Outlaw 950: review and discussions.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mary M S, Sep 25, 2002.

  1. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    Familiarity breeds con-tent-ment:
    With shipments under way steadily, I was hoping to get a permanent site for 950 user reviews and comments under one heading. (Is this alright Mods, sorry if I err -come on guys, take the time to bring em all into one spot, - it really makes a difference! Please?) I was watching for a single thread under which these are collected but to date the generated discussions seem to be posted with actual reviews scattered willy-nilly. When I have surf time HTF is a site I like to follow a products life cycle on, it would be great to have these organized into one topic. I’ll try and start this out, in hopes, (I’m new I don’t know what the protocol is for this) that prior reviews to date can be copied into a single location. Not sure if I’m allowed to collect these together myself, or each reviewer should copy his own to one header. To have the on-going reviews and discussions easily accessed in one location would help as I try to learn from others experiences with the 950.

    HTF intimidates the hell out of me. Early Dec of last year, I went to purchase a subw. for a gift, and got hooked. My entire collection of knowledge surrounding anything in A/V up to that date was focused on on/off power buttons. I have acquired some knowledge since then, but lets say it’s the equivalent of a saran wrap coating, whereas I see many of you here in full metal flak jackets. Therefore this review is covering more of the ‘big picture’ behind my purchase; I won’t attempt the technical details that you of the ‘body armor’ types are capable of submitting. But I have also discovered if I just ‘lurk’ and don’t interact, my learning curve precedes at a slower pace.

    Ever since I started following the 950’s progress on the forums, I have noticed serious amounts of interest. As soon as an Outlaw topic was posted, people bombarded into pre-production discussions.

    I think the biggest story for now is what’s no longer perceived as new. (950’s being - long discussed) If you’re a seasoned buyer familiar with products releases in years past, you’ll notice quite a few familiar range of differences/improvements on recently released and upcoming models which are to be desired/expected to cause you to push the temptation of wanting to upgrade over into an actual purchase decision. This seems to cover the normal range of each years offering which siren song an upgrader to spend his dollars, I see the Outlaw as absolutely unique in what it offers.
    In A/V nearly a decade of rapid advancements in electronics most noticeably sound altrograms and digital audio/video advancements, materials, and manufacturing have resulted in radically more capable HT setups. The trickle-down of these advances even effects the non-audiophile with the little corner of the HTIB offerings now available in Low-fi stores. Duplicating the experience of a theaters big screen and sound at home would have been considered unattainable just a few years ago. Homes have reached parity in performance and quite easily best the sound in most theaters now. . So thoroughly have the fundamentals of AV systems been revised in the past 10 years that to maintain pace is difficult unless you’re blessed with unlimited budget. Since I surfed ‘out’ behind the scene with the semi-conductor manufactories and Asian market trends, I see some huge upheavals coming in AV.
    Take ‘Digital’, for example, The upcoming advancement towards producing an all digital chain looming, 100% from the pre/pro/ receiver to the speaker post itself, eliminating analog entirely. Some of the latest offerings in all or partially digital amps which are succeeding in sonically resolving some of the demons which plague tube and solid state technology.
    Major upheavals in the areas of firewire, DVI, a firm approval on a standard for encrypting piracy protection, the price and complexities of de-bugging and finalizing Mid-fi to Hi-fi (upgrades or fixes) whether factory installed or consumer downloaded. The upheaval and uncertainty and lack of finalization in the hardware and encoding for upgrade ports and digital connections.
    I was astounded to find the 950, with its cutting edge capabilities offered at 899. (a cost which is equal to certain upgrades on other models).

    I like to ‘dig’ deep into big issues when time allows, what I ran into months ago…very old stuff, which boggled the mind with the complexities and stakes involved and the list heavy players/big hitters affecting every portion of the current A/V showdown issues. HDTV alone has the ability to impact and spin off audio hardware/software into specs as yet not even engineered.

    Broad changeovers like terrestrial digital conversion, and the battle between the European and US Senate voted resolution for Americas adaptation of our own standard. The Great Spectrum Auction accounting for income projections which are already depended upon to balance the national budget creating increasing pressure brought to bear by the US Senate on all aspects of AV and passed on by the FCC. Example: The FCC’s latest attempt, August 8, 2002 to speed up the digital conversion by requiring television manufacturers to include digital tuners on all new sets by July 2007. Tauzin, (House Energy and Commerce Committee head) stating an intent to possibly introduce more new DTV legislation in the fall connected with the ‘flag’ issue and other transition matters.

