Speakers does charge a small fee to re-tune the Alpha Dogs however. Post # 6684:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/676095/mrspeakers-alpha-dog-revealed-the-worlds-first-production-3d-printed-headphones/6675#post_10476682

Dan / Mr. Speakers should update his website to include more details like this.

brother love

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #25 on: 15 May 2014, 03:06 pm »
Uh, the public post by Mr. Speakers re: Alpha Dogs warranty that I referenced is in black & white.

Check * Asteriks section:  https://mrspeakers.com/mrspeakers-alpha-dog-headphones/

It states the paint around the bass adjustment screw & the headphone tuning are not warranted if screw is adjusted. That's it, everything else is still warranted for the Alpha Dog's.

Personally, I think the AD bass is fantastic & have no desire to tinker with the bass adjustment screws. Just clarifying AD warranty details is all ...

neobop

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #26 on: 15 May 2014, 03:16 pm »
I don't know how Dan would modify a driver. The use of a large accurately-printed earcup gives MrSpeakers great flexibility in tuning the sound. Basically the more space that's inside the earcup the more tuning and damping materials you can add to get to where you want. I can understand a lean sort of neutral sound to satisfy a narrow demographic, and a $600 headphone is already a narrow demographic, so with narrow-of-narrow there should be very few preferences for the signature they chose for the Alpha Dog. I don't remember reading anywhere that MrSpeakers targeted this kind of sound, only that he offered the bass tuning, then denied warranty if anyone decided to apply it. This sort of thing is why a lot of small businesses fail - for twice the price of the Mad Dog the Alpha Dog should be twice as good for music, since this design with the steep rolloff in the upper treble is never going to compete with flagship headphones that are regarded as accurate or neutral. The Alpha Dog has a semblance or aura of neutral, but it's just skin deep.

The allusion to modified drivers is from here:
http://hometheaterreview.com/mrspeakers-alpha-dog-over-the-ear-headphones/

"The Alpha Dog headphones are an around-the-ear closed-cup design that utilizes a complete seal around the ears to deliver maximum physical isolation. The Alpha Dog's basic driver components are the same as those of the Fostex T50RP headphone, but the driver is completely rebuilt with modifications by MrSpeakers. The stock Fostex RP driver employs a diaphragm material made of foil-etched polyimide film that is formed in a special zigzag pattern. This zigzag foil pattern reduces frequency peaks, especially in upper ranges, when compared with similar drivers using a straight patterned foil. The Fostex RP driver also employs neodymium magnets that deliver three times the flux density of conventional magnet designs. The original driver's specifications claim a frequency response of 15 Hz to 35 kHz with a maximum input of 3000 mW and 50-ohm impedance."

Maybe the headphones/baffle are rebuilt and not the driver?  I doubt if the drivers are "completely rebuilt", but I'm still wondering what, if anything is done to the drivers themselves.

These are sealed cups and the tuning screw adjusts the interior volume?  I doubt if bass quality/quantity can ever be "perfect", but everyone has their own idea about that.  Maybe now you'll give it a shot and let us know? 
neo


MrSpeakers

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #27 on: 15 May 2014, 04:00 pm »
Based on my last 50 or so headphones, the industry standard "economy" design seems to be to recess the treble to hide the inevitable colorations. The Alpha Dog with a judicious and modest bass boost offers a nice bass sound with superior detail (compared to the other headphones I have). No complaints there. It would have been better if MrSpeakers were telling customers in advance "If you want bass like headphone x, y, z …. etc. then I'll set the bass control to that level before sending you the headphone". But apparently that's too difficult or problematic for him, yet the current solution seems worse to me, going for minimum bass. The Mad Dog was excellent, especially for the price.

Hi...  There have been a few direct questions or comments in this thread, so I thought I'd try to answer. 

We don't set for "minimum" bass, we set for neutral, which if the phone is fitting right is just slightly elevated.  Minimum bass would be to close the vent.  Bass "neutrality" is a tricky area because there are pretty wide perceptions of what neutral actually is, and it's not just that it measure a certain way below 200Hz. 

One theory about bass perception is called bone conduction. Some people are more sensitive to what is called bone conduction, and in essence they perceive the vibration in the skull bones from bass and that contributes to the sense of amplitude, yet others are decouple the bone/ear.  The net effect is that headphones don't shake your physical body the way speakers do, and some people "hear" this difference while others don't. 

It truly fascinates me to watch how different people react to the sound of the phones, and once in a while to see someone whose perception is very different.  I have plenty of experience watching people listen to the headphones, and there are always about 5-10% who feel the Mad Dog is more natural sounding. 

Regarding voicing: I voice the phones to be what I perceive as neutral based on live acoustic music, and then we work out to the extremes.  My experience is most people find my neutral to be neutral, but some find it bright, and others find it dark.  We tune using measurements, tones and music to cross check each unit.  Generally my rule of thumb is that this indicates I'm in the middle, but there's no doubt that ear structure, hearing acuity, and associated gear will affect the perception and can tilt a phone that is "in the middle" to one person to be bright or dark for another. 

