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Outlaw 978 Closer

mzpro5

Well-Known Member
Famous
Received an email from Outlaw this morning. They seem to be actually close to having their new pre/pro, the 978, ready, I had stopped even thinking they would have a new product. I looked for a link to their website for the info but couldn't find it so here it is:

Dear mzpro5:

It's been a while since our last update on the Model 978, and things have moved along to the point where it is now time to bring you up to date on our progress along with a few other new details. Some of you have posted in the Saloon asking what is happening with the Model 978. We've read all of your comments and concerns and hopefully this update will answer many of the questions you've been asking.

Starting with the outside appearance of the Model 978, we're still tweaking the front panel finish and color. While these images are close to what the production units will look like, there are still some adjustments to be made and our current samples are about one rev away from final.

The rear panel shows a wide array of analog, S/P-DIF and HDMI connections. As previously announced, there are both conventional and fully balanced audio outputs, including dual subwoofer outputs. For video, there are two HDMI outputs for those with both a projector and a standard flat panel display in the same room.

For those who realize that it's what's on the inside that really counts, the Model 978's internals are evidence of the work being done across three continents on our Outlaw-exclusive design. The features, layout and component choices are not shared with any other product. The Model 978 is being created by Outlaws, for Outlaws, and will be built in a world-class facility specializing in high-end components.

Chock full of high quality components, the internal topology is both clean and compact. That's intentional, as the high degree of integration and the use of multi-layer boards leads to shorter signal paths and improved noise immunity.

Looking carefully at the images in our "Prototype Gallery," you may also ask "Where is the transformer?" The answer is it's there, but thanks to the use of a switch-mode power supply for increased efficiency and performance, there is no need for the larger conventional or torroid transformers you are used to seeing. The main and standby transformers are both on the PSU board right behind the front panel board.

Speaking of components, it's time to talk about some of the choices we've made:
• The audio DSP is a pair of robust TI chips, similar to what you will find in the most powerful high-end AVRs and surround processors.
• The HDMI architecture is based on the latest components from Analog Devices, offering the fastest possible switching. Along with full HDMI v.1.4a compliance for 3D you will also be able to take advantage of a single wire connection for audio from the new "connected TVs" via the HDMI Audio Return Channel.
• Here's the one you've been waiting for: The DACs are from ESS's ultra-high performance Sabre family and are similar to the ones that have received rave reviews for their implementation in the Oppo Blu ray players. We promised the best sounding product at or above its price, and this is just one of the ways we will deliver on that goal.

All the other features previously announced remain on-board. This includes a second zone system, an audiophile-grade phono preamp section, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, and hassle-free software updates via the front-panel USB port that will not require a "loader."

Now that you have had a peek at, around, and inside the Model 978 and know more about the "what," your next question is almost certainly "when?". There's no hiding the fact that this is taking longer than first anticipated, but the complexity of the hardware and software has lengthened the development cycle beyond our estimates. As we've said, and as the photos demonstrate, this product is well along the development path and is on the way, just not as quickly as we had originally intended.

To give you a "behind the scenes" idea of why things are taking longer than expected, here are a few software items we're currently working on:
• The load time for the front panel display, so that it accurately displays the unit's status in alignment with the on-screen messages, is not as fast as it should be. That would seem to be simple to correct, but it involves two separate microprocessors and their respective software "stacks." As those in the software world know, once you change anything in the code you have to make certain that it not only works as desired, but also that you've complied with the "do no harm" rule and not broken one thing as you fix another.
• The upgrade process via USB for the Model 978's internal microprocessor (MCU) is complete and fool-proof, but we are not yet satisfied with the stability of the update process for the DSP. Therefore, we're tweaking the code and interface to ensure DSP updates are as reliable as the update process for the MCU.
• There have been quite a few changes to the Model 978 since its initial configuration on both the hardware and software side. For example, adding MultEQ XT32 required adding additional DSP RAM and a significant change to the menu system. Now that the hardware is frozen we've continued to align and adjust the full menu system and controller code to meet the requirements of the hardware and feature set.
Put this all in the pot, stir it with a hefty dose of licensing, safety and regulatory testing and then add a topping of extensive beta testing and then final software regression testing yet to come, and this cake is taking a while to bake. It's definitely in the oven and based on our latest estimates we're targeting a release at the end of the year.

As we've said before, and as you have seen from experience, all release date estimates are subject to change. If things go well, we'll ship on time. If we encounter some bugs that become tough to crush, there might be one more slip. Either way, the guiding philosophy is to deliver to you a bug-free product that works right from first delivery. We'd much rather take heat for shipping a bit later than promised if it means keeping to our promise of leaving beta testing to the actual beta testers, not to end-user customers.