    Once I had delved into these ‘wars’, and saw the heavy players in D-TV audio/video, - before you even trickle down to the studios and piracy fears- and the high stakes involved, - I had small hope of the hardware connections themselves and encryption being settled with any surety in this upcoming year or even two. I did not want to have purchased a pre/pro in the last year or so and felt like I had just thrown a lot of money at a product that under current conditions could very suddenly become obsolete
    The issues:
    Sony, Toshiba, RCA, and Mitsubishi, and the Grand Alliance battling Microsoft, Intel and Compaq on the HDTV Vs PC-TV front. An estimated trillion-dollar grab bag at stake in analog Vs digital.
    Broadcasters Vs the government.
    Studios Vs consumer rights to fair use.

    Fantastic sums at stake And at the end of this mess manufactures of AV products trying to second guess the winners and engineer projected products releases during the next 2 –4 years amidst these uncertain times.

    I was scared to buy an interconnect, (next year there may be some nifty wireless method of passing the signal between units). Much less a whole new home system. What’s a newbie to do?

    Out of this storm of information overload and convoluted purchasing considerations rose a hardening conviction, I could have my cake and eat it too.
    The 950, a product touted by its manufactor to have a modernized feature list, and versatility at a price I couldn’t believe.
    But wait I thought after surfing for months, this has gotta be ‘too good to be true’ PR.
    The almost violent reaction at HTF whenever the 950 was discussed threatened to rip the eye of my storm to shreds.
    Features at that price: gotta be a catch.
    Delayed: uh oh
    Shipping halted: eek, what does that mean.
    Internet Only purchase: scary
    Reputed sound as reported by Beta Testers: attacked and microscoped

    I bought one: (received in May)
    I tested a hiss fixed: (about to purchase second 950, - for a second system, if I can sneak in the husbands wallet again)
    I bought an Sony LCD 60”, (a splurge, partially possible by the savings realized on the 950/770 system)
    I bought a Panasonic RP-91 with DVD-A capabilities and a RCA DCT-100 HD set top. (Ditto)

    In my humble, unseasoned opinion my audio/video experience is currently incredibly satisfying.
    Features: as advertised and better in reality. The so-named ‘Double bass’ issue prob. which seems to create controversy with some users seems documented by many to be the idea setup for (a guess) 90% of the speakers owned, (I know you guys are proud of your speaker specs but really, the reality of load is just that) and work arounds exist for the other 10%.
    Those who want to spend more for less, especially during this transition time in this industry, - Well, should probably be locked up for their own protection.
    Delayed: even Sherbourn and Atlantic, haven’t they all missed their ‘dates’, not to name countless other manufactories advertising a simple upgrade (just PL2) for their futureproof units, still not debugged.
    Shipping halted: they improved it more! I will not complain.
    Internet only Purchase: The best service I have received during years of electronics purchases and documented to be a longstanding track record for this co., by previous ICBM and 1050 owners, absolutely stellar treatment compared to any service prior at B&M’s, boutiques and tech lines manned by the big guns.
    Sound: From the reviews I’ve surfed quickly moving into the #1 recommended HT setup slot. Punch, clarity, clear distinction (no collapse into muddy blending) and flawless execution of busy passages in high impact movie sound tracks.
    For me, the 950 has not been bested in 2-channel or 6-ch direct, against any I have compared yet, (limited current experience in that area).

    A tiny but major plus for a ‘newbie’ separates, - with a manual that makes the most sense of any I have read to date. With enough tweak room and variety in the unit itself to keep even the most hardened AV’ers happy, and placing me in the terrific position of owning something I can run right out of the crate but with much greater potential I can tap into as I stretch my wings into expanded user capabilities.

    Outlaw has got a future ‘hook’ in me, with the success of the ICBM and 1050 and the just released 950, they appear to be solidly positioned to keep turning this market on its head. I can’t wait to see what they do when they shop for their next OEM to work with.
     
  2. Juan Escobar

    Juan Escobar Auditioning

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    I have the 950 for few months ,the 3rd. replacement for around 2 weeks,and I decided stop listen music in that system ,use only for ht, hiss is so loud that is get in on my nerve.[​IMG]
     
  3. AntonS

    AntonS Stunt Coordinator

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    The 950 was a novelty more than a year ago, when it was first "scheduled" to appear. Many manufacturers caught up since then. Latest generation of receivers use same or similar electronics and able to deliver comparable (in some cases allegedly superior) sound quality, but offer more features - often for less money. In just few months there will be more new stuff coming up, and by CES the 950 will be way obsolete. I wonder if Outlaw is working on a new pre/pro now...
     
