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Outlaw Audio RR2150 Stereo RetroReceiver Review

by July 09, 2013
Contributors: Gene Dellasala
Outlaw Audio RR2150 Stereo RetroReceiver Review

Outlaw Audio RR2150 Stereo RetroReceiver Review

  • Product Name: RR2150 RetroReceiver
  • Manufacturer: Outlaw Audio
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: July 09, 2013 08:05
  • MSRP: $ 699
  • Buy Now
General:
  • RMS Power (watts): 100w, 20Hz-20 kHz @ 8 ohms, <0.03% THD. Both channels driven
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 17.1” W  x 5.75” H  x 15” D
  • Weight (pounds): 27lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years
Inputs/Outputs:
  • Phono Inputs: 1
  • USB Inputs: 1
  • Stereo Inputs/Outputs: 6/3
  • Optical Inputs/Outputs: 0/0
  • Digital Coaxial Inputs/Outputs: 0/03333
  • Subwoofer Outputs: 1, selectable crossover
  • Headphone Output: Yes
  • IR Inputs/Outputs: 1/1
  • 12v Trigger: 1

Pros

  • Subwoofer output
  • USB-B input
  • Eye-catching design
  • Excellent amplifier performance

Cons

  • Cluttered remote control
  • No digital coax or digital optical inputs

 

 

Outlaw Audio RR2150 Review Introduction

Two Channel stereo receivers haven’t been cutting edge since the 1960s, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from refining and advancing the technology all the way up to today. Throughout the years people have experimented with three-channel, quadraphonic, and modern 5.1 mixes, but none of those technologies hit a stride in the mainstream market. Two channel stereo is still the main choice for recording and listening to music. In an attempt to move stereo receivers a little bit more into the 21st century, while still maintaining all of the form and function of past generations, Outlaw came up with the RR2150 RetroReceiver. The inclusion of bass management for subwoofer integration, a USB port, and 3.5mm aux jack make the RR2150 a boundary spanner between an older generation (of people and gear) and a younger one.

Rear Panel: Inputs, Outputs, and Switches

It’s sort of ironic to call a stereo receiver “feature rich”, but the RR2150 comes pretty close. No, it doesn’t jump head first into the world of home theater with HDMI inputs and network functionality. It doesn’t even have optical or digital coax inputs. However, it takes a step in the right direction while firmly remaining a classic stereo receiver.

The first jump ahead is the inclusion of a USB-B port on the rear of the unit. This allows for the connection of a computer directly to the RR2150 using a USB-A to USB-B cable. With this setup, the computer decodes the audio and sends a hopefully bit-for-bit perfect PCM signal to the receiver (The RR2150 will not accept DSD). One of the main advantages of having a computer do all of the processing is that a computer is able to decode any file format in existence. This configuration also allows a user to bypass the likely crap-tacular DAC (digital to analog converter) in the computer, and use the RR2150’s superior DAC. In a world of computer audio, this is an invaluable feature and one that we used quite often during listening tests.

On the back of the RR2150 you’ll also notice three stereo audio inputs and one phono input with grounding connector. The phono input does have a pre-amp with MM/MC switch, a feature that vinyl lovers will surely appreciate. A nifty “External Processor” loop supplements the typical pre-out/main-in loop. The External Processor loop can be enabled/disabled by a simple button on the front panel. This makes it easy to hook up some sort of EQ unit that you only want to use part of the time. This is a really convenient feature, because the only way to bypass an external processor hooked up to the typical pre-out/main-in loop would be to physically unplug it and reinsert the jumpers to complete the loop. The last analog input, for a grand total of six, is a 3.5mm jack on the front of the unit, which makes connection of a portable MP3 player convenient (Who are we kidding, no one still uses a dedicated MP3 player do they? That’s what a smart phone is for; right?).

