*** Outlaw 950 Beta Testers Reports *** - please read instructions in first post!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by RAF, Feb 26, 2002.

  1. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    Well, the unthinkable happened and the database crashed, taking this entire section (and the tweaks section as well) down for the count. Crying about it won't bring it back. Instead, I'm creating a couple of threads for reference purposes. The purpose of this thread will be to post all the beta testers' reports (remember, they are not official "reviews"). I would respectfully ask that the beta testers repost their remarks (I hope you have backups of your work) and, in the cases where the beta testers do not frequent the forum, ask the assistance of people like LarryB (who gets the credit for originally coming up with the idea of a consolidated beta test report area) to re-gather the information from other sources.
    I hope that this will serve to fill people in who are new to the HTF and who want to get some idea of the potential features and performance of the 950. Remember, nothing substitutes for an in-home evaluation of your own so use these remarks accordingly.
    And please do not use this space to post any other comments or questions since that defeats the purpose of this thread. A separate thread has been established HERE for any pertinent questions. I trust you understand.
    To get the ball rolling I'm going to start with my original comments (as they appear on my HT web site).
    Sorry for any inconvenience but really, neither The Outlaws nor Razvan were responsible for this!
    [​IMG]
     
  2. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    Here are my initial Beta Tester #1 remarks:
    Outlaw 950 Pre/Pro Arrives – Some Observations of a Beta Tester
    I was chosen to be a beta tester for the new Outlaw 950 and, on January 31, 2002, this unit arrived for installation. Since so many people have been asking me so many questions about this unit I have chosen to put together this small article to describe the experience.
    First of all, let me explain the beta testing process a bit, at least in terms of the Outlaw 950. This highly anticipated product was created in a marketplace which is a constantly moving target. Before the ink was dry on the first press releases regarding the 950 new sound modes were being made available. One such example was Dolby Prologic 2 (DPL2). In addition, since Outlaw uses a variety of sources for their components, various manufacturers were constantly upgrading their software. In an attempt to try to produce as current a unit as possible, the Outlaws kept pushing back the release date of the 950 until it reached the point where the delays were overshadowing the product itself. For full details on how this scenario played itself out I refer you to the Outlaw Audio web site at http://www.outlawaudio.com.
    In any event, by the end of 2001 the product features had been finalized and the 950 entered the “alpha” phase of testing which involves a lot of sophisticated checking of the hardware, the software and everything else associated with the device in a clinical situation. By the end of January, 2002, Outlaw Audio felt confident enough to release a very limited amount of units (less than 5, I believe) for Beta testing. I was fortunate enough to receive the first unit out of Alpha. In fact, in some ways I believe my unit was a bit “pre-beta” since I was given a temporary remote (the remotes were still being manufactured but this was a fully functional mock-up with the keys identified with paper labels). In addition, I was told that the AM/FM tuner in the unit had already been replaced by one with greater sensitivity and fidelity. One last “gotcha” was that the manual was still in the process of being written so I was asked if I would be comfortable checking out a piece of equipment with no reference materials or instructions whatsoever. Since Outlaw was anxious to get some in home reaction to this product they were willing to send me the unit “as is” but fully functional to avoid further delay. My test unit would eventually be replaced with a brand new production unit (with manual) somewhere down the line if that was o.k. with me. Obviously, I jumped at the chance to play with the first 950!
    So on the morning of January 31, 2002 a box arrived by courier and I immediately set out to run the 950 through its paces. This is not as easy a task as it might first appear. I planned to remove my Denon 5700 receiver from its current position on my rack located on the bottom shelf (so that I can see the mode and volume displays below the screen). I planned on moving all the pre/pro functions over to the 950 but keep on using the 5700’s amp stages (4 of them) to power my surround speakers for now. This is not a five minute task. There were over 100 connections on the back of the Denon and it took me the good part of five hours to label everything, unconnect, shuffle and reconnect my equipment. About another hour or so, once the connections were made, to go through all the setup menus and to map all the digital inputs to their respective components (remember, I was doing this by the seat of my pants with no instruction manual), a little balancing of the speaker output with a sound meter and I was ready to go. Incidentally, even without a manual the menu items were extremely intuitive. Being from the school of “RTFM” being a final option I felt right at home!
