Outlaw 950: its sound - high expectations?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Razvan V, Dec 25, 2001.

  1. Razvan V

    Razvan V Stunt Coordinator

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    This is what the Outlaws wrote on their site regarding 950's specs: " Our initial testing tells us that the noise floor is incredibly low and that all other "techy" specs are equal to, or better than, products costing two to three times as much as the 950 in both analog and digital performance."

    In light of this statement do you expect the 950 to sound as good as, say, the B&K Ref 30? Or at least as good as the Sony TA-E9000ES? Do you think that it's realistic to expect the 950 to sound as good as a $2000 or $3000 preamp? What are your expectations regarding its sonic performance? If its sound will be no better than, say, Parasound's 1800 preamp will you still keep it because it's loaded with features or will you return it and buy something else that sounds better?

    Razvan
     
  2. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Here's my problem. I'm new to the separates game and went this route SPECIFICALLY because of the Outlaw 950 and it fitting into my present budget. I found a great deal on an Anthem MCA5 Amp, and with the Outlaw I can make the jump to separates for $2,000 or so.

    However, I have never heard the Ref 30 or MC-1 or any of the other competing pre's (AVP-20 by Anthem for instance). So, if I hook up the Outlaw and it blows my Harman Kardon reciever out of the water, how will I know if it sounds "good" compared to the B&K? And if I were to get my hands on a B&K for comparison and was startled by the diffence, would I consider it to be $1,000 better sounding? That's a tough call. I do a lot of stereo listening, so all the bells and whistles on the Outlaw really don't concern me except for the ability to maybe go to 6.1 or 7.1 in the future. I think I'll know when I get it if it sounds the way I hope it will. If it doesn't, I'm really screwed and will have to go onto the used market and try to figure something out.

    Does that rant make any sense to anyone? Unfortunatly, I don't hang with a lot of people who share my hobby here so getting a Ref 30 to try out (without getting pressured to buy it, like from a dealer) is almost impossible for me.

    I know the delays are unnerving a bunch of people here and allowing doubt to creep in on the 950's performance, but I have to just be patient and hope Outlaw knows what they are doing. They did a heck of a job with the 1050, so I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I doubt it sounds as good as a REF 30 or MC-1 or AVP-20, but if it comes close, that's good enough for me.
     
  3. Ashford Little

    Ashford Little Stunt Coordinator

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    My .02.

    In the past I did a lot of listening to various products in high end retailers in an attempt to differentiate the differences and ultimately purchase the absolute best sounding product. You know what, those products usually cost a great deal more to hear something that once brought home and set up will never be heard again.

    I am not saying that the Outlaw will sound inferior to product A or B, just that sometimes we can get a little carried away in the small details.

    Evan, I would say that you and everyone else should trust their ears first. If you like something and it sounds great to you and fits within your budget then what else should we want?

    Thanks to the Outlaws for taking the time to get it right.

    NFI
     
  4. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Yes it is realistic to compare it to 2,3x the price pre/pro's out there.Don't forgett that Outlaw has no dealers,spend very little on advertising which means that the price can be kept low,not too mention it is manufacturered in Asia somewhere,so labor cost is down,significantly compare to Buffalo.[​IMG]
    How will it sound is a purely a subjective guess and "exercise" IMO!
     
  5. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    Let's not forget that if this processor doesen't cut it for the audiophiles out there that mainly favour 2 channel audio, so long as the digital passthrough found in the 950 does it's job correctly (as it should), the sonic characteristics presented by this processor will be insignificant. Hook up your transport of choice and bypass all the processing found in the Outlaw 950 for a high end 2 channel set-up. This is the area where i believe the 950 can equal the B&K's, Theta's, Lexicons, etc. If the analog passthough is designed correctly, incorperates good parts and bypasses everything except for the volume control (as it should) then the sonics will depend soley on the source and not the processor.

    For home theater purposes this processor should equal the B&K reference 30 or similar in my opinion. On par with a Lexicon or Meridian, i don't think so. We'll see soon!
     
  6. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    I agree Larry. Outlaws major market is the former receiver crowd who wants to get into seperates.

    If you are new into seperates than it is imperative that you make sure that your primary hardware is up to snuff. All of those details, level of clarity and headroom you hear about will be realized to some degree but will not be maximized if your primary hardware is lacking in any obvious way. Speakers, room acoustics, source and the almighty amplification make up the list of primary hardware in my opinion. If you still have a suspect source player and you're rushing to purchase a pre amp then you might want to rethink that strategy.

    I remember hearing people trying seperates and saying they didn't hear any other differences than when they had a receiver. Putting together a system made of seperates takes a lot more trial and error as well as being a lot more informed regarding everything that goes into your system. Some coming from the plug and play world of receivers MAYNOT understand the many factors that it takes to get the most out of their new seperates and should educate themselves accordingly. Before you save up all of your money for 7.1 capable pre amp, pay close attention to your primary equipment because a system with suspect primary hardware with a good 7.1 pre/pro will only sound as good as the primary gear. If you have a good and older 5.1 pre/pro and good primary hardware then don't be surprised that your older system has more clarity, detail retrieval and headroom than the system with a new 7.1 pre/pro with suspect hardware.

    I think for the money, Outlaw will have a good piece on their hands for a particular market. However, don't short change the unit by coupling it with suspect primary equipment. Build your house properly before you furnish it.
     
  7. Bill Bradstreet

    Bill Bradstreet Stunt Coordinator

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    I will be moving into a new house and NEED (i just love that word) to outfit my living room for 75% music/25% TV&movies.

