***Official*** Outlaw 950 Review thread - Owners: As you get it, share your thoughts

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by AVspec, Apr 7, 2002.

  1. AVspec

    AVspec Supporting Actor

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    Now that the Outlaw 950 units are shipping and have arrived into users HT's, is there going to be an official review thread so we can all have a one-stop thread?
    Thanks,
    Administrator's Comment:
    Good idea. Please post reviews here. There is another thread here for your comments and questions. For clarity, please keep the two separated.
     
  2. Jim Prillaman

    Jim Prillaman Stunt Coordinator

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    As one of the handful of people who received 950's before the mysterious audio dropout problem halted shipping (as confirmed by merc in the Outlaw Saloon a short time ago), I have been spending a good bit of time with my 950 since Saturday morning. I've started a review page at my site; I'll probably update the review over the next few weeks as I spend more time with the unit. While I don't have the extensive experience with various pre/pros that some of the regulars around here have, I still thought I'd offer my experience with the 950. To accompany the main review above, here's a (somewhat long) capsule review:
    AUDIO:
    The beta testers weren't kidding. It sounds great in all modes -- stereo (with analog bypass and with the onboard DAC's), Dolby Digital, DTS, Pro Logic II, and even the 7 Stereo and 5 Stereo. Since I still tend to listen to music more than I watch DVD's, I was very interested in the beta testers' reports on the 950's sound. From the minute I hit "play" after hooking up the 950, I knew they weren't kidding. To my ear, the 950 is extremely neutral. There are a number of options for digital processing, and so far it's been tough to decide which to use because they all bring some good stuff to the table. The Cirrus Extra Surround can augment Dolby Digital and Pro Logic II any time you want, and so far I've enjoyed the result when listening to sources that weren't mixed for EX. Likewise, DTS offers similar access to surround back speakers if you have them (or, in my case, if you have just one), although I haven't spent much time with DTS. I've tried Pro Logic II Cinema for TV watching and found that it does a good job with what's available, but my wife actually preferred the 7 Stereo mode for TV because it was more enveloping. For music, the 7 Stereo/5 Stereo modes surprised me by sounding natural -- none of the over-processed cheesiness of the DSP modes that most receiver users are used to. Pro Logic II Music really surprised me, especially after I was merely pleased with PLII Cinema -- PLII Music sounded great when I switched to it this morning and listened to some Five for Fighting before work. Since I lack any experience with the higher-end gear like Lexicon, I can't compare any of these processing modes to the big guns like Logic 7, but I've been very impressed with what I've heard from my 950.
    Video:
    As has been reported, there is a quirk (now officially fixed) that caused some displays to be overwhelmed by the S-Video monitor output. For my 950 and Mitsubishi, somebody forgot to tell them that there was a problem -- it is indistinguishable from a direct connection to the TV. Absolutely solid. Since everything in my setup is using S-Video (no component input on the TV, and all of my sources offer S-video I/O), I haven't tried the composite/S-Video conversion.
    Tuner:
    Remember all the talk about the tuner with the beta testers? I don't listen to a lot of radio, but I did discover that the 950's final tuner pulls in signals better than either my Outlaw Model 1050 or my Yamaha RX-V690 ever did. I may have to start listening to more radio at home now that the 950's around...
    Overall impression? I like my 950. I've been trying to reproduce the audio dropout problem on digital audio inputs, and in many hours of trying have been able to witness it only twice. It may take Outlaw a few days to get this bug squashed, but once it's gone I will have no qualms about recommending a 950. I also look forward to seeing many other reviews posted here and elsewhere at that point.
     
  3. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

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    Ok Guys,

    I have had the 950 since the weekend. I really do have alot to say about this unit. Right now, I'm going to wait until the dropout issue is cleared up. I will say this very briefly. This unit plays exceptional audio. It has been worth the wait, and all of you guys will be happy with your purchase. The 950 stacks up very well against the MC-1's sonics. Nuff said.... review will come ASAP.... Just so you know, the Outlaws aren't getting much sleep trying to fix the bug. I am confident it will be fixed very soon....
     
  4. Michael Yung

    Michael Yung Stunt Coordinator

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    There's a thread in Outlaw's forum about how the 950 sounds. Worth a read for people who are interested.
     
  5. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    I would like to ask those submitting 950 reviews if they could please provide the information below, so we can better understand your listening environment:
    Speaker Setup
    main speakers
    -3db low freq spec __ Hz
    large __ small __
    950 xover freq __ Hz
    center speaker
    -3db low freq spec __ Hz
    large __ small __
    950 xover freq __ Hz
    surround speakers
    -3db low freq spec __ Hz
    large __ small __
    950 xover freq __ Hz
    Sub connected to 950 sub-out
    yes __ no __
    5.1 analog bypass rear xover switch
    on __ off __
    Source Connections
    CD
    digital input mode __
    analog input, stereo mode __
    analog input, stereo-bypass mode __
    Turntable
    analog input, stereo mode __
    analog input, stereo-bypass mode __
    SACD or DVD-A
    yes __ no __
     
