Snell Acoustics Series 7 Speaker System 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Brian Kahn   
Saturday, 01 October 2005

Snell Acoustics’ Series 7 is the first line created by Snell’s famed chief designer Joe D’Appolito. The reviewed system is comprised of three LCR7s (front left and right and center speaker), a pair of K7s for surrounds and an ICS300 subwoofer. This new Snell system is attractive, compact and is designed to pack a large, accurate punch for a retail price of $5,750.

The main speaker in this system is the LCR7, which utilizes dual five-and-a-quarter-inch woofers flanking a one-inch tweeter. This array is better known as the D’Appolito array. All of the drivers are made by SEAS and help provide the LCR7s with a stated frequency range of 75Hz to 22kHz and output up to 100 dB per pair, with 90 dB sensitivity. The cabinet measures 19 inches high, seven inches wide and eight-and-three-quarters inches deep. My review samples were finished in a very attractive real cherry wood veneer, with satin black as the other option. The cabinets are capped with solid aluminum plates and have perforated metal grilles. The back panel features dual high quality binding posts to allow bi-wiring or bi-amping. The back panel also features a boundary switch designed to reduce chestiness when the speaker is mounted close to a wall or other enclosure. Like all other speakers in the Series 7, the LCR7s are matched within .5dB to a pair of reference LCR7 speakers. The fit and finish are exemplary for speakers costing $1,000 each.

The K7 monitors feature a similar cabinet design to the LCR7 and measures 12 inches high, seven inches wide and 11 inches deep. Like the LCR7s, they are bi-wireable and have a boundary proximity switch on the rear. Unlike the LCR7, the K7 also features a rear-firing port. The driver complement consists of one five-and-a-quarter-inch woofer and a single one-inch silk dome tweeter, both by SEAS. The K7’s stated frequency response is 50Hz to 22kHz, with 87 dB sensitivity.

The last speaker in the system is the ICS300 subwoofer. This 15-inch cube is finished in the same cherry veneer as the LCR7s and features a custom-built 10-inch woofer that can be set up for front or down firing; it is powered by an internal 300-watt amplifier. Like most other powered subwoofers, the ICS300 has a plethora of connections and controls, including a two-position phase switch, relative volume control and adjustable low pass crossover. Connections include high and low-level inputs and an IEC power plug. According to the literature accompanying the subwoofer, it can be set to either forward or down-firing positions, but my particular sample was set up for downward firing only. Snell is also releasing a forward-firing subwoofer called the Basis 300, which is said to offer nearly identical performance, but with a cabinet styled like the LCR7 and K7. The 10-inch woofer is flanked by dual ports that help the unit achieve an extended low end down to 25Hz, with a maximum output of 110dB.

Setting up the speakers in my reference home theater system was quite simple. I placed the LCR7s and K7s on Vantage Point stands and connected them to my Krell HTS 7.1 with AudioQuest speaker cables. I used Gibraltar cables across the front, with the left and right bi-wired and CV-4 for the K7s in the rear. I connected the ICS300 via the “Sub In” input, which bypasses the subwoofers internal crossover. I initially had the center LCR7 positioned horizontally below my 92-inch Stewart GreyHawk screen, but repositioned it to a vertical orientation during my listening tests.

Music and Movies
Prior to setting up the Series 7 speaker package in my theater system, I connected a pair of the LCR7s to a Linn Classik Movie System Di that I keep in my office. The Series 7 lived in this system for about two weeks to allow the speakers to break in. During this time, I noted that the speakers were well-balanced, with low frequency extension sufficient for enjoyable listening without a subwoofer

After setting the speaker up in my theater and letting them break in for a few days, I wanted to see how they would do as a (sub/sat) stereo pair with the subwoofer. I first listened to U2’s “The Sweetest Thing” off their album Best of 1980-1990 (Island). I immediately noticed the LCR7’s ability to portray a solid soundstage with stable pinpoint imaging. Having had the opportunity to hear this band live several times, I could tell they had the proper timbre on vocals, and I was able to achieve a good blend with the subwoofer after a little bit of fiddling. I then played “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” a song that begs to be played loud. I was surprised by the Snells’ good dynamics, despite their relatively small size. It was only at very extreme volumes that I noticed any loss of composure. At listening levels anywhere near reasonable, the Series 7 maintained its composure, clear but never harsh, even at volumes too loud for sustained listening.

I then listened to Crystal Method’s “Busy Child” on their album Vegas (Outpost Records). Those of you who are familiar with this club favorite know that it has great dynamics, with deep and powerful bass. The LCR7/ICS300 combination provided coherent deep and powerful bass.

Moving on to 5.1, I listened to some Diana Krall from her album Love Scenes (GRP/DTS). This record features her performing some great standards, including an amazing rendition of “Peel Me a Grape.” The Series 7 system did a good job maintaining tonal neutrality and consistency all the way around a 360-degree soundstage. When I got up from my listening position in the sweet spot and moved around the room, I noticed a big change in Krall’s voice. When the center LCR7 is positioned horizontally, there is a notable change in sound quality when moving off-axis. While I did not have one to evaluate, I would suggest considering the matching CR7 speaker for the center channel if your listening room does not accommodate placing the center LCR7 in a vertical orientation.

I thought that “Heat” (Warner Home Video) would give the Snells a good workout, especially my favorite movie shootout scene. I watched the bank robbery scene a few times in a row at volumes ranging from very low to extremely loud (all with the center channel in the vertical position). I found the Snells to be very detailed and articulate. Vocals were always clear and easy to understand. When the gunfight breaks out, the Snells maintained their composure until the volume was sure to cause the neighbors to report a gun battle in my otherwise sedate suburban neighborhood. It was only at extremely loud volumes that there were any noticeable signs of compression or harshness. At all other volumes, the Snells were very well behaved, with enough speed and detail to keep everything crystal clear.

The Downside
The LCR7s are beautiful, tall, thin speakers with satin finished aluminum end caps. Unfortunately, this means in earthquake-prone California, they have a high center of gravity and a narrow footprint. As the end caps are solid, without mounting holes in the speakers, there is no elegant way to secure the speakers from tipping over if their stands are jostled.

In most home theaters, the vertical orientation of a tall slender center channel speaker can cause problems. The typical RPTV installation doesn’t have room in the equipment shelf below for the speaker and, with front-firing projectors, one would need an acoustically transparent screen to utilize the LCR7 as a center channel unless the screen was placed much higher than usual. Therefore it’s recommended that you use the CR7 to maintain accuracy and positional balance if listening is to take place outside the 30 degree sweet spot. Snell claims the speaker balance is in spec within a 30 degree listening window but the top octave rlls of gradually as one moves further off axis.

This is a great 5.1 speaker system that provides an essential blend of performance and aesthetics at a great price point. Not only do the Snells provide a neutral, coherent sonic picture, they do so while providing an energetic and emotional listening experience. The Snells are very attractive contemporary styled speakers that will fit in with most modern decors. The Snell Series 7 speakers reviewed here succeed in providing good detail and outstanding imaging while remaining neutral, all from a relatively compact and affordable package.
Manufacturer Snell Acoustics
Model Series 7 Speaker System
Reviewer Brian Kahn

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