The Sweet Snell of THX Home Theater
The big daddy of the three new models from Snell is the XA 60THX, a tower monitor speaker "for the most devoted audio enthusiast". For those familiar with the fine line of Snell speakers, the newly upgraded XA 60THX is a tower speaker version of the XA 1900THX, a speaker Snell claims to be the first-ever THX Ultra 2 LCR. Since it's difficult (and unsightly) to place a tower speaker on its side and use it as a center channel, the smart Snell folks decided to use a rib from the XA 60THX and create a new companion center channel speaker for it, the XA 55THX. (Think of Adam meeting Eve, only this time they're home theater speakers -- and there's identical THX Ultra 2 Certified Adams to the left and right of Eve. It's kind of kinky, but that's what you get when you start talking multichannel...) For the rear, Snell recommends adding their AMC 900THX in-wall dipole surrounds or a pair of the SR30THX on-wall surrounds (not to mention an ICS Sub24 for some extra-serious bass response).
The new THX Ultra 2 speakers use Snell's exclusive eXpanding Array (XA) technology that's designed to deliver a very broad and even vertical dispersion of mid and high frequencies by employing a tweeter sandwiched between an upper and a lower midrange driver. (No mayonaise or other condiments are used, however, in the making of this tweeter sandwich. I'd suggest adding a little pickle relish in the next design, but that's just my personal preference.)
This special alignment, sometimes referred to as an "MTM" array (I'm not going to explain that acronym; you're just going to have to figure it out for yourself), "manages directivity without undesirable lobing for tonally consistent, vertically controlled response for an unmatched combination of multi-channel and two-channel virtuosity." For those who were good at math in school, you'll be happy to know that "the complex design formula of the eXpanding Array calculates driver size, spacing, crossover frequency and slope to come up with an array whose length varies with the frequency." The result, in four words or less, is "a wider sweet spot". Special tuning features, such as boundary and perforated-screen compensation adjustments, make the speaker perform even better in varied listening environments.
The third new speaker from Snell is the AMC 2000THX, a high-performance THX Ultra 2 Certified in-wall speaker with an MTM array coupled with dual 8-inch woofers that Snell claims can go down to 60 Hz. Since it's virtually impossible to "toe-in" a pair of in-wall speakers, the AMC 2000THX's MTM array is set in its baffle already angled inward 20 degrees. The baffle, however, is removable and can be rotated in 90-degree steps to point the MTM array in any of four directions to compensate for a variety of placements in your room.
All this performance (and Snell's speakers do sound good, by the way) is going to cost you. The floorstanding XA 60THX are $1,700 each, while the XA 55THX center channel is $1,300. The incredible in-wall performance of the AMC 2000THX is $,2000 each (plus installation). Look for them at a Snell dealer near you sometime during the last three months of 2004.