Outlaw 1050 or Denon AVR-1803?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by John Browett, Mar 25, 2003.

  1. John Browett

    John Browett Auditioning

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    I'm about to buy my first HT receiver. I have narrowed it down to these two models. I'm giving my pros and cons here in the hope someone can offer some additional insight before I spend $500 and regret it later! I'm still looking for that "aha!" moment when the choice becomes clear.

    Outlaw:

    Pros:

    1. Many positive reviews (Stereophile, etc.) must infer this unit IS something special?

    2. Heavy duty build quality infers the direct sale approach is paying for a design out of the reach of the same price in the dealer channel.

    Cons:

    1. No DPL II (sidebar; since DPL II (and DPL) is essentially an artificial format, since no original stereo recordings were originally mixed in 5 channels, is this something the stereo purist would avoid anyway?)

    2. 6.1 decoding is proprietary, not DS EX or DTS ES

    3. Lack of inputs? (Doesn't concern me much, see below)

    4. Leap of faith, since I can't listen to it first?

    Denon:

    Pros:

    1. Denon 1802 reviewd as "best receiver under $500" by CHT; can we infer the 1802, which replaces it, will offer the same performance?

    2. Has authentic DPL II, DS EX, etc.

    Cons:

    1. No critical acclaim (i.e. reviews)yet.

    I should also add that the winner will be used for CD & vinyl (yes I do have a turntable still, and yes, I know the Denon has a phono input, but I already have an RIAA equalizer, so this is not such an issue) at least as much as HT. We have vitually no prerecorded video tapes (although we rent/borrow them from public library; a switch to DVD will come once we figure this all out), we don't have cable or DSS (and don't plan to). Hence it needs to serve double duty as HT and main audio system, as we don't have the budget for a separate audio system.

    So, that's my thinking. I'd love to hear some reasoned, insightful commentary from wiser souls on the forum.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Build quality wise the 1050 is better, however the 1050 does not have any 6.1 processing for DTS-ES, only Dolby tracks. A fatal flaw in its design.

    The Denon does have DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 and DTS-ES Matrix decoding, a big plus in its favor as ES 6.1 decoding is the only way you can experience a discrete center back channel on specific DTS software. Dolby Digital EX only has a matrix derived center back channel.

    Dan
     
  3. John Browett

    John Browett Auditioning

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    Dan,

    Thanks for the comments. I am very torn between the two. Overall I want something that will sound great with regular stereo as well as surround. If it wasn't for the lack of DPL II & DTS-ES on the 1050, I would have placed my order by now. These two omissions are what is making me hesistate. However, so far I have found 7 independent reviews (including 2 from Stereophile, which is what brought the thing to my attention in the first place) of the 1050 that recommend it strongly, and some have even preferred to proprietary 6.1 processing over DD EX. I'm wondering if I'm worrying too much and should just buy it and start enjoying the music?

    John.
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    John, that's a really good first post there. Welcome aboard!

    You won't go wrong with either of those fine units. I selected the 1803 for my bedroom setup for a variety of reasons, among them its more current processing capabilities.
     
  5. Frank A

    Frank A Stunt Coordinator

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    John, If you don't know, Outlaw Audio does have its own website with its members putting out good answers to questions people have about its unit. Good source for info on their products. I also think that they have a 30 day free trial on their units? If you haven't already, check out their website.
     
  6. BrianAe

    BrianAe Second Unit

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    I think your cons against the outlaw are very real and valid. I would definitly make PLII a requirement (though results vary depending on source). On the other hand, I question your pros for the outlwaw are questionable. The DENON is well built and maybe the outlaw is too but it looks cheap. As for critical acclaim, you yourself cited CHT which didn't give the outlaw such a good review.
     
  7. BrianAe

    BrianAe Second Unit

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    A couple other things to consider:

    1) Price. While they retail for the same, you should be able to find the DENON for about 400US.

    2) Remote. I don't know about the outlaw but the DENON remote is terrible.
     
  8. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    I just put together a living room HT for a buddy of mine.. He needed a decent receiver on the cheap. I chose the Denon 1803 for him and it really is a fantastic HT receiver for 400 bucks. I sold him four B&W 303's + the matching center channel and ordered him an Adire Rava sub (another killer deal for cheap). I've never heard the Outlaw but, too me, it looks like a Tonka toy...junkie looking. May not mean anything to some but, it does to me.
     
  9. John Browett

    John Browett Auditioning

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    I guess in the end what it comes down to for me is sound. I can live with "ugly" styling, a bad remote, and even perhaps less than current surround, etc as long as the sound is best I can get for the money. I'm drawn to the (allegedly) extra money that has been put into the guts of the Outlaw to improve its performance, that may be lacking on the Denon. I would estimate that the winning unit will be used for regular stereo playback of CDs and vinyl probably at least 50% of the time, so if it doesn't do that well, then I'm going to be dissatisfied. For now, a good performance on two channel stereo is very important, and some of the reviews have made it clear the Outlaw delivers in this area.

    Regarding CHT's review of the Outlaw, to me it didn't seem they gave it a poor review; they recommended it if you needed 6.1. The only reservation they seemed to have was that if you didn't need 6.1, then maybe there were better choices. But I got the impression they said this because the points against the Outlaw were function related(lack of inputs, etc), rather than performace related.

