Outlaw Audio may be better known for their amplifiers than for anything else, but they're pretty much a full-service brand, offering loudspeakers, subwoofers and even home theater-related accessories, and they've been at it longer than anyone. While I've been a fan of Outlaw's amplifiers
since their inception, it's their subwoofers that have always really excited me. For the better part of five years, I called their wonderful LFM-1 Plus
one of my reference subwoofers, pairing it with a Meridian loudspeaker system
. A good sub is a good sub, so I didn't give a lot of thought to the price discrepancy between the LFM-1 Plus and its counterparts, I just enjoyed it. Outlaw's newest subwoofer, the M8 reviewed here, isn't a house shaker in quite the same way as the LFM-1 Plus, but then again, at $249, it's an even greater bargain.
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The M8 was sent to me by Outlaw as a sort of accompaniment to their newly released OSB-1 Soundbar with H-PAS. Outlaw sent the M8 as a precaution, just in case I preferred to add a little more bass to the OSB-1 equation. I ultimately didn't, but that didn't stop me from putting the M8 through its paces. On the surface, the M8 is simple is as simple does. It's small, modest-looking and matte black - not a lot to write home about in terms of visual stimuli. It measures a manageable 14.5 inches high by nearly 11 inches wide and 14 inches deep. It weighs an easy-to-move 28 pounds, which isn't heavy as far as subwoofers are concerned, but the M8 doesn't feel cheap, either. In truth, after you've lugged around as many 100-plus-pound subwoofers as I have, you welcome the odd 30-pound sub that comes your way. The M8 features a single eight-inch downward firing long-throw driver, powered by a 125-watt internal Class A/B amplifier. The single downward-firing port also helps to give the M8 its reported frequency response of 29Hz to 250Hz. While 29Hz isn't the be all, end all in terms of low-end grunt, it will be sufficient for most users with smaller rooms and modest setups.
Inputs on the rear panel of the M8 include a single pair of stereo RCA inputs, with the left input also serving as the sub's LFE/mono input. There is a full complement of push-pin-style binding posts for speaker output and inputs, too. Adjustment options include variable level control and crossover frequency. There are two switches located on the rear of the unit, one for phase (180 and 0 degrees) and the other for power (on/off/auto). A detachable power cord rounds out the M8's list of features.
In terms of performance, the M8 is quite surprising. No, it's is not going to unseat subwoofers possessing more power or drivers capable of tearing a house from its foundations but, like I said earlier, for the vast majority of folks looking to add a little grunt to their soundbar
or modest home theater setup, the M8 is a great starting point. I went ahead and took my M8 demo to 11 by throwing a bit of parametric EQ its way, courtesy of Room EQ Wizard and my trusty Behringer Feedback Destroyer Pro. This allowed me to really see what the M8 had to offer, for I was able to tailor its performance almost perfectly to my room. The M8 played low and with surprising authority. It was quick enough on the draw, though you can find faster subs, albeit maybe not at this price point. I was able to bottom it out during my demo of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, but again, that was pushing the M8 much harder than I believe it ever would normally be pushed. Bringing things back to reality a bit, pairing instead with Outlaw's soundbar and doing simple level matching and crossover adjustments, proved my earlier point, which is that the M8 is aimed at the entry-level enthusiast with modest tastes. In this respect, the M8 shines, is very fulfilling (not that it wasn't in my all-out tests, either) and frankly will be enough for most listeners. While I maintain that the OSB-1 soundbar from Outlaw doesn't need a subwoofer, there are a number of systems that do, specifically bookshelf speakers, with which the M8 would be a fantastic fit. Additionally, the M8's diminutive size makes it easy to integrate and place properly within a room. Read about the high points and low points of the M8 subwoofer on Page 2.