Outlaw Audio BLS Bookshelf Loudspeaker Reviewed

Published On: January 2, 2009
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Outlaw Audio BLS Bookshelf Loudspeaker Reviewed

The BLS' sound is "refined and natural from top to bottom, possessing a weight and finesse not usually found with monitors in [its] price class." The soundstage is "incredibly deep and involving...giving it performance levels that come close to rivaling $2,000 monitors." For a compact speaker, it has "startling bass response..."

Outlaw Audio BLS Bookshelf Loudspeaker Reviewed

  • Andrew Robinson began his career as an art director in entertainment advertising in 2003, after graduating from Art Center College of Design. In 2006, he became a creative director at Crew Creative Advertising, and oversaw the agency's Television Division, where he worked for clients such as TNT, TBS, History, FX, and Bravo to name a few. He now has one of the most popular AV-related channels on YouTube.


Bookshelf or monitor speakers have always been a hot commodity for audiophiles, who have built many systems around such speakers. However, over time, bookshelf speakers, once the domain of budget audiophiles, have become increasingly expensive. Outlaw Audio, makers of some of the finest budget home theater and audio gear, have introduced a bookshelf loudspeaker designed to not only compete with costlier rivals, but to also bring a bit of fiscal sanity back to the market sector that desperately needs some.

Retailing for $999 a pair in gloss black and $1,099 in cherry, the BLS is a two-way, compact loudspeaker that at first glance appears very traditional, though upon closer inspection, is rather state of the art. The BLS features a single five-and-a-quarter-inch SEAS woofer mated to a one-inch custom silk dome tweeter. The BLS has a reported frequency response of 54 to 22kHz and a sensitivity of 87dB into an easy-to-drive load, giving the BLS an amplifier power rating of 50 to 200 watts. Each BLS is handmade in the good ol' U.S. of A. and is matched within half a dB of Outlaw's reference standard.

Around back, the BLS is bi-amp/bi-wireable via its gold-plated binding posts and has both a three-position Boundary Compensation switch and a High Frequency switch, each helping to integrate and aid in the BLS' placement in nearly any listening environment.

Additional Resources
• Read bookshelf speaker reviews from audiophile brands like KEF, Monitor Audio, Paradigm, PSB and many others here.

High Points
• The BLS' sound is refined and natural from top to bottom, possessing a weight and finesse not usually found with monitors in the BLS' price class. 
• The BLS throws an incredibly deep and involving soundstage and image unlike any $1,000 bookshelf should, giving it performance levels that come close to rivaling $2,000 monitors. 
• For a compact speaker with a smallish woofer, when set up properly, the BLS has startling bass response that is as deep as it is detailed and, in a small to even medium-sized room, should provide ample bass for all but the craziest bass-heads. 
• The BLS' tweeter is sweet and composed and doesn't become fatiguing or harsh at high volumes. When pushed to the limits, it doesn't break apart the way some budget tweeters will. 
• The fit and finish of the BLS is staggering, considering its price, and the cabinet is braced to the nines, making it one of the more inert bookshelf speakers I've ever encountered.

Low Points
• While I love the overall appearance of the BLS, I'm not a huge fan of the slightly Eighties ridged edges that hold the metal grille in place. The metal grille slides into place, as opposed to pushing on, and is prone to twisting and/or bending if forced.
• In my room, the tweeter attenuation did little to change the BLS' overall sound and/or performance, though I'm sure it will have a greater effect in less treated or less than ideal quarters. 
• The BLS' binding posts are substantial and of high quality, though their placement makes connecting large-gauge speaker wires, especially those terminated with spade lugs, a bit more of a chore. If your speaker wire is terminated with banana connectors, you're apt to have less of an issue. 

When you consider just what Outlaw Audio has packed into the BLS bookshelf speaker for the price, the achievement is stunning. When you consider the BLS is Outlaw Audio's first attempt at making a speaker, the feat becomes even greater, for the BLS is a home run in every regard. The BLS is one of the more easygoing, smooth-sounding, inviting bookshelf speakers you can hope to find for real money. While it can't do some of the things costlier speakers do, its lack of performance isn't so much a missing link as it is a willful omission, never drawing unnecessary attention to itself while remaining hugely entertaining and enjoyable the entire time. I love this speaker and my only real knock against it is that Outlaw didn't make it sooner, for it would've saved me and my student loans a lot of money when I was just getting into the hobby. Well done, Outlaw, well done.

Additional Resources
• Read bookshelf speaker reviews from audiophile brands like KEF, Monitor Audio, Paradigm, PSB and many others here.

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