Snell Acoustics Type A Reference loudspeaker Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

My estimate of the Type A's B-weighted sensitivity was a little lower than the specification, 86dB/2.83V/m. Its impedance, however—measured with the Audio Precision System One—was only moderately demanding, and then only in the treble, where the impedance dips below 4 ohms. Fig.1 shows the tower's impedance magnitude and phase with the tone control set to its "flat" position and the rear-firing tweeter switched off. Though the phase angle is moderate through the midrange, the magnitude is high. The peak at 46Hz indicates the sealed-box's tuning; this is high for the size of the enclosure, but remember that the tower is intended to be used with a matching subwoofer. With the tone control set to its maximum positions and the rear tweeter switched on, the impedance drops to 2.9 ohms at 3.7kHz; this should not be a problem for the kind of solid-state amplifier likely to be paired with the Type A Reference.

Fig.1 Snell Type A Reference, electrical impedance (solid) and phase (dashed) with the HF control set to its flat position and the rear tweeter switched off (2 ohms/vertical div.).

Fig.2 shows the electrical drive signals to the tower drive-units. The midrange units can be seen to be padded down a little compared with the woofer and tweeter, as is the rear-firing tweeter (the bottom trace above 4kHz). The resultant acoustic response of the individual drive-units, measured on an axis level with the tweeter 39" from the floor, using the DRA Labs MLSSA system, can be seen in fig.3. The woofers cross over to the midrange units at 300Hz, with the tweeter coming in above 3kHz. The rear tweeter is about 7dB down in maximum level and covers a bandpass of 6–18kHz.

Fig.2 Snell Type A Reference, individual electrical drive signals, measured with the external crossover loaded by the drive-units.

Fig.3 Snell Type A Reference, acoustic crossover on tweeter axis at 45", corrected for microphone response, with nearfield woofer and midrange responses plotted below 300Hz and rear tweeter response plotted above 2kHz.

Fig.4 Snell Type A Reference, anechoic response on tweeter axis at 45", averaged across 30° horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with complex sum of nearfield midrange and woofer responses plotted below 200Hz.

The Type A's overall on-axis response is shown in fig.5. Impressively flat throughout the treble, the curve is marred by a bit of excess energy in the midrange. The lower midrange appears lean in this graph, but this may be a result of the difficulty in splicing the summed nearfield bass responses to the quasi-anechoic farfield response with such a physically large loudspeaker. In the bass, the restricted low-frequency extension can be seen, reaching –6dB at the lowest note of the four-string double bass, 42Hz. But this is sufficient to allow the external EC 200 electronic crossover to optimally integrate the towers with the SUB 1800 subwoofers.

Fig.5 Snell Type A Reference, effect of HF control set to its maximum and minimum positions, normalized to response on tweeter axis (5dB/vertical div.).

The effect of the HF control can be seen in fig.5. Just the differences between the on-axis response and the responses with the tone control set to its maximum and minimum positions are shown. These reach a sensible maximum treble cut of –2dB at 8kHz, and a maximum boost of 1.1dB at 10kHz.

Vertically (not shown), the Type A Reference's balance doesn't change to any significant extent as long as the listener's ears are somewhere between the two midrange units, a distance of between 30" and 45" from the floor. Laterally (fig.6), the Type A features the kind of even off-axis treble rolloff that has proved to correlate with excellent soundstaging.

Fig.6 Snell Type A Reference, horizontal response family at 45", normalized to response on tweeter axis, from back to front: differences in response 90°–5° off-axis; reference response; differences in response 5°–90° off-axis.

In the time domain, the speaker's step response (fig.7) indicates that all the drive-units are connected with the same acoustic polarity, while the associated cumulative spectral-decay or waterfall plot (fig.8) is relatively clean.—John Atkinson

Fig.7 Snell Type A Reference, step response on tweeter axis at 45" (5ms time window, 30kHz bandwidth).

Fig.8 Snell Type A Reference, cumulative spectral-decay plot at 45" (0.15ms risetime).

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.