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Discussion Starter #1
I've been following all of the hype about the long-upcoming 950 from Outlaw, and went to their website to see the most recent news. My curiosity was aroused when I looked at the information about the company. They make claims that they, collectively, have years of experience at consumer electronic companies, many of which we would recognize. They also make statements that their engineering and marketing teams have brought us many famous, and excellent, products.


Does anyone out there really know just *who* the Outlaws are? What companies did the come from? What did they do at the companies? What product were these people responsible for?


I realize that the Outlaw products have received generally good reviews, but I am still curious as to just who is behind this company.


As an aside....all you Outlaw owners out there....are you happy with the product (features, build quality, warranty, customer service, etc.)? What gripes do you have about the products or company?


The feature list of the 950 for $899 does look hard to believe...
 

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Then again, the feature list for the ICBM is a bit advanced for US$249, yet that's what they sell it for.



Designed in the US, manufactured in Taiwan which saves big $$$ on labour costs.


Regards,
 

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Yeah, I know who "The Outlaws" are...


This is one of many industry secrets I'll take to the grave with me. To quote one of the principals in the company, "I'd tell ya, but then I'd have to kill ya..."
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Paul-- I guess I'd have to ask "What's the big secret about?". So they left other companies. So they formed a new company. Big deal. Happens all the time here in Silicon Valley (though not as much as it did during 1990/2000...). I assume they are a private company; that doesn't mean it's IMPOSSIBLE to find out, just more difficult.


I guess I'll have to dig deeper. My curiosity is aroused. Personally, I think it detracts a bit to lay claim to so much expertise, without the ability to back it up. Maybe there are trade secrets involved, non-compete clauses and the like.


But they still have names...


John--working for a large electronics company here in Cupertino, CA, I am well aware of the manufacturing cost savings to be had overseas. We build a *lot* of our stuff in Asia for that very reason. We have to compete. I certainly understand Outlaw wanting to do this, and I find nothing wrong with it. There are, as I understand it, many fine, high quality contract manufacturers out there.


Anybody else want to try answering....but only as long as you don't shoot me.


Hmmm....shot by someone defending The Outlaws. Now *there's* a twist!
 

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I have 2 1050s - the quality of the sound is on the par with higher end units costing twice the price or more. Customer Service couldn't be better. The 1050s are not overladen with features - for example I needed more optical/coax inputs and I would love to have Prologic II. But for $499. this receiver can not be beat. Whoever they are they sure know what they are doing.
 

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They have reasons for their anonymity, but they are honorable people with long and respected histories in our industry. They richly deserve your support and your business.


I will tell you this: Zorro is actually Don Diego.
 

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Just take a nice foliage trip to New Hampshire some fall. I'm sure you will see the "Outlaws" leaving the factory..I mean really, It's not the Manhattan Project.:p
 

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Great question.


I've been wondering myself why they don't just say where some of them used to work, and what some of their biggest projects were. They claim we'd know 'em if they said 'em like they're some major projects?


I have a theory that they might not want to say so people don't peg them as in the same 'class' as one company or another, guessing they're not all from Meridian or something like that.


Maybe somebody worked for a 'low end' company but his design skill was well beyond the projects that he was given. I'd wanna move up or start my own company in a situation like that, and probably NOT wanna mention I used to design Aiwa recs. or something cheesy like that.


They say that they started their own company so they could make their own decisions, unlike where they were at where they were forced to make this or that compromise that they obviously dissagreed with enough to think they could do a better job on their own.


So they could say they worked on this 'blankety blank' project, but adding that they 'woulda' made it better if they'd been 'allowed' too. Doesn't sound like that'd be worth it to mention if I were them. This theory could be complete crap too, but I feels resonable too me.


Also, it seems like they mention a lot of 'teams' like they out-source most (all??) of their design work?

Maybe they just do most of the planning and have other people do a bulk of the work? Maybe Outlaw's only a few people?


They'd get to make the compromise choices they want, and decide the type/'level' of products they want to attempt to bring to market?


By the way, Paul Scarpelli,

Are you just messin' around with us, or do you really know anything about these guys and're just not saying anything? I can tell all the other people here are jokin' around, but I can't quite tell in your case? sorry if I offend.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
azryan---You make some very good points. I can certainly understand enthusiastic, talented people wanting more control over their own destiny. That's how small companies start, many of whom grow and prosper.


I kind of like your theory that Outlaw might be made up of people all over the map. Given their (apparent) design/manufacturing focus, having read some of their 'updates' on the 950, it would appear that they have some designers in house, but also depend on outside designers. They also depend exclusively on contract manufacturing organizations.


To pull that off, they'd have to have talented designers who are very good at making the price/performance tradeoffs necessary in gear that is not cost-no-object gear. They would have to have people experienced in digital design, and people who know how to create the supply chain they need for offshore prototyping and volume manufacturing.


So, figure that they have some people from high-end companies as well as volume manufacturers. Lexicon meets Pioneer.


As long as they produce a quality product, support it, don't go out of business :) and provide great value, people will beat a path to their door.


I did find an old press release from Outlaw that mentions Thomas E. Young as their President. Is he still there? Where did *he* come from?!?


(See, Paul...you *can* find out *some* things! ;) )
 

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From what Outlaw mention, the base group just seem to be one of those enthusiast who thinks they could do better. Whether they have a pool of talented designers is another thing. They seem to have basic analog design, overspec'd video section, latest digital audio components, but w/o advanced custom techniques like upsampling, FIFO queue, jitter reduction or dithering of data. Their multichannel decoding offer no custom code, just inclusion of many fomats. Their proprietary surround formats seem to be of the IC mfg's origin, not something they cooked up.


