Outlaw Audio LFM-1 Plus Subwoofer 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers
Written by Andrew Robinson   
Thursday, 01 February 2007

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.

Music and Movies
I kicked things off with the soundtrack from the movie Pi, and the Massive Attack song “Angel” (Astralwerks). The track opens with a hauntingly dark bass line that through lesser systems and/or subs simply fails to register. In fact there have been several times that I’ve looked at the clock on my CD player and gotten almost a full 10 seconds into the song before hearing anything, and often it’s the lower midrange that one hears first. With the LFM-1 Plus in my system the music started as the clock struck one. The bass was deep, plodding and rolled along the floor stalking me in my listening chair. It was articulate and I was able to hear distinct changes in the melody as the song builds towards the first verse. When the other elements finally chime in the LFM-1 Plus didn’t over power them, blending seamlessly with the Reference AV system. The Reference AV speakers are incredibly fast, accurate and transparent, and the LFM-1 Plus proved up to the challenge, in fact it almost seemed tailor made for the system.

Moving on, I switched to something a bit more upbeat and went with Maroon 5’s album, Songs About Jane (Octone). The song “Harder to Breathe” is a rather good sounding recording for a genre that seems all to often mixed for the iPod generation. The bass guitars and drums were beautifully detailed. The LFM-1 Plus with its 350-watt amplifier at its disposal proved resolute in simultaneously rendering both the lowest registers of the bass guitar and the kick drum with equal fever. Both instruments were distinct, clearly intelligible and lightening quick. The kick drum was incredibly impactful with a good amount of air and decay between strikes. I could clearly hear every pluck of the bass guitar strings with an appropriate amount of reverberation all the while remaining incredibly musical. Through the LFM-1 Plus the song gained a little oomph and heft that I missed with other subs.

Listening to the track “Shiver” the pairing of the bass guitar and kick drum once again proved a magic combo. The LFM-1 Plus is extremely agile for sub of its size and power rating. Truthfully, the LFM-1 Plus’s output belittled several other subs that I had in the house, even those costing three to five times as much. I’m amazed at how Outlaw is able to achieve such levels of performance given the LFM-1 Plus’s price point and rather modest power rating.

Moving onto multi-channel music I inserted Ray Charles’ album, Genius Loves Company (Monster Music). I skipped ahead to the bonus track, “Unchain My Heart” performed, a-cappella, by the R&B group Take 6. Drums and such are one thing, but vocals are another beast all together. Through the LFM-1 Plus lower registers of Take 6’s vocals were life like in their richness and air. The LFM-1Plus had excellent extension and blended beautifully with all of the various vocal elements. It was a truly seamless presentation. From the lowest lows to the upper most frequencies of the LFM-1 Plus’s range, its performance was simply staggering and effortless. At full volume the bass never became boomy or bloated nor did it ever threaten to over take the rest of the musical spectrum.

I ended my evaluation of the LFM-1 Plus sub with the global warming box office hit, The Day After Tomorrow (20th Century Fox). Skipping ahead to the tornado sequence the LFM-1 Plus dished out all of the destruction and mayhem I could handle. The various sonic goodies roared to life through the LFM-1 Plus, shaking my walls, my light fixtures, even the fillings in my teeth; all the while remaining destructively detailed with zero signs of strain or breakup. No matter how hard I pushed or should I say punished the LFM-1 Plus I couldn’t get it to break a sweat. When I chaptered ahead to the flood sequence the wall of water seemed to not only be rushing over New York but my floor as well. Not to say that the bass was confined to the floor, it wasn’t, there was just so much low bass information that the LFM-1 started with the ominous buildup and piled it on from there, mowing me down, wave after wave. It was immense…and kinda cool. I watched it twice.

Without a doubt the LFM-1 Plus subwoofer is one of the best subs I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. Its seemingly endless depths to which it can reach is nothing when compared to how effortlessly it seems to get there. Its impact is tremendous, as is its detail, however, it’s the LFM-1 Plus’s musicality that ultimately impressed me most. This is one damn good sub.

The Downside
The LFM-1 Plus has its drawbacks, for starters it’s rather large. Often visitors mistook it for one of my side tables. Clearly, measures must be taken to blend the LFM-1 Plus visually into any décor unless you have a dedicated room where your equipment is the king. Regardless of your setup the biggest mistake you could make would be to not try and make the LFM-1 Plus work in your home, for once you do the sonic benefits far out weigh its visual short comings.

Lastly, the LFM-1 Plus’s glass top is somewhat of a bear to keep clean and free from fingerprints. Those of you with small children or friends that just have to touch everything may make the top of the LFM-1 subwoofer look more like a scene from CSI. A quick spray of glass cleaner or a cloth nearby will surely remedy any unsightly marks.

At $679 the LFM-1 Plus subwoofer from Outlaw is proof that you don’t have to pay a lot to get a lot. The LFM-1 Plus is a wonderfully musical sub with enough impact and slam to satisfy even the craziest bass head. Subwoofers are the unsung heroes of any multi-channel music or movie system in that they are often shunned for their appearance yet are called upon to move mountains at the drop of the hat. Well I’m pleased to announce that the LFM-1 Plus subwoofer isn’t your average run of the mill hero. It’s a super hero.
Manufacturer Outlaw Audio
Model LFM-1 Plus Subwoofer
Reviewer Andrew Robinson

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