Outlaw RR-2150 Rear Panel

Outlaw RR2150 Rear Panel

We’re not done talking about the back of the RR2150 yet quite yet. There’s standard FM and AM antenna hookups, “Tape Out” for recording, a 12v trigger, and 3.5mm IR pass-through jacks. You’ll also find four sets of binding posts, two for “Speakers A” and two for “Speakers B”.

The last feature on the rear panel, and surely the most important for some users, is an RCA subwoofer output and accompanying bass management selector switch. When stereo receivers became a household commodity, dedicated subwoofers didn’t exist. Consumers had giant, and often ugly (Cliff’s opinion), full-range speakers. As home audio technology advanced, consumers started trading out full-range speakers in favor of smaller sub/sat systems. While many of us still run full-range towers, smaller satellite or bookshelf speakers coupled with a subwoofer can sound similarly good and typically offer a much less imposing profile.

The bass management switch has four different settings: BP (Bypass), 100, 80, and 60Hz. When set on Bypass, a full range signal is sent to both the subwoofer and the main speakers. With this setup, you should use the low-pass filter built into your subwoofer. However, you can offload bass management to the RR2150 by selecting 100, 80, or 60Hz. This way, the RR2150 uses Outlaw’s ICBM-1 bass management system and engages a 2nd order (12dB/octave) Butterworth filter.

Front Panel: Knobs, Buttons, and Lights

Although many audiophiles would like to think they can surmise everything there is to know about a product by glancing at the rear panel, the gorgeous front panel on the RR2150 demands a good look. Inspired by the art deco radios of the past, the front panel is brushed aluminum with custom tooled knobs. Little blue LED lights rest in the center of some of the buttons, adding utility as they indicate the state of a button, and a modern styling.

Outlaw RR2150 Front Panel

Outlaw Audio RR2150 Front Panel

On the front panel, you will find a ¼ headphone jack with independent volume control. You can’t always use the big speakers, and with the proliferation of high-end headphones recently, this is a nice feature to have.

There’s also the previously mentioned 3.5mm input and speaker selector with the standard four options: A, B, A+B, Off. The speaker outputs are wired in parallel which is the preferred way of connecting multiple speaker pairs.  Though this means the load impedance the amp sees is cut in half (assuming speakers with identical impedances are connected).  This will cause the double the current draw in these cases so use caution when running two pairs of speakers simultaneously. 

When using the headphone jack, the main speakers are still enabled unless you turn them off using the speaker selector control. There are also tone controls for bass and treble. Both offer ± 6.5dB of adjustment, with the treble adjustment at 10kHz and bass at 50Hz. I used the controls a small amount during my listening tests. Although they were unnecessary with my MartinLogan Theos, I liked the bass boost on my MartinLogan LX16 bookshelf speakers and enjoyed a few dB of attenuation in the treble on the Polk Audio LSiM703. There’s a Tone Off button to defeat the tone controls, and in between the bass and treble knobs is a balance knob. An extra bonus is that tone and balance controls work for the headphones as well.

If the ±6.5dB at 50Hz isn’t enough extra boom-boom for you, Outlaw also incorporated a Speaker EQ knob that adds a 6dB boost at 55, 65, or 80Hz. The purpose of this adjustment is to add bass around the point that a small bookshelf speaker starts to roll off. We’d caution users to be careful to not overdrive their speakers when using the Speaker EQ function. Additionally, sometimes the lack of bass at a certain frequency has little to do with a speaker, and is actually because of room modes and standing waves.

On the right hand side of the receiver you will find a few more controls. Function, Enter, and Up/Down Arrows are used to adjust the built-in AM/FM tuner. A control labeled “Record” selects what source you want output from the Tape Out RCA jacks on the rear panel. Below that is a knob for adjusting source. When flipping through the sources quickly, it’s easy to turn past the desired input because the “click” between inputs doesn’t quite lineup with the actual input change. Finally, a mute button sits right next to the motorized volume control. Yeah, the volume knob is motorized, it’s freakin’ cool.

Based on looks and specs alone, the RR2150 appears to be a nice piece of gear. But what’s under the hood?

Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!