    My plan is to get a pair of Swan 6.1s and marry them to norh LeAmps (one each). This should hit $2k or so. I figure I'm NOT going to upgrade my receiver at first in order to stagger expenses.

    When I upgrade my receiver, I've been thinking about just getting a pre/pro. I don't have a perfect room from a listening standpoint...

    So far, this seems like a good situation for a pre/pro. I DO have a tuner because I needed one with my DSP-A3090. So, if the 950 doesn't come with a tuner, I'll be set there.

    Sound like a good example where a 950 will fit in well? I can't expect this room to produce perfect sound, so why spend the money on a $3k+ pre/pro?
     
  8. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    i think the Outlaw 950 will surprise you guys! Did you see the pics of the interior of the chassis? Everything is well layed out, the question is as to how well the software was implemented. Quality parts are only one factor of the equation. Outlaw with their 750 amplifier entered the higher end market with an $1100 amp. This amp for instance is not a low-mid fi component but an entry level high end piece that is highly regarded and competes with amps double it's price.

    I belive the 950 will have similar performance comparable to a B&K reference 30 or the Anthem AVM 20. To yield better performance, one would have to move up to the Integra prepro. At least this is what i'm hoping for! Outlaw's products have all been winners (1050 receiver/750 amplifier) so i believe the 950 will be no exception. Also, include the fact that the Outlaws have taken so long to tweak this piece can only improve it's sonic capabilities. If Outlaw were to throw together a prepro just for the sake of having a complete product line, then one could certainly expect mediocre/average performance.

    I first saw a prototype of this unit at the Hi-Fi expo in New York in May 2000! A year and a half later, the engineers are still fine tuning. Should be a fine piece regardless comparing with all the 2-3K processors available today.

    Again, we'll see!
     
  9. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    I'm not sure yet, comparably, in what realm the Outlaw 950 will perform. Will it end up in the Ref 30 realm? Will it end up in the Sherwood Newcastle realm? Will it end up in the 1050 without amps realm? No one can really say for sure, but we can guess. I am guessing that it will place somewhere near a Ref 30 with DPL2 but without THX post processing and headphone output. Sonically, using the analog bypass mode, I am guessing that it will be as clean or cleaner than the Ref 30(and the Ref 30 is a very nice music preamp/processor).
    Why am I guessing this way?
    First, look at Outlaws product history. The award winning 1050 receiver, the award winning 750 amp, the award winning and extrememly quiet ICBM and now the Outlaw PCA Interconnects(which IMO are as good or better than cables costing 3 times as much). I am guessing that they are using everything they have learned from building these other products into the 950, and then some.
    Next, I(for one?), think that these delays in the release of the Outlaw 950 are GOOD signs. IMO, it would have been alot easier for Outlaw to simply release and sell 500 units of the 950 which were good but not quite good enough to compete with pre/pros like the Ref 30. Hey, for $900 what do you want... but, NO, Outlaw refused to do that even though they knew the kind of heat they would take on the forums. I think they are making sure this pre/pro is gonna kick some price/performance butt!
    Finally, take a look at the economics of manufacturing in Asia, according to US designs and specs, and then selling direct to the consumer. I would guess that if B&K merely sold direct, they could easily make the same profit as they do now with the Ref 30 priced at $1400. And, that doesn't even address the savings involved with manufacturing in Asia. For other examples of this just take a look at companies like SVS. What SVS owners would now say that their subs didn't perform at the level, or above, of subs costing 2-4 times the cost.
    Anyway, although it is fun to make guesses, hopefully, all will be revealed in less than a month or so... [​IMG]
     
  10. Randy G

    Randy G Second Unit

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    month or so.....or so....or so.
     
  11. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Randy: I feel your pain... we all so badly want our 950s... ugh.
     
  12. Craig Woodhall

    Craig Woodhall Supporting Actor

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    IMO, I think it will be in the Newcastle/Sony9000/Marantz/ category.I think when names like Lexicon/BK/Theta/Meridian are being tossed around, you might be expecting a little much. If it sounds as good as a Lex DC-1 with a nice analog bypass and tons of features I think they hit their mark. My Lexicon sounds great and I would be very impressed if it could sound as good as mine in HT. I also agree that they are trying to get the borderline receiver/seperates crowd. I guess only time will tell though..
     
  13. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    Double Post.
     
  14. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    Sorry double post!!
     
  15. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    I agree with the above poster. If the Outlaw 950 is as good the Lexicon or B&K units mentioned above, then we are talking about a revolutionary product in the making that's poised to tip the industry on it's ear. I would be the first to admit that the Outlaw 950 was a highend Pre/Pro at an entry level price if after hearing it that's what I felt. However, just like the other Outlaw products, they found their way into more lower and mid-fi systems than highend systems and I don't think any of their units shook up the industry on a revolutionary scale. On paper, what this unit promises is a very flexible and feature powerful unit. However, no one knows what the real world performance (sound being the most important) of this unit is going to be like until it reaches the real world.
     
  16. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    I think Outlaw realizes that they can't miss with this product. If they come out with a Pre/Pro that totally misses the mark, they will forever shut themselves out of the high end market. People will deem them strictly a low to barely mid-fi company and any aspirations they have to enhance their already stellar reputation will be deminished. I think they already realize what the delays on this product are doing to the expectations (significantly lowering them) and coming out with an exceptional product at an affordable price point is imperitive here. They realize that they cannot couple all the delays with an inferior, bug riddled product, so I expect Outlaw to make up for the delays by releasing a first class product. Like I said before, if the Outlaw comes even CLOSE to the Ref 30 in performance, everyone here should be extremely happy seeing it's 40% of a new Ref 30's price.
     

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