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Outlaw Audio Model 975 Processor Preview

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Outlaw Audio Model 975 Processor

Outlaw Audio Model 975 Processor

Summary

  • Product Name: Model 975 Processor
  • Manufacturer: Outlaw Audio
  • Review Date: November 20, 2012 05:00
  • MSRP: $549
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • Buy Now
  • Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Digital decoding*; DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High-Resolution Audio and DTS decoding
  • Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, and Dolby Pro Logic II* and DTS NEO:6** processing
  • Performance Matched Op Amps in the Critical Path
  • High-Definition Video Scaling w/full Bypass
  • Quadruple Crossover Control (Separate settings for Front L/R, Center, Surround L/R, Surround Back L/R)
  • Lip Synch Delay
  • On Screen Display (via HDMI only)
  • 32-Bit CS-497024 Crystal Processor
  • 192 kHz 24-bit DAC's for all channels
  • 4 HDMI Inputs
  • HDMI Output with ARC
  • 7.1 RCA pre-amp outputs
  • Front height-channel outputs
  • 4 Digital Inputs (2 coaxial, 2 optical)
  • 2 Component Video Inputs
  • 2 Composite and 2 S-Video Inputs
  • 5 Analog Audio Inputs
  • High performance tuner
  • Direct access station tuning via remote control
  • 12-Volt Trigger
  • Channel Level Memory
  • Aluminum Front Panel
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.8” x 16.9” x 9.5”

  • Weight: 8.27 lbs.

Executive Overview

When you get into a new hobby, you are usually happy just to participate. But it doesn't take long for you to realize that there are certain levels of distinction. It might be a size of motorcycle, the horsepower in your car, the time you can complete a certain distance, or any number of other things. For many in home theater, it is owning separates.

Most consumers are familiar with receivers. These are the devices that are at the heart of your home theater. They route all your video and audio inputs to your various speakers and displays. They can also be incomprehensible beasts that are a constant source of frustration. The idea of separating out the processor and the amplifiers (all in one box in a receiver) seems like madness.

That's why separates have a level of mystique about them. You not only need to be able to afford them (separates have been traditionally more expensive than their integrated counterparts) but you have to have enough knowledge to use them properly. For the new enthusiast, they are a badge of honor.

Outlaw Audio have been on the forefront of Internet direct processors and amplifiers for a long time. They have a reputation for offering quality gear for reasonable prices and, indeed, it's been a long time since the company debuted a new product in this category. So when they announced that they were working on a new surround sound processor, the Internet was abuzz with speculation.

The Model 975 is the culmination of a lot of work and design. Outlaw has thought long and hard about what is important to their customers and has striven to bring them everything they can for the most reasonable price possible. The Model 975 has just about every type of audio decoder available. This includes Dolby's entire suite with Pro Logic IIz and their height channels, and all but Neo:X from DTS. It has four HDMI inputs and one output with ARC (Audio Return Channel). It also features an on screen display over HDMI.

975GaBack

Outlaw Audio suspected that people on the market for a budget processor might also have legacy gear. For this reason, they included two coaxial and two optical digital audio inputs, two each composite and S-video inputs (one each output), five pairs of RCA analogue audio inputs (with one pair for a Rec Out), and two component video inputs with one output. Each of these inputs are assignable from the front display or on screen display. There are also antenna inputs along with RS-232 control for custom installers. The front of the Model 975 has a small display, headphone output, volume knob, and a few buttons for input selection and surround modes. While initial units will ship with a temporary basic remote, Outlaw says that a more complete model will be offered when it is ready (estimated in January 2013).

Inside the Model 975 you'll find performance-matched Op Amps, quadruple crossover controls (mains, center, surrounds, surround back), lip sync delay, and 32-Bit CS-497024 Crystal Processor. With all those non-HD inputs, on-board video scaling is a necessity. Outlaw Audio has included a video scaler but they haven't specified which chipset they've used (it may be proprietary). For those worried about audio, Outlaw Audio has used 192 kHz 24-bit DAC's for all channels.

