I had a pair of Snell AIIs from 1982 to 2002. For twenty years I thought they could not be bettered. Yes there were speakers that could better them in any one category, say imaging, focus, bass response, soudstaging, but not one I could find could do all of these things better. They have a smooth, warmish sound from octave to octave and seem well integrated. Thier tonal balance to my ears was just right conveying timbre in a pleasing and accurate manner. They also were easier to set up in the room becasue they were designed to be placed nearer to the wall behind them. This gave much more flexibility in getting good bass response. I found them to not be as finicky in placement as many other speakers. On vocals and piano they were just fantastic. They could also play all kinds of music from classical to rock with aplomb. I know becasue I have 6000 records and 6000 CDs of all kinds of music.
They come in two modules. The top houses the tweeter and midrange and the bottom the 10' down firing wooofer. The modules were connected with a jumper cable but they had biwire or biamping capability built in.
They are also wide dispersion speakers, so the sweet spot was quite large.
They were 4 ohm speakers and could use a lot of power. I ran them with a Counterpoint SA-20 about 400 watts into 4 ohms and a pair of MFA 200C tubed monoblocks at about 220 watts.
Finally, they were beautiful to behold. I often miss them. They are quite a good deal used, but I hear you need to check the woofer surrounds to see if they need to be replaced. Snell will give you instructions and drivers to do this.
I have Snell Type A/II loudspeakers in walnut. These are large, beautifully designed and crafted speakers, which will work in a moderately sized room. I expect delivery of a new pair of Von Schweikert VR-4 SE speakers in a few days. I hope not to be disappointed, but one respected afficionado told me that no new speaker under $5K will match the Snells, notwithstanding the fact they are 20 years old. I had the woofer surrounds replaced recently, which fully restored the bass response.
These are a three way design with a downward firing 10 inch woofer, 4.5" mid range and 1 inch soft dome tweeter. They were made in specific left and right pairs. As Znak noted, they are designed to be placed near the wall behind them -- just 7 to 12 inches, according to the factory manual. I've found that 15 inches gives the smoothest bass response, while adding depth to the soundstage. They can be spread ten feet apart and still maintain precise imaging. The main weaknesses are shallow soundstage depth and confusion (lack of cohesion) with orchestral works. While you can improve depth by moving them well away from the rear wall, the lower bass drops off precipitously. They are superb reproducers of vocals and small jazz ensembles -- Diana Krall, Eva Cassidy, Diana Reeves, Rod Stewart are just simply there on properly mastered tracks.
I'm presently running a Bryston 14B SST (600 WPC) which works very well. However, my old Bryston 4B (250 WPC) was certainly adequate. The newest Bryston 4B SST would be a good choice. These are 4 ohm speakers and require good power and high current -- I wouldn't try anything less than 150 WPC (Snell recommended 100-200 watts).
If the VR-4 SE works out, I may offer my Snell's here on Audiogon.
thank you guys! One other question: is there a difference between the A II and the A III (the latest version?) and what ist the price target for a good used AII ?
I never heard the AIII but I know it was taller than the AII and used a 12" woofer insteadof a 10" one. I think it also had a back-firing extra tweeter with controls. Otherwise, it looked the same and had the reputation of being very good, although opinions varied on whether the AIII or the AIIIi (the later model) was better. I know Art Dudley in an article in Lstener a few years ago said that the AIII was preferable to the AIIIi.
by friends AIII had external electronic crossover I know. For biamp capabilities
As said earlier in thread the woofer surrounds are a weak point because they're made of foam which breaks after 20 years.I have repaired mine with a thin rubber surround and this works very well.Do not use the thicker rubber,the suspension will be too stiff.
The overall response can be improved with an amp that is able to control the bass well.Otherwise it will sound too thick and too slow.I (still) use a Levinson 23 amp which works well.
Further,the internal cables that were standard in the speakers are (by far)not good enough.I have changed mine (about 10 years ago)for vanden Hul SCS cables.The improvement is big,but change the cable to the bass unit too or it will sound slightly discontinous..not as much as the Martin Logan Sequel though.
You could buy even better cables nowadays (Cardas,MIT,etc)
And then there is the crossover,it consists of many capacitors of inferior quality.You could cange these for better ones (i used Chateauroux,but there are more good ones)
I have enjoyed my Aii for 22 years. I often go to stores and listen to other speakers but I have never found reasonably priced speakers that do everything the snell does. I concur that the bass speakers may need to have the foam replaced as they do disintegrate over time. I bi-amp my speakers. All in all they are excellent speakers that have more than stood the test of time. A heck-of a lot of money when I bought them but never any regrets.
I just had the woofers replaced by Snell after 25 years. They are still as good as any speaker I've ever heard. Now that I have the new woofers, they will probably outlive me. I love them.
My woofers had to be replaced as well. Is there anybody who can give me an advice, how to do it an were I can get the spare parts.
Thank you folks :)
I have owned 3 pairs of Snell Type As, I feel they are one of the great speakers of all time and are a bargain used. I used them with modest power and alot of power all with fine results, when space permits I will be seeking to find another pair,hopefully within this year.
