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The Outlaw Bookshelf Loudspeaker's Beginnings


Since our beginning, nearly eight years ago, the Outlaws' product line has been limited to electronics, related products such as cables, and, of course, our LFM series subwoofers. In spite of that, hardly a day goes by when we're not asked why we don't offer loudspeakers. It's a good question, given that the Outlaws have a great deal of experience in the world of speakers. The answer is quite simple. There are many fine speaker companies with great products and reputations, and unless we could offer something truly special, we wouldn't consider entering the category.

Things began to change about two years ago when we first announced the RR 2150 Retro Receiver. Our customers increasingly asked for speakers that matched the RR 2150's sonic performance and unique industrial design. At the same time, we received numerous inquiries pitching existing products from manufacturers in the US, Europe and, of course, Asia, after these companies read about the RR 2150. Unfortunately, none of the proposed products held up to our standards, and we turned them all down.

The increased demand did do one thing: it convinced us that the time had come for us to offer a true high-performance loudspeaker designed and manufactured to our own high standards. We began to examine design concepts and interview potential manufacturers using the strong working knowledge of the Outlaw team about loudspeakers. The process was a long one, as we knew that we could only do this once and that it had to be done right the first time.

Our goal was to offer the speakers for approximately $1,000 per pair, with performance that would far exceed anything at that price. This price target gave us the ability to create and build speakers we would want to own ourselves, without the "If only we had." decisions that typically come with lower cost models.

As part of the design process we studied the high performance speaker market, starting with a list of the brands the Outlaws admired. Among the many fine speaker companies in the market, certain names kept coming to the top of the list including (in alphabetical order) Aerial, Dynaudio, Revel, Snell, Thiel, and Vandersteen. While their design approaches may differ, they all have one thing in common: Each of these companies have design engineers who are fanatical about getting everything right. Their attention to detail in acoustics, aesthetics and manufacturing consistency is remarkable. We knew that an Outlaw loudspeaker would have to meet those same high standards.

To refine and execute our ideas, we retained a team of three experienced speaker engineers, each of whom has a long track record of well-regarded, high performance designs. We worked together with them for more than a year to create a product that would be uniquely Outlaw.

As we began the development process, we also set some strict parameters:

  • The loudspeaker would be designed and manufactured in the U.S. in relatively small quantities. We rejected the thought of building this product in Asia, Europe or South America.With this approach we knew we could closely monitor every step of the manufacturing process and ensure the highest quality control.
  • All components in the crossover would be "audiophile grade".
  • The transducers would come from a recognized vendor with a reputation for precision and consistency.
  • In the manufacturing process, each loudspeaker would be hand built, tested and matched to within a dB of our reference standard. This would ensure that each speaker would sound virtually identical to any other. This may appear obvious, but it requires a high level of adjustment and is very time consuming. Only a handful of companies take the time and effort to truly manufacture to this tight tolerance.

The end result of this is a product that has no model number, but rather a simple name:

The Outlaw Bookshelf Loudspeaker.

Its many features include:

  • A custom designed 25mm soft dome tweeter utilizing precision Scandinavian parts, vented former, Ferro Fluid cooling along with a full video shield and bucking magnet to virtually eliminate any stray magnetic forces.
  • A long throw 5 1/4" Seas woofer for deep, controlled bass extension.
  • Identically sized internal and external port baffle areas for equalization of air pressures, therefore providing fully symmetrical woofer excursion.
  • Internal and external matching port flares for virtually inaudible air turbulence.
  • Furniture grade cabinetry including book-matched veneers for cherry finish and high-quality hand-painted black finish on MDF
  • True Bi-amp/Bi-wire design using precision five-way binding posts with separate crossovers for woofer and tweeter.
  • A proprietary 3-position Boundary Compensation switch for wall and corner placement
  • A 3-position High Frequency switch to compensate for either heavily dampened or live rooms

What does The Outlaw Bookshelf Loudspeaker sound like? That is a loaded question with a very subjective set of answers. With that caveat, here are our own observations:

A. The Outlaw Bookshelf Loudspeaker is “neutral” in all respects. “Balanced” is the best description that we all agree upon. It absolutely emphasizes no frequency range.

B. Due to the unusual linearity of the drivers, the sound is equally impressive across a broad dynamic range. Whether you play these speakers softly or at concert hall levels they won’t get overdriven. The crossover never gets saturated and the dynamics are truly surprising for the relatively compact size of the cabinet.

C. The most impressive characteristic of this speaker is its ability to develop both a convincing image and an expansive soundstage from almost anywhere in the listening room.

Those are our own impressions developed over months of listening. However, the real test will be for you to evaluate the Outlaw Bookshelf Loudspeaker where it counts the most, in your own home. Our thirty-day audition period lets you play a wide variety of music (and soundtracks) and experiment with the placement that is best in your listening room. We encourage you to “go the distance” for the full trial period, because the transducers will improve with break-in, as is the case with any quality speaker. Once you get to live with the Outlaw Bookshelf Loudspeaker we’re convinced that you’ll agree with us that this speaker “just sounds right”.

This is an important move for the Outlaws and we are convinced that we have created something very special. We also know that our announcement of the Outlaw Bookshelf Loudspeaker will generate many questions. In that regard we feel it is important for you to read the posted FAQ’s which will provide you with a lot more important information.

 


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