I grew up with the idea that, where high-end audio was concerned, simple was best. My father, who was a true audiophile of his day, had a McIntosh amp custom built (he said) to Navy specifications and, when I started listening, a single but extremely massive Electrovoice Patrician loudspeaker. That minimalist setup served as my musical education until I began playing the cello at the age of ten and, a few years later, putting together my own system. Until then, I spent whatever free time I could steal from studying or playing baseball at the park, and whenever the living room was free, lying in front of the Patrician listening in total rapture to my father’s record collection until I knew it all by heart.
My dad was slow to adopt to stereo (hey, he was slow to adapt to color television, too; on the other hand, he did have one of the first Porsches on the West Coast) but eventually he managed to fit a second Patrician into our living room together plus an Electrovoice center speaker. Those horn-loaded Patricians sure could go loud without much strain!
Following the family heritage, once I reached my maturity, I used amps that rarely if ever had tone controls, and looked on the graphic equalizer with haughty condescension. When the various attempts at surround sound came onto the market, and went, I turned up my ears at them. Finally, however, about coincident with the dawning of the new millennium, I began acknowledging surround sound and the fact that I was increasingly having to use friends’ high-end systems to review multichannel CDs and DVDs.
Still, it was with a great deal of apprehension that I approached Outlaw’s Model 1070 7.1 Channel Surround Sound Receiver. Could I figure out the complicated setup instructions? Could I hear any difference? Would my conventional CD listening be compromised?
As it has turned out, after more than two months of living with the Outlaw, and the high-end home theater system from Premier Acoustics that it runs, I admit that I have been converted. If it’s classical and it’s on DVD, that’s likely to be my first choice. And, with the selection of classical material on DVD still surging, I am becoming a very happy classical music reviewer.
The truth is, I had been hearing about the Outlaw for quite some time, especially with a stack of DVDs and Super Audio CDs that had to be reviewed, and the 1070 was at such a good price that I figured I could even afford to buy it if I liked it. As it turned out, the combined sound quality and price was so attractive that liking it was not the problem. Convincing my wife was, and it was – but not for long. In fact, the first time she walked into the room after the new system had been set up, and heard Bernard Haitink and the Berlin Philharmonic playing Mahler on their magnificent Philips set, she was as hooked as I. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Once ordered, it took the 1070 only a few days to make it from Outlaw to my front door. I ripped the box open and threw the packing material all over the front room, kind of like a child opening presents on Christmas. As everything looked in order, I grabbed the owner’s manual, leashed up my sweet mutt Sophie, and strolled over to the corner Starbucks. An hour of study later I was ready to hook up the Outlaw and see how it performed.
The unit itself, though it is large and powerfully built, fit into my system without any fuss. The front panel is clean with only a few buttons and an easy-to-read two-line display with full menu control. But while you can configure the 1070 from that front panel, and I did so at first, I found the comprehensive remote control a much easier way of going about it (although, necessarily, it remains a tool with a reasonably long learning curve and a lot of buttons).
The 1070 is impressive in a quietly powerful way, delivering a true 7×65 watts per channel. The 1070 is rated full bandwidth (20Hz to 20kHz), all channels driven, with < .08%THD. The 1070 also offers a host of attractive features. In addition to the specs listed above, there’s also an RS-232 port for software upgrades, lip-sync delay to correct the so-called “Godzilla Effect” (when the dialog timing doesn’t match up with the actor’s mouth movements–how I hate that!), and two-channel subwoofer offset.
The rear panel is taken up by seven well-spaced, very solid gold-plated five-way binding posts. Whether you’re using banana plugs or bare wire, Outlaw’s binding posts are refreshingly easy to use. There is a detachable power cord input, non-grounded to prevent hum. And a vast array of input and output connections (almost a piece of cake after you’ve read the owner’s manual).
