Outlaw Audio OSB-1 Sound Bar with H-PAS Review
- Frequency Response: 47Hz- 20kHz +/- 3dB
- Crossover Frequency: 4kHz
- Tweeters: 2 x 3/4”
- Woofers: 2 x 4"
- Inputs (rear panel): 2 x Optical, 1 x Coax, 1 x Analog
- Inputs (front panel): 1 x 3.5mm Stereo Analog
- AC Power Rating: 110v – 240V @ 50/60 Hz 100W
- Dimensions: 42.75"w x 5.5"h x 6.5"d
- Weight: 20 lbs.
We've done a bunch of sound bars, but not one like this. The Outlaw Audio OSB-1 uses the H-PAS technology we first saw demoed in a trade show booth back in 2009. H-PAS, which stands for Hybrid Pressure Acceleration System, is essentially a proprietary cocktail of several speaker technologies - it's bass reflex meets inverse horn meets transmission line...Using a unique cabinet design, these technologies are more or less cascaded one to another to pressurize and accelerate low frequencies. The final result is that an H-PAS design can deliver extended deep bass with low distortion in a way that you'd think just shouldn't work. But it does.
So, the OSB-1 Sound Bar is a horizontally-oriented H-PAS cabinet that has a frequency response of 47Hz- 20kHz (+ or - 3dB) and it does that with just a pair of 4" mid-woofers and a couple 3/4" tweeters...and a whole lot of fancy port technology and other tricks as we've mentioned. The drivers are actually positioned on the outer edges of the speaker, allowing for the widest natural stereo separation possible. Playing back some older Chicago, we queued up tracks like 25 or 6 to 4 and the amount of bass present from this soundbar was substantial...I mean, those who are forced into that decision of aesthetics or sound. You get the aesthetics of being able to locate all your speakers in a sound bar, but it's got enough space to put out some decent audio. When we played classical music like Moonlight Sonata as played by the London Philharmonic, the piano had a nice belly to it where the pressure of the keys was driving the mid-bass solidly into the room without losing any of the higher or lower registers of the surrounding octaves.
On tracks where we deliberately tested out the lower frequency extension, like Seal's "Waiting for You" the synth bass, which is highly compressed, remained punchy and the aggressive, strained vocals exerted the tweeters but still retained a natural and "live" sound. "Fly Like an Eagle" also stretched the limits of this soundbar but the results were quite surprising and the kick came through with nearly as much bite as a I'm used to hearing on my reference Denon AH-D2000 headphones. The soundstage was surprisingly natural, though not terribly wide in the 2-channel mode. To widen up the sound we tried out some of the other modes, which actually work on stereo content but also work directly with DTS-encoded material to intelligently reproduce surround using DSP algorithms. It's pretty impressive and some may actually enjoy listening in 5-channel mode in order to get a bit more room-filling sound. For movies like Expendables 2 this mode really came through and created a more enveloping sound than the 2-channel mode. And ALL of the modes, including the 3-channel mode which ghosts a center channel and the enhanced 5-channel mode are light years ahead of what any TV we've heard can offer.
Let's talk about the physical sound bar. It's a 43" wide, 5.5" tall rectangular enclosure with tapered ends that is designed to aid in reproducing the simulated surround effects present in the system. On the front you have a two-character display that provides feedback on source, volume, whether a sub is connected, and the audio playback mode. It takes a little getting used to but we found that we learned the naming scheme pretty quickly. The OSB-1 can also be set on a shelf or flipped upside down and wall-mounted. When you flip it, Outlaw provides a way to also flip the display and the grille - and there is even an inverted control panel label so you don't have to read the default one upside down.
Now, the cost - the OSB-1 runs $799 so it's not meant to be a budget product for those looking to gain only slight advantage over their televisions. This is a system that is being positioned for those who want to be able to play loud and clean without distortion. But, the OSB-1 includes a sub output so you bassheads can add in the M8 subwoofer and get the whole package for $998. That's not a bad upgrade and this is a pretty solid sub that we enjoyed quite a bit. For $200 and a cable it's almost a no-brainer.
OK, the question of the week is this: What kind of music do you listen to? Tell us the genres and artists. We really want to know, so drop us a note in the comments below the video and while you're there, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Check out our Facebook page for the latest news, reviews and updates, 'Like' our Page at facebook.com/audioholics. But if you want to know what we're thinking even before we do, then follow us on Twitter @AudioholicsLive.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.