November 22, 2005 Let me just get this out there: we're not audiophiles. There, we said it. When we went looking for the ideal receiver, we were more concerned about video and audio input types than we were sound quality. It's a lucky coincidence that we found Outlaw Audio, and that their clever engineers knew what it was that we actually needed better than we did. They designed a device that delivers audiophile quality, at a consumer audio price, and throws in a helping of digital gear head satisfaction to boot. Their new 1070 A/V Receiver is a wonderful example of designing just what's needed to get the job done correctly, and at US$899 the closest competing product we could find was a Denon unit that costs over 6 times the price.
For the past few months we've been working on a home theater project. It seems like a simple enough statement on the surface, but there has been lots of opportunities for parts of the project to spin out of control and to become quite a but more complex and expensive than original intended. For our project, we've broken things up into several parts:
- 1 The HTPC (Home Theater PC), our most complex piece in this puzzle.
- 2 The HDTV source, in our case a HD DirecTivo (HR10-250).
- 3 The projector, a Canon Realis SX-50.
- 4 And the receiver, Outlaw Audio's 1070 A/V Receiver.
Right from the start we knew that the receiver piece was going to be critical. All of our signal sources had digital video and audio outputs, and our projector accepts a digital video input. The 1070 does this perfectly, in fact, as far as we can tell, it was designed from the ground up to be our perfect home theater receiver.
First, we needed a device that could actually switch high resolution video signals digitally, without having to downgrade to component video or (shudder) S-Video unnecessarily. We also wanted to to be able to change HD sources without having to switch the video and the audio separately. The 1070 scored well in this area as the device has 2 DVI inputs and 4 optical audio inputs, which made it a snap to directly connect the digital outputs from our HTPC and HD Tivo. There was no converting needed, and no compromises either, so we were able to take the highest quality output from our devices and route it through the 1070 seamlessly, and without a hitch. Considering the number of problems that we could have encountered while switching DVI signals, we're amazed at how transparently the system works. We tested video up to 1920x1080p without a single problem or hiccup.
Secondly, we needed an audio processor that could do a credible job at decoding the signal from our digital audio inputs. This was yet another score for the 1070, as the device supports a laundry list of every current digital audio format, as well as signal processing for Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone, and 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 channel stereo modes. We decided to configure our setup as a 7.1, and to our ears, the 1070 handled every audio source threw at it perfectly, and with little or no adjustment.
Finally, we needed an amplifier to power our 7.1 speaker setup. The 1070's integrated amplifier was sized just right. We found that in our 14'x20' test room using a 7.1 speaker package from JBL, that the 1070 had more than enough power to fill our room. Although the speakers we used weren't expensive (we spent around US$350 for the complete set including the sub-woofer) the 1070 made it sound like they were. We were extremely impressed. Additionally, the 1070 has 7.1 preouts that you could use if you felt the need to power your speakers with an external amplifier.
When we started our project we expected that we'd need several devices to handle to parts that the 1070 does by itself. The fact that it handles being a top quality video switch, state of the art audio processor, and a perfectly sized amplifier all at the same time is a testament to the engineers at Outlaw Audio. The device would be a winner at any price, but at US$899, there's absolutely no reason why the general public can't have the same quality that has previously been reserved for the extreme high end. It's time to start training your ears, it looks like we're all going to be audiophiles from now on.
The 1070 A/V Receiver is available directly from Outlaw Audio.
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