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The problem with some Outlaw 950s

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by RichardMA, Jun 21, 2002.

  1. RichardMA

    RichardMA Second Unit

    Apr 16, 2002
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    Although companies are generally not forthcoming with specifics on product quality issues and we may never (even
    after it is solved)know what plagued some Outlaws, I'd like to take a stab at what I think might be the problem.
    I find it amazing that people can say "There has been some
    hiss reported on it, but it's an incredible deal for
    $899." Why? You can buy a $300 receiver now and expect
    it will have no hiss. The last time I hear appreciable hiss
    on a mainstream receiver was an old Yamaha RX-V870 from
    about 1990 and that receiver was of course, pure analog. What is clear is that these companies (Outlaw
    for one) do not have the engineering capacities of a large
    Japanese mass market company. This is why we see (not Outlaw's) thousand$+ processors coming out with "bugs."
    Even when they come from mainstream companies like Sony,
    it seems that some products produced in low numbers (relative to receivers sold at Circuit City, etc) often
    show problems. There is a finite amount of engineering
    they can put into one of these low-selling items and expect to get their money back. If they rationalize that to
    fix the problem will outstrip the income from the unit,
    they will cancel it. Add to that the fact non-upgradable processors have become obsolete with great rapidity over the last two years owing to the introduction of new sound modes,and you can see why a project might be abandoned.
    Of course, a company can gamble and pour engineering into
    a unit with the hope that somehow they will amortize their
    investment, but not many companies will take this kind of
    The main problem has been the shift in the segment of the
    public that used to buy prepros. Many now buy all in one,
    high end rceivers. And why not?
    They are amazing pieces of workmanship, combining
    thousands of parts and they generally (from companies like
    Denon) arrive with no problems. Yes, IMO, you do give up
    some level of sound quality but the gap between a low end
    prepro and a high end receiver is very small now.
    The point is that whatever the reason for the shift in
    buying habits, it is not helped by the release of flawed
    prepros. I think the problem with the Outlaw 950 originates
    in the quality of the components they are using or, the board-level assembly being done is not being done properly. What else could it possibly be? The software is identical, the build is identical so that only leaves the quality (consistency)of the hardware and the quality of the assembly to deal with. The tolerance of one or more components or assembly is the root cause of this problem, otherwise, all owners would be experiencing it. This will be discovered soon enough by their engineers. What I hope they don't do is try to pin it on either the owner's method of using the prepro or the conditions underwhich the processor is used.
    If they have examples in house of the problem, that should
    mitigate any speculation about how the unit is implemented
    in someone's listening environment. I hope they solve it
    because although I understand why they cost what they do,
    the idea of spending $4-5000 (again) for a processor
    does not appeal to me at all. A sub $1000 prepro of good
    quality is what the market does need so lets hope Outlaw can correct this issue.
  2. AntonS

    AntonS Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 18, 2001
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    I said it a long time ago - big Jap companies generally have better design for their products as they can hire better engineering resources.

    A good receiver (does not even have to be a flagship) can outperform a pre/pro when connected to the same amp. It's usually amps in receivers that are compromised as there is not enough space to put a decent size transformer plus five or seven amps with big heatsinks and 8-12 output transistors in the sample space with all the DSP, preamp, tuner, controls, etc. boards.

    I don't think that the problem with the 950 is a bad component problem. It's more likely bad component choice (i.e. design mistake). Also, if an engineer does not have enough experience with low voltage analog circuits (such as in preamps), there are whole bunch of weird problems that can happen. A transistor running not in its best range may add noise. Running a signal line on the board close to some other line may cause interference, hence noise. We've had these kind of problems too (we design equipment for hearing aid industry.)

    Anyway, I hope Outlaw will resolve the problems. Once they learn, their next pre/rpo should be much better that the 950. If I were them I'd be working on it already.

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