    So, before I get into specifics, what was the bottom line? Without a doubt, the 950 preformed much better than the 5700 as a pre/pro, even in modes where they have common functionality. The difference was not just a subtle one (remember, the Denon 5700 is a highly regarded component) but easily noticed. Those of you who have read my comments on my Home Theater Site regarding my feelings regarding the small but noticeable improvement in sound when I went from receiver amplification to monoblocks for my front soundstage will recall that I said the improvement there was small but significant to me. This time, however, the leap forward in overall audio performance is a much bigger one. Across the board the sound was cleaner, more distinct, and richer – you name the adjective, it probably applies. The 950’s performance, especially at its price point, is astonishing.
    Let me give you a concrete example from my perspective. Some of you may recall that I love to listen to SACD 2 channel music. In fact, when I first added Marantz Monoblocks to my system to replace the internal amps of my receiver for the front channels I used this medium to listen to the improved sound. One track in particular that I keep coming back to again and again (and that I returned to once more during my beta testing of the 950) was Jacintha’s “Moon River” from her Autumn Leaves SACD (Groove Note GRV1006-3). This track (#10) contains a crystal clear a capella soundtrack that can be quite revealing. As I listened to this track late at night I thought I heard something I had never heard before (and I’m very familiar with this track). At around the 2:00 minute mark of the song there seemed to be a bit of music in the background. At first it reminded me of the days of tape when occasionally “print through” would cause some sounds to be transferred from one layer of the recording tape to another and show up as background sound. But then I realized that the music in the background was in sync with Jacintha’s singing. (Print through sounds and music are usually more random than that). It finally dawned on me – what I was listening to was the music from her headphones! She was using musical queues to stay on tune so that when the piano joined in a bit later she would be on key. And the 950 was reproducing this! I was floored.
    I could give you example after example where very familiar sounds – from CD’s, from SACD’s, from DVD’s, from LD’s, etc. took on new life when processed through the 950. I felt much the same way as I did when I added an SVS subwoofer to my HT. Now I was going to have to watch and listen to a huge amount of media once again. Thanks, Outlaw (I think!) Even with no manual and a paste-up remote and a tuner that will be upgraded by me later this product is a keeper.
    A few other impressions to anticipate some general questions. The fit and finish of the 950 is very nice. While some people might not be in love with the Outlaw logo (I have no feelings on this one way or another) this has absolutely nothing at all to do with how the 950 performs. It appears to be a ruggedly built unit. Those familiar with the Outlaw ICBM may know what I’m talking about. And the inside of the unit looks very professional as well. Other people who know a lot more about this than I do assure me that the components are top grade ones. No cost cutting here that I can notice. Remember, beta testing does not involve bench testing, but real world home testing so I will not make any comments on specifications, etc. That is best left to lab reports and reviews which I’m sure will be in abundance. I can only relate anecdotal information such as that I’ve heard that a good number of engineers for companies supplying the components, having seen the construction of the 950 for its price point are interested in a unit for themselves.
    Speaking of the Outlaw ICBM, the 950 does include bass management for a single set of 5.1 inputs (like a DVD-Audio or an SACD multichannel player.) However, if you have a need for bass management for more than one such analog source like I do (DVD-A and SACD-A) there is a simple solution. Simply add an Outlaw ICBM between the pre/pro output and the amplifier input stage and this will assure that the subwoofer is in the mix in all needed modes.
    And what about the flexibility of the 950? It should be much more than adequate for all but the most sophisticated HT needs. When I first moved all the connections from the Denon 5700 to the 950 I discovered that the 5700 actually has more connections. In other words, I had some wires left over. However this is not a big a deal as it might first appear, especially since the features and performance of the 950 are far greater than that of the 5700. For example, there is no phono input as there is on the 5700, but an external phono pre-amp connected to one of the two AUX inputs will solve that. Besides, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I’ve used my turntable over the past few years, although the way that some of the processing modes of the 950 breathe new life into straight stereo sources may make me want to rethink this.
    In addition, there is no RF input (for the AC-3 output from an LD player with such capability). Once again, this doesn’t affect me as much as I first thought it would. For one thing, my DTS LD’s still work fine via the digital output of the LD Player. (Incidentally, the DTS track on LD’s through the 950 is astounding.) Additionally, the presence of DPL2 and how great it makes the regular PCM track of LD’s sound doesn’t make me miss an AC-3 soundtrack at all. Besides, if I really needed it I could always get an RF converter. In this case I don’t miss inclusion of an RF input in the 950.
