Buying equipment on how they sound instead of marketing hype? Troublemaker.
25 responses Add your response
I've been wondering about that myself. The present dealer network is very limited compared to what it once was. I wanted to check out their new line-up but there were no dealers within a reasonable driving distance from my home. I wonder why so many dealers abandoned ship? Conjecture on my part, but it might have some thing to do w/the take-over of Snell from (Boston Acoustics, I believe)? I have a pr. of their JIV's in beautiful walnut veneer finish. Wonderful spks. which will last nearly forever. Yes, they need to do better marketing and set-up a better dealer network.
I think you are right about this being an effect of the Boston acquisition. I would have thought that the effect would have been just the opposite... Boston marketing the hell out of them as the "renowned old school high end speaker company" and then basically just slap a snell name plate on some existing design. This is not to imply anything against Boston, just what you often see when a small company get's bought by a bigger one. From what I can tell they still have a small company attitute but they are under the arm of a big brother. Too bad the big brother does not at least read the magazine reviews let alone listen to the product...
I used to sell Snell's in the 1980's when I worked for HIFI Buys in Louisville. Wonderful speakers, sweet and warm sounding with not a lot of effort required to make them sound good. Use decent interconnects and spikes or "tiptoes" and they just sound awesome, across their entire line.
I currently own a pr. of E Series IV's (driven by an NAD receiver and CD player using Monster's best in a biwire configuration). In a word: wonderful.
Two reasons for the lack of "buzz" about Snell....Kevin Voecks, who picked up the torch after Peter Snell died, moved on after his tenure at Snell (he now runs Revel--not heard them but I bet they sound great), which resulted in the lack of vision driving Snell. And the acquisition by Boston Acoustics, which began to relegate Snell to the back of the room becuase the volumes were low compared to BA's numbers.
If Boston wants to sell that division, I can probably come up with some investors.
Hello Snell fans.
My name is Wally Kilgore, Sales Manager for Snell Acoustics.
I just found this discussion group through one of our loyal customers. I wanted to take the time to make a few comments regarding our company. While we are owned by Boston Acoustics we have maintained autonomy with regards to design, manufacturing and marketing. Our current line was designed by David Smith, who after seven years resigned to pursue other interests. At the time David Smith was only the third Chief Engineer in Snell's history.
In January of 2003 Snell announced that David's replacement would be the renowed engineer Joseph D'Appolito. Dr. D'Appolito is famous for first utilizing a driver array in speaker design. The D'Appolito Array has been used by many speaker companies including Snell(the CV, B-Minor are two). Dr. D'Appolito has also written the only book on loudspeaker testing. Snell will introduce Dr. D'Appolito's first speaker for Snell in April, the K7. Series 7 will be built in the same cabinet shop that Snell has maintained in Haverhill, MA for over 20 years. It is built with the same high standards set by Peter Snell. The design is beutiful and the sound is unmatched.
Snell has tried to remain available in as many markets as possible but the current trend in loudspeaker distribution has made that difficult. Retailers are either being purchased by national chains or they are moving to Custom Installation.
I appreciate the fact that our loyal owners still love our products and continue to discuss them in these venues. We hope that as the current custodians of Peter's company that Snell continues to build high quality, high value loudspeakers.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ah Snell Acouostics! The company name brings back fond memories of my Snell A2i's. They were such a great speaker for me, that I too wondered why they are not on of the most sound after quality speakers on the market. When I blew up a driver (pilot error, no fault of Snell) Snell, through the serial number was able to perfectly match a replacement driver for me. They took great care of me as a customer.
Good luck Wally.
I still have my EIV's, CC, and K's for my HT and I have no plans to upgrade them. I have been a great fan of Snell's and was very disappointed (ditto to the sentiments on this thread) after the Boston Acoustic's acquisition a few years back.
Being a marketing person in a company that acquires other smaller companies, it is not unusual to have this "step child" relationship especially on a budgetary perspective. Unless the new product/brand is that much more promising (i.e. slam dunk/a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow) than other products within the company's portfolio, chances of the company investing (i.e. take a profit loss in the first couple years to gain market share) in marketing/possibly R&D given current volume is very slim. Adding the complexity is the niche-y high end audio market, where it's the first segment to die when the economy is bad and the last segment to recover when the economy picks up. It will take a huge corporate committment to make that happen. And in Snell's case, it more than just R&D (good that they have a new chief engineer), but also distribution, product positioning (awareness/trial driving), etc., the marketing fundamentals.
Believe me, I'm a big Snell fan. But imagine if you are the Boston Acoustic owner (for a second), with only limited amount of funds to play with in a certain fiscal year, would you plow money into Snell, where it'll take a long time/miracle to just make a blimp, or would you spend the same money to bet on other HT in a box/best-buy & circuit city friendly chain, which would really move the needle for your bottom line, which directly ties to how you and everyone around you earn your bonus?
...then again, if it is for me, I would move into the cable business!
I recently purchased a pair of Snell CV here on A-gon. After making some very minor factory approved x-over modification. I must say, I am very impressed with the musicality/neutrality of this speaker. The company is also very accesible and helpful when you phone/e-mail. I have all the confidence that the new line-up will be popular.
After the Hales Design Group pulled out of the consumer speaker market in 2001, the dealer I worked for at that time had a very big hole to fill in their premium speaker offerings. I participated in several manufacturer rep's speaker demos at our shop and spent time with a lot of very interesting product as a result. We eventually chose the Snell line of speakers and I must say we were very impressed by the overall quality of their products. I enjoyed meeting the Snell factory reps and learned a lot during the Q&A session that followed their demonstration.