Regarding the set screw and warranty, it is really not a problem to use the bass screw.  We put the warning out as some people will adjust it, forget what they did and send it back to be retuned calling it warranty.  But it's quite simple and safe to use, and should you ever really "get lost" we'll retune for $30 plus shipping.  So sure, if you use the screw and a cup falls off for unrelated reasons, we'll naturally cover it.  The good news is to date we have only had two warranty repairs on Alphas, both of which were wires rattling against the driver, so we changed our attachment method (ok, we have also had two cable failures).

I suggest one full turn counter-clockwise on each side.  That should give you about a 2 dB lift below 150Hz.  If you don't have them, it's worth trying out the Doggie Treats to tune the highs a little.  Especially if you are using a bright amplifier or DAC, one disc will tame the highs and allow a warmer balance without getting outright dark, and 2 will push to dark.  It's direct experience for me that about 1/3+ find "as is" to be best, 1/3 prefer 1 disc, and 1/3 (maybe a bit less) like 2 discs to "go dark."  I often find myself putting a disc in/out to adjust for a specific album.  It only takes about 5 seconds, and then if I hit a bright album I take it in, if it's darker, I take it out. 

For people who want an increase in bass output (due to taste or bone conduction or whatever) I recommend the Mad Dog Pro, which has a warmer tilt, and it's much resolving than the Mad Dog, with a larger soundstage. 

Lastly, the reason we don't do custom voicing at the factory is that then when someone buys a used phone they really have no idea what they're getting if our tuning is all over the map.  If an owner adjusts and writes the adjustment down they can reset it to factory.

I'll put a few measurements up on our website when I have time, maybe this weekend.  Thanks for the interesting discussion! 


neobop

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #28 on: 15 May 2014, 07:34 pm »
I doubt if he's saying anything like that.  MrSpeakers isn't really a headphone manufacturer, well maybe he is now, but the point is, he buys Fostex drivers to make Alpha and buys the complete T50rp to make Mad Dog.
The AD phones are more expensive to make.  They have those pretty 3D cups, plush pads, wiring mods, and he might make new driver mounting baffles.  Calibration is time consuming and I would imagine the drivers have to be run-in first.  That's what you're paying for and they look like $1K phones.  In all fairness, the Ortho drivers sound great. 

The bass may be a little light for your taste, but guys like Brother Love think it's just fine.  I suspect the tuning screw won't be 100% satisfactory, but how do they respond to EQ ?

While I think the driver isn't well suited for a sealed enclosure, you do get isolation.  Who knows, maybe MrSpeakers will come out with a 3D printed transmission line called Wild Dog or some such, but you'll have to sacrifice isolation.
neo

jtwrace

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #29 on: 15 May 2014, 10:14 pm »
The message MrSpeakers gives is that 1) If you not "technically inclined" do not change the screw, else the system will have to be retuned by MrSpeakers due to incorrect adjustment. I don't have the equipment to do a factory calibration, and BTW you can see on the headphone that each driver is individually calibrated with that kind of gear. 2) MrSpeakers says they rebuild the drivers, but it's extremely doubtful that they could remove the diaphragm that contains the magnets. But given the technicals behind the 3D printed earcups, fitting the drivers into those earcups may have required some re-shaping etc. - all proprietary info I'm sure.

The bottom line is, MrSpeakers set out a tuning for the Alpha Dog that's at odds with anything I know of that pretends to be a flagship (or even neutral) headphone. I don't expect it to be as good as a Sennheiser HD800, but given that the $250 or so Shure 940 tuning is very close to the HD800 and the Alpha Dog isn't, I have to wonder what he was thinking. Is he saying (cynically and not explicitly) that the Mad Dog was tuned for lower-class listeners?
I believe that you're wrong here.  First, there is no doubt in my mind that what Dan is doing here isn't marketing the Mad Dog for "lower-class listeners" as you say.  The fact that is some people like the 100Hz boost in the low end.  He is providing a stellar phone for $300 instead of the $600 for the Alpha's.  Depending on taste of sonics and music, that will be the deciding factor.  Sure, budget as well for some.  Second, what Dan does for sending the Mad Dog's back in to have them converted to Alpha's for the cost difference is AWESOME.  Very few people in audio do such a thing and I commend Dan for doing so. 