    There are the same number of digital inputs as my Denon 5700 (6) although they are configured a bit differently (4 optical and 2 coaxial unlike 5 optical and 1 coaxial on the Denon). There are also two digital outputs (1 optical and 1 coaxial.) There are five video inputs (which include S-Video, composite and L/R audio) only one of which (VCR) also has video outputs (the Denon had 2 sources with video output jacks.) However, there are also four audio only inputs in addition labeled CD, TAPE, AUX1 and AUX2 for a total of ten input devices were audio can be controlled. The TAPE input also has TAPE output audio jacks for anything that requires a tape loop. There is component switching for two sets of inputs (Y/Pb/Pr) to one set of component outputs. I could go on and on about these jacks and how they differ in number and function from those found on other units but that doesn’t serve any universal purpose here. Besides, most if not all of this information is or will be available from other sources. Also, remember that I was working without a reference manual so I might shortchange some of the other functions that I might have overlooked. For example there are DC trigger and External Remote minijacks for what are termed “MAIN” and “ZONE.” And the usual complement of FM75ohm and AM antenna connectors (although as indicated earlier I didn’t test the tuner and won’t until I get the newer model which will be found in production units.)
    The remote is blue back lighted and functional, but I can’t give you any final comments on the one shipped with marketed 950’s since mine was a prototype. I don’t expect any problem on this score. I was able to transfer control to my Pronto remote with no trouble and to program some macros to set up the 950 with the most commonly used functions. The POWER switch actually is a POWER OFF switch. (A hard ON/OFF switch is found on the back of the 950 for complete control.) To power on the unit you simply select any function (DVD, VCR, VIDEO 1, etc.) Therefore discrete codes for Pronto macros work seamlessly.
    As mentioned previously, without the luxury of a manual it is hard to be sure that I’ve discovered all the gems buried within the 950. I’ve gone through all the menus and have, by trial and error, found most of the parameters. For example, there are selectable crossover points for the speakers, front, center and surround of 40, 60, 80, 120 and 150Hz. If there are some hidden menu controls that provide even greater flexibility I await the manual for guidance. There are many different modes available and many of these have adjustable parameters as well.
    For Dolby there is Dolby D, Dolby EX, DPL2 Cinema, DPL2 Music, DPL2 Emulation Mode, DPL2 3ST and DPL2 Phantom. Within Dolby you can activate a “night” mode which varies from No Compensation through DR Comp 1 -> 4 (Which I imagine is like the old “loudness” control – at least in theory if not in implementation). Also, DPL2 has settable parameters for Panorama, Dimension and C Width. I hope to find the time to learn more about DPL2 in the future. Like I said, a manual and some theory will help me here for the ultimate fine tuning.
    On the DTS side of things there is DTS, DTS-ES, and the “Neo6” DTS modes: C6, C5, C3, M6 and M5. For STEREO you have a choice of STEREO, 5 STEREO and 7 STEREO. And the 950 even features its own 7.1 surround modes – PL2C-CES and PL2M-CES. I imagine this is related to Cirrus Enhanced Surround (or something to that effect) incorporating its own surround processing in both Cinema and Music Modes (thus the names). In addition, you have analog bypass for all sources as well as the direct analog bypass with bass management for the separate set of analog 5.1 inputs.
    For those wondering what else is involved in beta testing, be aware that with a piece of equipment this complicated there are some minor glitches that inevitably make their way through at this stage and must be dealt with. In no case has anything that has been discovered compromised the performance of the 950 – at least not to my ears. One quick example of such a “glitch:” It was discovered, and verified by me and others, that if you tell the 950 you have 5 speakers and choose an analog input, no sound would come through the 950. Interestingly, I might never have found this under normal circumstances since I have 7 speakers + SW and most of my inputs are digital choices. Also, you could work around this glitch by telling the 950 you had 7 speakers if, in fact, you really have five and the sound would be fine. However, in the interest of getting everything right this information was conveyed to the programmers and the code was adjusted (probably just a byte or two, if that) and will be in the final release.
    One other observation about separates such as the 950 and others, as opposed to the pre/pro sections of most receivers. A dedicated pre/pro is generally far more sophisticated and performs a lot more things behind the scenes, so to speak, than a receiver. There is a lot of auto sensing of signals, etc. and there is some timing involved. It took me a while to get used to the slight delay when the 950 locked onto a source since I was accustomed to my 5700 but this quickly became a non-issue. Besides, I’ve been spending some time on forums where some of the highest priced pre/pros are discussed and this issue – a time delay processing certain modes – is a hotbed of discussion in units costing 10 times more than the 950. So this is not unique to the 950 but is part of this new world to me.
    The most important thing to me is that nothing that I have found compromises the sound of the 950. You’ll hear (if you haven’t already) from people who have owned other pre/pros and in many cases they’ll tell you that the 950 outperforms units costing several times more. And it holds its own with the really expensive pre/pros – especially in the area of sound which to me is paramount. Of course you won’t get the total signal processing flexibility of a Lexicon (I wouldn’t expect that at the price) but the sound you get is much closer than you might expect based on the cost of the 950. To me the world of separates with quality sound has now been brought into the mainstream. Just as my Sony VW10HT made high quality HT video affordable to many more people when it was released, I consider that the 950 does the same for the audio portion of the program. Where the price/performance ratio is important (as it is to most of us) such products take center stage.
     