Outlaw’s commitment to DVI video switching ensures you’ll be able to take advantage of your video sources’ very best outputs despite the limited connectivity on most displays. However, although the 1070 converts analog video sources (composite, S-Video and component video) to the component video output, it will not convert analog video signals to digital for DVI output. This means separate connections are required from the 1070 to your monitor, one component video and one DVI, plus the audio connection. Using DVI allows Outlaw to keep the price down. [The main advantage of HDMI vs. DVI is that one digital cable carries both video and audio, but it is still going thru various versions – only the latest of which handles full multichannel digital audio. And some users are reporting better multichannel sound using analog six-channel cabling than any of the digital options. If your display has only a HDMI input, there are DVI-to-HDMI adapter cables available. And many of us prefer not to run video signals thru our AV receivers or preamps at all…Ed.]
Armed as I was with this beautiful behemoth, since I had not yet received the five-speaker plus subwoofer array I was planning to use with it, for the next several weeks I simply hooked it up – in place of my Naim 2/NAP 140 combination – to my big SP2/3 Spendors and my Naim 5i CD player and continued doing the work I do on a daily basis: reviewing new CDs, and listening to CDs in preparation for interviews of people such as Joshua Bell, Eugene Drucker (of the Emerson Quartet) and Baroque violinist Rachel Podger. As it turned out, Bell, Drucker and Podger were not the only the superstar performers. My Spendor-Outlaw system was one as well!
Among the conventional CDs I listened to, and was knocked out by, were DGG’s new release of Franz Waxman’s oratorio Joshua. The Outlaw handled the huge orchestra and choral forces with astonishing ease, produced amazing and very natural-sounding spatial ambiance, and provided startling directional precision–all this from a non-surround sound recording. Not to mention that the quiet passages were handled with a sweet intimacy that I would hardly have expected from such a powerhouse system. And the trumpets of Jericho were as powerful and brilliant as they should be without losing the sheen of beauty that brass instruments at their best have.
A second choral recording, Louis Langrée’s stunning performance of Mozart’s C Minor Mass K. 427 (Virgin Classics) created an entirely different sound space and atmosphere. The beauty and purity of soprano Véronique Gens was absolutely angelic, the brass were again wonderfully lustrous without any ugly “blatting,” the chorus sumptuous and the low bass velvety to an almost decadent degree.
And then the home theater speakers arrived: Premier Acoustics’ PA-6F. Armed with the knowledge I had already gleaned from the Outlaw manual, I removed the Spendor and Naim components to the closet, plugged in Sony’s DVP-NS755V DVD/CD player, and made some preliminary measurements of where the speakers would best be positioned and how much speaker wire I would need (with some slack added to allow for adjustments). In less than an hour, I was ready to see what all the fuss was about.
I started with a retro guilty pleasure, Walter Hill’s 1984 cult classic, Streets of Fire. With its raucous, rhythmic music and its primitive but gutty sound effects, this was one of the favorite demo movies for selling Meridian home theater gear when I worked at Paris Audio circa 1990. And it still works for some of us older folks. As an Amazon reviewer commented, “The transfer on this DVD is top notch with kickin’ sound that really comes out if you’ve got the proper home theater setup.” And Outlaw was up the task.
This is the place where most readers go to when it comes to a review: “How much is it?” and “is it worth the price?” are the questions I normally ask. Outlaw only sells the 1070 thru its online store, and the price is an astoundingly low $899 – with a 30-day trial period so that you have the opportunity to get to know the 1070 in your own system. As far as I am concerned, for the price the 1070 is a steal. If you’re like me, and need not only a modern multichannel integrated amp but the full array of speakers that it requires to produce multichannel sound, you’ll find that the Outlaw 1070 coupled with a quality home theater system like the PA-6F will leave you with enough change from two grand to get a first-class optical disc player if you need it. The only thing you won’t get as far as I can tell is a phono preamp, but many vinyl freaks are going to want a discrete phono preamp anyway.
Not only am I pleased by the performance but also the workmanship on the unit and the thought that went into its design. Although it is not as user friendly as a talking computer could be, it is a real pleasure to use, and the price is right. I therefore give the Outlaw 1070 my full recommendation.