  4. Bob Saylor

    Bob Saylor Stunt Coordinator

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    From what I've seen, there are others apearing all right but they all cost more. And how much more are they actually giving for the extra money? How much of it is just hype?
     
  5. Orin Dym

    Orin Dym Stunt Coordinator

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    I feel the 950 offers allot of value. Very flexible, lots of functionality, good price point. That being said, I am returning mine. I had purchased an Audio Refinement Pre2DSP while waiting for the 950 (it ran me $1250 from a local dealer) and, being mostly a 2 channel person, felt the AR offered a better 2 channel sound. The audio Refinement is a no frills processor that concentrates on sound. If you need adjustable crossovers, DPLII, 7.1, then the 950 better fits your needs.
     
  6. Brian Schucher

    Brian Schucher Supporting Actor

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    How exactly would the 950 be WAY obsolete?? In what respect are you referring?
     
  7. AntonS

    AntonS Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    Many manufacturers caught up since then.
    What’s on the market equal?
    Latest generation of receivers use same or similar electronics and able to deliver comparable (in some cases allegedly superior) sound quality, but offer more features - often for less money.
    What has more features at the 950’s price? It’s brand new and still novel (if you count as novel) that there is still nothing with its feature set at its price, on the market today.
    Sound quality bar will rise
    I should hope always or with every upgrade we are throwing our money down a drain. But where and when and at what price, I have not AB’d in the home (my husband would faint if I started pulling that) but nothing on the shelf I’ve run into beats the 950’s sound.
    new features are being introduced. …. and the prices will drop
    If I remember you own an AVR8000, that was a receiver I looked at, and tracked here for a bit on HTF while waiting on Outlaw. When I was looking - it was at my local B& M for um, 2,800, I believe it streets now for 1,800? So as you point out prices drop, I started to noticed when I was in agony (pull the trigger or don’t) on other purchase considerations the drops sometimes occur faster on the super receivers Vs established separates. That was a factor (just for me) attempting to future proof my wallet. The Outlaw 1050 (a receiver) held resale price and even if the 950’s don’t follow that trend, when I do pay less for more, especially if I think changes are on the horizon in the next few years to tempt me, - this helps mend my depreciation hurts quicker.
    At the time I was considering a HK 8000, if I went receiver, - I would have paid the same as the Outlaw 950/770 combo, while the HK had only 5 channels of amplification @ 110w, Vs the 950/770 200w x 7. So spending more for either the extra 2-channels, or using the 8000 as a pre-pro (can it, think so, - I don’t recall) I decided was redundant spending for my individual goals at the time and I was fairly adament with myself about heading only into seperates, (for the experince, if you like, which I prefered for now).

    Both the products you mention are receivers; neither (except the HK with its exclusive on Logic 7) offers more features that I’ve spotted yet. I believe the HK525 will be 7 channels @ 70w, around 1K, (you do get the 70w amplification for that price) and the specs I can find on the Denon, that are interesting are that I hear it will be using the renamed Hammerhead Sharc, -Analog Devices' Melody 100 DSP. I heard they are not increasing and will keep the 110 watts its 3802 predecessor had. I have not heard what the new 3803 is estimated to retail, (I beleive that one in particular is a ways out yet). I think the 3802 still goes for 7 to 800.

    I also had paid attention in my past to the fact that Outlaws lessor wattage on the 1050, beat out receivers/prepros in power with higher wattage ratings. I counted on them keeping that good stuff up with all their projects.

    I certainly hope they are already working on their next pre/pro and receiver, aren’t all the manufactures always specing the next one as soon as one gets out the door?
     
  9. David S

    David S Stunt Coordinator

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    Mary M S - good post/even better idea. Problem is your fightin an uphill battle on this forum. There are waaaay to many Outlaw "dislikers" on the HTF, some justified cause they waited (some without equipment (sold it, gave it away anticpating the 950, but mostly people who never intended to but the 950 and just like to stir it up. For proof, merely look at what you attempted and you immediately got zero "review" posts, only the start of the next great debate on the merits of this pre/pro. If this is what you desire, your cup may runnuth over.

    You should save yourself the grief (on the 950 only, cause the HTF can be a great resource) and post your review thoughts over at the Outlaw forum.
     
  10. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Hey Anton- What other pre/pro or receiver has bass management on the 5.1. analog inputs? For less than a grand. That's right: NONE.

    What other pre/pro or receiver lets you set individual crossover points for the mains, center, and surrounds/rears? That's right: only Sony. Not H/K or Denon. And the new models probably won't have that either. In fact, on the 520, if you choose the crossover at 40 Hz, you get full range mains and DOUBLE BASS that is not defeatable.

