Originally Posted by Bill Mac
The question is does the 975 at $549 have high-end two channel sound. As Roger pointed out in post #307 the 975 doesn't have a direct analog signal path. So without that I would question whether the two channel performance of the 975 is really high-end.
The analog direct feature would only improve the sound quality of an analog input to the 975. Feeding the pre/pro a digital signal (CD/SACD, Blu-Ray, DD, etc) results in high-end sound quality. Well, in the case of DD about as good as you are going to get. DD was never meant for reference quality listening anyhow. I find it interesting that the least expensive pre-amp I have ever owned (975) is one of the best sounding. The freq response and S/N measurements from Home Theater mag also give empirical evidence of it's quality.
So I took the cover off this week to see what is inside. I am not going to post specific make/model of components as Outlaw may wish this to be kept confidential. A few things stood out...
The DACs are all a well known high-end brand matching the specs Outlaw has listed on their site. Googling the part number shows it is used in a variety of high-end audio gear. The analog output stage and OP-AMPs are well laid out on the main PCB and are of high quality. The 975 has 2.5 power supplies. There is a custom made switch mode power supply for the CPU, front panel illumination, etc... and a DEDICATED toroidal transformer, bridge rectifier, caps and regulator for just the DACs. When you turn on the 975, the always on switch mode power supply closes the contacts on a relay which feeds AC to the toroidal power transformer. Nice engineering Outlaw.
There are also several voltage regulators on large heat sinks to power what appears to be the video/HDMI section. The HDMI transmitter and receiver are of a well known up-market chip set. The video scaler IC is under a larger heat sink and I did not remove the heat sink to investigate further as I run all the sources in my theater room in their native display anyway. Also it appears I would have to remove the HDMI PCB to remove the heat sink.
My only complaint is the front panel. While it is a nice brushed aluminum it is not as thick as it appears. It is actually a U shaped piece with the center of the U holding the front panel display, source selection buttons, etc... Of course the thickness of the front panel does not change the sound quality but if this was Levinson or Krell the panel would be at least 3 inches thick.
A nice well made piece of hi-fi.