    Stereophile gave the Outlaw their Gold Award last year, and put it on the Recommended Components list for 2003. Despite the rather dated processing specs, doesn't this infer that there must be something special about this unit?

    This is all balanced against silence regarding the Denon's performance. I have yet to see a single review of it; are there any? That's not to say it's no good; indeed, maybe Outlaw's marketing dept are just more adept at courting the reviwers (but presumably they are doing this in confidence of a positive outcome?). I work in marketing, and I am well aware of how savvy marketing can take you to the top regardless of the quality (or otherwise) of your product. Has anyone tracked down a Denon review? I'd also love to read a transcript of the original Stereophile Sept 2001 review for the 1050, but so far Stereophile wants to charge me $8 + shipping to get a back issue. Has this review sneaked out onto the web anywhere?

    Thanks!
     
  10. John Browett

    John Browett Auditioning

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    If I could, I would like to ask Jack what other features of the Denon drew him towards it?
     
  11. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Easy, John: Denon possesses an excellent reputation for build quality too. The 1803's feature set is loaded for a unit in that price range—and none of it's superfluous. As far as "sound" goes, that's a different (and thorny) ball of wax. Since phono playback (and two-channel in general) is important to you, I'm certain the Denon will give you the performance you seek. JB
     
  12. Jeff Braddock

    Jeff Braddock Second Unit

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    Well, I guess I'll chime in. I got the 1803 around Christmas and have been happy with it. My main 2 gripes with it are 1. the remote, which takes a while to get used to, and 2. it doesn't have preouts. The preouts aren't that big of a deal for me, but if you were looking to upgrade to a seperate amp, that would be a hinderance.
     
  13. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    I'm an Outlaw booster for most of their line (specifically, the amps and the ICBM.)

    But the 1050 is severly outdated. I would not consider any receiver that did not have Pro Logic II. There are several other reasons why the Denon would be my choice between these 2 but the DPLII issue alone would settle it for me...
     
  14. John Browett

    John Browett Auditioning

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    So Chuck, do tell! What are the other reasons? Why is DPL II so important?

    Thanks!
     
  15. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    John: Well, in your initial post you pretty much summed up most of my reasoning. IMO, the 1050's main claim to fame was high quality value for the $$$ invested. And for those who bought them, it's my understanding the 1050 delivered. But receivers are slaves to technology and technology has moved on a fair amount since the 1050 came out. This is borne out by the decoding format updates and so on that you note. Since you've indicated that one of the main keys for you is home theater, the honest truth is that the 1050 can't deliver the best that the new technologies have to offer.
    As for DPL II, how much time do you have? [​IMG] We still live in a 2 channel world (as much as we all are trying to get away from it!) I have over 200 DVDs and a fair number of them don't have true 5.1 soundtracks. Not to mention all of the stereo music we've all collected for years and years...
    DPL II is a true advance over the old Pro Logic for both movies and music. (DPL II has both a Movie and separate Music mode.) There is just sooo much more separation and envelopment. In DPL II, the rear surround speakers receive a full range signal and have true stereo separation. These are benefits that really make a difference.
    I freely admit that I'm still a 2 channel kind of guy for a good deal of my 2 channel music listening. But DPL II's Music mode has certainly made a significant dent into my way of thinking. DPL II's Music mode allows you to adjust 3 parameters to tailor the sound to your personal preference (DPL II Movie mode has no adjustable parameters and is configured for more, IMO, dialog oriented programming.) It can literally move to a different seat in the "theater" and still sound quite natural. None of that echoey, bouncy sound that many other surround modes seem to have.
    I have had DPL II in my setup since 2001 and I now find myself trying DPL II on most of my 2 channel listening. And in many cases, it sounds better. Certainly good enough that I would NEVER buy any surround processor without it.
    One last thought... Don't buy the 1802. Go for the 1803. Denon has made a few user friendly changes along with processor/chip upogrades. Worth every penny!
     
  16. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    John:

    Have you thought about going the separates route instead of a receiver?

    Parker
     
  17. BrianAe

    BrianAe Second Unit

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    Hmmm, he's looking at 400 dollar receivers, seperates is a long leap from there, even for an outlaw setup.
     
  18. Todd_RIC

    Todd_RIC Stunt Coordinator

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    As far as "looks" go, I guess that is a subjective thing... but my opinion is that BOTH of them are ugly. If you want something strictly for its looks, go with a Pioneer Elite.

    Anyway, between the two receivers you've listed, I would go for the Denon 1803. I wouldn't personally recommend that you ever buy equipment that you already know is outdated when you buy it... that will happen soon enough. Get the DPL II and latest movie processing... you'll never regret it.
     
  19. Alf S

    Alf S Banned
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    For what's worth, I replaced my Outlaw 1050 for a Pioneer VSX 811 and haven't regretted it one bit.

    The Outlaw was nice for it's day, but way lacking on features by today's standards.

    For the money, you can't go wrong with the feature ladened(sp) 811.

    I enjoy the 811 in both DVD and music modes BTW....some folks may disagree, but I find no faults in sound playing either format.

    Alfer
     
  20. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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