  6. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    THE QUICK AND DIRTY 10 MINUTE REVIEW:
    Coincidentally when my Outlaw 950 arrived, I was listening to an old MFSL vinyl of the Manhattan Tranfer Live. (Now remember, because I sold my good preamp, I was using an old Pioneer receiver circa 1993 as a temp preamp)
    So, I did a fast install of the phono preamp (connected to the 5.1 analog inputs with the 80Hz filter on), a rapid calibration, and put the recording back on. Easy setup with the onscreen menu. I only consulted the manual to see how to turn on the six-channel input. Everything else was a no-brainer.
    VERY TASTY!
    The noise floor on this puppy is loooow. Elegant clarity and detail and Janis Siegel's voice has great presence (Side Two, Track One). What's more, when the audience starts applauding, I defy ANYONE to realize they're hearing two channel and not surround sound. The clapping just COMPLETELY fills the space in the room.
    I put a lot of stock in what I call the "First 15 Minute Experience." Mine was excellent with the 950.
    And I got my free pre-Dec 25 cables, too. Those are cooool.
    More to come . . .
    6 PM UPDATE:
    I've now sampled a few CD's and DVD's, both DD and DTS -- as well as my DTS LD of Disney's "Hunchback." The Diana Krall Live in Paris DTS disk was very nice. I used that to fiddle with my crossover and delay settings. I found a delay setting just a couple feet shorter than the actual distance focused Diana's voice a bit better than the "measured" value. Left it there. (For movies, I also raised my center to 120Hz because it clarified the dialogue a bit more on my NHT AC1. Left the NHT 1.5 surrounds at 100Hz and the 2.5 mains at 80Hz. It's nice to have the flexibility to diddle with those settings.)
    Surround decoding is excellent and the auto-detection speed is quite satisfactory. Just tossed on JP3, Disney's Dinosaur to thump around a bit. In the JP3 credit when the claws slash through the screen (to make the III), I think I soiled myself. This speaks of a very wide dynamic range, low noise floor and fast rise times. The 950 also spotted the DTS 6.1 Matrix and the DD-EX on the JP3 disc and identified them on the screen.
    As a bit of an auto-detect torture test, I flipped through several recordings that have been piling up on my TiVo. The satellite programming will switch between between two-channel and DD digital as they go into programming. The 950 picked it up pretty rapidly, no delay troubled me. I do wish I could turn the onscreen display off, but since I don't run my projector through the 950, it will only be an issue for casual viewing through my video monitor.
    Bypass modes are very, very nice, both the 5.1 input and the 2-channel bypass. Running the analog vinyl signal through the Cirrus A/D processing created a much tighter, "digital" sound. That told me that I don't want to be processing my vinyl (duh), but it also told me that the Bypass circuitry is tres transparent. Didn't spend a lot of comparison time between the analog 80Hz filters and the digital crossover processing. However, no differences whacked me over the head, so I think most folks will be happy with either analog or digital crossover options. (No, haven't done my "bass doubling" listening yet..[​IMG] )
    Not too thrilled with casual audition of DPL2-Music so far but I need to toy with the settings A LOT more. Believe it or not, I preferred DTS-NEO with the jazz, classical stuff I've sampled because it seemed to do leave the high end intact and keep the image more to the front with ambience for the surrounds. But that's the most CURSORY listening and is nothing more than casual first impression.
    I'm getting a ground loop when I connect the outdoor antenna so I just "tied on" the included FM wire antenna to check out the tuner. It pulled the stations like a champ and -- while I'm not an intense FM listener so my opinion is not expert -- damn thing sounded very nice. Lots of separation and here's where the DPL2 and DTS:NEO processing was fun to screw with.
    Svideo to composite conversion is quite satisfactory going to my inexpensive 27-inch TV. (I use a separate switcher for my front projector. I think most people are going to be satisfied with it.)
    Only thing I'm not too high on at this point is the remote but familiarity breeds respect or neglect where remotes are concerned. More time will tell which.
    Of course, the tweaking will go on for some time but this is a significant improvement over my HK Signature 2 and the surround processing is much superior to either my Panny RV80's internals or the external Technics D500 I had.
    And, by the way, I haven't even connected up my back surround channels, yet. This listening was all with five channel. Hey, after all this anticipation, I want to leave something to anticipate for Day Two.
     
  7. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    It's sack time in LA HTF brothers and sisters. Usually I'm up MUCH later, but it's been a tiring and exciting day here. Just thought I'd post a valedictory comment before I nodded off.

    Spent more time with DTS-encoded CD's, a bit of TiVo programming (A Nero Wolfe episode in DP2-M, which I find myself preferring to DP2-C at this early stage), some FM pop, and most of Terminator 2 DD5.1 (instead of DTS because I live in a condo and needed to use the Night mode.)

    Very nice all around.

    Now with the whole system assembled -- almost, tomorrow I run wire for the back surround speakers -- I need to toy around with sub and side surround speaker placement to maximize the impact (though the front to back continuity of the surround image is excellent), and need to tinker with the sub gain because I generally don't listen at reference levels but want my butt sonically kicked from time to time.