Much has been done, but more work remains. It's time to get back to the hardware bench and the coding screens. We know many of you will be tempted to call the Hideout in hopes of uncovering additional details about the Model 978, but please understand that the information here and in our previous updates is all we can share at this time. As we move closer to release we'll continue to update you with periodic updates both in the Saloon and in our e-mail newsletters.

We once again thank you for your patience and want you to know that we're much closer to the conclusion of this project than it might seem. With the information here you have firm evidence that the Model 978 will set a new benchmark for high-performance, high-value, A/V processors. It will be bug-free, flexible, yet simple to use and flawless in quality at delivery in a way that will reward your wait with years of listening pleasure not unlike our Model 990 which many of you are still enjoying as you wait for the Model 978.

Finally, as mentioned in our last update, the "Outlaw Owner Discounts" previously announced for those who own the 990 and certain earlier Outlaw products remain in effect. Enjoy the summer!

Best regards,
The Outlaws


I may be in the market for a new pre/pro by the time this is actually on the market.
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Is this information on the Outlaw site? Nevemind... I'm headed there now.

Thanks
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I can't in any pics. Were they attached to your email? Can you post them?
 

mzpro5

Well-Known Member
Famous
I couldn't find the info on the site either. Here are the pics they sent:





Hard to see much detail.
 

Batman

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Famous
Sounds like its gonna be a nice piece, seems a tad short on the HDMI inputs it could use 2-3 more...
 

mzpro5

Well-Known Member
Famous
I'm still very pleased with my 990 and the only thing that is really lacking in it is HDMI.

I've been getting along well enough without it - running sources directly to the TV so I will hold off for a while on any new pre/pro.

After the 978 is out and reviews are out I will thin about it.
 

mzpro5

Well-Known Member
Famous
Batman said:
Sounds like its gonna be a nice piece, seems a tad short on the HDMI inputs it could use 2-3 more...
I didn't see anything in the message about the number of inputs, just outputs, but from the pic it seems like it has 5 inputs with 2 outputs. Would you really need more inputs?
 

Batman

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
Famous
I'm already using 6 out of the 7 on my preamp. And occasionally the " HDMI in" on the front panel. This would be off my list because of that if I were shopping ( but I'm not). What price point is it expected to ship at? If it were $1200-1300 or less I guess it's equipped about right. I know Outlaw followers have been waiting for this to come to market but it's only one piece I would expect them to make sure it has room for the owners inevitable expansion if this unit is to be ones centerpiece for years to come... :twocents-mytwocents:
 

mzpro5

Well-Known Member
Famous
Batman said:
I'm already using 6 out of the 7 on my preamp. And occasionally the " HDMI in" on the front panel. This would be off my list because of that if I were shopping ( but I'm not). What price point is it expected to ship at? If it were $1200-1300 or less I guess it's equipped about right. I know Outlaw followers have been waiting for this to come to market but it's only one piece I would expect them to make sure it has room for the owners inevitable expansion if this unit is to be ones centerpiece for years to come... :twocents-mytwocents:
Yeah but you are Batman of course you need maximum inputs :D

Right now I have 3 sources that would use the HDMI inputs (sat box, Oppo and Roku). Not being a gamer I'm not sure what else I would use (at this time) to use more HDMI.
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
I'm also surprised that it has only 5 HDMI inputs. Sure most people have 5 or fewer devices but a pre/pro is not intended for most people. AV nuts (Outlaw's target customers) are just as likely to have more...


Personally I have five now; Uverse STB, BD, Roku, OTA receiver, and Xbox 360... so any additions will require something gets removed.
 

AndySTL

Well-Known Member
Towen7 said:
Personally I have five now; Uverse STB, BD, Roku, OTA receiver, and Xbox 360... so any additions will require something gets removed.
Temporary derailment, but what kind of OTA receiver do you have? I have considered one so I could to split screen or PIP.
 

Towen7

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Moderator
It's a stand alone OTA tuner from Samsung. I don't recall the model number but they only made one or two and have since discontinued them. Apparently there isnt a demand at all because stand alone tuners are hard to find from a household name. The only new ones I could find were cheap looking and from companies I'm not familiar with. I ended up buying mine from eBay.

ChanelMaster has an OTA DVR with a tuner built-in but it's $300.

Now that I'm thinking about it I don't need mine anymore really because I have "upgraded" to U-verse and if that doesn't work I can stream OTA from my PC through the XBox. So mine is available if you want a really good on a used one.
 
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