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MrSpeakers Mad Dog Fostex T50RP Headphones Review

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The amplifiers used for this review included the Sennheiser HDVD800, Violectric V200 and the Decware Taboo MkIII. The headphones I used for comparison were the closed Audio Technica 3000ANV, Beyerdynamic 770 80 ohms and the open LCD2.2. The source I used was the Oppo BDP95 and an iMac computer. Interconnects and power cords were Nordost Blue Heaven, as was the USB cable used for the iMac. The Oppo BDP95 was used via both single-ended and balanced connections alternately with the amplifiers mentioned above.


Listening to the Mad Dog was very surprising. It had a sound signature that was very similar to the Audeze LCD 2.2. The Mad Dog had the warmer sound that is typical from planar magnetic designs, but had a transparent sound not usually found in headphones in this price range. The presentation was very refined and never sounded harsh or offensive. The headphone had a smooth sounding and very addictive signature. There was no hint of any grain in its sound. The musicality heard from the Mad Dog was exemplary.

While listening to Celtic Woman’s album Believe, I could hear the outstanding female vocals very clearly. They were transparent and I could hear the inner detail of the female voices. The Mad Dog made female vocals sound very seductive. The vocals from track three “Sailing” with Chloe Agnew, Lynn Hillary, Lisa Kelly and fiddler Mariaread Nesbitt was a real treat. The vocals were outstanding. The fiddle playing brought me closer to the music. Nesbitt’s playing was phenomenal. The Irish Film Orchestra is also featured on this album. The music was so relaxing and very easy to listen to.

The Mad Dog’s mid range is top shelf. It is very natural sounding.

On “Bridge Over Troubled Water” I could hear clearly the chorus In the rear of the sound stage and Chloe Agnew’s focused vocals were in the front of the sound stage.

Chris Botti’s Live in Boston album is a well-recorded production. The album was recorded in Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops and is terrific. The acoustics of the hall are especially well preserved in this album, and are readily heard with the right transducer such as the Mad Dogs. The sound stage through the Mad Dog, however, is not as deep as with the other closed headphones I used for comparison. The Beyer 770 and the Audeze LCD 2 provided a bigger sound stage with more depth and more air. The At3000 had an even wider and deeper soundstage than either of the above and was very similar to the LCD2.2 open headphone.

Still, the Beyer 770 does not have the refinement of the Mad Dog. The music sounded better on the Mad Dog and much more real. In addition to a better sound stage, the Audeze LCD 2 had more air and space around the musicians. The sound stage was also wider and deeper. The LCD2 retail price is $1,000 and is a more refined headphone with greater detail. The Mad Dog for one-third the price held its ground very well with the AT3000 and the LCD2, and was a class above the Beyer 770.

The Mad Dog had a very balanced sound. The bass goes deep and is tuneful. The treble never sounded harsh. The Sennheiser HDVD800 had the power to drive the Mad Dog to comfortable listening levels without stress.

Switching over to the Decware MK III Taboo provided more power into the 50-ohm load and the headphone benefitted from the Mk111’s power. The sound stage extended a little wider with the Mk111 than it did with the Sennheiser HDVD800. The Mad Dog responds well to more power. Planar headphones in general will be able to handle as much power as you can feed them and will have a better and more open soundstage. The Violectric V200 had even more power at a rated 2.7 watts. The sound improved with the additional power and opened the Mad Dog headphones up more. The Mad Dog let me hear differences in equipment changes easily.

The experience is a testament to how transparent this baby dog can be. It will let you know how the amplifiers and sources you feed it sound and will let you hear differences in the gear you are using. The Mad Dog sounded like headphones that cost two or three times more, sounding excellent with any type of music I played. The Mad Dog is an excellent all-around headphone. It will perform well whether you are listening to vocals or to a symphony orchestra. It made me want to dance and had my toes tapping when the Daft Punk album Random Access Memories was spinning.

Listening to Diana Krall’s outstanding album Love Scenes, I was lured into her sexy vocal and felt like I was listening to a set of lullabies. The Mad Dog sound on female vocals is very special. Diana sounded so lifelike and real.

MrSpeakers Mad Dog Fostex T50RP Headphones


Dan Clark has done an outstanding job of making the Fostex T50RP a contender for the best-closed headphone value in the industry. The many hours I spent listening to this closed headphone brought me great enjoyment. The transparency and overall balanced performance in this price range are unmatched by any other product I have heard. When driven properly they scale up and perform as well as headphones that cost much more.

Dan Clark’s project is a success and for anyone looking for a closed headphone, the Mad Dog is a must-audition. There are no other closed planar headphones except for other modified Fostex T50RP’s. Dan Clark’s Mad Dog headphone will bring you closer to the music. The music just flows. The popularity of the Mad Dog is well deserved, you would be hard pressed to find a better-closed headphone for the asking price of $299. They are sold direct at and is an outstanding value.

19 Responses to MrSpeakers Mad Dog Fostex T50RP Headphones Review

  1. Looks good Frank – might have to try a pair for myself one of these days!

  2. Frank Iacone says:

    Hi John,

    Glad you liked the review

  3. thegunner100 says:

    Nice review! I was considering trying out the mad dogs and the paradox, but I found a pair of used paradox and went for those instead. If you could get a comparison between the two, that would be great!

  4. Frank Iacone says:

    Thanks for the kind words. I have not heard the Paradox yet.

  5. baka1969 says:

    Great review Frank. I’ll be anticipating your future reviews. Props.

  6. Frank Iacone says:

    Glad you liked it Ross. It was fun doing it.

  7. MacedonianHero says:

    Another fantastic review Frank…as usual. Thanks!

  8. magiccabbage says:

    Another great review. Will you be doing one on the WA5?

    • Frank Iacone says:

      Thanks. I will be reviewing the WA5 from Woo in a few months. I am looking forward to that product. It is the speaker and headphone amplifier. I should be getting it at the end of this month.

  9. Frank Iacone says:

    Thank Peter. Glad you liked it

  10. Dubstep Girl says:

    Another excellent review Frank!!!!!

    never got into the whole t50rp thing, but good to know theres cheaper alternatives to the LCD-2 out there.

  11. Warren Chi says:

    I’ve been a fan of Dan’s Mad Dogs – through several iterations – for some time now. If any of you have the stock T50RP, and you’re not a big fan of it, you should really try to audition them asap. I think you’ll be amazed at what a profound change his Mad Dogs are. I’d already have them if it wasn’t so hard scraping together an extra $300 together these days. Go Dan!

  12. Frank Iacone says:

    The Mad Dogs are a good value and for a closed phone very refined for the money.
    Thanks for the comments Warren and Dubstep Girl for the kind word also

  13. moodyrn says:

    Great review Frank! After listening to these recently, I pretty much agree with everything you said. I’m very close to trying to get my hands on a pair, but need to listen to the paradox before making a final decsion. But very well done!

  14. Lee Shelly says:

    Good stuff Frank! I need to hear these!

  15. David Cope says:

    I first heard the Mad Dog phones at the NY Audio Show and was astonished at the sound quality, particularly for the price. This was through the Schitt Audio Mjolnir. Yes, I liked the Audeze 3 through the Mal(something) amp, but that was$5k+, whereas the Mad Dog/Mjolnir combo was under $1,200.

    I bought the Mad Dog Balanced ‘phones Saturday at Dan’s booth at the Calif Audio Show and will be ordering a Mjolnir when I get home.

    The combo is fantastically musical, well-balanced and the ‘phones are built for all day comfort. Can’t wait to spend more time with them!

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