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The Outlaw 950 - Confessions of a Beta Tester

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#1 of 521 OFFLINE   RAF


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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:12 PM

O.K. Gang. With the release of the new newsletter

(see the post here: http://www.hometheat...&threadid=47596

Now that you've seen the piece of equipment that has been sitting in my rack (that's an ICBM above it) I'm at liberty to begin to talk about it. This unit (Beta Unit #1) arrived in my HT on January 31, 2002 and I've been running it through its paces ever since. Within the next few hours I hope to put together a detailed report of my findings for you and as soon as it is available I'll share it with all of you.

As you may be aware, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement until Outlaw set the beta testers loose (there are going to be more that just me here to field questions) so it was a little difficult at times to keep silent as some rather "interesting" comments were made regarding various 950 theories and conspiracies. However, now the cat is out of the bag and I will summarize my findings as follows:

The Outlaws have hit a home run with the 950!

The sound of this unit is amazing.

Posted ImagePosted Image

Like I said, in a few hours (the release of information was thrust upon me suddenly) I hope to have more information to share with you. In the meanwhile, let the games begin! (At least one other Beta Tester will also comment since I know he's chomping at the bit.)

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And before you start biting our heads off for not saying more before, look closely at what we were saying, especially after 1/31/02. It sort of reminds me of what happens the second time you watch The Sixth Sense. Suddenly all the pieces fit!

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Talk to you later. I sure as heck hope you have your place in the Outlaw Line.
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#2 of 521 OFFLINE   Dan_Jones


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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:18 PM

Sweetness...can't wait for your review!
Dan Jones, Assistant Editor
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#3 of 521 OFFLINE   Jeff Aguilar

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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:24 PM

From reading your post, I KNEW you had to be one of the BETA testers! I am really looking forward to your comments. Jeff

#4 of 521 OFFLINE   Bob-N


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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:26 PM

hehe. That explains a lot of your posts. I thought it was a bit odd that a mod would post as many messages on these threads as you did.

So good news on the sound front. Now the hardest part of the wait....the last few weeks....Posted Image

Looking forward to more reviews from the other beta testers.

#5 of 521 OFFLINE   Legairre


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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:27 PM

Gotta give you big time credit for keeping quiet.Posted Image

#6 of 521 OFFLINE   Paul_Fisher



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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:31 PM

How much is the 950 supppose to cost when it comes out?

#7 of 521 OFFLINE   Bob_L


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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:44 PM

HOME THEATER FORUM OUTLAW COMES OUT OF THE CLOSET!!! NEW YORK (UPI) -- "It's just such a relief. Since January 31, I feel like I've been living a lie," admitted Home Theater Forum Administrator and Outlaw Audio Beta Tester Robert A. Fowkes here Monday. In a revelation that shocked his family, friends and many admirers, Fowkes revealed that he has been testing the long awaited Outlaw 950 pre/pro since late January. The admission follows weeks of suspicion and innuendo by HT Forum members. "My lower lip has a callous because I've been biting it so much," said Fowkes. "Every time a forum message was posted, I just wanted to tell the world. But the Outlaw lawyers were holding me hostage under an NDA. "Still, the frustration of keeping the secret has been nothing compared to the laundry bills," remarked Fowkes. "This pre/pro is a home run. I may have been able to hold onto my beta secret, but the Outlaw 950 is so exciting I wasn't able to hold much else." [Article used courtesy of the United Parody International newswire.]

#8 of 521 OFFLINE   Sean M

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Posted February 11 2002 - 04:47 PM

Ummm... that would be Home Theater Forum, no?
"Experience is the one thing you can't get for nothing." - Oscar Wilde

#9 of 521 OFFLINE   Brian Schucher

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Posted February 11 2002 - 05:35 PM

Glad i just started my way to seperates with a new amp. Should be ready for a 950 by the time my new house is done this summer...Bring on the reviews!

#10 of 521 OFFLINE   Evan S

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Posted February 11 2002 - 05:39 PM

RAF, glad to hear the Outlaw kicks major butt! Just when I had settled on the Anthem you have to chime in with how good this unit sounds. At least I'm real high on the reservation list. I guess I'll give it a shot after all. What have I got to lose? I'll even get a free interconnect. I still want the Anthem down the road, I'll just move the Outlaw to the bedroom. Can't wait to hear more!!!Posted Image
searching for that elusive, "perfect" sound.

#11 of 521 OFFLINE   Kevin C Brown

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Posted February 11 2002 - 05:39 PM

Robert- You're one lucky dog. Posted Image

I have a request, if maybe hopefully already included in your forthcoming review:

Does the 950 have any (conservative) DSP modes for playing back a std 5.1 DD/DTS movie, or an even better test: a Dolby Stereo (DPL or DD 2.0) movie with a 6.1 or 7.1 speaker set up?

And, I'll put this here for kicks from the newsletter:


In addition, we do want to clarify the time line. Yes, we have been talking about an Outlaw Processor/Preamp for quite some time, but as we wrote more than a year ago, our initial plans were for a totally different product than the Model 950. They were cancelled due to one supplier's

problems. In retrospect we're very happy with the way that things turned out as that original supplier continues to have cause delivery problems for their customers and they are a little behind the curve of leading edge technology.


I'll *bet* they are speaking of Motorola and the fact that they are late with their DPL II/DTS-ES solution (Anthem and B&K (?) and others).
If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

KevinVision 7.1 ...

#12 of 521 OFFLINE   Brian Schucher

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Posted February 11 2002 - 05:46 PM

Something tells me this will end up a LONG thread

#13 of 521 OFFLINE   Sankar


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Posted February 11 2002 - 06:42 PM

I suspect that there will be reviews from beta testers in other forums as well. It may make sense to keep the various reviews in an accessible place here on the forum.

