NOTE: SPEAKERS WERE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING BROKEN IN WHEN I WROTE THIS INITIAL IMPRESSION.
First of all, I haven't the slightest idea what any of that stuff means that Dave posted above, and I never will. I just like to listen, and I know what I like when I hear it. Which leads to some initial impressions of the Outlaws . . .
Active listening started Sunday after running the Outlaws for about 60-70 hours so they're close to being broken in. On Dwights recommendation, I have them set up 6’ from rear wall and 4’ from the sides, so that puts them about 7.5 feet apart and I’m sitting about 8 feet out. Swapped out amps and dacs, mixed and matched, made adjustments to the subwoofer crossover and output. All in all put in about 4-5 hours of listening.
Here it is Monday morning and I thought I’d do a little listening before settling into work for the day. The system today is Audio Note OTO integrated 10 wpc and the Benchmark solid state dac. Cables are Analysis Plus throughout including power cables. I forget which ones but they’re close to their top of the line. Tunes are streamed through a squeezebox from my computer upstairs. All audio is lossless FLAC ripped from CD. With the family gone to work and school it was time for a little high volume music. NOTE: Loud to me is probably not as loud as it is for you, but it's loud enough that you can't have a conversation without raising your voice.
When I crank up the tunes, I like Porcupine Tree. Steven Wilson is an amazing musician, and if this were 1975 his stuff would be all over the AOR airwaves. (If you’re unfamiliar with him, think Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes.) Sadly this isn’t, and he ain’t. Solo, with Porcupine Tree or with others, I listen to his stuff often. I find his songs engaging, and they’re very well recorded and engineered. He’s guitar and synth heavy with a lot of textures and nuances throughout. Some of his heavier stuff almost gives Metallica a run for their money. Today, it’s The Sky Moves Sideways, Disc 1.
First off, the Outlaw Open Backs go loud, so volume is not an issue. Rated at 94 db +/- there is no problem with distortion free high volume clarity and presentation. At no point did I feel the Outlaws were even close to straining. The key for me is to get the sub settings to match well with the Outlaws. Output is about 5.5 of 10 and the crossover is set at about 70 give or take. For my ears and the current component configuration, this offers the right blend of lows and bass supplement to the midrange.
Without mentioning specific tunes, my impressions are good. Lots of space in the songs. Wilson uses a ton synths, echoes, reverb and various treatments on his instruments that really add to my engagement when listening. Soundstage from the Outlaws is deep and broad. Imaging, detail and three dimensionality is almost on par with some of the better and more expensive speakers I’ve had the pleasure to own over the years (Audio Note ANJ-Spe and Von Schweikert VR 33). Overall a very enjoyable listening experience. Passages of these tunes seem to float around the room as the speakers get lost. Other sections where Wilson really rocks on his guitar are also very well presented.
My only issue is that this style of speaker lends itself to being a bit on the lean or forward side - and I knew that going in - and I’m determined to find the right blend of position, component matching and sub crossover to get this under control. The slightest bump in sub crossover and output makes a pleasant difference. Frankly I really enjoy tweaking and coaxing this system to get what I want out of it. To me, that’s one of the great things about this hobby.
So far, so good! More to come.