  3. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    After approximately one month, I believe that the 950 Beta test is basically over and we are now awaiting the release of this pre/pro. Therefore, I'm unsticking this thread at this point in time since there hasn't been much new information to share. For further information regarding the status of the 950 I would suggest visiting the Outlaw website HERE
     
  4. Michael Yung

    Michael Yung Stunt Coordinator

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    So Robert, has Outlaw been in touch with you recently to make you think that the beta test is over? Have all the bugs you reported been fixed to your knowledge? Can you please ask them when the 950 will be released for a very desperate man? [​IMG] Thanks.
     
  5. Gene Lockaby

    Gene Lockaby Extra

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    Sorry for the delay, but have been tied up in real life situations this week (work). Managed to find copies of two posts this evening and submit herewith for the archive.

    ****

    I’m the fifth of five beta testers for the 950, and here I am on Monday night February 11, knocking out the report I thought I’d be making sometime in November. Among other things I can tell you - it was worth the wait.

    AFAIK I’m the token Lexicon guy in the group, and as such my main function in the group has been to answer the question “How close is the sound to the MC-12”. I can’t report much else tonight since the Beta 5 unit arrived here only Saturday morning.

    I can tell you that the answer is - very, very close - way too close considering the difference in cost of the two. Outlaw has Outdone themselves on the 950 in many ways, but their greatest achievement is simply the way this thing sounds.