So my guess is that they got people who knows what they want, and maybe lured some people away from other companies. But they got no Bob Stuarts there.


They are no lexicon or meridian. Probably a mail order version of adcom, with more dedication to video and less to analog. Their biggest claim to fame was their direct internet only sales, which allowed them to undercut their competition's price by half.


I am no enemy of Outlaw, I've thought about buying their product more than a few times and have been waiting for their 950 for a few years already. But w/o a head honcho that has dabbled extensively in its product in which it has their signature in it all over the place, their product won't truely stand out regardless of price. Their products are good for the price, but not good at any price.
 

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Most of us who are actually in the business know the Outlaw folks, and it's no big deal. I reiterate, they are people of integrity who have experience with good companies...not low end stuff. I've known two of them very well for a decade. If they want their identities kept low profile, I will continue to respect that. The products are simple, functional, austere, and they work well. You could spend three times as much on an amplifier that performs the same, but it has a fancy, high-zoot front panel extrusion and looks better...that's your call. As much as I support brick-and-mortar sales, Outlaw is a good deal...
 

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I had a recent experience with Outlaws that was bad....but they made it good. I ordered an ICBM and UPS lost it. They didn't wait for UPS to find it. They just sent me another one via FedEx. I dont know many companies that would do this. I will also add that their service dept is as good or better than high end companies I have dealt with.


I have wondered a few things about Outlaw stuff, myself. One thing in particular, bothers me. For example if their gear is the same caliber of high priced gear, why do all the cases/face plates look inexpensive? I for one wouldnt mind paying $50 more for an aluminum case/face plate, or even a lexicon type look.


I know they get great reviews, but from the pictures I have seen they arent making the most attractive looking units. I havent seen them in person and someone may correct me....but the in the pictures they look to be low quality. Half the fun of showing off your system is having the gear look good :)
 

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Ross, I've been involved with the development of many electronics products in the last twelve years, and you wouldn't believe the difference in cost of extrusions, anodizing, cases, heat sinks, etc. At one point in the development of the Citation 7.0 pre/pro, we figured the fancy display and thick front panel probably added $800 to the retail price of the piece. Was it worth it? On a $4000 processor...probably. On a $1000 processor? No way.


Now, if you wanted to talk about really expensive loudspeakers with avant gard styling, dark mystique, and inexpensive drivers...I could go there, too. But I won't. (I am such a damn tease...)
 

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wow....I didnt realize it would be so expensive. I still think they could do better. I guess the thing that bothers me the most is the green power button and grey case......Hmm....that's the answer.... they got the guy who designed sony's remote controls to design their case!!.....anyways...I just think it looks a little cheesy. This coming from a guy with a purple theater room :)


Don't get me wrong I am not knocking them at all. I have considered other products and picked up and ICBM. I am looking forward, very much to hearing about the 950. (just looked at the pictures on the site...same damn green button). The whole unit is less expensive than the upgrades for some higher end units...which is great. Maybe if it gets high marks I might have to get one and hide it and use an IR repeater :)
 

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Ross, I like your attitude.


But...a purple home theater room?:eek:
 

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The strange thing is why the want to keep it a secret. I presume, if the designers were snatched away from their prior company, it would be know to the rest of industry as to their whereabouts.


So why the low profile? Is it because once the mystic of those legendary audio designers turned out to be just a bunch of audio retailers, reviewers and/or marketing managers, their mythical prowless would be gone? ;)


Regarding their look, I was somewhat disappointed by the 950's look also, having seeing it for the first time in the HE show in NYC this past summer. It looked like a smaller version of their 1050 reciever. And I remember the ICBM having a better build than the 950. I guess they are going in the NAD direction, even forgoing the fake giant silver feet that is so common in products in that price range.
 

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I think that Outlaw purchases slightly lower spec products from reputable audio/video companies. Then with cheaper cosmetic changes sells for less. Isn't their Outlaw 5 ch amp a lower spec ATI 1505? Nothing wrong with this policy but I think they may outsource everything ( design and manufacture) and are merely internet marketers of these products. Good value/performance but think they could be a little more forthright about this practice if its what they are doing. Like I said nothing wrong with the practice just think it should be stated rather than having people assume that there is an Outlaw factory churning out Outlaw products.
 

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You'd be surprised at how few companies in this industry actually do much, if any, manufacturing. I don't see any particular inherent advantage in a company doing everything in-house when there may be vendors they can use who can do it better or for less money. We at Triad do more engineering and manufacturing than 95% of the speaker companies, but we still buy all our drivers from the best driver companies in Northern Europe. We simply cannot make drivers of that quality, and why should we when these companies will custom design drivers for our specific uses? The result is a better product.


Many, many A/V companies are one or two, or three-man operations, though, and a manufacturer simply ships them finished goods in a box, and then they resell it. You would be surprised at how many "big name" products are made by someone else. Mazda didn't make the Navajo...Ford did. Zipp, who sells the finest bicycle wheels on earth, doesn't make their hubs or spokes. And did you ever wonder why those nifty McIntosh surround speakers look curiously similar to the older Triad Silver Surround??


I would not be as concerned with who the personalities are behind the company or if they painstakingly and lovingly craft every one of their widgets by hand. I'd be concerned with quality and value and support.


Oh, and Keebler cookies are not made by elves in hollow trees... :D
 
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