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  1. #1

    So, I was able to do a back-to-back comparison of the Emotiva UMC200 and Outlaw 975

    Only a few hours in.

    Sonically, IMO they are very different. Golden Ear Triton speakers, music only thus far. Older Harmon Kardon 2.1 100wpc 5 channel amp. Oppo bdp 103, via HDMI (so not taking advantage of the oppo DAC at this time)

    The emotiva is more detailed, and bright if you will. More snap to snare drums, more sparkle on the highs.

    The outlaw is more laid back for sure, it's warmer, and smoother if you will.

    It's a crystal clear difference. There is zero debate in my mind that these two pre-amps sound very, very different.

    Lots more to play with but sound wise there is a huge different.

    The Emotiva is a lot more flexible and has a lot more ways to set it up, the Outlaw is truly a KISS affair.

    I will say the outlaw takes a few seconds to lock onto an audio track via HDMI thus far. Truncates songs a bit, even when jumping from song to song.

    I''ll post more if anyone is interested as I mess around with them a bit more.

  2. #2

    Could the audio difference be an EQ thing? You would really need to have all EQ and tone controls disabled to make a true comparison. Room correction disabled, as well.

    I'm listening.

  3. #3

    No eq

    Dead flat EQs on both. Complete reset and double check they were flat.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Yeah, keep posting green. I'm wondering which sound you like best. By "bright" some think that's code for "harsh" and exhausting.

  5. #5
    Owner-Publisher Jerry Del Colliano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    West Los Angeles, California

    Where's the conclusion?

    Which one did you like best?

    I've read the Andrew Robinson reviews. Now I want yours.

  6. #6
    Senior Member David Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Northern, CA

    IMHO, both sound quite good (especially for the price), but different (like most electronics).
    David Vaughn
    Technical Writer/Blu-ray Reviewer
    Sound and Vision Magazine

  7. #7


    So i've had all sorts of fun this afternoon and evening.

    I'm going to focus 100% on sound quality here, primarily music.

    I also have a bit of a curveball to throw in here (more on that in a few..)

    I've gone back and forth between the Emotiva and Outlaw for several hours now.

    One thing I will mention - both units that I have seem to have HDMI capture issues. Both units were B stock. The Emotiva won't capture my cable box on HDMI input 1, with broken video and audio. It works GREAT on inputs 2-4.

    On the outlaw, it's slow to capture audio from my oppo on older pre-recorded CD's (spending a lot of time with Rush Chronicals today) and occassionally truncates the first .5 seconds of a song, OR when switching inputs it drops in and out for 3-5 seconds until it gets the input.

    Talked to Outlaw and they acknowledged the problem and are going to try to get around it with firmware, but acknowledged it does happen. I can handle the switching input delays, but the half second truncation from song to song on some CD's would drive me nuts longterm. Happend on some CD's and didn't on others. My hope is that firmware addresses it.

    On to the sound quality. Again, Golden Ear Triton 2's are what I currently have. A 15 year old Harman Kardon Signature Amp. Some room treatments (though I need a few more on the walls), and ZERO EQ.

    Emotiva is definitely snappier, more detailed, and crisper. Don't take this as harsh, though I do believe if you had brighter speakers (my old NHT's come to mind) at high levels it could be fatiguing at high levels after a long time. Flip side, wow does it snap and pop and acoustic gutair in particular is so realistic. IF you have bright speakers and a bright amp... well it's going to sound bright with the Emotiva. I do think it colors the sound more with it's own sonic signature (more on this later). In my opinion it's more far east sounding (not as bright as Sony ES stuff, but that genre, detailed, crisp. years ago I had some sony EW stuff and would have called it bright, the Emotiva stops short of that)

    The Outlaw - It's sound is much more "British" in nature. Think NAD, Arcam, and the like. One thing I really liked from it is what it did with male voices from the center channel. The Golden Ear SS60 is known to sound a bit thin from a male voices perspective. It really brought more robustness to male vocals throught the center channel. I also think it colors the sound a bit less than the Emotiva (not that that coloration is bad from the Emotiva, but it's sonic signature is passed through a bit more). The reason I think that is this... my curveball...

