Snell Acoustics Type A Reference loudspeaker Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Room & Associated Equipment

This physically large audiophile system call outs for installation in a large listening room. During a 1988 home renovation, I made the first floor of my house as open as possible, so that the listening room has approximately 5500 cubic feet with an effective room length of 51'. The main listening area is 26' long by 13' wide by 12' high. An 8' high by 4' wide doorway at the back of the room opens into our kitchen, adding an additional 25' by 15' area. The Reference Type A loudspeaker system was set up within 6' of the back wall,$s6 with the subwoofers and outboard crossover networks against the wall and the Towers placed out into the room. The 12'-high semi-cathedral ceiling almost made the huge subwoofers fit in visually.

The Reference Type A is the third Snell Acoustics Type A system to see extended use in my listening room. This adventure began with a circa-1981 Type A/II system (reviewed in July '84, Vol.7 No.6), which was replaced in September '89 with a Type A/III system (reviewed in March '90, Vol.13 No.3). These earlier versions were set up against the back wall, 6' apart, toed-in, and most listening was done in the bi-amplified mode using db Systems DB-3-Snell A/III-Improved crossover. Because previous Type A systems had achieved outstanding bass response from this back-wall location, I felt confident in placing the SUB 1800 subwoofers in the same spots, positioning them vertically with the driver 3" from the floor boundary and the port about 36" from the floor.

All listening tests were conducted with the Snell Type A Reference System bi-amplified, as designed, and with the Reference Towers bi-wired. Upper range amplifiers for the Reference Towers were selected to be able to deliver at least 100Wpc into an 8 ohm load. At different times, Bryston 3B-ST, Mark Levinson No.27 and No.331 amplifiers were used. Because I had two SUB 1800s and a stereo signal (footnote 1), I used the EC-200's stereo bass outputs rather than the summed RCA output. Heeding TJN's advice (footnote 2), I selected large subwoofer amplifiers, capable of sustained output above 250Wpc, including a Krell KSA-250 (300Wpc at 5 ohms) or a pair of Bryston 7B-STs (bridged in series, each rated at 579W continuous into 8 ohms). Because the KSA-250 requires somewhat greater input to drive it to full power (2.1V versus 1.5V for the Bryston 7B-ST), I was concerned that I would have differing levels of bass as I switched subwoofer amplifiers. However, this didn't prove to be a problem.

Preamplifier was a Bryston BP-25MC, linked to the Snell EC-200 crossover by a pair of AudioQuest Topaz single-ended interconnects. The Bryston BP-25MC preamplifier was used with its remote to allow me to make volume adjustments from my listening seat. Single-ended Randall Research interconnects were used from the crossover to the power amplifiers. Monster speaker cables were run from the subwoofer amplifier to the SUB 1800s, and parallel bi-wired runs of Sumiko's OCOS speaker cables were run from the upper-range amplifier to the outboard crossover panels. Other associated equipment used in this review included Day Sequerra FM Reference and Rotel RHT-10 FM tuners, and a Linn Sondek LP-12/Lingo turntable fitted with an Ittok arm and a Spectral moving-coil cartridge.

Compact discs were played on a Krell MD-1 turntable, which drove an Audio Alchemy DTI jitter attenuator using a 75 ohm Silver Starlight digital coaxial cable. This unit fed either an Adcom GDA-700 D/A processor or an Audio Alchemy DDE v3 HDCD over its I2S bus. This converter was fitted with a RW-1 Remote Wand One.—Larry Greenhill

Footnote 1: Tom Norton, in his review of the Snell M&C system, had to rely on the Proceed PAV surround-sound preamplifier, which supplies a monophonic subwoofer channel.

Footnote 2: "To get the best out of the Snell subs, however, requires a good, and preferably powerful, amplifier." (July '95, p.106.)

Snell Acoustics
300 Jubilee Drive, PO Box 3717
Peabody, MA 01961-3717
(978) 538-6262

338h10's picture

As I posted on the review for the Snell THX system (which appears to use the same Sub 1800), I assume that the Sub's response of "17Hz–80Hz ±2dB" is due to an internal crossover within the Sub? The external crossover does not seem to cover the sub(s), and I double the 18" driver has nature HF fade that matches exactly with the rest of the system. Thanks.

GruntPuppy's picture


The Snell Reference A5 speaker system comes with THREE crossovers - an electronic active one that splits frequencies between bass / mid+treble and sits between the pre and power amps, and an external passive one for each speaker that is, in itself, a damn heavy piece of kit.

As a note of cynical irony, I bought an unused pair of a5 towers, the bass x-over, the passive crossovers, then I got M.E. I now have a complete collection of audio equipment I can't lift :P

I didn't buy the subwoofers. I wish I had, but reality says that I really don't have an environment that will allow me to put a pair of subwoofers with 3' cabinets in it! Instead I've sourced some custom passive custom BK units, and I'm using a configurable active crossover with room correction to allow me to dial-in the setup.

338h10's picture

If I am reading your comments correctly, the subwoofer by itself is just a driver-in-a-cabinet design, without any crossover. If that is so, do you by chance remember the specs of the subwoofer driver? In particular how high can it go? Asking because I am actually considering a compression driver + horn design for the upper frequencies, but it can only reach down to 400-500hz. I would like to avoid a midrange woofer to the extent possible.