    Given the short time I’ve had, the following amounts to little more than a ‘first impression’ of the unit. As you know, you really have to live with these things awhile in order to really learn what they can do.

    The Beta 5 unit arrived here around 10 AM on Saturday morning after having spent a very cold night in transit. I removed the cover to let it breathe as it warmed up, but also to get a look inside.

    This thing is built like their Model 750 amp (a tank). I bought one of their early models - the reason I was interested in how they would execute their first pre-pro. It’s extremely solid construction makes you think you’re looking at a commercial/professional grade piece of electronics, not typical consumer grade stuff. The boards are bolted down solid to the heavy chassis. Despite all the function, plenty of room in there to breathe..

    After a couple of hours of slow warm up to ambient temp, I slid the unit in my open rack just above the MC-12, transferred the coax from my Toshiba SD9200 to the Coax-1 input on the 950, and transferred all the output interconnects to my amps.

    Supporting the MC-12 in my system are a Proceed HPA-3 powering the L/C/R, and NAD 218 THX (2) powering the sides and rears in Lex’s 7.1 arrangement. Speakers are all Definitive Technology - BP 2000 L/R, C/L/R 3000 center, C/L/R 2300 sides, and BP 2004 rears. In addition to the subs in all the speakers, are a DefTech PF 15, and a SVS 20-39.

    Setup, including switching the interconnects, took all of a half hour. I was surprised to find built in test tones for level matching all channels (I use a Radio Shack analog SPL meter) in addition to speaker distance settings for time alignment calibration. Then it was on to bass management and setting crossovers all around. All of this was available via simple to follow OSD menus. Despite no manual at all and a prototype remote w/stick on labels, we got through setup in no time at all. I was expecting a LITTLE struggle after all.

    I spent most of two afternoons listening to a mixture of 2-channel CD and 5.1 DVD’s, switching the coax and amp interconnects back and forth between the MC-12 and the 950. The big news is that the differences between the pure 2-channel sound of the two are very subtle. Sonically the 950 is right there with the MC-12, based on this very short audition time. In a few very trite words - “This thing ROCKS!’ And I don’t mean ‘For the money, it rocks’ I mean it ROCKS! Clarity, detail, soundstage, imaging, extension - it’s all there in abundance.

    Understand, I’m not claiming the 950 the equal of the MC-12 in all respects. Far from it. It was, of course, never intended to compete with the function and flexibility built into the MC-12. I am saying though that for pure sonic output - it is right there.

    Regarding multi-channel processing, I’m looking forward to continuing the side by side comparison of the two. Especially looking forward to checking out the DVD-A performance.

    It’s an outstanding first impression, though, and well worth the wait, I’d say.