    But the 950 does have DD EX, DTS-ES, DPL II, and modes to "expand" 2.0 through 5.1 sources to 6.1/7.1.

    Please explain to me how that is obsolete.
     
  11. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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    Mary,
    Very articulate and well penned post you have there. This place is lucky to have you as a participant. You may claim to be a newbie but I assure you that you are light years beyond some of the things I have read on the web over the last 6 years.
    I have the Outlaw 950/770 combo myself. I have never had a hiss, I dont need gizmos and whirlygigs on my processors and I traded away a 2K Marantz processor to use the Outlaw. I have not regretted it for a moment.
    Most of those that bash the Outlaw have never used one, seen one or heard one. Take their comments as being relative to their experience with the product. I understand that they have had a new processor in the works even when they were designing the 950. It is supposed to be near the 1800 dollar range when released. I have no further information on it and the information I have is old so it may no longer be valid. If true however, I will be first in line to get one.
    I have never understood the "wait to see how things shake out" philosophy. I upgrade about every two years anyway, I dont expect ANY piece of equipment to be in my rack longer than that. It is only money. Ive never been to a funeral and seen the corpse with cash in his pockets. If you want something...get it when you want it.
    I bought a DSS package the day after it was released. I paid 650 bucks for the receiver/dish combo (now available for 100 bucks), but I had DSS for 4 years before most other people were willing to jump in. I have been through 4 receivers now and I am currently using the DTC 100 that you just got.
    Audio/video gear is like a car. When you buy a car, do you expect to keep it for 10 years? GEt what you want naow and replace it when something new comes out. Thats what makes this hobby fun.
    I need to update my system page as some of the gear has changed in the last 6 months but you can have a look HERE
    Mike
     
  12. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    I've just spent an entire day with a new 950, calibrating it, tweaking it, and putting it through its paces with lots of 2 channel and 5.1 material. Its rival in this "shootout" was a Marantz AV9000. While I think the Outlaw is a good value I was left fairly unimpressed with its sound. Sonically I very much preferred the Marantz. Since that's what it's all about I'll be returning my 950.
     
  13. Bill Day

    Bill Day Auditioning

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    My two cents on the Outlaw 950:

    First off, I am a compulsive upgrader, and have a terminal case of the "grass is greener" syndrome.

    Due to this malady, I have owned the following pre/pros over the years (all paired with EAD Powermaster 1000):

    Lexicon DC-1 (good sound, flawless operation)
    Aragon Soundstage (terrific sound, one of the best)
    Acurus ACT-3 (best under $1000 until Outlaw 950)
    EAD Encore (great on music, lacks HT dynamics, buggy)
    EAD Ovation Plus (superb on music, weak dynamics)
    Sunfire TGII (All in all, the best one of the bunch)
    Bryston SP-1 (deathly quiet, ruthlessly dynamic, over anylitical on music)
    Anthem AVM20: (outstanding HT, uninvolving music)

    A recent downturn in personal fortune had me sell all my gear and settle down with a receiver (I chose the Denon 4800) for HT and my Jolida 202A integrated tube amp for music (breathtaking on female vocals and Jazz).

    Good lord, the Denon sucked. As receivers go, a fine unit, but my ears were used to some very pretty sounds by now.

    I couldn't settle for the Denon, but didn't really have the cash to get back into seperates. Then again, thanks to Outlaw, I did.

    I grabbed a used 750 amp on Audiogon and dusted off my early 950 reservation (thanks to the miracle of Mastercard) and I was back in business.

    Here's what I found:

    THE PEOPLE WHO COMPLAIN DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH THEY'RE GETTING FOR $899!

    I thought I'd use this set-up until my cash flow improved, but now that it has fattened up, I feel no need to step back up to high-end stuff. The Outlaw 950 has terrific dynamic range, flawless operation, and PLENTY of features for the price.

    It even sounds pretty good with music. (Again, with the Jolida, not an issue for me, but nice nonetheless.)

    It's an outstanding value, and IMHO, far more than most people need to get everything the creators of the source intended for you to hear.
     
  14. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

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    My 950 is sweet! Unfortunately, I had a blown channel in my power amp (Parasound) and was given a Yamaha receiver as a loaner while the amp is fixed. I had no hiss with the Parasound, but when I hooked up the Yamaha as an amp, the hiss was very noticeable at 3 feet away. I thought "oh no!", but then turned down the volume on the Yamaha and the hiss was gone. Much of the hiss problem may be associated with the amplifier gain. With it turned down to non-hiss levels, I can still attain 10db over reference with my system, (much louder than I care for) so the 950 is not at all noisy when gain is properly matched (at least in my system).

