What's new

Just pulled the trigger on an Outlaw 7000x - my first foray into separates (1 Viewer)

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
I've always owned AVRs. From mass market Sony AVRs when I graduated college and couldn't afford anything over $500, to their ES line when I got a little more disposable income, an NAD T763 (which is my motivation to buying the Outlaw) and then to Pioneer Elites and my current Denons (4400 and 4500).

The NAD was a standout for some very good, and bad, reasons. First, the good. It had a toroidal power supply. I'm no engineer but I remember when I bought it, remarking at how it felt almost twice as heavy as the Sony ES AVR it was supplanting. Setting it up with my existing speakers, I was shocked at how much better the sound quality was. I wasn't running the speakers any louder (I've always lived in apartment complexes so I can't run reference levels) but even at reasonable volumes, I felt like I was hearing little nuances, and the speakers had an added level of clarity, which was missing with the Sonys. There was just...I don't know how to describe it...an effortless power to the NAD and it seemed like my speakers responded. The closest analogy I can come to it is maybe cars. Take a 100hp car and a 250hp car and go 65mph: yes the speed is the same, but the ride quality just feels different. And if you need to step on it to pass a tanker on the freeway, the 250hp car will instantly give you that power which the 100hp car won't.

And now for the bad: the NAD had a few issues which eventually made me move on from it, mostly related to its main processor. It was slow to pick up CODECs which resulted in missing the first split second of movies, music, etc. It also had a slight hiss I could never get rid of, but from listening positions wasn't too much of a problem. But also, when the newer 7 channel CODECs came out, I remember NAD was slower to pick up on them than others, which is why I went with the Elites, and then Denon for the Atmos, and have never ventured back into the land of toroidal supplies. I remember feeling like when I got the Elites (which had Class D amps) I didn't feel like I stepped down too far from the NAD, but even if I did, I was happy to be able to decode the new codecs. Same with Denon and Atmos, any degradation in sound I gladly ignored to get my Atmos systems running.

But after having lived with the Denons for a couple of years now, I started feeling like my HT sounded a little "flat". Not bad. Nothing wrong. For whatever reason, I randomly recalled how alive my speakers (which haven't changed after these many years, MB Quart QLS 1030s and 530 in the main HT which are 4 ohm speakers) felt when the NAD was driving them. Maybe it's looking back with rose colored glasses. But that's the beauty of the 30 day return policy, I will get to try it out for myself and decide.

I went with the Outlaw over the Monoprice Monolith 7X because, as I mentioned, living in a shared complex for the foreseeable future, I'll never be able to put the extra wattage of the Monolith to use. Plus I just don't want to own and have to deal with a 93 lbs piece of gear. The Outlaw at 61 lbs was already making me hesitant. Plus if separates aren't going to be the answer for me, my back is going to be much happier re-boxing a 30 lbs lighter piece of gear. Plus, if I love the Outlaw, with the price savings from the Monolith ($850) I'm 85% of the way to buying a second Outlaw for the bedroom.

It's supposed to arrive in a week or so, and I'll update this thread with unboxing pictures and impressions. I'm doing a deep dive into my 4K UHD, SACD, and DVD-A catalog until then, trying to get my brain used to how my current setup sounds. Yes I realize any comparisons will be unscientific, I'm not breaking out any measuring devices. I'll leave that up to Audioholics guys. While no one is immune to "New Toy Euphoria", I think with my years of buying, selling and trading home theater equipment, guitars and associated gear, I've gotten to the point where I can be honest with myself when I've made a purchase that didn't live up to expectations, or provide a noticeable improvement.

Oh I lied, I will break out one piece of equipment: my trusty Rat Shack SPL meter. I don't use any of the fancy EQ adjustments of the Denons (or any other previous AVR I've owned). But I do use their test tones to make sure each of the channel levels are the same at my prime listening position. I'll do the same basic level adjustment once the Outlaw is intalled. I'll also use the SPL meter to ensure I'm listening to material at approximately the same volume after the Outlaw installation, so that I'm not falling prey to the "Louder is Better" phenomenon.
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
15,999
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
I've been trying, with limited success, to get across what you mentioned. That better and more powerful amps aren't only about "louder". A major benefit can be greater dynamics and resolution. The amp doesn't just feed power to the speakers. They control them, in a rather complicated and precise way. Give the new amp a while for the circuits to get burned in a bit. It's not necessarily a night and day difference, but you will probably hear improved refinement with some time.

