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Review: Outlaw Audio RR 2150 Stereo RetroReceiver

Where on Earth do They Still Sell Stereo Components?

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Review: Outlaw Audio RR 2150 Stereo RetroReceiver

Outlaw Audio RR2150 RetroReceiver

Outlaw Audio
Recently I made a routine visit to my local big-box retailer to see what's new in stereo components. To my surprise, only one stereo receiver was on display and it wasn't even connected. It had been relegated to a lonely shelf, shoved out of the demo room by a plethora of home theater stuff. I love home theater, but I also enjoy good stereo components and was disappointed to say the least.

A reader recently wrote to ask, "Where in the world do they still sell stereo components?" I had difficulty giving him a good response.

Perhaps the Internet would be the answer. Not Ebay or Craigslist. My next stop was Outlaw Audio.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Stores

As their name subtly suggests, Outlaw Audio operates outside of the traditional brick and mortar stores, a sort of online rebel. Their broad line of stereo and home theater products and accessories are only available online and as the Outlaw Audio website states: "the only place you can evaluate our products is in your own home, where it counts the most". 'Nuff said. They stand by their statement with a thirty-day money back guarantee; you are responsible only for the original shipping charges if you're not satisfied with your purchase. Outlaw provides pre-paid shipping labels for a return.

Based on my experience with Outlaw Audio, you won't be returning anything, but you may be buying more. My first audition of an Outlaw Audio component was a recent review of their Model 7500, a five-channel beefy power amp that sells for $1599 and has outstanding audio performance, among the best I've reviewed.

It's no surprise to me that Outlaw Audio has another winner with the RR 2150 Stereo RetroReceiver, which sells for $699.

All the Stinkin' Features You Need

The RR 2150 has just the right mix of features and audio performance. Its construction quality reminds me of the days when stereo receivers were built like a tank and had the audio performance to prove it. Its generous power supply backed by a toroidal transformer delivers 100 watts x 2 and is compatible with 4-ohm and 8-ohm speakers, so it can drive a wide variety of speakers. Its high performance AM/FM tuner is among the best I've tested, particularly its AM tuner, which pulled in stations that I typically can't receive in my rural location.

Beyond the basic features you'd expect, the RR 2150 offers a subwoofer output with analog bass management and selectable 60, 80 and 100 Hz cut-off frequencies with a bypass mode if you prefer to use the crossover in a powered subwoofer. Its switchable phono input is compatible with moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, another real plus. If you like streaming audio files stored on your computer, just plug into the USB port found on the rear panel, or listen to your favorite playlists and plug in your iPod to the 3.5mm mini jack input on the front panel.

The receiver's large front panel display with blue characters is easy to read from across the room.

More Stinkin' Features

A processor loop for an equalizer and a separate tape loop are provided for a tape deck or other recording device and the RR 2150 has pre-out/main-in couplers for adding a more powerful stereo amplifier if needed, although it hardly seems necessary.

A +12-volt trigger can activate other components and the IR in/out jacks can be used to activate the receiver and other components if they are in a hidden location, such as an entertainment center or equipment closet.

Its simple programmable remote control makes operating the receiver a snap. A list of codes for controlling other manufacturers components is included in the receiver's well-written owner's manual. Even a headphone jack with level control is located on the front panel. In short, it's difficult to ask for much more in a stereo receiver.

The RR2150 Retro Receiver Put to the Test

The RR 2150 demonstrated outstanding performance with excellent dynamics, remarkable transparency and good speaker control. It seemed to have a large power reserve with plenty of extra headroom. Bass was tight and controlled and the mids and high end had plenty of detail with excellent resolution and good separation of various musical elements.

The RR 2150 proved its worthiness with Jennifer Warnes' "Bird on a Wire" from her Famous Blue Raincoat album (Shout Records). Bass had a solid foundation and sounded well defined without being bloated. Damping factor is not listed in its specifications, but the receiver had an iron grip on the woofers showing good control.

The Outlaw's authoritative dynamics came across in Donald Fagen's 192kHz/24-bit DVD-A recording of "Nightfly" (Warner Bros. Records). It never flinched when reproducing the strong bass in virtually every track, and effortlessly drove my Paradigm Reference Studio 100 towers, which have a sensitivity specification of 91dB. The RR2150 created a distinct center image with excellent separation of vocals and instrumentals, especially percussion.

Lyle Lovett's "She's Already Made Up Her Mind" from his Joshua Judges Ruth disc (DTS CD, MCA Records) had deep, thundering bass and a pinpoint center image coupled with a three-dimensional soundstage - a real audio delight.

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