|Snell Acoustics .5 MK II 7.1 Speaker System|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Ed Masterson|
|Tuesday, 01 July 2003|
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Snell Acoustics produces their entire line of loudspeakers at their factory in Massachusetts, the way nearly all manufacturers once did – by hand. It wasn’t long ago that most specialty speaker companies did just this, yet with the growing trend of manufacturing offshore, handcrafting has become less and less common. Snell still builds their own cabinets and assembles their speakers the old-fashioned way, which is the second biggest reason for their loyal consumer following.
The Snell Acoustic 7.1 speaker package being reviewed consisted of the E.5mk2 floor-standing speakers, the CR.5mk2 center channel speaker, K.5mk2 rear effects speakers, SR.5 full-range surround speakers, and the PS.10mk2 subwoofer. All totaled, this speaker package retails for a moderate $5,800. According to Snell, all of these speakers are carefully voiced to sound the same in order to work together as a complete music or movie surround system.
The E.5mk2 is a full-range floor-standing speaker, designed to be used either independently for two-channel playback or as part of a complete theater system. The E.5mk2 retails for $1,900 per pair and measures 42-3/8 inches in height, eight-and-one-half inches wide, 11.5 inches deep and weighs 46 pounds. Each speaker has a one-inch front-firing aluminum dome tweeter, a one-inch fabric dome rear-firing tweeter, and two six-and-one-half-inch bass drivers. Snell provides switches that allow the user to both turn the rear tweeter off and change the bass response in order to allow for the best placement of the speakers. There is also a switch that adjusts the tweeter output to compensate for bright or dark-sounding rooms. Snell specifies the frequency response of the E.5mk2’s at 37 – 20 KHz. This speaker should be an easy load for most amplifiers, with its higher than average sensitivity rating of 90dB. The ported cabinets are constructed of three-quarter-inch MDF on the front and sides and utilize double I-beam internal bracing. Two pairs of gold plated, five-way binding posts are provided for connection. The front baffle employs an additional layer of high-density fiberboard with a layer of neoprene in between. This sandwich design reduces resonance in the front baffle to improve midrange clarity. Two different finishes are available, hand-sanded, hand-oiled cherry veneer, or hand-painted black oak veneer. The grille covers are constructed of perforated, cold-rolled steel, with a black enamel finish.
The CR.5mk2 center channel cabinet is constructed and finished very similarly to the E.5mk2, and is also available in hand-sanded, hand-oiled cherry veneer, or hand-painted black oak veneer. It has a retail price of $550. The CR.5mk2 uses two, five-and-one-quarter-inch bass drivers and a single one-inch aluminum dome tweeter in a sealed high-density fiberboard cabinet with the same sandwich design front baffle. The bass crossovers are designed so that one bass driver handles the low bass, while the other handles the midrange and upper bass. Snell specifies the frequency response as 70 – 20 KHz. The CR.5mkII sensitivity rating is 89dB.
Snell SR.5 Surround Speakers
The SR.5 full-range surround speakers have a sealed, high-density fiberboard cabinet and employ a modified bi-polar design. These surrounds are priced at $800 per pair. The speaker cabinets are trapezoidal in shape and measure 13.5 inches tall, six-and-three-quarters inches wide, seven-and-one-half inches deep and weigh 12 pounds each. The SR.5’s are available in a black or white painted finish only. Each speaker uses two three-and-one-half-inch high-frequency drivers and a single five-and-one-quarter-inch bass driver. Snell specifies their frequency response as 90 - 20 KHz. Snell includes a set of brackets for flush mounting to the ceiling or a wall.
Snell K.5mk2 Speakers
The K.5mk2 speakers were used as surround speakers, although they are not necessarily rear speakers. These speakers can be substituted as front main loudspeakers if you so choose for size and or budgetary reasons. The K.5mk2’s use a one-inch aluminum dome tweeter and a six-and-one-half-inch bass driver. Two pairs of gold-plated five-way binding posts are provided for connection. Snell specifies their frequency response at 48 – 20 KHz. The K.5mk2’s have a switch to adjust the bass response for installation on brackets, in cabinets, or on a stand.
The P.S.10mk2 Powered Subwoofer
The final speaker in the system is the P.S.10mk2 powered subwoofer. This $1,350 subwoofer has a 330-watt RMS amplifier and a custom-built 10-inch driver. The driver features a couple of unique design features. First is the unusual heat sink in the center of the speaker, where you would normally see the dust cap. This is said to help avoid overheating of the driver voice-coil during extended high volume listening sessions. The other is the double spider design, which is supposed to help reduce lateral motion of the driver and thus reduce distortion. The enclosure measures 16-1/8 inches tall, 15 inches wide, 16-1/8 inches deep, and weighs 57 pounds. The ported enclosure is constructed with three-quarter-inch MDF. Snell utilizes double H bracing to stiffen the enclosure in order to avoid cabinet resonances that can become a problem at higher volumes. The subwoofer has line-level RCA inputs, high-pass filtered line-level RCA outputs, and speaker-level inputs and outputs on five-way binding posts. For controls, the P.S.10mk2 includes auto on/off, volume control, low pass 12dB per octave crossover control from 50 to 125 Hz, and a phase switch. Snell specifies the output of the PS.10mk2 as 32 – 120Hz. The subwoofer is available in hand-painted black oak only.