    However, the afterglow that I'm taking to dreamland is how wonderful my vinyl sounded: the tight, punchy bass; the space and warmth that gave up nothing in subtle detail; the satisfying clarity that you can listen to for hours without listener fatigue.

    Twelve hours after opening the door to the DHL guy, I think the big win here is that Outlaw really seems to have created a pre/pro that serves both home theater and audiophile needs with equal quality. The T-Rex stomps in Jurassic Park were earth-shaking, the nimble rhythmic energy of Kevin Eubanks' guitar was soul-stirring; and both were equally satisfying.

    It's a helluva box.
     
  8. Jed M

    Jed M Cinematographer

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    Ok, after reading all the reviews it is finally my turn. It is late here on the west coast so I am not on top of my game. First let me start by saying it has been a long day. I received my 950/770 combo around 1:30pm and for the last twelve hours I have been installing and listening with a three hour break when I went out with some friends (it was already planned). My first impression was to tip the DHL guy because I was so happy, either that or kiss him. After my first few heart attacks trying to move the 770 up the stairs by myself, I waited for my roommate to come home. While I waited I noticed a few things. First the packing job is unbelievable. Outlaw seems to even use a higher grade styrofoam then the electronics I have owned, which leads me to my next point. Im starting with crap. Actually its ok, but nothing close to high end. I had a Kenwood 2090 which unbelievably was one of the first receivers to have dts at an affordable price (600-700 at the time). I own Klipsch ksf 10.5's and the matching center and surrounds. My DVD/CD player is the Toshiba 4700 and my Directv satellite is the Toshiba dst3000.
    Ok now on with my review. If I could describe this in one word it would be tight. Its just dead on perfect at times. I have seen plenty of movies and next to the star wars series (which are not on DVD)I have probably seen Pink Floyd The Wall more times than any. Uh Oh, red flag on my past there... All I can say that watching this movie is absolute clarity. The vocals were so detailed and real it felt as though I was hearing/watching this movie for the first time, honestly. If you are familiar with this movie the music seems to... float. Just sort of glide around the soundstage, smooth, clear, and no distortion at all. But as I alluded to earlier, the thing that stood out was Nick Mason's drums were so tight and accurate it was like being at a live show. Ok, is silky a word? Thats how I would describe the music coming from my speakers. So rich I could touch it but so clean and smooth... I just do not know how to describe that unbelievably free sound. I auditioned many other music dvds but I did not get to audition Les Miserables Concert yet because I was with two of my friends (Im 26) and trust me, its not happening. They won't have it. I understand though, I would feel the same way if someone put in opera, to each his own. I next switched to Bob Dylan Real Live CD and listened to Tangled Up in Blue. If I had one complaint about the Kenwood it would be I hated it for stereo music, plain horrible. I have an onkyo downstairs that I use more for music, but not any more. I am just relieved to know that my Klipsch can actually play in stereo like a champ! On a side note, the 950 weighed more than Kenwood's, at the time, flagship receiver with its pathetic "100" watts per channel. Ok, Dylan... It was, in a word, beautiful. His guitar took on a lifelike quality as it strummed across the front of my room while he quietly crooned right in front of me. When I closed my eyes I could almost see him standing on stage with only his spotlight and guitar. The 950 somehow just nailed the ambiance with this live album.
    At this point we settled down for some movie listening. Breathtaking detail and imaging. Let me explain the first moment I knew the 950 was truly awesome. You know the old DTS start ups where the words fly all around you and then all slowly come forward only to explode? I used to turn that up to impress my friends with my old set up. Damn with the 950/770 I could not believe just how loud and gutwrenching that sucker could be without once distorting. I honestly expected my neighbors or the cops to be stopping by any minute. It was so freakin clear and with such raw brutal force at the same time it kinda reminded me of an Imax movie when they are doing the demo. This little black box has seriously doubled the value of my speakers in my book. Nobody else's Im sure, but for me its like falling in love with them again. And to give just one example of listening to dvd movies I will use Gladiator since it has great use of surrounds. During the first coliseum fight when they are shooting arrows from the chariots it is truly spot on imagery when an arrow is shot. It doesnt come from that speaker and go to the other speaker, each one comes at different places then the others and "fly" through your rooms in different patterns. It is worth the wait and then some. I cannot express how much I hope the outlaws succeed because I am going to ride their back to a better home theater. It is early and I hardly tested anything but I am going to have the sweetest dreams I have had in a while.
    So to paraphrase, its so clean sounding it is almost eerie. Its as if nothing is making the music, its just there, clean, unbound and natural. In closing, I have heard a few other models (onkyo 797, Kenwood 509, and pioneer 509S) quite a bit since my friends own them. Without blinking its not even the same ballpark or league for that matter. The only thing I have ever heard that beats the 950 in sonics and all around detail is the Bose 3-2-1. And its almost the same price but just out of my price range so I settled for the 950 [​IMG] Sorry that was so long, I am way too tired. I had to type myself down from my outlaw high.
    Edit: Check out the time of my post (pst) and ignore all typos. Its too late for thinking.
     
  9. SteveRichardson

    SteveRichardson Auditioning

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    Here's the first installment of my review. I received my 950 yesterday at 9AM Eastern time and managed to not open the box all day until I got home around 6PM!