    Regards - Gene
     
  6. Gene Lockaby

    Gene Lockaby Extra

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    The following is my third report on the 950, submitted on 2/18/02. Am still searching for #2.
    ****
    To Shawn:
    Are you sure you haven't gone into your output levels in 5.1 mode and muted the sides?
    Shawn - I’m sure glad to see your posts here, having read your words on AVS and SMR for some time now. Glad to see that someone who really knows the Lex is around to clean up my mis-statements. Hope you hang around - there will likely be others.
    Your are correct, of course, in that in pure 5.1 DTS, the MC-12 provides identical signals to sides and rears. I discovered the error myself actually when Dan Hine and I were A/B’ing the 950 and the MC-12 in DTS. Once discovered, for the purposes of our evaluation, I cut the power to the stereo amp driving the rears for the Lex, in order to level the playing field.
    With regard to level matching, we only used SPL to get levels ‘in the ballpark’. Am not familiar with the procedure involving a test tone and voltmeter.
    To all:
    Regarding DVD-Audio performance from the 950. To my ears, the 950 does an outstanding job of handling DVD-A chores. At this point in the evolution of DVD-A, I think it is about the best it can be, depending of course on the quality of the DACS in your DVD-A player. The added benefit is the 80 hz low pass switch which is icing on the cake.
    During our listening session yesterday, I failed to mention to Dan the presense of the rudimentary analog by-pass bass management available on the 950. My bad. Just had too much going on at once. The MC-12’s pure by-pass with no bass management at all just sounded too ‘out of control’ to compare to the smoothness of the 950 w/the 80hz crossover.
    On the other hand, to my ears, the processed DVD-A of the MC-12 went a step beyond the 950 in sound quality, which I attributed to 1) full bass management with selected crossovers available to best match speakers, and 2) Logic 7 Music processing. I know it’s hard to believe that an additional A/D and D/A would add anything. But in this case, to my ears, it does.
    This is, of course, hair splitting since the DVD-A sound of the 950 is outstanding. For those who haven’t had the opportunity, DVD-A is a very significant step beyond the fidelity of 5.1 discrete, much less two-channel post processed sound. Again, it is easier to note what is missing when one switches from DVD-A to 5.1 discrete, than it is to describe the fuller, more complete sound one hears, when reversing the process.
    Incidentally, from all I’ve heard to date, the best DVD-A available is from AIX Records, www.aixrecords.com. This small company is producing DVD-A discs which were recorded specifically for this format. These are not discs produced from analog masters that are 15 years old. The difference really shines. If you’re into it, go the the web-site and order a disc and the free sampler. The sound will show you what DVD-A is capable of. BTW, on the back of the DVD-A side is the same session mixed in DTS and DD 5.1, along w/video of the recording session. This back to back listening to the same music, recorded at the same time, and produced in three different formats is invaluable for hearing the difference.
    Beta Duties:
    Not that we can’t take a punch or anything but - one more thing on our duties as beta testers: We were neither invited, much less requested, or required, to post anything here or anywhere else. We were allowed to post, via release from our NDA. We were asking Outlaw for permission to post.
    I, for one, was so shocked at the quality of what I was hearing, the natural urge was to spread the news - that this quality sound was going to be available soon at this price point. Outlaw simply ‘Released the Hounds!’ What you have heard from us all (and we did not know each other at all until last week) has been born from pure enthusiasm and nothing more.
    We’re obviously not professional writers or reviewers - actually the writing has been the most difficult part for me. But, like you, we’re excitable about something this good that has been anticipated for this long. Please pardon our enthusiasm, and our occasional technical mis-statements/blunders as we’re doing the best we can to give you exactly the feedback we know we would want if we were waiting for word from someone else on this product.
    Actually, it’s been mostly fun, so far. And we have a ways to go yet.
    Regards - Gene
     
  7. Gene Lockaby

    Gene Lockaby Extra

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    I managed to find a copy of post #2 on the 950. Again, I'm Beta #5, and this report was posted 2/14/02.

    ****

    In my original comments, I addressed impressions of the 2-channel sonic characteristics of the 950, which I found to be outstanding, and at or near those of my Lexicon MC-12. For the past two evenings we have experimented a bit with the multichannel performance of the 950 and offer the following observations -

    2-channel PCM 44/16 - As a Lexicon owner, I am obviously very into multi-channel playback from any sources, but particularly from 2-channel CD's as I have so many of them. I found the outstanding sonic characteristics of the 950 that are very apparent in the 2-channel mode, seem to extend even further with multi-channel playback. In addition, the exceptionally low noise floor is even more evident.

    I find no loss in clarity, dynamics, or extension in the sound when playing back the same 2-channel track in the multi-channel PL2-CES Music mode. On the contrary, these seem to multiply. The marriage of PL2 and CES is obviously a good one as everything seemed natural, and very much in place as sound pours through seven surround channels instead of two. I may have only two ears, but I much prefer the sound from seven channels to two, especially when it is done right as it is with PL2-CES Music.

