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Outlaw Audio Ultra-X13 Subwoofer Conclusion

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This is a subwoofer that has lots of strengths and no real weaknesses.

Those readers who have made it this far may have noticed I have not said much critical about the Ultra-X13 and that the tone of this review has been generally positive. This is because the Ultra-X13 has given me virtually nothing to complain about. This is a subwoofer that has lots of strengths and no real weaknesses. If there is any drawback at all to this sub, it is that the Ultra-X13 is somewhat large and a bit heavy. That is difficult to hold against it, because this is something buyers will know going in, and besides, this kind of low-frequency performance requires an enclosure of this size. Reducing the size will also reduce the deep bass performance by the laws of physics, and I will gladly accept the larger size for its terrific deep bass performance. As for heaviness, it could be worse. The Ultra-X13 should be picked up and carried by two people, but it is movable by a single healthy adult by being ‘walked’ on its spiked feet. As was said before, it should not be dragged, but moving it by lifting one end up and pivoting it on its feet is doable.

X13Cornerlarge.jpg 

The overall performance is very good. There are some subwoofers in its same price range that can get louder and dig a bit deeper, but the advantage of the Ultra-X13 is its consummate fidelity, especially in its THX Ultra certified configuration. As was said before, in this mode, it cannot be pushed to make an unwanted noise, and it can not be driven into error. It maintains its extremely linear response at all drive levels in burst tones and almost all drive levels in long term tones until it gets to the last few dB, where a minor amount of compression occurs, but burst tones are more representative of the transient nature of real world content than the continuous sound of a long-term sweep. Every aspect of its performance is solid, and, in my opinion, it has no shortcomings. I have dealt with subwoofers that were higher performing in one metric or another, but the Ultra-X13 put up a very good showing in every single measurement. Nowhere is it lacking or below average.

The Ultra-X13’s splendid aX13_bottom_angle3.jpgcoustic measurements translate into a great sound, as I found out in my time listening to music and movies with it. It sounded great, period. I could happily live with this sub. For my sometimes extreme tastes, I think I would want two, but I am certain most people would be very satisfied with one. This is a subwoofer that, at 2 meters in an outdoor ground plane setting, can belt out a tight average of 115 dB from 30 Hz to 125 Hz and do so with only 5% distortion, and that is more than enough headroom for most people. I think the average user would rarely crank it that hard, but, if they ever wanted to, the Ultra-X13 will do that without any danger to itself. This is a subwoofer that can be pushed hard without fear of being over-driven. If an owner wanted to impress their friends, it is fine to turn to maximum volume for a short while, just to “see what it can do.” We all know the type of guy who does that as soon as they get any kind of new toy (and yes, it’s almost always a guy who does that), but the Ultra-X13 can take it. Of course, it shouldn’t be subjected to that sort of abuse indefinitely, because if it was, it would break down eventually, but for short periods, go ahead and let it rip; the Ultra-X13 can handle it.

Bassaholics_Extreme_Room_Rating.jpg

Every aspect of its performance is solid, and, in my opinion, it has no shortcomings

The Ultra-X13 earns our Bassaholics “Extreme” Room Rating, which means it should be able to achieve 115 dB peaks at the typical listening position in a 5,000 cubic foot. The Ultra-X13 just barely clears the hurdle to achieve that with respect to maximum output at 31.5 Hz and above, but it clears it nonetheless, and it doesn’t struggle at all in doing so, since its distortion is so low.

Those wishing to know more about our room rating system can read this article: Bassaholic Subwoofer Room Size Rating Protocol.

It is worth mentioning here that clean, distortion-free bass will sound significantly quieter than bass with audible quantities of distortion. The reason is that harmonic distortion is sound that is higher in frequency than the sound that it is a product of, and, in the subwoofer frequency band, human hearing rapidly rises in sensitivity to sound as frequencies move upward. To see how severe this is, look at the frequency range of 10 Hz to 100 Hz in this chart of the equal loudness contours. What that means is that normal human hearing can hear the upper frequencies of the subwoofer band much more easily than the lower frequencies. For example, a 90 dB tone at 30 Hz only has to be 70 dB at 70 Hz to be heard as the same loudness level, even though it is a 20 dB difference in sound pressure level. To put that another way, a 30 Hz tone (which is a deep bass sound) must be ten times more powerful in amplitude than a 70 Hz tone (which is considered a mid bass sound) to be perceived by human hearing as the same loudness! Since upper bass is so much more easily heard than lower bass, when harmonic distortion does become audible in bass frequencies, it can be substantially louder to human hearing, even against a non-distorted bass sound of a much greater amplitude.