Oh yes. Along with everything else, Outlaw provides excellent customer support. Unless you’re an expert or a seasoned multichannel veteran, you may have one or two initial setup questions. If you do, simply give Outlaw a call and you’ll quickly get to a person who is as knowledgeable as he or she is sympathetic. And probably loves great sounds as much as you do.
— Laurence Vittes
•DTS-ES Discrete and Matrix, DTS-96/24, DTS NEO-6
•Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx fully adjustable,
Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone
•192 kHz 24-bit DAC’s for all channels
•Analog Bypass mode for all inputs
•Quadruple Crossover Control (Separate settings for Front L/R, Center,
Surround L/R, Surround Back L/R)
•Upgradeable via RS-232
•Transcoding between composite, S-Video and Component Video Inputs
•4 Optical and 4 Coaxial Digital Inputs
•Optical and Coaxial Digital Output
•Lip Synch Delay
•On Screen Display (via composite, S-Video and Component)
•32-Bit CS-49400 Crystal Processor
•7.1 channel direct input with full digital bass management,
analog bass management and pure bypass
•2-channel subwoofer offset
•7.1 RCA pre-amp outputs
•High performance tuner
•Direct access station tuning via remote control
•30 Station Presets
•IR control with 1 inputs and 1 output
•2 Video Record Out Selectors
•3 HD capable Component Video Inputs
•2 DVI Inputs 1 DVI Output
•5 Audio/Video Inputs
•4 Audio Inputs
•Channel Level Memory
•Aluminum Front Panel
•Dimensions: (HxWxD): 5.9 ” with feet x 17.2″ x 15.5″
•Weight: 40 lbs.
Output Power (FTC): 65 watts per channel, 8 ohms, 20 Hz – 20kHz,<0.08%THD, all channels driven
80 watts per channel, 6 ohms, 1 kHz, <0.08% THD
Input Impedance 26Kohms
Output Impedance (Main-RCA)<600Ohms
Pre Out 1V
Maximum Output 6.0V
Volume Range (Main) -70dB to +10.0dB (.5dB resolution)
High-Pass Slope Crossover Frequency
(Small Speaker Setting) (Adjustable 40/60/80/100/120/150Hz)
12 dB/octave (2nd order)
Low-Pass Slope (Subwoofer) 24 dB/octave (4th order), 40-150Hz as above
Tone Control: Bass Center Frequency/Range 30Hz ± 6dB; Treble Center Frequency/Range: 10KHz ± 6db
Frequency Response: Line 10Hz to 100kHz ± 1dB
S/N Ratio (IHF-A) 100dB
IMD (CCIF at 15kHz & 1 kHz) 0.03%
FM Tuner Section
IHF 10dBu typ.
50dB S/N 13dBu typ.
Mono 0.2%; Stereo 0.3%
Stereo Separation 40dB typ.
Adjacent Channel Selectivity 70dB +/- 400kHz
IF Rejection Ratio 120dB
Frequency Response 20 Hz to 15 kHz ± 1.5dB
AM Tuner Section
Sensitivity (20dB S/N) 200uV
S/N 50dB; Selectivity 25dB
Video Section (NTSC Format)
Composite & S-Video 6 MHz –3dB
Input Sensitivity @ 75 ohms;
Composite & S-Video 1.0Vp-p
Component R-Y Signal 1.0Vp-p
Component B-Y Signal 1.0Vp-p
Component Y Signal 1.0Vp-p
All digital audio inputs and outputs are to S/PDIF electrical (75 ohms , 0.5Vp-p),
S/PDIF optical (Toslink), or AES / EBU (110 ohms , 5Vp-p) standards as appropriate.
Supply Voltage 120V, 60Hz only
Standby Power Off : 1.9W
Standby Power On : 37W
7 CH Load @ 65W Output Power : 855W
Trigger Output Sequential Delay 50 mA @ 12 VDC
Dimensions: (HxWxD) 5.9”x17.2”x15.5”