Snell Acoustics Type A Series III Floorstanding Speakers

Type A Series III

Floor-standing 4-way speaker system, 47"Hx24"Wx13"D

User Reviews (11)

Showing 1-10 of 11  
KENZO   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 03, 2007]
Strength:

Incredible vocal presentation, deep punchy bass, looks, WAF (in this case....check before you buy), build quality, general friendliness of the product.

Bob Dylan is now a close friend of yours!

Weakness:

Must match with quality products upstream.

Requires powerful (and usually very expensive) amplification and reading.

Bad recordings will from now on be almost useless, good recordings will become almost narcotic.

Will tempt you relentlessly into neighbor-tortuous listening-sessions, with or without beer-in-hand at ungodly hours of the day.

Always makes you want to sing along. Depending on your quality of voice, this could be a reason for buying a pair of these speakers, or a reason for divorce in other instances.

I was surveying the second hand market for a new pair of speakers. My criteria were: airy, involving and natural voice reproduction, punchy bass and overall value for money. I had decided to try to find a pair of Snell EIII's, JBL Jubal or Summits, Klipsch heritages or fortes. I wanted a pair of classic speakers that have stood the test of time. I was furiously scouring ads (anyone know the feeling?) when a pair of AIIIi's came up for sale. I didn't know much about them, but I knew hey were the bigger brothers of the Snell E's. Just how big, I had no idea of.

I called the seller and the price seemed right ($1800), and we made an appointment for me to test them out. I was met by a couple of refridgerator-sized speakers, where the bottom half was a beautiful walnut veneer, and the top half was covered in grillcloth. It might not have been love at first sight, but it was close. Whenever I find something out of the ordinary, I am interested. That's just me.

The seller (great guy, by the way), had allready moved house, but kept the speakers in his last apartment along with his mp3-player and Adcom-amp for testing.

He turned it on and I was impressed. He was not, since he had heard them on more adequate source material. There was definetely potential. Voices came through on certain tracks, as did a deep and resolute bass. After just a few tracks we made a deal, and I took the fridges home, half expected to be beheaded by the wife.

But she loved them! I woudn't go so far as to say that she cried from joy, but gradually she took them into her heart, much helped, of course by the way these speakers can reproduce the voice of Leonard Cohen!

They look like something that would fit right into the coolest 60's lounge-style interior imaginable. They are large, but laId back. They can be placed close to the back wall, so no loose cables across the floor, and no having to sneak around them on the way to the kitchen!

Best of all: Because the grill-cloth expands well over most of the top of the speakers, there is no space for flowerpots on top of them.

Oh..the sound. When connected to my Sony TA-F5A 2x100w amplifier and my Rega Planar3 recordplayer, the sound is downright amazing. As mentioned: Cohen, but also Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Sinatra are these speakers' favourite dishes, but any type of jazz, soul, funk or other well-defined recordings are superb. The old CBS recording by Bob Dylan and jazz from EMC are especially recommended. Gret attack. Autoritative bass. Extraordinary musicality. Fluent and grainy, every detail lingering sweetly in your ears. Hm..How to describe music..it just makes you want to pull out all your old records and hear them again, because this was how they were meant to sound like. You are transported directly to Bruce Springsteens "Nebraska" or to the "Sigapore" of Tom Waits.

I have listened to Martin Logans, Klipsch LaScalas and RF's, B&W's but none have provided such a total package of musicality, loyalty to the musicians or the general FRIENDLINESS that these speakers provide. That's right. These want to be your companion and your friend.

But, however. When Dylan does his most acrobatic and high-pitched harmonica sections, they get somehow steely in the treble. This was easily cured by substituting the Sony for a Harmon/Kardon Twin Powered 730 receiver. However, this classic piece of audio history is only 2x45 watts, and the result was a bit of shyness in the bass. Klipsch-lovers love this receiver for its deep and warm sound, which is a good match for the sensitive Klipsch's and their somewhat metallic horns.