I use a pair of Hales Revelation Two's and a Revelation Center up front in my home theater sytem, but my current room layout does not allow the practical use of the matching Revelation One monitor as a surround speaker. I chose a pair of Snell's excellent SR.5 bi-polar speakers to use instead and they work great. They are a reasonably close timbral match to the Hales in my layout.
I'm very satisfied with the overall performance of the Snells and the quality of the cabinets, etc. They look great hung on the wall and sound great in my system.
I know this thread is ancient. Just came across it looking for some other info on Snell.
Sad story, I feel. Such great stuff. I remember when I was just getting into audio as a kid and saw Peter Snell demo the Type A. So many great speakers, and so many that are still excellent today. The K, the J, the E, the D, the C. Of course, there are variants in all those types. The E/II and E/III, and Cis and C/Vs, and As are the ones I'm most familiar with. I've lived a long time with the E/IIs, Cis, and C/Vs. The C/Vs were very difficult for me. It was hard to make them work, when they did, though, they were marvelous. The Cis and E/IIs are brilliant. When thinking about smaller speakers, I often will look at Ks or Js.
I needed a new tweeter fuse holder for my C/Vs and visited the shop in Peabody as it was closing. Sad. Lights pretty much out.
The crew at Snell was great, too. Always very personable and helpful. I remember Wally, though he may not remember me.
About their commercial success... Snell speakers were always highly well critically reviewed. Always on the margin.
May their great products live on and on.
Snell's heyday was in the 80s...when their C series was a Stereophile fave...at a cost of 2k roughly 30 years ago...a fair sum back then...we had a pair in our house when I was growing up...and stayed in our family for 20 years...however, even with Belles amplification...I was never overly impressed with their performance...a good product for sure...just not a truly great one IMHO...solid company with a rich history...
I owned a pair of Snell E-II for about twenty years and loved every minute with them. They were a part of my first steps into higher-end audio... built, voiced and sold as a matched pair; and with a +- 1.75dB rating, pretty accurate. They were the speakers that were with me in my young adult years and hold a special place in my memories.
I'm still happy after all these years with my Type B pair, bought new when they first came out. They do so many things really well that I have no desire to screw up my system by trying any other speakers. They are really nice-sounding full-range speakers that are easy to place in any room I've had them in. Acoustic bass is my favorite jazz instrument, especially when played by artists like Ray Brown, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, or the tragically short-lived master of the bow, Paul chambers. The B's are able to bring the full power and glory of the bass to life. Their SOUNDSTAGE IS HUGE when it is meant to be, and small and intimate when the recording was made in a small venue.
They have stood up well to time. I recently had to replace the woofs, though the fault was all mine (testing new amps with Telarc's 1812 Overture for the first time in years, I forgot about the real canon). The speaker shop checked out all the components on the x-overs. I had them updated with Cardas Patented Binding Posts for a noticeable improvement in bass & imaging. They sounded great on 100w Atmaspheres before their recent demise, and now sound very nice, but in different ways, with a 600w D-Sonic mini-monster that has replaced them.
A lot of older speakers really show their age in systems set-up with tweaks and cabling and clean AC, most of which were not in general use 25 years ago when they came out, but the B's just get better and better when given new gear. I ran them for 20 years with a biwire pair of Cardas' then best speaker cables at $2400 for 4 1/2m legs of hand-crafted Rhodium-plated cables that stayed in until I couldn't resist a biwire set of poeima ii all-silver ribbons with the bass run thicker than the highs. Wires like these just never existed when these speakers were being designed, yet they were like a match made in Heaven for the B's. For more than 20 years, the better I make my system, the better these old-timers sound.
Phasecorrect is correct, the C was a letdown relative to the A series and the E, when keeping the relative prices in mind. A nice speaker in some ways, but lacking in some ways relative to the others. Even ignoring the price range, the E did some things, "directness" and coherence two of them, that the C did not do as well.
I would take any Snell htatigTrii, though Snell of those days to an equivalently priced Thiel of those days.....or even later day Thiels. The Snells sounded like music, while most Thiel guys have always been running around looking for a "smooth" amp...to tame their Thiels. To me, Snells were so neutral they sounded like music, while Thiels were "so neutral" they hurt your ears.
Sorry about the extra words/letters in my post 3 above this, it was supposed to say "I would take any Snell of those days to an equivalently priced Thiel.........."
Where those extra letters and words "Snell htatigTrii, though" came from, I have no idea!
I think you all can get what I was trying to say.
I don't know about the Series J.
Great that this thread has been re-discovered. I've had my E-III's since 87 or so. Bought them used and replaced the foam surrounds about 5 years ago. I don't think I ever want to get rid of them even though they are in an alternate system. I have Maggie 1.6 and Vandy 3A Sigs elsewhere and where the other speakers are special in their own ways the Snells are just right, musically speaking. I've had them with Counterpoint and Bryston SS amps and they were great and now with Quicksilver Tube Mono amps and really fantastic. They don't really do the audiophile thing in a stand out way but they have a sound that just lets you enjoy the music.Pretty easy to drive, really good bass and very non fatiguing treble. Too bad they didn't survive as a company. Audio Note in England has taken the Snell design and have extracted more performance from it, at a price of course. There has always been a debate over the "original"Peter Snell design and Kevin Voecks' input after Mr. Snell passed away. The pair I have is from the the Voecks era and I have no problem with their sound. I have heard the AN's and they are really great sounding but insanely expensive. I've never heard a pair of the original Snells but I would like to.