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I'll be ordering upgrades to my HT system in a week or so. So far, the list consists of:


4.1/C3/2.1 Diva package (small room, so no rear center)

SVS PC+ 1646 (I'm hoping these will be out soon)

Parasound HCA855A (on its way from Ubid, already)


I'm leaving my display (Toshiba 56H80) as it is, now that I'm done paying for it.


My decision boils down to pre/pro choice. Up until recently, I was all ready to order the Outlaw 950/770 combination, and be done with upgrades (especially amplification) for a long long time. Recent reading has left me feeling that the 950 has some usability issues that I will find annoying. Please note that this assessment includes the keywords "I" and "annoying"; just me, and not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.


My original plan was:


950 + 770: 5 outputs to 5.1 HT, 2 outputs to 2nd zone.


Issue: multi-zone remote implementation seems useless; requires navigation of OSD to change volume, source, etc.

Importance: Wah! Walk into the next room and make the change, you lazy slob!


Issue: lack of memory settings for different inputs, and inability to change displayed strings for reassigned inputs. This, and the above multi-zone things seem to be features that you find on your average mass-market receiver (in the same price range), so I find this disappointing.


(Assumed) Benefit: better HT sound quality (second room music will be at the mercy of my CD player's DAC)


Alternatives:


950 ($950 shipped) + Parasound 855: HT-only setup, put another system in the other room.


Issue: Was hoping to kill two birds with one stone. I don't listen to music enough to go too far up the price/performance curve, but with analog passthrough, I'm not sure the 950 would add anything to second room music.


Issue: Same tweakability gripes.


(Assumed) Benefit: better HT sound quality.


Sony STR-DA5ES ($800, shipped) + Parasound 855: L/C/R through the 855, rears through the receiver; second room through the 855, and a third room (or deck, or whatever) through the receiver's center and center-rear speaker outputs.


Issue: How much HT sound quality would I sacrifice? Would multi-zone music quality be similar (same amplification of a source passed through from analog inputs)?


Benefits: Very usable remote for 2nd and 3rd room. More configurable speaker timings and memory. Adjustable crossover. RS-232 port for fixes/upgrades. Hey, the whole setup is actually quite a bit less expensive!


In large part, this is a question of sound quality vs. features. The problem is, I have no way of judging what the deltas are on the sound quality side, since the 950 isn't available for demo in my area. (And I'm not sure I want to deal with the PITA factor of mail-order returns). With external amplification, is there a significant difference?


Yeah, I know, if there were an easy answer, this forum probably wouldn't be so busy...


--Mike
 

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With the DA5ES, you will not sacrifice HT sound in the least. I would opt for the Sony as being the better prepro. You just cant beat those features for $780-$800 shipped. Outlaw is great, but way too much hype right now that clouds alot of the comments and reviews. This is not about features vs. sound quality. Both will sound closer to the same w/ your external amplification. That being the case, choose the one w/ more features.
 
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