Snell AIIIi's however are power-hungry, 4-Ohm and low sensitivity, so quite a bit of Wattage must be presented. Peter snell recommended at least 2x100 watts of amplification for the Snell AIII. My opinion is AT LEAST 100w/channel in 8 Ohm.

I am currently looking for a poweramp to satisfy these speakers. They are allready the best I have heard, but they deserve more than a vintage Sony and an Ortofon $50 pickup. The speakers are keepers. Now it is just a matter of finding a system worthy of their prescence.



Similar Products Used: Klipsch LaScalas, Martin Logan Vistas, BW 801.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
sunmonkey   Audio Enthusiast [Jul 08, 2006]
Strength:

Great clarity and range. Pretty in a monolithic minimalist sort of way. Beautiful wood grain on the cabinets. Very well built.

Weakness:

Hmmm... size, if I had to pick anything. They are 24 inches wide, about 52 inches tall and about a foot deep (think the bottom half of the monolith in 2001 and you got it.)

Hello Everyone.

Where to start? In the past year I realized I needed to 'grow up' and get away from my Infinity R5s and Sony integrated. I started by getting a used Krell setup (300i integrated amp and Kav300cd). The guy who sold me the cd player was nice enough to throw in a set of very nice homemade speakers (all Focal drivers, ugly as sin, weigh a ton) and while those speakers were a huge improvement over the Infinity's, I still wanted to upgrade (free speakers didn't feed the monkey.)

I spent months on Audiogon, watching used speakers come and go. Each time something caught my eye, I would scour the web for reviews and product information. Everytime, it seemed like almost there, but not quite.

And then, up came a pair of Snell III A's.

As you can tell, 10 reviews and all of them five outta five. Lemme sing the praises:

With my old homemade speakers, the Krell components were super bright: too bright. CRAZY bright. Now that I have the Snells in place, the whole shebang falls nicely in place. The Snells are laid back, but not enough that I feel that I am losing information. Nor are they muddy. The midrange and bass are excellent; silky is the word that comes to mind. The high range is there, but doesn't make itself known. It does its job without getting in the way.

These Snell's sound exceptionally good with acoustic guitar, strings, jazz and vocal. I've got Beck 'Mutations' in right now, and wow, clarity to the extreme. Cymbals have metallic depth, acoustic guitar actually resonates, his voice is floating front and center and all the pieces have great presence and location. Its funny, because when I first plugged in the old homemade speakers, all sorts of musical information surfaced that I had missed. Now, with the Snells, its not just new information surfacing, but its like the entire mixes are different there is so much new depth and clarity. I've been surprised several times to discover what I thought was instrument X or Z making a noise is not X or Z at all, but G. And these are albums that I have been listening to for 10 - 20 years.

The bass is excellent. I have to tip the hat to the Krell for that a wee bit: they are legendary for their bottom end presence. But the Snells are really able to reproduce the bass realistically. Soul Coughing (another band) incorporates an upright bass, and shew, you can feel it in your gut. You can hear the way the string is struck, and the changes in tone (attack, decay... you can actually envision the string vibrating.) Pretty cool.

The Snells I have have gone through two owners previous. The previous owner had both woofers rebuilt. [Never get rid of the woofer drivers in a Snell IIIA: they are long throw, heavy duty 12" woofers, and they simply don't make them like this anymore.] Everything else is stock (which means the entire set up is pretty much stock.)

I can say, get these if you can. They are 4 amp and 'insensitive', so they take a toll on amps. I am running 150w per channel, and I would say that this is the bottom line. I am getting great sound, but certainly not shaking down the walls. You will need some room to let them breath, but I right now have them in a teeny room and they are knocking me out... I haven't even bothered to fidget with their placement, that sound that great right where I dropped em the first day.

Similar Products Used: Homemade Speakers with Focal Drivers
Infinity R5s (haha)
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
aroostookme   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 16, 2004]
Strength:

Great box speaker with a real sense of space and soundstaging.

Weakness:

Women hate these almost as much as they hate the look of Quad ESL-57's. Almost. These are described by my wife as the refrigerators. They are that shape.