    Thanks for the thoughts Lena. It is always enjoyable to read your posts.
     
  15. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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    Doug,

    The AV900 was the pre-amp I gave up for the Outlaw. Now to be fair, if you look at my system you will see that I have a totally seperate audio system. I do not use my HT rig for music....EVER. The Marantz does sound a tad smoother on the two channel stuff but I no longer needed the two channel performance from my HT. I probably would ave changed anyway to get the upgraded processing for HT though. The Outlaw outperforms the Marantz in the Home Theater department.

    Mike
     
  16. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Mike - Funny that we have such different opinions on this, because I thought the Marantz pretty much walked all over the 950 on HT as well as 2 channel. The Outlaw exhibited a bit more detail, but compared to the AV9000 it sounded compressed and had a much shallower soundstage in my room, particularly on 5.1 channel DD and DTS DVD sources. The 950 also had a higher noise floor and took longer to detect and lock onto the audio bitstream.

    I found my experience a bit surprising, but I heard what I heard and was very meticulous in my comparison. My 5.1 setup consists of a Sherbourn 5/1500A 200wpc amp, Cambridge Audio D500 SE CD player, Toshiba SD-4700 DVD player, Heartland Cables interconnects, Rocket RS750 mains, RSC200 center and RS250 rears with a SVS 25-31 PCi sub. I swapped the two units twice and level matched with Avia each time using my RS SPL meter.
     
  17. Mike Knapp

    Mike Knapp Supporting Actor

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    Ah, now I understand.
    My reference to the superior HT performance was in no small part due to the 7.1 capabilities of the Outlaw. If you only did the 5.1 stuff I can better understand your findings. Still I prefer the clean sound of the outlaw for film soundtracks, even in the 5.1 mode. Add in DPLII for television viewing and the Cirrus processing and the Marantz just didnt make it.
    The AV9000 is a sweet piece of gear though and it makes some beautiful music and movie sounds. The move to 7.1 was the clincher for me.
    BTW, nice speakers you have there. I reviewed them HERE
    Mike
     
  18. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    No 7.1 for me yet [​IMG] . And I agree with your assessment of the Rockets 100%.
     
  19. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    Mary (a.k.a. S.L.L.), [​IMG]
    Nice thread. Thanks for starting it now that the 950 is finally shipping in quantity. I'm basically keeping out of this one since I've been closely involved with the testing, etc. of the original 950 unit and prefer for others who now have the opportunity to "try and buy" to take center stage here.
    I'm pleased to see more and more people who have now had the opportunity to field test a 950 chiming in with their thoughts on it. And I'm just as pleased to see that while the overall consensus on this unit is quite favorable there are some people who, after trying out a 950, decide that it is not their cup of tea. Well documented opinions based on facts and not rumors are always welcome here. While I consider the 950 a tremendous buy for the money I also realize that it will not be for everyone.
    And even with the level of discussion being kept on a relatively high plane there are still those who insist on making all sorts of statements about the 950 and its place in the scheme of A/V things without any facts to back them up. However I'm encouraged that most of our members can see through these "arguments" and have been doing a good job of putting these people in their place without any administrative intervention.
    So let's keep the ball rolling as the 950 becomes more widely available. As Mary suggested, the discussion should be about your reviews and impressions and it would be nice to consolidate all current discussions regarding the Outlaw 950 into a single thread. I'll try to do my part keeping things organized if other threads develop that cover the same ground and, of course,if some of the usual suspects come out of the woodwork with items not related to the subject at hand (regulars know what I'm talking about) I'll deal with them.
    I'm not against dissenting opinions. I just feel that this thread should be about actual 950 experiences and concerns and not hijacked by those with their own agendas that have nothing at all to do with how the 950 performs.
    We now return you to your normal programming....
     
  20. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Anyone have any luck getting the 950 remote to mimic remotes of different gear with any devices except for the VCR and DVD buttons?

    I succeeded in adding the remote code for my Panasonic RP-91 to the DVD button, and my Panasonic VCR to the VCR button.

    But, how do I enter the code for a Pioneer LD player that I have connected to V1 (SAT)? I tried all the codes listed for Pioneer LD players, and even tried to auto-sensing mode, but no joy.

    I also have a JVC DVD player connected to V2, and another VCR hooked to V3.

    It seems that those buttons for V1, V2, V3 only accept the codes for their uses V1(SAT), V2(TV), V3(CBL). Is there a way to tell the remote that you want the V buttons to be used for a different type of device, i.e. V1(LD), V2(DVD), V3(VCR)?

    Or how about getting the AUX button to control my TV?

    Thanks in advance.
     

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