I asked the question of who would be interested in a comparison between these two, and got a couple of responses, and even more so I was extremely interested in a comparison, so I bit the bullet and decided to purchase both and do a shootout. First of all, here is a list of my associated equipment: VPI HW19JR with Platter Upgrade Trichord Dino Phono Preamp AAD 2001 Main Speakers norh 4.0 marble Center Paradigm Studio 20v2 Surrounds SVS 20-39 CS powered with 500 watt amp Sony CDPx5000 CD player and transport (japan only) Sony CDPcx90es 200 disk cd player Odyssey Stratos with 120,000 uf cap upgrade 3 norh Le Amp monoblocks 5 pairs of Homegrown Audio Super Silver II 5 pairs of Homegrown Audio Silver Lace SOny CDP660 DVD player DIY Speaker Cable (~12 Gauge) SOnic Frontiers Line 1 with NOS Siemens, Mullard and Dario Tubes Secondly, here is the list of media that I decided to test with: Saving Private Ryan (DTS) The Matrix Amelie Eagles-Hell Freezes Over CD Dave Matthews Band-Crash CD The Gypsy Kings-Greatest Hits CD Led Zeppelin-III LP Neil Young-Harvest LP Pink Floyd-the wall, dark side, wish you were here All LP So here goes with the comparison: Music: I listened to all the above mentioned CD's and LP's in both stereo and multi-channel enhanced modes, and did so with both analog and digital connectors(where applicable). From what I found, the HK 520 had a slight edge in both stereo and multi channel listening. As a reference in stereo listening, I used my Sonic Frontiers preamp, and I compared the two unit to the Sonic Frontiers. With stereo listening on the HK, the overall tonality (Lows, Mids, Highs) was very good, with a slight upper tinge and even slighter loss of air in the midrange. Also, there is slight soundstage compression, as noted in both Hell Freezes Over when the cheer of the crowd feels a little too close to the band, and on DSOTM when the clock clangs all emerge from a 10'x10' space. Also, on Hell Freezes Over, Don Henley's Voice seems to come from about 1' lower than where it should be. In terms of multi channel, I found both Logic 7 Enhanced and DTS Neo Music to be the best multi channel enhancement modes, with a slight edge to Logic 7 in terms of channel seperation and integration. In terms of Digital Connection versus Analog Connection, I found that the DAC's in both the CX90es and the X5000 were better than the DAC's in the Harman Kardon. They seemed to be less analytical and more natural sounding, with a bit more air and depth. Overall, though, I would have to say that the HK was the most musical sounding receiver under $1000 that I have ever heard. As for the Outlaw, I used the exact same media, and did the same sort of listening tests. As for the 2 ch stereo listening, I found that the Outlaw, suprisingly, had a bit more bass than the HK, but the Mids seemed a bit muffled. The highs were about the same level, with a slight edge to the HK in terms of smoothness because the HK had better full sound spectrum integration. What I mean by this is that the shift from lows to mids to highs seemed more natural on the HK than on the Outlaw. And while the bass was more prevelent on the Outlaw, it was also a bit sloppier. When listening to the Gypsy Kings CD, which has a lot of sharp bass lines, the bass seemed to drift and sustain a little bit too long. Also, the soundstage was a little bit more compressed compared to the HK, as the crowd in Hell Freezes was about 2 feet closer or so to the band. in terms of internal DACs, once again the Outlaw DAC's were not as good as the internal dacs of the two CD players. The DAC's in the Outlaw sounded very similar to the DAC's of the HK, with a slight edge to the HK. In terms of multi channel, the Cirrus Circle Surround was by far the best mode on the Outlaw, and was in itself very close to Logic 7 on the HK. I would give a slight edge to the Logic 7, but this may have been due to the slight edge in musicality the HK had. Music Verdict: HK=B+; Outlaw=B Now heres the fun part, the movies mode. To test the movies mode, I used a certain set of passages from the aforementioned dvd's. The list of the passages (in chapter:minutes:seconds) are: Amelie: (2:2:45);(3:1:30);(6:1:00);(14:4:00);(15:4:00);(16 :3:00) The Matrix: (29:0:00)the lobby shootout;(30:2:00)bullet dodging Saving Private Ryan: (2:1:30) the D-Day scene HK520: The HK did a great job with all the aforementioned material. In Amelie, the chimes sparkled, and the accordion made a great companion to the loud bass thumps in the ending epilogue scene. In the Matrix, the sound was authoritative and precise, with the bullets of the dodging scene could not only be tracked from side to side, but from top to bottom as the camera pans around Keanu. In the D-Day scene, the bullets whizzed and the bombs exploded, while the dialogue was kept audible, though muffled due to the documentary-like feel that Spielberg tried to use during this scene. Altogether, a very impressive showing, and once again the best sounding receiver under $1000 that I have heard. Outlaw 950: Before I describe anything, all I have to say is WOW!!! HOLY CRIMINY!!! GREAT GOOGLY MOOOGLY!!! This thing is downright amazing at HT. I have heard the Lex DC2, the Anthem AVM2, the B&K Ref 30, the Sunfire TGII, and a whole other bunch of processors, and the Outlaw bests them all! It is just so damn good! In the Matrix, the bullets not only whizzed by, but you could almost hear the distortion of the sonic boom as they zoomed up, and around, and behind. In Saving Private Ryan, the thing that impressed me was not just the bullets whizzing by, but the subtle sounds in the incredible battle scene, like the germans screaming at each other in the foxhole when gunning down the invading troops. Possibly the most impressive, though, was in Chapter 15 in Amelie, when Amelie is cooking dinner and daydreaming about her one love picking up some yeast from the corner market. Not only is the sound precisely located to her left, but it is located right above her shoulder. And not only that, since the daydream is situated outdoors, where it is raining, the pitter-patter of the rain only appears in the exact location of the daydream bubble, just above Amelie's left shoulder. In movie mode, the processor was so precise, so amazing, so just right that it plain amazed me. Outlaw has delivered on the promise of a top rate AV processor. Movies Verdict: HK=A-; Outlaw=A+ Conclusion: Both these units are at or near the highest level of price-performance ratio in the audio market. Each unit has its quips, though forgiveable. The HK, for example, has the inability to adjust seperate LFE tracks (something mentioned ad naseum in this forum, but I never felt in any DTS tracks that the LFE was too low) and also has a slight subwoofer "POP" when the digital signal is lost for longer than 1/2 second. While on the 950, there is still a slight amount of "hiss" from the unit, only audible within 2 feet of the speakers, and also there is a bit of crosstalk between the analog inputs. But overall, these units proved amazing. As for which unit I will keep, this is a tough decision, but I think that I am going to keep the Outlaw. Reason being: I already have a phenomenal 2 ch preamp, and I have no need for the extra 5 channels of amplification. If I only had the Stratos, I definately would have decided to keep the 520 as opposed to the 950, as the 520 really is that good. I will begin fielding offers for the 520, but if there is no really good offer, I will probably just give it to my parents as a gift, as they are about to renovate their home theater. I think that the 520 is a great entry piece into the world of seperates, as it provides amazing music and movie performance for the price, while also giving the user a ton of options for amplification. It is a perfect match with an external 2 ch amplifier, as it will provide great music playback with a ton of options. So anyone who is looking to start a very, very good integrated Mid-fi system should first give the 520 a look. As for the 950, I think this unit is for the audio enthusiast who wants a front end piece that will provide near-unbeatable movie watching performance for a incredible price. I cannot reccomend this unit for someone who is looking to have a great all-in-one preamp/processor, but for movie only applications it is hard to beat.