Nothing sounds like these Snells. Occasionally I came see a complete drum kit in the corner of the room it is so lifelike at louder volumes. Some of the purest bass and finest overall three-way sound you can imagine. These are older and you'll likely have to re-foam the woofer. Mine had sign-off from P. Snell in the woofer box -- how cool is that?

Similar Products Used: Snell B's Snell C[s Kef Reference 4 Proac 2.5
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
donkeyshark   AudioPhile [Oct 27, 2003]
Strength:

An almost alluring performance, given the best. Very deep and powerful bass that couples extremely well. No bass, when it's not supposed to be there. Fantastic inner detail, reveals layers and layers of sound. You feel like you could swim in it. Great soundstage if not too close to the walls. Can be driven by little, not cheap amps, that are often superior in inner detail and sound. And the very best: a midrange, that can be ever so sweet or ever so penetrating, depending on whether you feed them Ella&Louis or German New Wave. Even a great party speaker, if you have the power. Very natural sound to the human ear. VERY revealing. Fantastic amount of BLACK in music, if you can relate to that.

Weakness:

Size, they are not build anymore. Not quite as explodingly dynamic as Amatis.

This review is based on Snell AIII, the original, not with the suffix "i". Bought these wonderful speakers from new back in 87. Have loved them ever since. They have been the backbone in my various systems ever since. Have lived in small and big appartments with them. Everywhere they have been fantastic. With the best equipment and cables they are music at it's best. Needless to talk about frequency range and other technical stuff. It's all there, if it's in the recording you put into them. The speakers are VERY revealing. I have been able to hear the difference between soft and hard coins sitting under the spikes supporting a wallmounted VOYD turntable with Benz Ruby on a Helius Cyalene tonearm! It makes a lot of people laugh, but it is the plain truth. I have played them seriously for years with tube amps of all kinds with 7 - 25 watts. 300B's matched them very well. For the past 4 years a Musica from Sonus Faber has powered them through Cardas cables. I would consider upgrading them, had I the money for SF Amati Homages, but I am sure they will keep growing with every other improvement in my system, as they have done for so many years now. They are the kind of speakers, that you can use to evaluate the smallest changes in your system, laugh about strange recording techniques on CD and vinyl or just be amazed by how differently records are produced regarding amount of (or lack of) ambience and inner detail. Or you can choose to sit back, forget it's a HIFI system and just travel into the never ending layers of sounds and dreams on the best recordings. I would like to point out, that even early Beatles songs live and sparkle, given the right equipment. It never stops amazing visitors and friends how the speakers can go from seemingly no bass or for that matter very rolled off highs to the direct opposite by putting on a different recording - or just another song from the same album. All of a sudden everything is there, if it's ment to be. If you can live with their big size, get a pair second hand. They will be your true servant in your strive for a very neutral and very MUSIC based system. Isn't that what it was all supposed to be?

Similar Products Used: Too much to write down.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Terry   Audiophile [Mar 04, 2001]
Strength:

1) Midrange accuracy, 2) attractive finish, 3) Bi-amp, bi-wire, crossover flexibility

Weakness:

1) Requires relatively large room, 2) Soundstage depth not as great as with some smaller speakers 3) No longer in production

I was in an audio store, and heard an ongoing conversation in the room. I turned expecting to find a group of people, but was instead stunned to discover that it was an interview being broadcast on NPR, played on Snell AIIIi's. The ability of these speakers to reproduce the human voice is unmatched by any speaker I have heard, and is a testament to their midrange accuracy. This allows music, and particularly vocals, to be conveyed to the listener with striking realism and "thereness". I have had these speakers for nearly 10 years, but continue to audition others. While some other speakers have a wider or deeper soundstage, I still have yet to hear the midrange accuracy that the Snell AIIIi's deliver. I fully agree with the previous reviewers that to replace these speakers in the current market, you would need to spend $15-20k, and you would still likely feel thay you were missing something.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Dan Carr   Audiophile [Feb 25, 2001]
Strength:

Vast soundstage, great acccuracy of timbre and dynamics. Limitless power in a large audio room. Well constructed and can be repaired by a firm (Snell now is the high end division of Boston Acoustics) that will be around for a while. Also looks cool in a 1950's sci-fi way (big, boxy).