They just do a whole lot right and are beautiful too look at too, I knew Peter Snell, he gave a damn and had a very good ear, he is missed in the audio world...If you can find a pair...grab them.
I recently picked up a perfect pair of AI's. I have them currently underpowered with 60 tube watts, but I'm looking for new power. Even with the power I have they sound wonderful. I also have the external crossover.
Does anyone have a manual for the speakers? Are you willing to run off a copy?
I agree with Ben,the Snell A2's are a classic.But many components make these sound a little slow,little too thick and imprecise.I changed the woofer surrounds for very thin rubber (no foam),all the caps for audiophile grade ones,all cabling for good cabling (i used vanden Hul silver cable around 1984-i'd buy Nordost,Kimber or XLO now)and good set of spikes.Result:enormous improvement.Speakers sound best with very good amplifier and tight sounding(i have a Mark Levinson No.23;but guess sound will be even better with Goldmund Mimises 9-that is the amp i'd like to have next)
For what it's worth,i found the Mirage M1 sound similar (not the same-just a little darker and a little less dynamics).Listened to these around 1989,have the A2 since 1980 -bought them new after listening to 50 speakers.
im still using my type a2 for the past 20 years i agree w/michell about the power requirements.but im currently using high powered tube electronics.audioresearch D79B (2) bi amp w/ audioresearch EC21 electronic crossover 300/385 cutoff 6db slope. i also use audioresearch D250 mk2 servo and audioresearch classic 150 monoblocks. this electronics matches the snells well.
Question: How would the Snell A/II speakers sound with a McIntosh MC-275 amp? Would this not be enough power? If not, what high quality tube amp could I get away with at a price that is not say higher than $5000?
the mac 275 amp might work in a small room. i use to drive my snells type A2 w/ a single ARC D 79B w/c has the same power rating as the mac 275. but when you play orchestral spectaculars you will see the short comings w/c is lack of power.its for this reason i acquired one more ARC D79B and the ARC EC 21 electronic tube crossover.i also purchased both ARC D250 mk2 servo and ARC classic 150 mono blocks and they worked very well W /the snells A2.these units are all high quality tube units. for your budjet i would suggest the ARC D250 mark 2 servo ,ARC classic 150, ARC vt 200, theyre all less than $ 5000.i hope this would answer your querries
I have a pair of Type A IIs that I've had for, let's see, 15 years or so. The Type A has always been one of my favorites, even before I owned a pair, and so years ago when I found a used pair in good physical shape for cheap I jumped at the chance to buy them.
Fortunately, I'm local to the Snell factory so I took them there to be worked on when I needed to replace the tweeters (they were a little wonky when I bought the speakers) and to fix the veneer around the bottom of the woofer cabinet. There was (and probably is still) a guy there named Mark who has been at Snell for years and still knows the Type A inside and out. Later, when I needed to have the woofers re-surrounded, I took them back to Mark as well.
I decided a couple years ago to re-do the crossovers with audiophile-grade caps and such, as a couple other posters have reported doing. I bought the parts, but we moved shortly after that and our new house doesn't really have a room that's the right size and shape to fit the Type As in (they are big). So, they are in storage right now. Yuck. I'm trying to figure out how to make a listening room somewhere...
I agree with the comments that the Type As are power hungry. I have used various amps with them but my modest pair of MC-modded Hafler DH200s running in bi-amp with the Snell active crossover seems to work best for me.
Over the years I've gotten to know people at Snell and they are serious about their product. It's unfortunate that they seem to be getting pigeon-holed into home theatre applications these days but I guess as a company you need to go where the money is to some degree. Nonetheless, I'm starting to think about what my next pair of speakers might be and I'm going to audition Snell C7s sometime in the next month or so.
Another Type A fan, good to see. Mark @ Snell is still there...I talked to him last week.
I have a pair of A-I's & just yesterday picked up a pair of A-III's. You think the AII are big...I can't get over the size of the AIII's...man! I need to do the foams on the woofers of the AIII's & will probably do the caps too. What caps did you settle on?
Also...if you haven't, you may want to look over the discussion on the Type A's at http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Board/
I'd like to get a pair of A-IIIs myself. I don't know where I'd put them either - so then I'd have TWO pair that I can't deploy! :-)
I mostly ended up with Solen caps. A couple of the values I needed weren't available in Solen so I used another brand but I can't remember which one. I'll look and let you know. I did not change the inductors, I used the originals.
I'm thinking seriously of one other mod; moving the crossover outside. That is, the cabinet will just contain the drivers and the crossover will be in an external box. This would be just to make it easier to tweak it.
This is an old thread, but wondering if anyone knows if there is much sonic difference between the AII and the original A. I owned the AII for years and loved them. Stupidly sold them. Just decided to buy a pair of original A's and really like them. But wondering if there is something missing relative to the AII's. Any thoughts are appreciated!
Also, are the mid and tweeter different on the AII? They look different than I remember.