    -----------------

    First Impressions of the Random Kind

    ====================================

    - The unit shipped double-boxed, but it had definitely been opened and re-taped. Some of the packing tape had come off. No big deal, since it was only in transit overnight, but the Outlaws might want to have their shipping department do a better job taping.

    - The unit has an ungrounded detachable power cord. I was surprised (in a positive way), as I thought it was grounded and I'd have more ground loop issues to sort through.

    - The jacks on the rear of the unit are gold plated. The photos had led me to believe they were nickel plated. As others have noted, the jacks are just a hair too close - the Outlaw cables slightly touch when you plug a L-R pair of them in. I didn't feel like I was stressing them too much when plugging them in, though.

    - The unit weighs in decently. It is far more attractive than I thought it would be, and feels like a nice piece of gear. The rubber volume knob is slightly cheesy looking, but it feels nice when using it. The buttons stick out further from the face of the panel than I expected them to, but this is fine too. The 950 is a handsome unit, even with the green button and wacky logo.

    - As someone else pointed out, they supply Duracell Ultra batteries with the remote. This is a plus. The remote itself leaves something to be desired in a few ways, but it's pretty good for a pack-in remote. First of all, it's awkward in the hand. The batteries are towards the front of the remote, making it feel like it's continually going to tip forward out of my hand. Oddly enough, it feels comfortable to me holding it upside down. Secondly, the learning feature is nowhere near 100% reliable. It took several tries to get it to learn some keys on my Audiotron remote. Once they "took," though, they worked fine. (EDIT: Gonk suggests placing both remotes on a flat surface first, and making sure you don't move either remote. I also found that holding down keys on your original remote until the 950's remote blinks green worked better than simply tapping the keys on your original remote.) Lastly, the remote stacks up play/pause/ff/rew on top of the standard menu navigation arrows. This is seriously irritating, but I'm sure I'll figure out a workaround. (EDIT: One problem I thought the remote had was lack of a volume/mute punch-through feature, but RAF and Gonk both set me straight - see pg. 39 of the manual).

    - The OSD menu system is really easy to use. Navigation is a snap; drilling in and out of the menus is quite easy. However, I really find it disappointing that there is no option to completely turn off the OSD for showing volume/acquired signals, etc. The best you can do is turn it down to 3 seconds.

    - The main trigger output works great. It triggers my DIY triggerable power strip properly. Not much to report here.

    So How's It Sound?!

    ===================

    My HT audio system is in a bit of flux, but I have much of my final gear. My front soundstage consists of a pair of PSB Stratus Silver i's on the L and R, and a PSB Stratus C6 in the center. These are driven by a Carver M500 and a slightly newer Carver M500t, both 250W stereo amps. At present I don't have my real surround speakers (PSB Image 10S - should be here next week), so I've got a pair of old Radio Shack Minimus 7's connected, driven with a Carver PM120 stereo 60W semi-pro amp. At present I have no subwoofer, but I'm probably going to DIY a Titan soon.

    For sources at present I have an Onkyo DVD player, a Voyetra Audiotron, and an old Sony CD changer all connected optically. A stereo VCR gets me analog audio from VHS tapes and cable television.

    When I first fired up a CD in stereo mode right after getting it hooked up, I have to say that I was underwhelmed. I had set my mains for large and turned off the subwoofer and other channels. Something just didn't seem right on my first test CD (Elysian Fields, _Bleed Your Cedar_). I'm not sure what it was. I got up to get a glass of water, came back as it was switching tracks, and all of a sudden it clicked. It sounded good!

    The 2-channel sound using the 950 as a DAC compared very favorably to my old Carver C-1 stereo preamp and my DVD player's internal DAC. I've listened to the CD that I mentioned on many systems, and my HT system with the 950 was really keeping up well. Deep, beautiful bass. Female vocals flowing exquisitely. Snare brushes drifting from a wide soundstage in front of me. Very nice. Not quite the same level of "hairs on the back of my neck tingling" that I've had with the system in my music studio, but this was pleasing in a different way.

    I then tried my Audiotron and some MP3s out of my extensive collection. Using the internal 950 DACs is a huge improvement over the compromised internal DACs in the Audiotron. Well-encoded MP3s sounded great. Not quite CD quality, but very good. The only minor problem I noticed here were occasional re-acquisitions of the signal (popups on the OSD). Hopefully this won't be a big problem in practice.

    Next I watched some cable TV in DPLII-C mode. _Forrest Gump_ was playing on one of the pay channels. The Vietnam scenes were coming alive. Dialog seemed to steer properly to the center channel, with music and effects routing to left and right. Surround was subtle, but seemed appropriate most of the time. Very neat. Worlds better than ProLogic. I did some channel surfing - some programs sounded a little weird with the surround content (surround sound for news?).

    Lastly, I tried several different DVDs. Among them: _Run Lola Run_, _Crouching Tiger_ (non-superbit), _Apocalypse Now_ (non-redux), _Quills_, and _Chicken Run_. I used the Dolby Digital 5.1 mode for all discs tested. Even with my limited, temporary setup - it sounds great. _Chicken Run_ is almost over, and it's sounded great the whole time. Even my girlfriend has been impressed! I'll get more detailed with the 5.1 sound as I get my system squared away.