Bottom Line

A big, black, poX13_angle3.jpgrted subwoofer stamped with the THX logo is sure to get dismissed by audiophiles as merely a ‘home theater’ sub that is primarily meant for making explosions louder, but in the case of the Ultra-X13, that would be a mistake. In fact, there are less expensive options that are more suited for that task. For those who want accuracy first and foremost, the Ultra-X13 is a great choice. For those who want their music reproduced without any additions or subtractions, the Ultra-X13 is an ideal candidate for that job; the output is faithful to the input. Acoustic summations and cancellations of room modes will inevitably take their toll on the bass response, so it might be worth getting multiple subwoofers to even out the response for those who want a truly neutral response in-room. Outlaw Audio does give a hefty discount for the purchase of duals, at $2,500 a pair (not including shipping), but the $1,500 cost of a single is still a good deal, in my view.

Outlaw Audio offers a 30-day full refund for those who wish to return the Ultra-X13 for any reason. They will also pay for return shipping, although not the initial shipment cost. The buyer receives a 3 year warranty on all parts along with Outlaw Audio’s good reputation for customer support. The Outlaw Audio Ultra-X13 is a fine product and a good value, in my opinion. I wish that every product that is sent to me for review gave me as much cause to praise and so little cause to complain. 

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStar
FeaturesStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarhalf-star
Attached Files
About the author:

James Larson is Audioholics' primary loudspeaker and subwoofer reviewer on account of his deep knowledge of loudspeaker functioning and performance and also his overall enthusiasm toward moving the state of audio science forward.

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Recent Forum Posts:

ryanosaur posts on January 05, 2020 23:01
Id put a third in my room if I could… but something would have to give.

Might be the relationship. :oops:

But in a 8000'3 room, I think a third would be ideal, along with two full range towers tickling 20Hz. Alas, I digress.

Still happy with my Outlaw gear after 1 year!
KEW posts on January 05, 2020 16:25
MrKaffee, post: 1360528, member: 90469
I now have two of these. Bought one last year and another this year. Took advantage of their Christmas specials at $999 free shipping. All I can say is wow! One was really good but two is simply outstanding. I have both situated behind the sectional. Deep deep bass and can shake the entire room - not just the sitting area! I had one set at eq2 but found with two set at eq1 to be sonically superior. Have the pre/pro set to large fronts and to mirror low bass below 40 Hz to the subs. It’s amazing how seamless it sounds. Right now I’m in OMG mode but like many of you am in endless pursuit of nirvana.
Yeah, once you get to a pair of these (in any normal room) it becomes a real question if more would really add anything (that you want added). It is like riding a 1100cc motorcycle - there are bigger bikes, but how much more acceleration do you need when you can twist the grip and flip the bike on top of you!
MrKaffee posts on January 05, 2020 15:29
I now have two of these. Bought one last year and another this year. Took advantage of their Christmas specials at $999 free shipping. All I can say is wow! One was really good but two is simply outstanding. I have both situated behind the sectional. Deep deep bass and can shake the entire room - not just the sitting area! I had one set at eq2 but found with two set at eq1 to be sonically superior. Have the pre/pro set to large fronts and to mirror low bass below 40 Hz to the subs. It’s amazing how seamless it sounds. Right now I’m in OMG mode but like many of you am in endless pursuit of nirvana.
andyblackcat posts on August 11, 2018 20:41
Yeah cheaper ones possibly. Always liked to have one of those older M&K subs before the company changed its name? As they show up cheaply now and was around cost of above Outlaw THX sub.
shadyJ posts on August 11, 2018 17:40
andyblackcat, post: 1262768, member: 70814
Well least you know about that as I was thinking what NASA does when pressurizing the shuttles cabin then they check for leaks to see if its okay to launch. So same for speakers/subs I guess as I had to check over older speakers that had drill holes and had to seal the holes then run a loop frequency sweep checking for air leaks and resonate noises.

Still maybe a little silicon going around the plate amp as you may never know there could be one spot where its venting air?
A lot of these amps are already sealed in with glue, along side the screws, so I wouldn't worry about leaks too much with this build class of subwoofer. However, very inexpensive subs may be a different story.
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