|Outlaw Audio LFM-1 Plus Subwoofer|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Thursday, 01 February 2007|
Page 1 of 3
We’ve all been there. Stuck at a red light trying to enjoy our music in the comfort of our own vehicles. Maybe you play a bit of air guitar, or sing along, whatever your inner child wants, it’s okay because you’re in your car. Your bubble. Your sanctuary. That is, until, the jerk in the three thousand dollar Honda Civic with the grapefruit shooter for a tailpipe rolls up next to you and assaults you with what I can only describe as an amplified fart trapped within a soda can. Sure, he’ll call it bass. I call it automotive flatulence. That trunk rattling, muffler busting sound isn’t bass. It’s distortion. It’s noise. And if you’re one of these people…do the world a favor, turn it down. The only person you’re impressing is yourself which judging by the slapdash way you’ve snap-tightened your car isn’t saying a whole lot. If you want bass - come over to my house. I’ve got your bass. It’s called the Outlaw LFM-1 Plus Subwoofer baby, and it costs less than that spoiler you probably use to dry your laundry.
The Outlaw LFM-1 Plus is an update to the highly touted LFM-1 reviewed by staff writer Brian Kahn in November 2004’s issue of AVRev.com. From a distance the two are hard to distinguish from one another. They are both downward firing designs each sporting a 12-inch long throw driver. They are both ported, feature the same smooth black finish with glass top and measure in at 22 inches tall by 15 inches wide and 22 inches deep and weigh a hefty 70 pounds. So what’s the point you might ask? I mean the LFM-1 Plus is more expensive than the standard LFM-1 at $679. But this is Outlaw and that extra dough didn’t go to esthetics. It went to performance. And that’s where the “plus” comes in. For starters, the LFM-1 Plus features a more powerful 350 Watt BASH amp, capable of thundering out a massive 18Hz at 112 db across the board (with the supplied port plug installed). The LFM-1 Plus features two ports, which are tunable for, better bass response in your room via the special port plug. The LFM-1 Plus also has 180 degree phase control as well as a variable crossover that ranges from 25Hz to 180Hz. The cross over can also be defeated allowing your surround sound controller to dictate and control the LFM-1 Plus’s crossover to better integrated into your home theater or surround sound system. From the outside, the LFM-1 Plus is rather slick looking. It’s large, but sophisticated and somewhat understated too. The back panel features several connection and control options starting with its auto on/off switch. To the right is the LFM-1 Plus’s X-over switch which can be set to either active or bypass. If you set the LFM-1 Plus to bypass than the knob to the right of the X-over switch, the variable cross over itself, is meaningless, however I urge you to experiment for you may be surprised by your findings. Next to the cross over dial is the “port mode” which can be set to either 20Hz or 25Hz, which is the max output for the sub, keeping in mind that in order to achieve this level of bass you’ll have to tune the LFM-1 Plus by removing the supplied plug. Next is the sub’s phase switch flanked by its variable volume control. As for connection options the LFM-1 Plus has two. First, a LFE or Subwoofer input as well as four sets of five way binding posts. Lastly, there is a master power switch with a hefty detachable power cord resting below to round out the features of the LFM-1 Plus subwoofer. Did I mention it costs $679? Well it does, and it’s sold exclusively through Outlaw Audio’s own website and comes with a 30 day money back guarantee, which might just be its coolest feature.
The LFM-1 Plus arrived at my office on the heels of my latest non-audio purchase, my new car, which just happens to be a rather compact roadster. With the help of a co-worker I was able to get the sub home with little incident. The LFM-1 Plus comes packed ready to withstand a nuke and still look fabulous in its black fabric bag. I’ve seen products ten times the LFM-1 Plus’s price that don’t take the sort of care and pride in their packaging that Outlaw clearly does. You get the feeling that the folks over at Outlaw may just appreciate your hard earned money a little more than you do. Hey, kudos all around. If only everything was packed with such care. I unpacked the LFM-1 Plus and placed it near my rack and prepared to make the requisite connections. That was, until I opened the manual. I rarely open manuals, I’ll admit it, and if it wasn’t for Outlaw Sales Manager, Scott Jackson, asking me to read the Outlaw’s latest work on subwoofers and their set up I may never have. But I have to say I read the sucker. Cover to cover. Let me say this and without getting to technical, if you have ever wondered about subwoofer setup you need to read the manual for the LFM-1 Plus and the subsequent other documents on Outlaw’s site about bass and subwoofer placement, even if you don’t own or plan on buying an Outlaw sub. It’s truly educational and written in such a way that even a novice can obtain stellar results with little effort. The Outlaws know their bass. So I read the manual twice and hooked up the LFM-1 Plus the next day. I had to make sure it all sank in. The LFM-1 Plus proved to be extremely easy when it came to integrating into my system. In fact, with very little tweaking I was able to achieve suitable results in about an hour. Of course I played with the LFM-1 Plus for several days in an effort to achieve the best possible performance.
Several days after receiving the LFM-1 Plus another box arrived. It was the Velodyne SMS-1 bass management system. While not made by Outlaw the SMS-1 can be purchased through their website either by itself or packaged with any Outlaw sub. The SMS-1 is by no means mandatory; in fact I debated whether or not to even use it. I was satisfied with my results in “tuning” the LFM-1 Plus’s performance in my room. I called Scott and he said that the SMS-1 is there for customers with “special” needs or, as he put it “special needs rooms.” Say for instance you have a large, odd shaped room, with weird dimensions and hardwood floors and just everything under the sun that says “don’t put a system in here.” But you did anyway, and you can’t quite get the bass to settle down and play nice. Well that’s where the SMS-1 comes in, with its digital room correction software and EQ settings. I won’t geek out on the SMS-1 for staff writer Brian Kahn already did that review in the October issue of AVRev.com. I’ll say this though, it’s a handy tool and it works, but most users will be just fine with the LFM-1 Plus’s stock controls.
I connected the LFM-1 Plus to my Outlaw 970 surround sound processor via it’s LFE or Subwoofer input using a single Monster M Series interconnect after experimenting with both the LFM-1 Plus’s own cross over as well as using its speaker level inputs, ultimately choosing my processor’s own internal crossover settings for ease of use. Again, experimentation is the name of the game and I urge you all find what works best for you. I also messed with the port plug a bit and found a happy placement that worked for me. I did remove the plug all together and set the port switch to max output but found it to be too much for my room. With the port plug in place I continued with my evaluation.
I chose to round out my system with the Outlaw 7200 multi-channel amplifier feeding a 5.1 Anthony Gallo Reference AV speakers system. For my two-channel source I opted for the Denon 3910 universal player with my Toshiba XA-1 HD DVD player for movies. All power filtration and cabling came by way of Monster Cable.