    So that's it for now - I'll post more detail once I get some more time in on the system.

    In short? It was worth the wait, even with the few problems I've encountered so far. I'm sure I'll be able to devise some workarounds once I familiarize myself with the system more.
     
  10. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    Quick 950 anecdote: Just had a friend stop by and demo'ed the system for him briefly (950-based audio with tweaked Vidikron LCD XGA projector.) As soon as the DVD T2 THX intro played, he said, "Why would you EVER want to go to a theater?" He was sold.

    I've been enjoying the five-channel so much, I still haven't connected up the two back surrounds. (Tonight for sure.) Survivor last night sounded GREAT with DPL2 processing (Panorama ON, Dimension -1, Center Width +2) Nice surround ambience and those percussion instruments had terrific body.

    Continue to be impressed by the clarity and the detail, but no stridence or harshness.

    By the way, in my experience, you can rely on the internal test tones to set reference level. I double-checked it against my Video Essentials last night and it was right on.
     
  11. JeffreyMercado

    JeffreyMercado Second Unit

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    Can this be true? Is this actually real? I assure you as you are reading this, many 950s have shipped. I must start off by saying it was worth every month, week, day, hour, minute, and second that we had to wait. As of writing this you still will not find a brand new pre pro at this price with all these features. For $899 minus the discount + the pair of cables this is a great value. Im sure you know all that, lets get to the good stuff. DID I MENTION I GOT MY 950 TODAY WOOOOHOOOOO !!!!! First I just have to tell you I am a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. I know it just a couple of components, but these 2 have created the most buzz, contoversy, hype, than any 2 products I can think of. You will never regret waiting that is for sure.

    Alright, yesterday I noticed my bank account was charged so I figured I would get it today or tomorrow WOOOHOOO I felt. This morning it came at 9:30am and the DHL guy seemed a bit peeved about having to deliver it to my door(3rd floor walk up). After the fact that I had to carry the 770 up myself the week before, freakin slacker DHL guy. Anyway, the 950 comes double boxed, I took out the 12" chef knife(it justs feels more fun that way) and sliced and diced my way to the 950. First off this thing has got some nice weight to it. Very solid, then as much as I disliked the green button this thing is really nice. I opened the remote and I noticed the OUTLAWS gave me batteries for my remote, very cool. There is nothing worse than having to go out to the store because you don't have any freakin aaa batteries. DID I MENTION I GOT MY 950 TODAY WOOOOOHOOOO !!!!! What I really appreciated was that they were not yamaguchi, or fruit of the loom batteries they were DURACELL ULTRA RA RA RA. Those are manly batteries lots of man juice. Than I began connecting this baby, took me all of five miutes.

    First DVD I popped in there( after I calibrated of course) was none other than the phantom menace, pod race scene. WHOA!!! I never expected to here such a difference. There was just a clarity and detail that was not there before. DID I MENTION I GOT MY 950 TODAY WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!! Then I popped in sting, WOW, I felt like I was there. Then Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon the stolen sword scene. Man Alive it was really unbelievable. The background noises came alive. I can not count how many times I thought to myself I never heard that before. Then I put the fox demo disk, I know I sound like an idiot but WOW MAN WOW. There was all kinds of crackling when I was watching the Titan A.E. scene a (must for monster bass) and the bass was great.

    On to music, this thing has all the settings you need for your speaker setup. Its got the crossovers, the test tones, it even has the distance from the listener in feet or meters, very cool. Setup was really a cinch and the music I listened to was duel of the fates, more star wars, Fantasia in DTS and lots of rap. When I set up the radio the OUTLAWS also gave a am antenna as well as a fm antenna. They worked pretty good, I was able to pull some stations from conneticut, and I live in Queens New York. The tuner is kind of slow changing stations but once you got all the stations preset it doesen't matter. I would have liked a button that went through all the presets, but there is a button that does scan through them. The 5,7 channel stereo works pretty awesome, I really enjoyed it. Pro logic II for TV I could not try due to a wicked ground hum through my coax cable techie is coming friday from my cable company. You will really enjoy your music on this.

    The remote control is very light, square and kind of awkward feeling in the hand. I would not have mind a lcd display where it says OUTLAW as I only connect through component so no OSD. With that in mind the remote is awesome. I got rid of my cable,dvd,tv, and vcr remotes WAF was at an all time high. The learning capabilities of the remote allow you to replace any button on your old remotes to one corresponding on this one. I tried it on my air conditioner remote and it didn't work. I'll figure it out. The remote has a very cool backlight and the only gripe is that it can't go through walls and stuff.