Weakness:

Service (which I initially needed, bought used) requires hauling these to Haverhill.

Years ago I dreamed about getting these but the price was prohibitive. I spotted a used pair of these and have been in audio nirvana since -- both with CD and vinyl. The repair folks at Snell in Haverhill were great about replacing for a modest fee the midrange driver that was starting to go. As a result I now have for under $2K a magnificent pair of speakers that will likely outlive me. Since they are no longer made, I urge any budget-minded audiophile to keep an eye out for these, snatch them up, and repair/upgrade to aIII/i standard at nominal fee. Luckily forme I live about 45 minutes from their plant as shipping these requires crating, cushioning etc.

Similar Products Used: Snell CIII/i.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jens Altarac   Audiophile [Jul 04, 2001]
Strength:

Capable of very very deep bass ,deep soundstage lot`s of details and air super transparant beatiful finish

Weakness:

Size ,weight very demanding still easy to drive, a bit laidback, elektronic crossover needs 2 amps

The best speaker I`ve had in terms of scale bass-response and soundstage but lack a bit in detail compared to for exampel Leedh Nazca

Similar Products Used: Leedh Nazca
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Jens Baj   Audiophile [Jul 05, 2001]
Strength:

Big baffle who can load the upper bass/lower midrange. Extreemly homogenious. Bass is just there without impressive effects.

Weakness:

Due to the looks I will probably remain single the rest of my life. Lousy (bipolar electrolytics) capacitors in the original configuration.

I was impressed before I changed the capacitors to metalized paper in oil (lucky to get a big remainder).
But now I am completly overvelmed.
The sound is distributed round in my living room homogenious and crystal clear.
If I ever start to build myself again, I have to incorporate the virtues of the AIII.

Similar Products Used: Homebuild high-end.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Brian Audiophile   Audiophile [Dec 07, 1999]
Strength:

Soundstage Mids and highs are sweet. Bass is a plenty.

Weakness:

Snell stopped making them.

Excellent speakers!! These are by far the best speakers that Snell ever put out. I have the Reference AIIIi's, which was slightly modified in the midrange (faster), and bigger cabinet, 50'' height. The soundstage is smooth and life like. The speakers are very unforgiving, so if the recording is great, these speakers are greater!! If the recordind is bad, it brings the worse out of the recording. Depth is not too extended or colored, but very accurate. The vocals are wonderful, and silky. Ella sounds like she's in my living room. The highs are neutral and not bright or colored, but just right. You have to have good amplification, and a fairly large room to get the benefit out of these babies. These speakers are worth every penny, if you can find a pair of AIIIi's. If made today these speakers would have a price tag of $25K, that's how great they are. Go find a pair !!!!

Similar Products Used: Thiel,Merlin,TDL,Currently using Threshold gear on Snells.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Kyoung Kim   Audiophile [Mar 18, 2001]
Strength:

exceptionally good base, very clean and transparent midrange

Weakness:

needs a large room, discontinued.

I have enjoyed this speaker for more than 10 years, and every time when I listened to this speaker I am amazed how good this speaker is, and at the same time I always wish I had a larger size room. Very clean and trnsparent vocal sound, warm trumpet sound, truly amazing base (hear Copland's Appalachian Spring). When I listen to "Relaxation & Meditation" I am completely holographically absorbed in the middle of the sound of wave of the ocean with a wide open soundstage. Does anybody know how easy is it to open the speaker box and upgrade it by using more modern high end crossover capacitors and so on? Since this speaker was made quite a few years ago I am wondering whether one can further improve it. Furthermore, does biwiring improve a lot with this speaker? As several other reviewers mentioned this is an exceptional speaker!!

Similar Products Used: none
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-10 of 11  

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