Congrats.

BTW, I'm no longer sold on the necessity of toroidal power supplies. My newest amps are Class H with switching power supplies, and they're are among the best sounding I've ever owned. Along with a savings of about 80 lbs, which is a nice thing.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
BTW, I'm no longer sold on the necessity of toroidal power supplies.
Oh believe me if something equal or better came along at the same price and was lighter, I'd have gone with that. I got a crash course in Class D, G and H amps from Gene at Audioholics via his reviews on YouTube. It does seem like Class D has come a long way recently in sound quality, and Class H is well regarded too. But the Emotiva Gen 3 7 channel was more than double the Outlaw in price. I saw Monoprice has a new 8x100W Class D amp using Hypex modules but that's out of stock until the end of 2022, and it also costs twice as much as the Outlaw. Given that I am only dipping my toes into separates at this point, the Outlaw made the most sense in terms of price, quality and availability.

But like I said, if I love the sound improvement, I am more than happy to move this into the bedroom HT at some point and shell out more cash in a year or two for a well reviewed Class D or H amp!
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
15,999
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
Class D is definitely where most of the future is with amps. For those companies who want to fully design their own stuff, Class D isn't really an option, since it's essentially a given that the output has to be sourced from one of a handful of companies. In that case, H and G (which might be trademarked) are more realistic options.

I was very skeptical of H for several years, but finally gave one a try (an Emotiva XPA-DR2) in 2020 and I'm truly impressed. Not a cheap amp, but still something of a bargain for what it provides, which had never been very practical in a traditional A/B design. Emotiva did have a line, but they weighed well over 100 lbs. This one weighs 42 lbs.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
Yeah I will be very interested in the Monolith Class D offering, especially with the lighter weight and lessened heat generation. Monoprice has really done a bang-up job on their Monolith series, so I'm hoping that carries through to the Class D amp. Curious that it's 8x100 rather than the standard 7, 9 or 11 channel. Especially since they also sell subwoofers (which get great reviews) and they're all powered.

But that's putting cart before the horse. I'm just eagerly waiting for my shipping confirmation and tracking number from Outlaw! :biggrin:
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
Well this is a bit of a pleasant surprise. Was told by Amazon (which is where I ordered it from, I was taking advantage of a 0% financing and cash rewards agreement my CC has with Amazon) and initially I was quoted "April 15-20". It is still "sold by and ship by Outlaw" so I figured it was coming out of their home office in the east coast.

Just got my FEDEX notice and it's shipping out of Oregon, the same coast as me, and got my updated delivery estimate to mid-week! Gotta get my act together and begin prepping the equipment rack for its arrival!

Glad I ordered my Monoprice Onyx RCA interconnects yesterday, they should arrive tomorrow. It would have been slightly torturous to have the amp here but be waiting for interconnects :lol:

The good news is I can debut Spider-Man No Way Home on my new amplifier! 🤘🤘
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
So...I'll update more later but I have it hooked up and...

I love the sound of it. It runs cool. My receiver's volume level is overall lower (I know it's a relatively meaningless number) but the "digital number" for the volume on my receiver is about 5 less when running it through the Outlaw (for example, Dune I usually watch at 52.0 and right now it's at 47.0).

There is one problem: I have 60hz hum on just the channel closest to the plug. I've changed cables, plugged it into it's own outlet, etc. It's still there. It's only audible from my seating position in absolute silence (which rarely ever happens) and even then, just barely. I'm going to try to call Outlaw tomorrow and find out why it's only on that channel. The other 6 are dead silent. To minimize it's impact I have that channel assigned for my Atmos front left height speaker.
 