    Then in the middle of my testing I get a phone call from the President of OUTLAW Peter Tribeman. Have you ever talked to the president of Sony or Denon or Pioneer or Yamaha or anyone. He called to see if everything was alright, if I was enjoying my purchase. Can you imagine that, talking and wasting time answering my questions for 18 minutes. This was the president of NAD, he called me from his office at Atlantic Technologies this guy is freakin busy. It was really nice and I was extremely appreciative. I really felt like my hard earned money was well invested in a great company. He mentioned that when everybody had their problems with the 950s those that had one were refunded their money and they were sent an additional one without charge. So they were living with them for free!!! That seems like great business to me a very different kind of company. Then I really did not appreciate how he rubbed it in that he was going to get to see a sneak preview of attack of the clones meanwhile a line has already formed at the Ziegfield in New York. I waited 20 hours last time for a ticket.

    I really feel this was a incredible purchase I do not regret it at all. I can't wait till tomorrow to demo more stuff. I know this was long but who cares I waited long enough to say what I had to say. Hell I have been waiting a year fot this thing and everyone, it was worth the wait.

    You know, I completely forgot about some titles in my review. For one, The Matrix, that opening scene with Trinity was really given new life. I had heard that scene through a Pioneer 47 reciever at the time and man the clarity. You really just here every nuke and cranny. When she jumps up to kick the police officer the SVS goes downtown to chinatown, its great.

    Then I snapped in some serious Jazz. I had Dave Brubecks Take Five, and I must say I really enjoyed the ProLogicII. My brother who I think truly has a golden ear felt the DTS neo 6 provided a more realistic surround experience. I went through some Ray Charles, Mongo Santa Maria, Quincy Jones, all really sounded new ,and fresh. Then I started to cry as I slowed things down with some Jewel. Again, the brother preferred the DTS neo 6. I tried to get my bass CDs back from his house yesterday with no luck. One being Rakims greatest hits. So I made due with some Missy Elliot(Hot Boys), and Nas (You Owe Me). The surround was natural and I really enjoyed the sound. You got to think I am using small speakers that are around 10 years old or more. This PrePro and lets not forgot the pure manjuice of the 770 rraa rraa rraa really makes my speakers sound excellent. I kid you not, they sounded acceptable before but know they sound downright groovy.
     
  12. Steven Simon

    Steven Simon Producer

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    My feelings as far as Pre/Pros are concerned has not changed with moving over to the Outlaw 950. I still feel the Pre/Pro approach is the Ultimate in sound reproduction, and receivers just don't compare to separates. This has been debated by the likes of all man kind in the home theater industry, and in my experience, most receiver people that turn Pre/Pro never go back. The Outlaw 950 is loaded to the hilt with the most current sound formats, and DSP modes. It also contains a new proprietary sound format called Cirrus Logic. Cirrus Logic derives a single back surround channel, and matrixes that into your two back surround speakers. .Build quality is top notch on the 950. It sits in a solid frame, and in my opinion has a sleek look. I think I may be one of the only HT dwellers that actually digs the Green button and theme behind Outlaw. (This has nothing to do with me being a Star Wars freak my entire Life ) Jumping right into the boxing ring, the Outlaw 950 stands toe to toe with the Lexicon MC-1 in my book. Sonics are so close, I feel some would have a hard time telling them apart in a A/B test. Some of my very first impressions of the audio reproduction were how transparent your speakers become with the 950. Localization literally disappears with this unit. Such comments are echoed in my MC-1 review. While seated in the sweet spot of your HT, one will soon forget that they have a set of speakers in front of them.

    One of the biggest accolades I give this unit is it's ability to reproduce a monstrous and wide front soundstage. Music scores such as the Star Wars intro credits just engulf your listening area. Surround effect panning amongst your 5 or 7 channel speaker array is flawless in every respect. Such scenes as the light sabers twirling and swooshing around your theater in Star Wars, just light up your home theater. The 950 puts you right smack into the middle of the action. More so than most of the gear I have had in my HT career.

    The LFE signal coming from the 950 is also precise, and detailed. I run twin SVS 20-39 CSi Subwoofers, and they (feel) better than ever. Bass just engulfs you with those heavy LFE soundtracks. Center channel dialogue is perfectly anchored, extremely detailed, and clear. Like I have said earlier, I find all of my speakers to be more and more transparent with this configuration, and the CC dialogue just seems to float from the Center Soundstage. I rarely notice the actual speaker doing it's job. As far as Sound formats, I have sampled a few of them, admittedly not all. I haven't done any ProLogic II demos, and will endeavor into music listening in the next few days. One has to understand, my large theater is used for Movies, and High Def material. What I have found is that I prefer the Cirrus Logic Engaged over 5.1 material. I have done several A/B tests on dvd sources, and find the Cirrus Logic does the most for the overall soundstage. Outlaw has packed a plethora of features into this unit to keep the tweekers busy for some time. OSD is simple, and intuitive at the same time. I had no problems with Digital assignments and speaker level calibrations. One neat feature the 950 has is it's ability to jump to any test tone of any particular speaker. On other preamps, you would have to sweep in a Clockwise direction around your theater. Kudos to Outlaw on this helpful, and insightful menu system. The remote packed with the 950 is straight forward, and simplistic in use. It has a blue backlight, and all buttons are clearly marked. The remote is powerful, and commands the 950 on every stroke of the keys. Back panel of the 950 is clearly marked with all inputs, and is well designed.

