The LFM-1 breaks new ground for Outlaw Audio, a small but auspicious manufacturer specializing in high-value home-theater electronics. Weighing 58 pounds and measuring 21.75 inches tall, 15 inches wide, and a whopping 22 inches deep, the LFM-1 is the biggest subwoofer we've ever tested. Unpacking it is a two-person job! On the upside, the black-satin finish, the smoothly rounded corners, and the smoked-Plexiglas top panel add luxury touches to the big guy's appearance. The sub's stellar build and sound quality are even more remarkable when you consider that Outlaw directly markets the LFM-1 for $579.
The LFM-1's onboard 325-watt digital amplifier drives a downward-firing 12-inch woofer, whose output is augmented by twin downward-firing ports. This arrangement provides two benefits: First, it eliminates the flatulent and whooshing noises that plague subs with front, side, or rear ports. Second, unlike with rear- and side-port models, you can place the LFM-1 by a wall without hurting its performance. Also, Outlaw rests the sub solidly on four metal cones rather than mushy feet or spindly spikes.
The LFM-1 offers decent connectivity options. You get a single line-level input that you can switch between the sub's onboard crossover and a crossover bypass. The latter is the preferred setting in a system with an A/V receiver; you'll rely on its internal crossover and its bass-management system. Since older receivers typically lack subwoofer or pre-out jacks, you attach those units to the LFM-1's speaker-level inputs and outputs. Either way, this Outlaw has you covered.
In addition to delivering pants-flapping, feel-it-in-your-guts deep bass, this subwoofer maintains a firm grip on low-frequency pitch definition--an unusual combination in a $579 model. Better still, the LFM-1 improved the sonics of our satellite speakers. When we tried it with Dynaudio Special 25s, PSB Alpha Bs, and NHT SB-1s, the sound opened up in all dimensions, enhancing our discs' spaciousness and imaging depth. Of all our test sats, only the tiny Energy Take 5.2s weren't synergistic partners for the LFM-1. They have very limited bass response, so even after we'd fussed over the setup details, we couldn't eliminate the gap between the satellites and the sub. The lesson to learn here is that sats with woofers smaller than 4 inches may not be suitable for use with the LFM-1.
Carlos Santana's Supernatural DVD-Audio disc is jam-packed with growling bass lines, and the LFM-1 easily negotiated the album's biggest and baddest subterranean excursions. Next up was our favorite home-theater stress test for subwoofers: the U-571 DVD. This World War II submarine drama pummeled our system with heavy artillery, ominous rumblings, and devastating depth-charge blasts, but the LFM-1 never complained or bellowed in distress. While one of these subs is powerful enough to fill even a 600-square-foot room with ease, if you really want to rock the house, double your fun with two LFM-1s! Not only will you boost the low-end oomph a bit, bass will be smoother and more evenly distributed throughout your home theater. Outlaw offers a worthwhile discount on twin LFM-1s: the pair goes for $999.