Outlaw Audio 7500 5-Channel Power Amplifier Setup & Real-World Performance

Setup & Real-World Performance
I connected the Outlaw 7500 to an Anthem Statement D2 pre/pro using balanced cables with XLR connectors. As I mentioned earlier, balanced connections reduce interference from extraneous electromagnetic fields and improve signal-to-noise ratio, so I use them whenever possible.

My reference front LCR speakers are Dahlquist DQ-10s with Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v.3 surround speakers. The DQ-10s are circa 1975 and considered classic loudspeakers for their very revealing and detailed sonic characteristics. I listen to them frequently, and I'm very familiar with their sound qualities.

Speaking of dynamic source material, I started my testing with some military band music. One of my favorite reference tracks is "March From Midway," a very demanding track from John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The orchestra starts softly, then slowly builds a long crescendo when BOOM, the tympani drums kick in, the room shakes, and the full orchestra comes alive. I love it!

The Outlaw effortlessly handled the orchestra crescendos and didn't stifle the softer instruments. The triangles, which can easily be obscured in louder passages, were reproduced with exceptional clarity and detail.

The real advantage of a high-powered amplifier is not heavy-metal loudness, but headroom and dynamic range. The available headroom in the Outlaw 7500 became immediately obvious when I played "Fever" as sung by Valerie Joyce. Her sultry voice presented a very open soundstage with excellent depth. Her vocal image seemed to float in the air between the Dahlquists, something few amps have done with these speakers.

The harmonica in Supertramp's "School" from the digitally re-mastered CD The Very Best of Supertramp had an incredibly multi-layered front-to-rear soundstage, as if each note existed in a different space or plane. While this track gets very busy, the 7500 seemed to prevent it from sounding congested, and it had a very noticeable separation of the various musical elements—surprising for a performance originally recorded in the 1970s.

Without question, the most revealing test of the 7500 was my reference Collector's Edition DVD of Titanic. The most sonically demanding portions of the movie occur during and after the ship's collision with the iceberg, particularly the scenes in the engine room when the captain issues the command to reverse the engines. The sounds of steel on steel and the awesome power of the enormous engines was conveyed with deep, resonant bass, quick transients, and a strong, enveloping soundfield, even when played at louder-than-reference levels.

The 50V/microsecond slew rate likely contributed to the Outlaw's transient capabilities, and its high damping factor was evident in all channels. Even without the subwoofer, the five main channels had excellent bass response.

As the Titanic continues to take on water and slowly sink into the Atlantic, the creaking, wrenching sounds of the ship buckling and breaking apart surrounded me on all sides, even overhead with lifelike realism that was truly chilling. Many of the acoustic cues are subtle but extremely powerful. When the ship finally breaks in two pieces, the stern hits the frigid ocean waters with an unbelievable acoustic force that let me feel the weight of its massive hull and three mammoth propellers.

Even during the busy action scenes, dialog remained clear and distinct, not dominated or obfuscated by the thundering bass and the piercing sounds of a disintegrating 21,000-ton vessel. The 7500 exhibited both power and finesse, a rare combo indeed.

There's no doubt that the Anthem Statement D2 contributed to my listening experience and observations with both music and movies, but there's also no doubt that the Outlaw 7500 deserves equal credit. And even after hours of demanding playback, the 7500 felt only slightly warm to the touch. It makes me wonder if I pushed it hard enough or if its heat sinks really do provide adequate ventilation and cooling. I'll assume the latter.