Outlaw Audio RR2160MKII a great match for Ohm Walsh speakers, John Strohbeen III tribute, USB CD player for new cars (Week 21, 2024)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 21, 2024

Q. The Cambridge Evo 75 you mentioned last week looks compelling, but I already have a streamer (a Cambridge model, in fact) and my budget is much less than $2,000. What can you recommend for about half that? I have Ohm MicroWalsh Tall speakers and was using a Marantz NR1504 receiver (now dead) in stereo mode. I will be playing CDs and using my Cambridge streamer, no vinyl or turntables.

-J.G., Whitehall, PA

A. My favorite stereo receiver under $1,000 is the Outlaw Audio RR2160MKII. It sells for $999 and actually has a bit of a history with Ohm speakers. I attended the 2017 New York Audio Show and Ohm had a demo room there, using the RR2160 (predecessor to the RR2160MKII) to power a pair of Ohm Walsh 2000 speakers. Despite the modest $4,000 price of the combo at a show where many systems approached or exceeded $100,000, it was considered one of the best-sounding rooms and racked up many “best sound of the show” and “best value at the show” comments from attendees.

If the Cambridge Evo 75 represents the best of cutting-edge, new wave audio technology, the RR2160MKII represents the affordable best of old-school design and performance. It has a delightfully retro design (RR stands for “Retro Receiver”) and weighs a whopping 36 pounds. The weight is a testament to the hefty and expensive power supply that allows the RR2160MKII to deliver 110 watts into 8 ohms and 165 watts into 4 ohms. Your MicroWalsh speakers are 4 ohms, so you will get the full 165 watts out of the receiver and it will make your speakers sing in a way that your modest home theater receiver could not.

On a related note, John Strohbeen III, owner and President of Ohm Acoustics, passed away last year. I’ve met a lot of audio industry personalities in the time I have written this column, and John stands out as one of the best for his love of music, the quality of his products and his business ethics. There is a lot of snake oil and shadiness in high-end audio, which sadly has reached new lows lately – like $595 “audiophile fuses” that supposedly make your stereo sound better compared to using an ordinary $5 fuse. That will be a topic for another time, but John was an MIT-educated engineer with no time for such nonsense. John and Ohm made some of the best sounding speakers money could buy, speakers that truly brought music to life in your room. I am proud to own several pairs of them.

John will be sorely missed, but Ohm Acoustics and his legacy are being carried on by his estate and his apprentice Evan Cordes, who worked alongside John for many years and was instrumental in creating some of Ohm’s latest speaker designs. Ohm is now manufacturing out of Bridgeport, Connecticut and there will be a demo room at the new factory. If you are looking for premium speakers that will last a lifetime, check them out at ohmspeakers.com.

Car CD player over USB: I have been asked about finding a CD player that will work with a car’s USB port to play music over the car audio system. The OAUW USB CD player works with the Alfa Romeo Tonale, which uses the Stellantis Uconnect infotainment system. I could not test it with other makes or models, but it is encouraging news and check it out if you want a CD player for your late-model car. It sells for $65.99 on Amazon and you can return it if your car does not support it.