The Ultra-X13: Our most advanced subwoofer ever! Background
While our Ultra-X12 subwoofer has been very successful, we yearned to build a sub that could deliver world-class output with some performance aspects that would equal or exceed some super subs already on the market. To that end, for the last nine months, we’ve been quietly developing an all-new subwoofer.
For the past few years we have all noticed that there are a growing number of subwoofers in the $1200 to $2500 price range. While many of these subs can sound impressive at first audition, some of them tend to focus on maximum output rather than on fidelity. The key to several subwoofer offerings is often “how deep” and “how loud” instead of “how good.” The #1 specifications goal of many of those designs is to deliver impressive numbers on CEA 2010 output measurements and to deliver so much energy to the listening room that it rattles the windows and shakes the couch. We strongly disagree with the quantity over quality approach.
What we do agree with is the THX approach. Where CEA-2010 allows roughly 30 percent total harmonic distortion, the THX specification requires a subwoofer to attain a "reference level" of 115 dB in a 3,000 cubic-foot room while keeping harmonic distortion in the mid to single-digit range. That is not an easy task. When that reference level is achieved, a THX sub delivers powerful, clean and accurate sound with nothing added to the original program material.
In the past, many of us at Outlaw were involved in the development of THX-certified products. We all remember when THX founder Tomlinson Holman demonstrated one of the first THX subs for us. He stressed that a subwoofer’s job is to reproduce movies and music as accurately as possible (what the sound mixer intended), without adding anything to the program material. Harmonic distortion is literally adding frequency content that isn't supposed to be there. While this distortion is at multiples of the fundamental frequency, when you reach above 10-15% that distortion begins to be perceived as changes in the original material. This is why THX insists on minimizing distortion levels far below industry norms.About the Ultra-X13
The new Ultra-X13 is something radically new for Outlaw. This is our first true state-of-the-art subwoofer, our first THX-certified subwoofer … and the only sub in North America to meet the tough THX Ultra specification with just one subwoofer!
Until the Outlaw Ultra-X13, all THX Ultra subwoofers here in North America required two combined units to achieve THX reference levels.
The new driver, which was designed using advanced FEA (finite-element analysis), has a total back and forth throw of 80mm ( 3.2 inches), which means it can “move a lot of air.” More importantly, the linearity of the driver is maintained throughout the entire back and forth movement, ensuring low distortion at THX reference levels. (115 dB in a 3000 cubic foot room)
The 13-inch driver is powered by 1000 watts (dual 500-watt amplifiers in a bridged configuration). Each amp has its own power supply for extra energy storage and greater stability even at extremely high power levels. The subwoofer’s response is tuned using an internal digital signal processor.
As with our other Outlaw subs, we chose a down-firing design with the driver and the two ports firing toward the floor. We designed the ports specifically for low noise. In addition, the down-firing design reduces what little noise remains by as much as 6 dB relative to a front-ported design. If you prefer a sealed-box sound you can also plug the ports. In addition we have included EQ switches that optimize the sound for ported or sealed mode. (We didn’t include any other EQ circuits because we don’t think the Ultra-X13 needs them, and most receivers and surround processors have those capabilities built in already.)
While the Ultra-X13 isn’t small, by necessity it weighs about 105 lbs, it has a somewhat slimmer and more compact design than most competing subwoofers. It also has a discreet, elegant look that doesn’t call attention to itself and blends well into room decor. Incidentally, although we designed the Ultra-X13 for sound quality, its performance on CEA-2010 tests is fully competitive. You gain musicality, accuracy and robust SPL - and sacrifice nothing.
We believe both audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts will easily hear the improvement in sound quality and fidelity that the Ultra-X13 delivers. As with all Outlaw products, we offer a 30 day in home trial; we hope you are as excited about the Ultra-X13 as we are!