Outlaw M8: Easily the best budget subwoofer?

Outlaw Audio is known for its high-value/high-end audio products, but with the $249 M8 subwoofer it raised the stakes. It's an awesome performer!

The M8 subwoofer Outlaw Audio

Budget-priced subwoofers make bass, but they rarely make truly deep, room-shaking bass. The new Outlaw Audio's M8 is in the latter category. This 8-inch, 125-watt sub made a profoundly palpable impression on me. It rocks!

Stylewise, there's not much to report. The M8 ($249) is a plain black box, its textured vinyl covered cabinet measures 14.5 inches by 10.9 inches by 14.1 inches, and the sub weighs 28 pounds. That's a lot heavier than average for a budget model, and the cabinet feels nice and solid.

Connectivity covers every hookup contingency, you get stereo line-level and speaker level inputs. The heavy-duty 8-inch driver and port are located on the sub's bottom panel. The M8's internal crossover network can be bypassed with the flick of a switch, which is the preferred way to go if you're using the M8 with a receiver.

While most budget subs use cheaper Class D amplifiers, the M8 boasts a higher-quality 125-watt (200-watt peak) Class AB amp.

I set up the M8 in the CNET listening room with our Aperion Audio Intimus 4T Hybrid SD speaker system. That system uses Aperion's Bravus 8D, dual 8-inch, 150-watt sub ($499), so I was eager to see how the two subs would compare.

I started the face-off with a Blue Man Group's "How to be a Megastar Live!" CD. The all-percussion performance group bangs on really big drums and other low-bass instruments, and the M8's power belied its very modest cost. The M8 makes the sort of bass you feel as much as hear, and its 8-inch driver sounded more like a 10-inch woofer. The twice-as-expensive Aperion Bravus 8D didn't go any deeper into the bottom octave bass range, but it more clearly defined bass pitches and notes on a range of discs. The 8D is also a lot better looking, but the M8's low-end was more visceral and dynamic.

Home theater skills were consistently impressive; the M8's bass had exceptional impact and potency. The Outlaw Audio M8 sub is the most powerful sub I've heard for less than $300. Highly recommended!

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