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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.4 in direct/integer mode, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega [on loan], AIFF-loaded iPod Classic 160GB, AIFF-loaded Astell & Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio
Headphone amps:
Bakoon AMP-11R, Burson Conductor, April Music Eximus DP1, ALO Audio International
Headphones: Audez'e LCD-2, Sennheiser HD-800, AKG K702, Beyerdynamic T1 and T5p (all rewired by ALO Audio), HifiMan HE-500 & HE6, Focal Spirit One, Aëdle VK-1
Headphone stands: Klutz Design CanCan, Sieveking Sound Omega, ALO Audio T
Review component retail: $300

What's in a name? Depends on the name. If it's Fostex, you'd think major Japanese corporation. Super tweeters. Small widebanders with funny-looking surrounds. A mixer. Pro monitors. Perhaps even planarmagnetic headphones. A real geek might add Denon as in, Fostex OEM'd their headphones. If it's Mad Dog, you should be thinking rabies. Stay far away. But boot lovers into Lucchese would think of a particular leather finish instead. And in our context it's actually a Fostex T50rp modified by one Dan Clark of MrSpeakers™. In the late 1990s he worked on Platinum Audio speakers after their new management had ousted former engineer and founder Phil Jones. Hence his company's speaker rather than headphone name.

Spending two years experimenting with the semi-open T50rp, his most obvious makeover are the angled lambskin ear pads and leather strap which takes the pressure off the original plastic bridge. But the mod isn't just about comfort. We already know that speakers sound different depending on what room they play. Headphones are the same. Their sound too changes with the room. Here that's simply the space which is prescribed around your ears by and then sealed off more or less effectively with the pads. Grado has offered different pads for years to revoice their headphones. But Clark's measured and pair-specific adjustments go beyond mere add-ons. They include alterations to the internals. Here details naturally get sparse. Our man means to keep his dog on a tight leash. Others are free to explore their own mods but he needn't reveal his.

Relative to the original 98dB Fostex sensitivity spec, "ours is slightly less efficient than an Aude'ze LCD2/3 where the loss of efficiency is a function of how we modify and adjust the frequency and time domain performance to get so much better than the stock headphone."

Here's what 6moons reader Fred Crane who got bit by the dawg at the NYC show had to say: "It sounds awfully good for 300 clams. He does a driver mod and puts on great pads. In general he keeps pretty closed-mouthed about his mod. The MD has garnered a rather large following on headfi.  Personally I really like it but am curious to hear what you think. I've heard the original Fostex and it's nowhere near the Mad Dog in any aspect that matters."

As the proprietor of StereoDesk, Fred sells headfi items. He thus canvassed the Big Apple for stuff to carry. Though the show had plenty of costlier headphones on hand, he kept returning to these. And it's true. Rabid doesn't just mean carrier of rabies. It also means fanatical. Here we have $300 headphones based on tech similar to the rightly famous Audez'e LCD-2 and LCD-3. Those sell for $1.000 and $2.000 respectively. Then there are the equivalent HifiMans. Scaring that crowd like a rabid dog by offering a large—perhaps even disproportionately large—taste for pennies on their dollar could be a very good thing. I meant to find out if it was true. Fred was game. He sent me a unit from personal inventory. Woof or so what?