Positive Feedback ISSUE 74
Alpha Dog Headphones
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
Thanks to the terrific exhibit called Headphonium at T.H.E. SHOW NEWPORT, I heard a remarkable pair of headphones that sounded and performed in all ways expensive and open-back, but was neither! I generally ignore cans priced at $599, but holy moly, these Alpha Dogs are impossible to ignore. One listen and you are done for. Plus, they are cutting edge because they are 3D-printed shells, which produce purer sound with less weight and bulk. This is American engineering at its finest!
I have the latest version of the Alpha Dogs, and they sing magnificently! Even-sounding from top to bottom, they are great for listening and monitoring. Their driver array is Fostex planar panels, and the rest is just plain tweaked by ear. I have the very latest generation, which incorporates all the designer has learned about bass adjustment and definition. I have the gloss black version.
The cool part is I have big ears, and they fit entirely inside the cups, which are super padded. You can hear close to nothing around the venue when listening to music. These are a recording engineer's dream. Also, none of the sound leaks into the room to disturb your neighbor.
Frequency response (+/- 3dB): 16Hz to 18kHz
The electrical impedance is not listed on their site, but I would say that these are not low-impedance. I found the best sound came from using the HiZ Input on my E.A.R. HP4 Tube Headphone amp. They also sounded terrific with my KingRex Headquarters solid-state Head Amp, where impedance did not matter.
My favorite closed cans used to be the $1500 Ulltrasone Edition 8. The Alpha Dogs destroy the 8's in every parameter. I wish the Dogs preceded the 8's, but they didn't. The Alpha Dogs yield a much more natural soundstage and believable definition. They also seal against the head 100% better than the 8's! The seal is important if you want smooth, strong bass response. The 8's may be made like a Mercedes, but the Dogs are 3D-printed and sound more neutral!
The Alpha Dogs come with everything you need to use them, even a nifty headphone stand and a 15-day trial period. Both Nordost and Cardas make high-end cables for the Alpha Dogs that do improve the sound about 10-20% or so in smoothness and elegance. You even get a bit more definition. I find the supplied wires are totally satisfactory and will serve you well if you donít want to upgrade to Cardas or Nordost. Put your added dollars into a better head amp if you want more real musical goodness in the audiophile chain. Remember that more revealing cables may reveal flaws you hate just as much as love.
At $2000, I might find a couple. At $599, forget it! The cans came with special pads for tuning the Alpha Dog's highs, and a tool for tuning the bass. I liked the factory settings across the board! I am mightily tempted to say that these are the best closed-back headphones at any price that I have heard to date!
Wow, I guess I just did.
From MrSpeakers comes an American dream in headphones that are both planar and closed-back... the Alpha Dogs! They are the world's first 3D-printed cans, and sound fantastic. Efficient enough to run on most everything, and beautiful to look at, they isolate like crazy. They are most linear, too. They embarrassed my reference $1500 closed-back headphones! These gorgeous cans are the deal of the century.
Quick! Get them before the price goes up! Highest recommendation! Robert h. Levi
Alpha Dog Headphones