Iíve had my Outlaw 1070 for a few weeks now and have had some time to put it through the paces. First I want to set the stage on why I purchased it. I needed to replace a Sony STR-DE695 that did an admiral entry-level job for HT, but had poor stereo and multi-channel SACD/DVD-A sonics. It also had an issue with the LFE output which was causing an extremely loud pop on my SVS sub when powering up. Another reason for replacing the Sony was that I wanted a receiver with pre-outs that would allow me to use a NAD C270 amp to power the fronts.
On multi-channel music and HT I was impressed with Outlaw. Rated at 65 watts/channel, the unit had plenty of power in my 20 x 16 listening area when I had speakers set to small. If I had to describe the sound of the 1070 I would say crisp, natural and clear. Definitely better than the Sony, but I really havenít heard a lot of other systems for comparison. Letís just say that it passed on HT and multi-channel music. Beckís Sea Change SACD sounds incredible in 5.1 surround.
I have a separate two-channel stereo set-up using NAD components, however since I only have one set of speakers I have to manually swap speaker cables every time I switched between 2-channel listening with the NAD and multi-channel or HT using the Sony. So I have also experimented with using the Outlaw to replace my NAD 370 for stereo listening as well.
For two channel listening using only the Outlaw receiver, I found there simply wasnít enough power to drive my Polk RTi150s. Those familiar with these particular Polkís know that they require plenty of high current watts to really sing. With just the Outlaw the Polkís had little bass and just sounded empty. So I used the NAD C270 amp to provide the power hungry Polkís what they craved. Worked great, really brought back the bass that was missing when just using the Outlaw. What I really like is that the 1070 has an output trigger that fires up the NAD amp automatically whenever I turn on the 1070.
The question now was could I eliminate my actual stereo integrated amp and just use the Outlaw for 2 channel listening? This would simply my life immensely as I would no longer have to swap speaker cables on my single set of speakers every time I switched between 2-channel and multi-channel music.
I spent numerous hours switching speaker cables and interconnects between the NAD C370 and the Outlaw 1070 so that I could compare two-channel music performance. Back and forth I went, song after song, listening to one setup, reconfiguring for the other setup, over and over. In the end could I tell a difference? Frankly I am not sure I could. However each time I felt that the NAD setup gave me something the Outlaw couldnít.
After completely removing the NAD C370 from my setup and only using the Outlaw for two channel listening for the last week, I still feel that the NAD setup provided some musical quality that I preferred, but I am not yet sure if it is enough to go back to having both units in my setup and have to do the speaker cable swap. I think what I will eventually do is purchase a second set of speakers and use the NAD C370 for 2 channel listening and let the Outlaw handle HT and multi-channel music. That was my original intention anyways. I did not expect the Outlaw 1070 to be able to out perform a NAD C370 in the two channel department. Although, I was impressed at how well the Outlaw 1070 did.
FM tuner in the Outlaw, all that I can say is that it seems to work. Didnít play around with it much as I use a separate NAD tuner. Canít live without my RDS.
Now onto the subject of bass management. My DVD/CD source is a Denon 3910 which has on board bass management. I found that setting the Denon to source direct which essentially bypasses bass management and letting the Outlaw handle the bass management currently works best for me. I was impressed to see that the Outlaw 1070 has a bass management toggle (on the back of the unit) for the analog multi-channel inputs that lets you either select a fixed 80 hertz crossover, a bypass setting, or a digital setting that would apply the receivers bass management. Currently I am set to the fixed 80 hertz for the multi-channel inputs which allow me to remain in the analog domain with my Denon 3910 set to source direct.
The bass management settings in the receiver allows you select unique crossovers for the speakers. So I can have a crossover of 60 for my front Polk RTI150s, a crossover of 80 for my center Polk Csi30, and a crossover of 120 for my surrounds. I use these setting for movies but as I said use the fixed 80-Hertz crossover for multi-channel music.
Things I like about this receiver are that it has minimal bells and whistles but yet it seems to do about everything I want it to do. A nice feature is that the remote has a button that letís you toggle between the multi-channel inputs and the DVD inputs. Thus I can compare the sound of using my Denon's internal DACs with the Outlaw DACs by simply pressing a button. I also like the trim button that allows you to increase or decrease the individual channel levels on the fly. The on screen display (OSD) gives you access to all the units configurable settings through a simple and logically laid out menu system.
One feature that I miss is not being able to dim the display on the 1070. While were on the topic of displays, not just Outlaw but many receivers in general, whatís the deal with the character size, and display quality? I can barely read any of the them from more than 8 feet away. Iíve got a LCD thermostat that I can read from the other side of the house.
How about build quality, I think itís quite good. The back end and insides of this thing are beautiful. The front end is down right ugly but thatís how I like my equipment, it goes well with my NAD components. The unit weighs 40 pounds and uses a toroidal power supply. The all-metal binding posts are impressive. The detachable power cord has a very tight fit, and as some of us who got the first batch of 1070ís found out, the first time you plug it in you really need to apply some force. Iíve posted some pictures in the Polk forum system showcase under Polkitup2.
The unit has a few minor quirks that take some getting used to. One is that when using analog inputs there is a bypass selection (separate from the multi-channel input bypass toggle discussed earlier) that lets you bypass digital processing. This is supposed to be a pure analog bypass available with any analog source. The front main speakers are driven full range and no low pass content is delivered to the sub regardless of speaker size in the menu. But for some reason if you have the bass management toggle on the back of the unit set to the fixed 80 Hertz cross-over (HPF/LPF) the subwoofer still gets a signal even when you select bypass. Since I have mine configured to use the fixed 80 Hertz cross-over, the only way I don't get a sub signal when listening to 2 channel music is to set the front speakers to large and select no subwoofer in the config - or set the toggle to digital. The bypass setting does works if you use the middle toggle or the digital toggle settings.
Another quirk is the internal test tones. They do not function correctly when selecting the DVD 7.1 inputs as source unless you have the bass management toggle set to digital. No big deal, just something to keep in mind when setting things up. But hereís an issue that has startled me to say the least on more than on occasion. Iíll be fiddling around with things, maybe listening to music or a movie, having some beers (usually when the problem occurs) and Iíll decide to check the speaker calibrations with the built in test tones. Some normally I listening like Ė20 but when I go to the test tones I have to crank up the volume to get a 70 db reading on the old SPL meter. I calibrate things then exit calibration and go back to my source and ka-fín-boom I am almost blow out of my chair because to get the test tones to register 70 DBs on the SPL, I had unknowingly set the volume to +10 (max volume) on the Outlaw. Ouch.
I want to mention the tremendous level of customer support you get with Outlaw. I had a few initial set-up questions and talked with Scott directly at Outlaw and he was able to answer all my questions. This one reason I like purchasing from outfits like Outlaw and SV Subwoofers is that when you have a problem or question, you can get on the horn and speak with a person who is very knowledgeable about the product, heck with SVS you might get to talk to the guy who designed the product.
All in all, I am happy with my purchase and found that it met my expectations very well.