Set-up at my folks house. Paired the Model 970 with an Atlantic Technology A-2000 7 channel 120 watt per amp. Direct TV Satellite box. Pioneer Elite BDP-05FD blu ray player using its 5.1 analog outs (Wolfson DACS) with DVD input on Bypass. Have the Outlaw ICBM-1 between the pre-amp and the amp. Speakers are all Mirage Omnisats with a pair of SW-8 subs for a "stereo" configuration. Belden 10 gauge speaker wires. All Tara Labs Prisms for interconnects. Outlaw analog cables between ICBM-1 and the A-2000. PS Audio Power Punch cables. Panamax M-5100 power conditioner. TV is a relic being a Sony KDL-52V5100 1080P LCD that I calibrated in using settings culled from the internet. Also using a DVDO iScan HD+ scaler.
Sound quality is excellent overall after dialing in the distances and speaker levels. They have a small living room where it is all at. The Mirage Omnisats really fill in the space having the soundstage larger, wider. The Model 970 does not detract from the overall a/v presentation. Really clean...just disappears from the into the place. Its overall sonics are very, very good with the Direct TV cable box using a coax digital connection.
With the Pioneer, the Model 970 makes for a neutral sounding analog pre-amp. While the folks were out, watched Led-Zeppelin's "The Song Remains The Same" blu ray. Placement was spot on during the concert movie. Really enjoyed it. Before that, did some tests with other flicks. All channels properly played on all effects. Center dialogue anchored firmly in the middle though a bit laid back and ambient.
Stereo music with CD's on Bypass mode. Again, excellent fidelity. The previous owner only had it for only a 2.1 set-up. It really showed its chops on music. I used the Pioneer's separate 2-channel stereo outs with the Model 970's CD analog input.
I have to add that the ICBM-1 really worked well with the rest of the components. All speakers set to Large so it can do its magic. It even negates the Pioneer's weak bass output on its level set-up. The Model 970 and the A-2000 work well as a combo producing a dark yet lush sound. The Mirages not being a direct firing speakers would take some getting used to for some but I really like how it conveys a much larger sweet spot. During 2 channel music listening, it is really immersive and makes the listener think the surrounds are on. The ICBM-1 compensates for its bass shy capabilities running the low frequency work to the SW-8 subs.
Folks really dig this modest set-up. Really blows away the old but trusty Pioneer VSX-47TX receiver that they were using before. They're both retired, watch loads of TV and usually rent Red-Box blus/dvds. Happy for them...
Oh and I bought ("stole") the Model 970 off Craigslist for a mere $51 complete with its original remote, manual and box.