    In closing, I find the 950 sonically to be equivalent to the Lexicon MC-1. The 950 might not have Broadcast Video switching, or Logic7, but pound for pound, the 950 can box the Lex any day of the week. After several hours on each unit, Logic7 is still in my mind; a nice enhancement to 5.1 audio, but not the pinnacle of 5.1 audio. I think the 950 is a revolutionary product, considering other preamps of same quality sell for a minimum of 2 to 10 times the price. If you look at this unit on a Price/Performance standpoint, it can't be beat.
     
  13. Bruce Cadotte

    Bruce Cadotte Stunt Coordinator

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    all hooked up and i like what i hear so far i guess the best review i can give right now at this very early stage is i am glad so far that i did wait for it but still a little pissed i had to wait for it because i had to change my plans for my main theater,now with the Integra 9.1 in the main theater(only movies) room where the Outlaw was going to go back in feb.when i finished my basement and now it is upstairs in the main TV(NTSC and HDTV)and music(CD's,DVD AUDIO,SACD)room i am torn about what to do-flip flop them,leave them(the 9.1 is a great receiver and sounds wonderful for movies but i keep thinking about how wonderful the 950 will sound down there [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    by the way no hissing so far and i wonder the people who has hissing has any kind of power conditioner like i have, it could be dirty power,i think 1 of them said they lived near a radio station or something like that
     
  14. Bruce Cadotte

    Bruce Cadotte Stunt Coordinator

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    a little review before a big review after i had the 950 for a little while-i was up at 5a.m. this morning just to play with the 950 before going to the gym and work today and after a while my wife got up(went to bed last night while i was hooking it up-she has the flu and went to bed about 6:00 p.m.)anyways she woke up and while i was listening to some CD's and the first thing she said to me was why the music sounded so good(she did not know the 950 came in and that i hooked it up)anyways this is from a woman who thinks good home theater sound is turning the Television speakers up louder so if she can tell then the 950 might be even a bigger winner in at least my house.
     
  15. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    What's with the flu,I got it too damn it.[​IMG]
    Anyhow I 've received my 950 on friday and I had a chance to play with it.
    OK,the user friendlyness is just great.I had some "fear' after a brief encounters with Yamaha and HK,none their set up ease and logic was anywhere close to the Denon receivers I've owned over the past 5 years.
    The 950 gets it even better,especially with their test tones set up.[​IMG]
    I think others touched on the looks and built quality,so I won't,since my impression is the same.
    The sound:
    Well for 2 channel via CD[Pioneer Elite Pd-54]connected digitally,I can't say that if it was much better then the Denon 3801 it replaced,but to be honest I wasn't expected to be,if I wanted a super stereo preamp I would have bought something like:Roksan,Creek,or Perroux.
    NO I'm not a big stereo supporter either so thay's why I was hoping that the 950 multichannel and maybe some of the touted DSP's will give some life to mu favourite CD's and DVD-A's.
    The answer is yes for DTS/DVD-A and a so,so for DPLII and the likes for music.
    On the DTS cd's and DVD's[music] I felt that the clarity was better all around,and the sound field seemed more seamless.
    On regular cd's the DPLII music mode added a little more dimension to the frontstage,but in the expense of imaging.Vocals however didn't seem to suffer much from DPL II's processing.This was a toss up I need to listen to more cd's to get a better opinion.
    Movie sound.
    Now this is where it gets interesting.
    The center channel just became noticably more prominent,more tightly focused to the screen,and dialog was more inteligable.
    I popped in SPR's Omaha Beach scene,and for the first time I could pick out some of the dialog that I thought was intentianoly were made like mumbling,or shouting beyond comprehension,but people were actualy speaking words.
    I also engaged the Cirrus SR Cinema mode along with the DTS on SPR,to see if would be a better enhancment,then the forced EX on my Denon, which made this active rear soundfield like a collapsed "in your head mono" effects.
    Not so with the Cirrus.The soundfield kept it's diecrete origins,yet it created a belivable center surround which blended great with the sides,and even put some "sharp" effect into the EX speakers without compromising the whole soundstage.
    I also checked if the 950 reckognise some of the DTS ES flags,yes it does,and it indentifies if it's discrete or matrix.So far so good!
    Stay tuned!
     