Clinton McClure

Rocket Science Department
Premium
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 28, 1999
Messages
6,858
Location
Central Arkansas
Real Name
Clint
Does time ever stretch out as slowly as when an item you're anticipating has the status of "on truck, out for delivery...by end of day"? :laugh:
1649944955611.png
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
15,999
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
So...I'll update more later but I have it hooked up and...

I love the sound of it. It runs cool. My receiver's volume level is overall lower (I know it's a relatively meaningless number) but the "digital number" for the volume on my receiver is about 5 less when running it through the Outlaw (for example, Dune I usually watch at 52.0 and right now it's at 47.0).
That's actually unusual. The gain on external amps is typically lower than internal ones. And no, it doesn't actually mean anything purposeful. Of course, there is also another variable, which is the gain setting of the individual channels. If it is raised, the final volume level will automatically go down.

Just for comparison, I play back in the high 60s to low 70s, depending on the source. I'm not playing it louder, necessarily. There's probably just less overall gain in my system, plus I have low efficiency speakers, so I have to turn it up more.

In fact, even in my living room system I play back in the 60s to 70s, and that's not blasting at all.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
re:gain on external amps being lower...I don't know if this plays any part as again, I'm not an engineer. The main reasons I bought the Outlaw have been enumerated: cost (wanted to be around $1K, weight (60 < 90 lol) and company rep (though Emotiva and Monolith also have incredible reputations, so it was mostly the first two points).

Anyway, one other thing I noted in my research was this. My 4400 (and 4500) have this rating on their analog output:
Denon 4400h/4500h analog section, rated output: 1.2V

Outlaw has a measurement called Input Sensitivity. Monolith has a measurement called Input Sensitivity for Full Rated Power. Both are measured in Volts. I'm taking a logical leap and assuming they're both the same measurement but Outlaw just didn't bother to add "for Full Rated Power". I think that may not be as wild a leap as I'm fearing, because when researching, I think one site said "for the Monolith it will take more to get it to its full rated power so be sure your pre/pro (on in my case, receiver) can output that amount.
Outlaw 7000x Input Sensitivity: 1.2V
Monolith 7x Input Sensitivity for Full Rated Power: 1.6V

So one thing which I thought was cool, if I understand everything I wrote above correctly, is that my receiver can achieve the voltage required to drive the Outlaw to full power (not that I'd ever do that) whereas it wouldn't for the Monolith.

But anyway, back to the comment about the numbers being higher/lower, could the fact that the Outlaw required voltage is lower (1.2V) play a part in what I'm observing?
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
15,999
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
But anyway, back to the comment about the numbers being higher/lower, could the fact that the Outlaw required voltage is lower (1.2V) play a part in what I'm observing?
I would think so. Another thing to look for is the gain of the amp. They don't always include that, but it's the amount, in dB that the amp increases the signal. I'm guessing the Outlaw is higher than the Monolith, or Emotiva for that matter. Emotiva amps are all 29dB, where they used to be 32dB.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
Oddly, the voltage gain is only 28db. This may be an indictment on the power amps of the Denon 4400h/4500h.

Sadly this unit is being returned and replaced by Outlaw for a new one. First off: major props for Outlaw addressing this quickly and organizing the return (the support trouble ticket indicates I'm getting a new one, not a refurb). I'm not sure whether the hum was caused by a manufacturing defect, or trauma from shipping, but here's a few shots of how it arrived (thanks FEDEX).

Gouge #1 (superficial, they double box)
IMG_1270.jpg

Gouge #2, this one did puncture through the inner box
IMG_1271.jpg

Gouge #2, inner box view
IMG_1272.jpg

However nothing seemed to have contacted with the actual unit. Fit and finish was perfect, no scratches or dents. But a box doesn't look like that without being mistreated. Also the box was standing vertical as you see it in the picture in the mailroom of the building I live in. Didn't even bother to bring it up...which was probably due to either laziness (it does weigh over 60lbs) or, more likely, didn't want a face-to-face the recipient given the condition of the box.