    I hooked my Oppo BDP103 up directly to my Harmon Kardon amp and ran it. It had much more of that warm, analog sound that H/K stuff was known for. Closer in sound to the Outlaw than the Emotiva by a great deal. Now granted, it could also be that the D/A converter in the Oppo is more similar to the Outlaw. But my feeling is that the true sonic nature of the H/K amp is coming through with one less piece in the equation. That said, the Oppo direct was a bit crisper than the Outlaw, but not like the emotiva.

    Downsides to running the Oppo direct - you get one fixed crossover point for all speakers marked as small which if your mains/center/rears work best with different crossover points you are hosed. I'm running the mains as large so that's not an issue, but my center works best at 120 and my rears at 70-80. You also hear a little pop between each song (but no truncation). So I had to compromise with mains as large, and 100 as my rear/center crossover. I've also yet to get it to pass a 5.1 signal from my cable box and process it properly (haven't spent much time on that). But for stereo music and DVD playback it works no problemo (other than those caveats). The other interesting thing is that both pre-pro's created a mechanical buzz with my TV ON and plugged into the pre-pro HDMI output (the mechanical buzz was the amp, and it was not a ground loop hum). That hum is gone from the set up with the oppo.


    Have bright speakers and a bright amp? Want to smooth them out a bit and make them more analog - I'd go outlaw.

    Need more detail out of your british speakers (etc) and some more dynamic snap - get the emotiva.

    Are you 70% more or movies and 30% music - I'd tell most people to get the emotiva. Like to tweak things - Emotiva.

    Music purist, want that analog sound - get the outlaw.

    Caveat on both - The HDMI switching bullshice needs to get corrected. On the outlaw the song truncation is a deal breaker for me. On the Emotiva, I'm going to chalk it up to a refurb'd unit that has one bad HDMI input as the others were GREAT. With the outlaw, they told me it's an issue that's been seen and being worked on.

    Oh - as for which sound I like best - I REALLY dig the OPPO direct into my amp. However it's just not a long term solution unless I were to end up with speakers for my center and rears that could crossover at the same point, and then there are compromises to still accept and make. I'd have to get this cable TV audio pass through figured out (it's not passing the .1 through to the sub, or downmixing to the tritons if I turn the sub off)

    Right now I'm likely going to send both pre-pro's back (because of the HDMI thing) and possibly use the Oppo as a temp solution for a few months. I agree with every review thus far though that for what both the Outlaw and Emotiva cost they are unreal peformers (just get the HDMI figured out).

    i'll say this right now however. Oppo is really, really close to eliminating even these lower prices pre-pro's (unless you needed gob's of inputs). If I had the ability to adjust crossover by channel, maybe another HDMI input, and a few other tweaks... I'd run the Oppo.

    Assuming HDMI issues get sorted out both are really nice for the money, and which one you go with I think depends on priorities (music vs theater) and your current speakers/electronics and what you want out of the system. I'm looking at some speakers locally used that I've wanted forever and that would influence what I went with.
    Last edited by green giant; 04-25-2013 at 09:47 PM.

  8. #8

    Great comparison. As I first started reading your thoughts, I was thinking I hope you ran the Oppo directly into the amp for comparison. This is going to be my short-term 2 channel solution.

    As far as using the Oppo direct, you should contact the company and ask about the ability to vary the crossover points. They put the variable volume output and good DACs into the box for a reason, and it's not unreasonable to think you need additional flexibility. Surly this is doable with firmware.

    You also point out the "synergy" that is sometimes very important between a processor and speakers. I used to not think much about it, but it has been on my mind more, the past few years.

    The switching delay and occasional audio truncation is not an isolated issue. My Marantz AV 7005 has a big of a delay when changing inputs, and may very well be due to the HDCP associated with HDMI. I have had it with every HDMI pre/pro I have owned.

  9. #9

    The switching delays I can deal with, as you mentioned they all seem to have that (the emotiva actually was pretty fast).

    But, the outlaw truncating some songs, as you go from song to song I don't think I can deal with.

    While I like the concept of HDMI and the one cable solution, I still think it could be implemented better. I hate the connection as they aren't always solid, and this switching slow stuff stinks.

    Maybe I'll drop Oppo an email... though who knows if it would get very far.

  10. #10

    Hook the Oppo to the Outlaw via RCA, Toslink, or Coax and see if it still cuts off the first bit of the music. I'm curious.


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