  16. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    A few last comments and then I'm officially withdrawing from ALL Outlaw 950 threads on HTF. (I'm finally fed up with the obnoxious behavior of a few individuals and the expectation that the rest of us have to tolerate it. Screw you guys, I'm going home.)
    A couple negatives:
    1. The remote is kinda lame. Not enough different sizes to the buttons. Too many quite different multi-functions assigned to the same buttons. Weight distribution is all wrong with the batteries at the top. Implementation of my Panny RV80 DVD player control is messed up because the cursor controls on the RV80 remote aren't replicated on the 950 remote. No TiVo unless I train it. No "tape transport" controls aside from the cursor arrangement. I won't be using it much. IMHO this is the 950's only failure. ON THE PLUS SIDE: This is the strongest remote signal I've ever seen. I can bounce this baby off a wall 22 feet away and it still controls the 950 behind me. 40-50 foot range??!!!?? Amazing!
    2. The surround mode auto-detect is fine if you're turning on a program source and leaving it. However, in some specialized circumstances it's still too slow. Notably in my case, when I skip commercials using my TiVo, it still creates a silent pause of several seconds when I return to the show. I suspect I'll be turning off the auto-detect entirely very soon.
    3. After reading the raves, I'm a bit disappointed in DPL2. I expected more.
    4. I would have liked the ability to step through my AM/FM presets. The preset scan feature just takes too long.
    And that's it for the negatives!
    The detailed sound, the dynamic range, the user interface, the feature set, construction quality, overall convenience -- those are all wins IMHO.
    And some things like the multiple crossover settings are BIG wins. I've used those crossovers to fine tune not just the blend between my NHT 2.5 and SVS; but also to enhance the surround image, to refine the clarity of center channel voices, and to provide extra flexibility in surround speaker placement.
    Double-bass? If it's a problem. I don't hear it in my setup. Your mileage ... yadda, yadda, yadda. HISS? Not on my Outlaw 950 -- but I took much care in the cabling and the AC connections to avoid noise and ground loops which the 950 seems inclined to expose.
    And just to share a few highlights:
    ** As Stephan has noted: BIG-ASS GIGANTIC SWEEPING CINERAMA WIDESCREEN imaging across the front in both two channel and surround sound material.
    ** Wide dynamic range. I never feel like a tiny musical detail is being compressed to get it into an audible range.
    ** Six-channel sound is great. I'm using it to try an experiment. I have direct radiators all around. Rather than cram all four surrounds in the 6 feet behind the listening position, I put the side surrounds between the listener and the mains with the back surrounds elevated in the rear. (Using a little extra delay to compensate for placement.) Aiming the side surrounds a bit toward the wall gives a nice compromise between direct and dipole ambience. While I no longer have the "drama" of hearing those rear effects in schizoid relief behind me, this placement does create a seamless surround soundfield. The 950's ability to tweak crossover and delay has helped to further improve the dimensional illusion of this placement. The experiments will continue...
    ** The little synthesizer treble details and almost inaudible bass thumps in "Big Trouble in Little China." Sometimes the music tracks just float like an ethereal cloud in your seating area.
    ** My vinyl. I have a classic AR turntable, Sumiko moving coil cartridge to Mark Levinson pre-preamp to Rotel phono preamp to the Outlaw. Pure, transparent heaven from top to bottom.
    ** The climactic explosion in Rush Hour 2. HO-LEE KEE-RAPP! It starts in the front channels and just about the time you think it has shot its wad (my apologies to the tasteful readers) this SOB blasts from the front to the back of the room like a 10 megaton lightning bolt. Oooh, REEEAL scary, kids! (Ironically enough, just as that happened, somebody pulled their car into our building and my ceiling lit up from their headlights. A nice little environmental enhancement to the scene. [​IMG] )
    Bottom line? I have a friend who is planning to put together a new HT separates system. I'm going to recommend she go with the Outlaw 950 and 755. For $2K, I can't imagine what else she could buy that would give her as much performance for the money.
    Enjoy.
     
  17. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Hey Bob I hear ya bro.

    I agree with most of your points reagrding negatives and positives.

    Yes the remote is quiet a disaster,but since I have Pronto,no problem here.

    Regarding switching digital signal in "auto" mode.

    When a DVD has multiple soundtracks[I.E. DD,DTS],when I select DTS I would miss a first second of the DTS intro or the begining of the movie.Once it's locked however it stays on, no matter if there is layer change or if I pause the movie.

    This never happens with cds with pcm signal,so don't worry about that.

    I'm also a bit dissapointed with DPL2 for music at least,even after tweeking panorama and dimension,center width settings.

    Cirrus Surround however is a sure winner in my book,just watched Das Boot,and it was a whole new experience.

    Got to go, to watch/listen more stuff!
     
  18. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    AZRYAN just posted this initial review of his new Outlaw 950. I'm linking it rather than copy and pasting it since I do not have his permission to do so. Maybe however, he can add to this post here on HTF with additional thoughts or another review. Here is the link to the thread on AVS with his post: AZRYAN 950 Review
     
  19. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    Thanks to all who have already contributed reviews here. Keep them coming, pro & con.
    Incidentally, reviews are beginning to appear over on audio review here
     
  20. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Agent

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    It takes about 6 seconds for the sound to lock in every time I change the channel on DirecTV, after a couple of seconds it takes DirectTV to get picture. Definitely my least favorite thing about the 950 (there certainly are a lot of great things about it, but this is aggravating to me). And it's worse for people who are big channel surfers. If I lock it on ProLogic II, it's definitely faster, but if you get a channel with Dolby Digital, you get a nasty noise on that channel, and have to grab that remote to select Dolby Digital. So it's hard to decide which setting, Auto or ProLogic is really best. In all fairness the Denon 5700 I had before the 950 wasn't all that fast either, but this is definitely slower. I heard they had speeded up this feature, so I hate to imagine what it was like before.

    I'm pretty thrilled with just about everything else so far on the 950, but like I said, this is pretty aggravating.
     

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