Anyway, so the 7th channel (the one closest to the power cord) has a hum/buzz. It kind of resembles a 60hz cycle hum, but it isn't that (more on how I know in a bit). I did all the troubleshooting Outlaw recommended in their manual, and then some based on scouring the web on sites and forums like Audioholics, AVS, etc. I changed out all interconnects and speaker wire (all of mine are of good quality and shielded, but they're not the multi-hundred dollar type of connects). I unplugged and disconnected everything except for the amp and AVR to eliminate interference from other devices. I even switched all the channel connections...no matter if that connection was the L, C, R, RL, RR, or AtmosL, AtmosR...that was the channel with the hum/buzz. This is all via RCA connection. The other channels only had that telltale barely audible hiss (I mean you have to put your ear up against the speaker to hear it) that is common to any speaker being fed juice. I even swapped out my living room Denon 4400h with the bedroom 4500h. Same thing.

And I think here is the thing that convinced the Outlaw rep that it needed replacement: when I disconnect all the RCAs...the other six channels still only have that barely audible hiss (as expected). The seventh channel, when you put your ear right up to it, the hum/buzz is still there...but at a much lower volume than when an RCA cable is connected to the input with the AVR on (but nothing playing). So even with nothing plugged in to the input, there is an element of the hum/buzz, but just barely audible. Put an RCA cable into it with a powered on pre/pro or AVR, and the hum/buzz gets significantly louder. As I mentioned it's audible from my seating position 8' away, only on silent passages. If anything is playing you won't hear it, even if it's a relatively quiet part of a movie.

The other experiment which may have sealed the return: when I flicked the input switch from RCA over to XLR? The hum/buzz goes away and the 7th channel joins the other six in having only the faintest, barely audible hiss. I don't have any equipment with balanced outs to test, but my guess is that if I were only using the XLRs, I would have never discovered this issue.

I ship it out on Monday, it will probably be 2 weeks until I get my replacement (one week for this to get to MA from CA, and one week for my replacement). Major bummer, but this weekend I'll continue to enjoy it before going back to AVR only for a little bit.

Props to Outlaw for handling it so promptly, and with no hassle or anything. I think part of it was how on the trouble ticket I meticulously listed the steps I took and results obtained (what made the hum/buzz worse, better, and what made it go away). Also I provided pictures of the box, in case they want to file a claim with FEDEX.
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
15,999
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
Just an FYI, you could use rca>balanced cables. You wouldn't get the benefit of real balanced connections, but it would avoid the problem. Even with that option, better to exchange the unit.

Your testing was spot on. If the unit produces that noise with nothing connected to the inputs, and only on one channel, it's clearly a defect or damage.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
Huh, good to know about RCA to XLR. I do want to get a properly functioning unit so I'm still proceeding with the return. I won't lie, the thought of deadlifting this thing back into the box is making the RCA->XLR option appealing though. But if there's something damaged in it now, there's no guarantee it won't worsen in the future, so I should just get it over with and do the full return and exchange.

And wear a back brace.
 

JohnRice

Bounded In a Nutshell
Premium
Ambassador
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2000
Messages
15,999
Location
A Mile High
Real Name
John
I'd return it for the reason you stated, but I do understand the hesitation. I believe THESE would be the correct cables as an option. The thing about XLR is making certain they are the right gender for the connections you have.
 

Carlo Medina

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 31, 1997
Messages
12,878
One other compliment I will pay the Outlaw is that it runs very cool. I've literally watched two loud action movies back to back, not quite at reference but at a pretty decent level...and I would hesitate to call it anything more than warm. In fact I just remembered I recently bought an infrared thermometer for cooking...the warmest spot I can find on the amp is 94F. Most of the rest of it is in the high 80s. My Denon AVR by contrast is between 104-111F at the hottest spots on top. I wish there was a way to completely defeat the amps on the 4400/4500s but I think Denon only just introduced pre-amp mode in the recently released X700 series.

I'm really going to miss this amp for two weeks when I ship it out Monday.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
351,014
Messages
4,938,942
Members
142,958
Latest member
Chris_Wilson3
Recent bookmarks
0
Top