    Jennifer Warnes' warm, rich vocal 'Somewhere, Somebody' from 'The Hunter' is right in place front and center with all its edge and fullness, with the male backup vocal about 2-3' behind and to the right of her, just where they're supposed to be. Similarly, Lyle Lovett's 'Smile' from the 'Jerry McGuire' soundtrack - everything is very 'right where it should be', as are the vocals of Holly Cole, Sting, Diana Krall, and Eva Cassidy. Like they've said, you're going to love your new CD collection.

    5.1 channel DTS and DD - For a few years now, it has been interesting to experiment with discs released in multiple formats. A good example is the Eagles 'Hell Freezes Over', released originally in 2-channel 44/16, and later in 5.1 DTS. The added dimension provided by the discrete channel mix is obvious to even the most casual listener when the same tracks are played back to back - first as processed two-channel, then as 5.1 discrete. To my ears, the incremental 'increase' in the dimension and clarity of what you hear, is not as noticeable as the incremental decrease you hear if you reverse the order. (Want to get a real reaction out of your audience - press the 2-channel button in the middle of either. 'What the hell happened?' - is a common reaction.)

    Regardless of the order, there is an increment, and normally a substantial one, depending on the quality of your post processing. To my ears, the 950 narrows this increment substantially with PL2-CES Music. While my 5.1 disks like Sting's "Ten Summoners Tales", Eagles 'Hell Freezes Over', and Steely Dan 'Gaucho', remain a step beyond and above their post processed two-channel versions, the size of that step has been reduced considerably by the quality of PL2-CES processing. BTW, the Steely Dan 'Gaucho' is the reference 5.1 DTS CD in my library, as is James Taylor's "Live at the Beacon Theater" DVD done in DD 5.1.

    Compared to the MC-12 - In my experience/opinion, no company does post processing of multi-channel audio like Lexicon, and this includes Outlaw, Dolby and Cirrus Logic. They simply have no equal, and in a word 'own' this area. What they are able to do with Logic 7, both in two-channel and multi-channel, is nothing short of amazing.

    PL2-CES Music is an excellent post processing algorithm, likely to become an industry standard like ProLogic. Is it in the same league as Logic 7? Not really, but I could have reported that before I heard the 950, since the MC-12 includes several variants of PL2. All one has to do to compare is put on a CD and and toggle between Logic 7 and PL2 with the remote.

    The Outlaws, along with all the other manufacturers, are aware of the gap between available post processing software and Logic 7. And in the 950 they offer the best pre-pro sound they can provide, until Lexicon decides to license Logic 7.

    Is PL2-CES the best in the industry, after Logic 7? I don't know. I don't have the benefit of having auditioned them all. My guess, though, is that it is a front runner, if not the leader. It is outstanding audio by any measure - outstanding at any price, and an amazing value at the current cost.

    On discrete multi-channel playback, the gap narrows when generic (non-enhanced DD or DTS) modes are compared. That is, the difference between the units both playing back in generic DD 5.1 or DTS, in audio quality, dimension, etc., is diminished considerably, though the difference is recognizable (by me) and I have a slight preference for the Lexicon.

    The reason it is recognizable to me is that the Outlaw 7.1 setup calls for L/R Surrounds, and L/R Surrounds (back). The Lexicon 7.1 setup calls for L/R Sides and L/R Surrounds. Accordingly, when you play 5.1 software in pure 5.1 mode, the rear speakers are silent with the sides active on the 950, while the reverse is true for the MC-12.

    (This statement was made in error, and corrected by Shawn Fogg. Pure 5.1 mode on the MC-12 duplicates rear channel information in the sides.)

    The difference between the two widens again if CES and Logic 7 enhancements are selected - Logic 7 generating side channel information/ambience from both front and rear channels, while CES does the same to generate rear channels. Again, the Logic 7 enhancement adds dimensional qualities unavailabe in other formats.

    This, of course, is pure un-varnished opinion, totally un-substantiated by fact.

    Regards - Gene
     

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