While surpassing expectations for price is nothing new for Outlaw Audio, they wanted to also shatter one more myth - that user manuals have to be confusing. While we won't know until people unfamiliar with processors get their hands on it, the Model 975 manual seems to be remarkably well organized. They start with a description of the the processor, move on to how to make connections, how to navigate and control the setup menus, how to operate the unit, setting up and using the tuner (I love that they put this here because it is always the last thing I set up and it is usually buried elsewhere in the manual), and how to use the remote. Going through the PDF (you can find it at the Outlaw Audio site), they've used a mix of text and graphics to make it as easy as possible. The key is to make the manual intuitive to both use the first time and when you need to go back and look for information when you are having issues. Only time will tell how well they've succeeded.

Outlaw Audio states that they wanted to serve customers that have legacy gear while keeping costs down. They've certainly cut costs by eliminating any sort of balanced input or output. For output to your amplifier they have utilized 7.1 channel RCA connections. There are no additional outputs for switching configurations on the fly. There are also no provision for additional zones of audio. Oddly, while they have component, composite, and S-video outputs, the on screen display is only available over HDMI. Vinyl lovers are left out as well without any sort of phono input. Lastly, there is no automatic setup or room correction system included with the Model 975. They do, in their manual, include a tutorial for how to use an SPL meter.

Conclusion

The Outlaw Audio Model 975 is a targeted processor. While it might float a bit off the target to be aimed squarely at legacy gear owners, it certainly hits squarely at those on a budget who want to experience the latest surround formats and experience the world of separates. With a $549 price tag and a number of ways to cut that cost on the Outlaw Audio website, the Model 975 is practically an impulse buy. If the manual is as good as it looks, and the unit works as well as it looks on paper, it could be the entry-level processor for the masses. We know that we'll be putting it high on our recommended list for Audioholics-in-training. It would also make a great solution for those with extra amps lying around that want a decent second (or third or fourth) system.

For more information, please visit www.outlawaudio.com.

About the author:

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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Recent Forum Posts:

PENG posts on January 12, 2014 20:02
fuzz092888, post: 1010182
and I also like the web browser controller that the Marantz comes with (don't know if Denon does that).

Yes they do, in fact I think they had it first, then transfer to Marantz since the formation of D&M, though I could be wrong. The one for the 4308 looks almost the same as the one for the AV7005 and AV8801.
Irvrobinson posts on January 12, 2014 19:38
AcuDefTechGuy, post: 1010179
Denon/Marantz/Onkyo/Integra/Yamaha also have iOS & Android remote apps.

I don't even use my Denon remote. I use my iOS Denon remote (iPad).

Roku does that, but I didn't use it after the novelty wore off. The dedicated remote is quicker and easier.
fuzz092888 posts on January 12, 2014 16:57
AcuDefTechGuy, post: 1010179
Denon/Marantz/Onkyo/Integra/Yamaha also have iOS & Android remote apps.

I don't even use my Denon remote. I use my iOS Denon remote (iPad).

The app remotes are really nice, and I also like the web browser controller that the Marantz comes with (don't know if Denon does that). The Onkyo came with web browser controller (IIRC) and I also seem to remember it being mostly useless.
AcuDefTechGuy posts on January 12, 2014 16:34
Irvrobinson, post: 1010178
On the other hand, any Japanese-designed receiver is going to have a far better remote than the Outlaw has, which is my #1 beef with the 975. Yes I know, I could invest some money and time and program some other remote to replace 975's, but it annoys me that I should have to.
Denon/Marantz/Onkyo/Integra/Yamaha also have iOS & Android remote apps.

I don't even use my Denon remote. I use my iOS Denon remote (iPad).
Irvrobinson posts on January 12, 2014 16:22
fuzz092888, post: 1010175
I agree, although I'm saying that for as long as they're charging premium to separate the two, you can still use receivers to do so at a lower cost. I was using an Onkyo 3009 as a processor for awhile and it did great and it was a lot less than many processors out there that provided the same or less feature set. It sucks to pay for the amp section since you're not using it, but if it's still cheaper than a dedicated processor then it's not so bad.

Though the 975 impresses me less the longer I own it, another big advantage it has over any receiver is that the 975's power dissipation is so low you can stack other components, like a BD player, directly on top of the 975 without ill effects. It is also about 1/2 to 1/3 the height of receivers.

On the other hand, any Japanese-designed receiver is going to have a far better remote than the Outlaw has, which is my #1 beef with the 975. Yes I know, I could invest some money and time and program some other remote to replace 975's, but it annoys me that I should have to.
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