Snell Type A loudspeaker J. Gordon Holt Snell Type A/III
On the basis of the rave review accorded the A/III by Larry Greenhill in Vol.7 No.6, and following Snell's apparently now-successful struggles to stay on its feet in the wake of Peter Snell's tragic early death, we arranged to borrow a pair of them for our independent audition.
While I'm generally in agreement with Mr. Greenhill, I feel he did, not make quite enough point of their superb low-end performance, which rivals if not slightly surpasses the Infinity RS-lBs in low-end definition and detail. Extension, too, is quite astonishing, providing essentially flat response in my listening room down to a very respectable 35Hz. (The RS-lBs peak out at 32Hz before rolling off; that sounds incredibly deep.)
Imaging from the A/IIIs is very specific and stable, but they provide an unusually narrow "sweet spot." Moving to either side of center causes the image to collapse to the left or right. The soundstage is very wide, but depth rendition is only very good, not excellent.
The Achilles' heel of this speaker seems to be referred to tangentially by LG in his review: "The speaker's even power radiation at high frequencies can expose an amplifier's top end mercilessly..." I would call it, rather, spurious brightness, and found it more of a liability than suggested by LG, coloring the reproduction from all power amplifiers with a spurious and irritating glare. And I wasn't using amplifiers whose top ends normally suffer from merciless exposure: the Audio Research D-250 II "Servo" and the Threshold SA-1. This problem seemed to overshadow the A/III's superb bass and midrange reproduction.
Overall, the A/III is a very good system, but it is not a hands-down winner in all areas of performance. If Snell could solve the problem in the brightness range, the low end and other performance characteristics might make this speaker just such a winner.—J. Gordon Holt