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Outlaw Audio 990 SSP and 7125 Multi-Channel Power Amplifier

 

Part II

December, 2005

Matthew Abel

 

I like that the 990 fits my painfully modernist design sensibility, and if you squint, you can even convince yourself that the 990 evokes a bit of a Bauhaus aesthetic. However, from a functionality perspective, I wish Outlaw had found a little more use for all of that front panel space, either with more button functionality or possibly a larger display.

The 7125 seven-channel power amplifier mirrors the look of the 990 with an austere grey front panel highlighted by a white logo and model designation, along with an attractive power button that has a blue LED to indicate when it is powered on.

Coming around to the rear of the 990, one is met with some of its most outstanding and appealing features. Here, the 990ís generous dimensions are used to great effect, first by including a set of balanced preamp outputs. This is a truly unique feature at this price point, being generally reserved for components that are significantly more expensive. The primary advantage of balanced audio connections is that they have lower noise and distortion than single-ended connectors and thus will provide a cleaner connection between your processor and your amplifier. In addition, there is also a set of single-ended preamp outputs that quite interestingly includes dual mono subwoofer outputs.

Audio is well served, with four optical digital inputs, two coaxial digital inputs, and a 7.1 multi-channel input. There is also a block of five stereo analog audio inputs. Rounding things out are the FM and AM antenna jacks for the tuner, the phono input, and the USB jack. I really like the addition of the USB connection, as it provides a better quality audio option for the many computers that donít have other digital audio output options.

On the video side, there are three component video inputs (100 MHz bandwidth), four S-Video inputs, and four composite video inputs. In addition, there are two DVI video inputs. Some might question the use of DVI versus HDMI for a digital video input, since HDMI is developing into the more common connector for most current displays and video sources. However, Outlaw makes a compelling argument for using DVI due to the greater stability of the format. In the end, the only real issue with this design choice would be the added cost and inconvenience of having to pick up a couple of DVI to HDMI adapters. The 990 has video monitor outputs on composite, S-Video, component, and DVI connections.

The rest of the 990 connections are used for more advanced control and multi-zone operations. These include an analog audio and video (S-Video and composite), Zone 2 output, an RS-232 port for control, two 12V triggers, and IR repeater inputs and outputs.

As can be seen in the photo above, the rear panel of the 990 is well laid out and benefits from the large area the designers had to work with. Connections are all very solid, and everything about them feels truly high quality.

The 7125 rear panel is all business, with heavy gold-plated speaker connectors and single-ended preamp inputs. Like the 990, the build quality is excellent. The only issue I had is that the power cord is not removable, but that is minor.

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