(I notice that someone at the Outlaw hideout says that there is a review at etheaterforum.com .. but I could not find that site Posted Image )

#14 of 521 OFFLINE   RAF


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Posted February 11 2002 - 06:43 PM

O.K. I'm back for a bit.

First of all, thanks, Bob_L for the great pseudo article.

Posted Image

Of course, but "out of the closet??" As the narcoleptic Argentinian said in MOULIN ROUGE[quote] way!!


Posted Image

I've updated my HT web site to include my assessment of the 950 (with a link on the first page so you don't have to search around for it.) Rather than putting the whole article up here I decided to place it there so that I can also point people to it who are not HTF denizens. (Probably heresey for an HTF moderator, but, what the heck!)

Posted Image


I've tried to cover as much as I can in the limited time I had once Outlaw decided to move up the "revelation" date a bit.

Look it over and see if it answers your questions. It explains what I had to work with and how I approached it. I'll try to answer as many questions as I can, but I'll leave the comparisons to other equipment to those who tested it and have direct experience with their B&K 30's, Lexicon MC12's et. al.

Let me just mention that I predict you will be amazed at what you get for your $899. Couple this with some capable amps and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it will outperform the best mega-receivers out there. It smoked my Denon 5700 in all areas and has the latest (for now) bells and whistles. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, line up your amps. The real fun is about to begin!

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#15 of 521 OFFLINE   John Tompkins

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Posted February 11 2002 - 07:04 PM

Robert, Great review on what sounds like a great piece of equipment. Can you tell me if any, what are the sound characteristics..All processores sound a bit different, I dont know if Im asking it right but, when compared to the denon 5700, I take it that it has more detail, is it warmer,sweeter,revealing..Thanks again

#16 of 521 OFFLINE   Mal P

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Posted February 11 2002 - 07:13 PM

Great review Robert, thank you very much! When you say that the 950 has bass management for the analog 5.1 inputs, I take it that like the ICBM, no processing is done to the sound? I.e. the sound is not converted to digital internally and then back to analog again? Cheers, Mal

#17 of 521 OFFLINE   Ricky T

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Posted February 11 2002 - 07:14 PM

RAF, Great review! I am so happy for you. And really glad for those you waited, and didn't have something like the Denon 5700 around. What amps are you gonna get to drive your four rears? 4 monoblocks? Marantz MM9000? Citation 7.1?

#18 of 521 Guest_John Morris_*

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Posted February 11 2002 - 07:15 PM

Posted Image

Just in case anyone was wondering, I am one of the other beta testers for the 950, and as such, have been in on the 950 testing for a while now. I cannot begin to explain how hard it has been to try to urge folks to wait while not breaking the Outlaw NDA. Instead of just saying, "hey, it will be well worth the wait, this unit sounds absolutely fantastic... I consistently had to use quotes from third party sources in order to help others IMO, from possibly making a mistake by buying a different pre/pro in the interim.

Make no mistake about it! The 950 is an incredible sounding, full featured, preamp processor equal to those costing many times its' meager $899 introductory price. In direct comparison to the B&K Ref 30, I thought that for CD and SACD music playback, the 950 was superior. For 5.1/7.1 movie playback, the 950 was at least as good and better in most modes due to the DPL2 implementation which greatly improved playback for DPL and DD 2.0 soundtracks. Most folks, me included, will not need to even consider a music preamp or seperate 2 channel system. The 950 is that good!

During the next day, I will be posting a real review of what I've seen and of course, what I've heard. I will also compare and contrast how the 950 sized up to the Ref 30 in the areas that I could test with the 950 beta. In the meantime, if you have a question, I'll answer it as best I can. Thanks for your patience... it is about to be rewarded!Posted Image

#19 of 521 OFFLINE   RAF


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Posted February 11 2002 - 07:22 PM


Can you tell me if any, what are the sound characteristics..All processores sound a bit different, I dont know if Im asking it right but, when compared to the denon 5700, I take it that it has more detail, is it warmer,sweeter,revealing..



Good question and an excellent analysis of the processor situation. I guess the best term I can use for the 950 is more "revealing" I'm now hearing things that I never heard before with the 5700 and remember, I was very happy with the 5700 before the 950 entered the house. (Isn't that the nature of this "game?")

The Jacintha example I cited is just one small case. Everything I'm listening to seems to have additional definition. One more quick example. Two nights ago I decided to watch (actually "listen" to) the LD of the Le Miz London Concert - one of my all time favorite musicals/operas/whatever. In particular I wanted to see how the 950 handled the digitally recorded stereo sound. What was supposed to be ~ 10 minutes of listening turned into a 3 hour session. I couldn't put it down. Never have I been able to make out every single word of every single song in this concert (including the chorus productions.) Unbelievable clarity of sound.

Then I decided to push the envelope with my LD's and see what the 950 did with the DTS version of the movie, Casper. Outstanding. I would have thought I was emersed in the middle of the haunted castle! In other words, every source I have thrown at the 950 brings out nuances that were there but never made it through. If anything, there is an embarassment of processing here. I still haven't decided which processing mode (to enhance older tracks) I like best. The choices of DTS Neo, DPL2 (I need to learn more about all the control parameters), even Cirrus's 7.1 mode, etc. etc. You can choose the mode that brings out the best sound for a specific recording. I realize that the 950 doesn't have the complete processing flexibilty of, say, a $10K Lexicon MC12, but it certainly has enough to satisfy me and sounds great.

Hope this makes some sense. It is no substitute for an actual audition which I highly recommend.
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#20 of 521 OFFLINE   charles_w


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Posted February 11 2002 - 07:24 PM

Hey John,

Can I come over and watch "TV" tomorrowPosted Image

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