 

About the author:

Cliff, like many of us, has always loved home theater equipment. In high school he landed a job at Best Buy that started his path towards actual high quality audio. His first surround sound was a Klipsch 5.1 system. After that he was hooked, moving from Klipsch to Polk to Definitive Technology, and so on. Eventually, Cliff ended up doing custom installation work for Best Buy and then for a "Ma & Pa" shop in Mankato, MN.

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Recent Forum Posts:

PENG posts on January 07, 2018 09:30
Robertotron, post: 1227607, member: 84553
I'm leaning heavily toward buying this model. Pretty excited about learning about it , as it's the only receiver I can made tolerate looking at or operating in about 25 years.
I favor it over the 2160 because of the knobs.
I'll be using it 80% to play music off my PC and 20% from Phono. (With a pair of 6ohm Polk RT7s if possible)
Can someone please comment more about using the USB-in to play Spotify & Music Files off my PC?
I've never heard of doing this and wonder if it's reliable..
Someone above mentioned a $200 upgrade to add another digital input.
Can I have a link to info on this Please?

If you buying it for the look that's a good reason but may be the only reason. Otherwise, you are much better off getting an AVR-X3300W that often goes on sale for $599 brand new. The output power rating and bench test results (also by Audioholics) are similar between the two. Even if you strictly use the unit for two channel, the AVR still has the edge because of the much richer feature set, and the build in excellent bass management, REQ etc.

The RR2160's USB is limited to 16GB thumb drive, the USB-b can be used with your PC but it appears to play PCM only. The Denon AVR can play DSD up to 5.6 MHz. I have no idea what the $200 to add another digital output is about, why kind of digital input are they referring to?
Robertotron posts on January 06, 2018 14:11
I'm leaning heavily toward buying this model. Pretty excited about learning about it , as it's the only receiver I can made tolerate looking at or operating in about 25 years.
I favor it over the 2160 because of the knobs.
I'll be using it 80% to play music off my PC and 20% from Phono. (With a pair of 6ohm Polk RT7s if possible)
Can someone please comment more about using the USB-in to play Spotify & Music Files off my PC?
I've never heard of doing this and wonder if it's reliable..
Someone above mentioned a $200 upgrade to add another digital input.
Can I have a link to info on this Please?
slipperybidness posts on March 20, 2015 07:48
HK990vxi, post: 1076127, member: 72533
I just purchased the Outlaw 2150 and am disappointed! I have a Harman Kardon 990vxi that I absolutely loved (started having trouble with the right channel cutting out and decided to give the Outlaw a try rather than going through another round of repairs). I have a pair of Dahlquist DQ-12s that provide sound quality that places any instrument right there in the room with you. The HK has a fullness and punch through these speakers that the Outlaw doesn't seem to have. Is there much of a difference after the break-in period? How long?
Why don't you call up Outlaw directly and discuss it with them?
HK990vxi posts on March 19, 2015 21:14
I just purchased the Outlaw 2150 and am disappointed! I have a Harman Kardon 990vxi that I absolutely loved (started having trouble with the right channel cutting out and decided to give the Outlaw a try rather than going through another round of repairs). I have a pair of Dahlquist DQ-12s that provide sound quality that places any instrument right there in the room with you. The HK has a fullness and punch through these speakers that the Outlaw doesn't seem to have. Is there much of a difference after the break-in period? How long?
gfmucci posts on December 18, 2014 20:41
I have a dilemma. I am torn between this amp for $699, versus the new Yamaha A-S801 for $899. This amp has a basic DAC with USB in. The Yamaha has a more sophisticated DAC with all three types of digital ins. For me it boils down to the difference in quality of the audio output. If I needed to upgrade the DAC capability, I could always spend the $200 difference on that upgrade for the Outlaw. My primary sources will be from my desktop computer with its generic sound card and Kindles. The desktop will send via USB cable. The Kindle via Bluetooth. I will be driving a pair of Definitive 8040s that run on 6 ohms.
Your thoughts, please.
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