Thanks for the replies everybody.
When I bought my Yamaha DSP-A1 back in the spring I did so with the thought that eventually I would buy a multichannel amp and add a Smart Devices CS-3X, Jr. for the center back channel. Now I'm not so sure. With the introduction of DTS ES Discrete, Matrix, and Neo:6, and the forthcoming release of the Denon AVR-5800, I'm trying to weigh my options and make the best move possible in terms of upgrading. I have to admit that I think the Denon is mighty impressive, but as much as I like the DTS ES Discrete and Matrix modes, I think the format that has me most curious is the Neo:6. I have a large collection of LD's, the vast majority of which lack a 5.1 soundtrack. If the Neo:6 could provide anything approaching a 6.1 presentation, with full-range split surrounds from DPL soundtracks, then I think it is worth it. Of course, if I'm able to scrounge the money for a Denon AVR-5800, then I won't be getting an external amp. If I'm going to pay that much for a receiver (even if I can find it discounted substantially I would expect to pay over $2500) then I'm certainly going to use the 7 170-watt channels of THX Ultra certified amplification. Of course, I wouldn't be able to afford an outboard amp anyway after that purchase.
However, after reading Jim Fosgate's Q & A about Dolby Pro-Logic II on this forum, I'm beginning to think that I should wait. There was a time when I would have sold a kidney on Ebay to get 6-Axis decoding (or Logic 7, although it is certainly clear which one Mr. Fosgate would prefer), but it was out of reach financially. From what I gather from Mr. Fosgate's interview, he deems DPL II superior to 6-Axis, and I would expect that since it is Dolby, it will take little time for it to find its way into every new component. No doubt if the Denon AVR-5800 included DPL II I would be all over that bandwagon and I would be making appointments to have that kidney removed. But all indications I have at this point are that it isn't included in the arsenal of decoding choices, and I'm not eager to drop a wad on the newest toy on the block only to have the AVR-5800 DPLII hit the shelves before I even have time to get my channels balanced.
So that brings me here, asking questions about an amp. At this point my thinking is that if I get an amp, a good one, I can go ahead and get the CS-3X, Jr. and enjoy EX-type processing with my DSP-A1 now. I'm also mindful of the fact that there is little enough software available at this time that takes advantage of DD EX, much less DTS ES. As for DTS ES Discrete, the only title I've heard mentioned is The Haunting, which from all I've read blew pretty hard and is only worthwhile BECAUSE of the soundtrack. Waiting, while hard from a techno-dweeb point of view, will in all probability be the most prudent choice since waiting will allow the companies to introduce new components with all of the goodies, DD,DPL II, THX EX, DTS ES Discret, Matrix, and Neo:6. I can then upgrade with a pre-amp that does all I want it to do, and then I'll be in the wonderful world of separates. But if I'm going to go that route, I need to make sure I buy the right amp.
At this point the front runner is probably the Outlaw 750. The price is right, it's gotten favorable reviews, it's a Stereophile Guide to Home Theater Editor's Choice Gold Award winner and an AA rated Recommended Component (which carries some weight with me) and it has been rated well on AudioReview (which carries less weight). The Sherbourne, well, I've read that review Michael mentioned. I remember being somewhat impressed at the time. I also have read the review in the June Sound & Vision. From what I gather, the 5/1500 has been compared favorably to the ATI AT1505 and the new B & K amp. The Outlaw has also been compared favorably to the ATI (in fact, many people seem to think that it is built by ATI or is simply a re-badged ATI product.) My belief is that I probably wouldn't go wrong with either. But something about the 5/1500 catches my eye. The difference in power means little to me, although I have to admit that having an amp with a total of 1000 watts is more satisfying than saying that you have one with 825 watts. But the Sherbourne seems more sophisticated, with its 5 separate toroidal transformers and soft-clipping circuit. Plus, I think the blue lights look cool.
So I guess I'm looking for reasons to choose one amp over the other. The Outlaw wins on price, the 5/1500 maybe pulls ahead on features. Michael is right, I do want to hear impressions from people who have used and owned the amp. There are only 11 reviews on AudioReview, most favorable (the only unfavorable review I remember seeing came from a guy who had a bad demo experience with a possibly malfunctioning unit), but I'd like to hear more. What do you like about the amp, what kinds of speakers are you using (I'll be using Def Tech BP10s, CLR 1000, BP8s), what impresses you the most about the amp, what do you like the least, what other amps did you consider? But I also appreciate Lynn's comments. I live in a rural area, and while I have a good relationship with an A/V dealer about 3 hours away, they don't carry amps that are in this price range. That leaves me dependent on mail order and the internet. More than likely I'll have to buy without ever having the chance to audition. Certainly not the best of circumstances, but what are you going to do? So it is important to me to know that I'll get terrific customer service. That is something I'm confident I'll get from Outlaw. The 34 or so posts on AudioReview about the Outlaw included many from people who commented on the exceptional customer service. I know that I'll have 30-days to try the amp out. With the Sherbourne I'm taking a bit more of a gamble. It costs more and I will have to pay a restocking fee if it turns out to be the wrong choice. I don't know how I'll be treated if the amp has a problem. Since I won't be buying from a brick and mortar dealer, I have to consider those things. So while I don't necessarily believe that Lynn's experience means that I would likewise run into problems, I appreciate him telling me how things went with him. Just something else for me to consider.
So thanks again, and if you own the amp, tell me what you think of it. If you can give me some more input to help me with this decision, I'd certainly appreciate it.
[This message has been edited by Stacy Huff (edited August 20, 2000).]