I met Dan at a headphone meet and spent literally 2.5 hrs listening to his systems and headphones.  He doesn't strike me as someone is would do something as you say.  He couldn't have been more pleasant and helpful and never once even pushed selling anything.  I asked if he had a pair to sell and he just said you can order online.  That's not pushy to me.   :)


As for neutral or not neutral.  Again, if you look at the FR graph's the AD's are clearly neutral and the Mad Dogs aren't.  They have the bass boost.  For me, I prefer the AD's as they're closer to my 2 ch system which has been optimized for neutrality through many many measurements. 



jtwrace

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #30 on: 16 May 2014, 12:44 am »
I believe you're wrong.  In spite of your defense of Dan's character, I gave his AD a rave review, only pointing out specific things in the frequency response that are verifiable.  It's easy to focus on my bass comment with the notion that "some people like it", and then ignore the treble rolloff. 
Since there is no scientific way to know if one can hear above 8Khz, there is no treble rolloff. 

Quote
Still, I gave it a rave review.  I think it's the best $600 deal I ever got.  But I don't recall in looking over the MrSpeakers website (sales site) that he made it clear that these are targeted at different audiences in sound "taste", other than according to what people can afford.
You used these words though:
Is he saying (cynically and not explicitly) that the Mad Dog was tuned for lower-class listeners?

Quote
There's a very important reason why FR graphs are misinterpreted, and that's because when one part of the range is adjusted (say you have a weak treble and boost it) then the perceived strength of the other end is changed.  You can argue that to eternity, but unless you have a 'perfect' response, these things get more complex than just a line on a graph.
Uh, I completely understand how this all works.  Thanks though. 

jtwrace

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #31 on: 16 May 2014, 02:25 am »
Twilight zone.
:lol:  Nope.  Dr. Earl Geddes and Dr. Lydia Lee have spoken about this. many times.  Dr. Lee is an audiologist who is also a professor. 

G Georgopoulos

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #32 on: 16 May 2014, 02:38 am »
The upper hearable limit is 16khz... :green:

neobop

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #33 on: 16 May 2014, 03:44 am »
Since there is no scientific way to know if one can hear above 8Khz, there is no treble rolloff. 
You used these words though:Uh, I completely understand how this all works.  Thanks though.

They say a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  There are other doctors and scientists who don't accept the limitations of an audiologist.  We also hear with the bones around our ears and the cornea of our eyes, maybe not corneas and headphones though.  There are hair receptors in our ears that correspond to 100KHz.  Maybe we hear that or it affects us on a subconscious level, but if you want to keep this on the audio band level, there are overtones above 8KHz that impact on what's below 8KHz.  That's why the classic rising high end (above 10KHz) of moving coil cartridges have a noticeably different sound. 

Headphone response graphs are subject to interpretation.  Go to Inner Fidelity and you'll see a different graph than Golden Ears Headphone Reviews, for the same phones.  Most people agree that a rising low end is needed to compensate for loss of impact with phones.  Golden Ears target response is up 5dB at 20Hz. 

If you like the bass response of your Alphas, that's great.  I read these reviews to get an idea of response compared to others and I think Dale ran that down well.
neo


jtwrace

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #34 on: 16 May 2014, 11:00 am »
Just a note about the "cynical" comment below (or above if you sort first-up): I never intended to state that Dan of MrSpeakers is actually cynical. I put that out as a truth-challenge to someone I felt was trolling.

Who are you referring to here? 

neobop

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #35 on: 16 May 2014, 01:02 pm »
Why should one of these be right and the other wrong?  Don't different models of the same brand have a different response?

The notion of perfect neutrality is a myth, especially with bass on phones.  I'd think that would be obvious with the variety of opinion.

One person's opinion must be discounted because of differences in fit, amplification, and source material.  If a reviewer is articulate and can describe perceived differences with other phones, maybe you can get an idea of what to expect, maybe not.  Haven't we all bought audio equipment and had different results than expected?  That might be more likely with phones, not less. 
neo


brother love

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #36 on: 16 May 2014, 01:45 pm »
But I don't recall in looking over the MrSpeakers website (sales site) that he made it clear that these are targeted at different audiences in sound "taste", other than according to what people can afford.

Extracted from Mr. Speakers website:

Mad Dog vs. Alpha Dog

We love the Mad Dog for its rich and detailed mids, slightly darker sound and really fun bass presence. The Alpha Dog builds upon this heritage and adds a more open and transparent sound, with faster, more linear bass and a smoother, more nuanced top end with more “air.”

metaldood

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #37 on: 26 May 2014, 04:47 pm »
My Schiit Magni and Fiio E12(w/ 16db Gain) run the Alpha Dogs just fine.

jibzilla

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Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #38 on: 8 Jun 2014, 01:21 am »
A real bang for the buck option is the mad dog 3.2 with the schiit magni. I do not know about the alpha dog but that I would be very surprised if someone did not like the magni and mad dog for $400.

milford3

Re: Amp for Alpha Dog Headphone?
« Reply #39 on: 8 Jun 2014, 01:37 am »
My Schiit Magni and Fiio E12(w/ 16db Gain) run the Alpha Dogs just fine.


The Schiit line up is wonderful.  The Schiit will fulfill your headphone needs. I have the Lyr and it will drive any can on the market, bar none!