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Snap AV Episode ES-700-TWR Review

Aug 16, 2010 12:00 PM, By John McJunkin

An aesthetically pleasing loudspeaker for residential or high-end corporate environments.


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The manufacturer's published frequency response is 35Hz to 23kHz. I might buy the top figure, but these loudspeakers do not reproduce 35Hz sound in any meaningful way. I would guess that in terms of the technical specs, this probably refers to the -10dB down point. The curve crosses 0dB a bit north of there, probably more like 60Hz to 70Hz. (I'm only guesstimating here. These loudspeakers were not RTA analyzed in an anechoic chamber; this is strictly my subjective approximation.) In my experience, ported loudspeakers can add unwanted artifacts to the low end, and result in some unevenness through the bass frequency range. These loudspeakers suffer a bit from this problem, which is virtually impossible to avoid when using ports. The bass delivered by these loudspeakers is reasonably solid.

Snap AV's tweeter is unique from most others in that it features a catenary (oblong) titanium dome tweeter, as opposed to the typical hemispherical dome. The result is that the high end is dispersed over a wider area than that of the hemispherical dome, which is perfectly even in all directions, theoretically. My concern would be that distributing more energy to the sides than directly on-axis would result in a bit of a hole in the pattern on-axis. Snap AV even admits as much in its documentation, explaining that more of the energy is distributed off-axis—but the company touts it as a positive, creating a "wider, more engaging soundstage with an open, forward sound." I am a huge fan of broadly dispersed high end, especially when it's very evenly distributed, and I found that for home-theater applications, broadcast and prerecorded alike, I enjoyed the wider soundstage that the loudspeaker imparts, in spite of the fact that I perceived the phantom center as being down a few decibels when listening in studio monitor mode (basically in an equilateral triangle). I followed the manufacturer's recommendation to toe the loudspeakers inward a bit to improve the image, and that helped a bit, but it still felt like the phantom center was pushed back into the mix somewhat. This may be an illusion; it may very well be the case that only the high end is diminished in the center, but if that is the case, it psycho-acoustically fooled my ear into hearing an attenuated phantom center.

Otherwise, the high end is pleasant, just the tiniest bit hypey and a tiny bit brittle as well. The stereo image created by the catenary dome tweeters truly is wide. I listened to recordings with which I'm very familiar, and hard-panned elements emerged from even further out into the stereo image. In regard to my listening choices, I divided my time into two segments: music and broadcast. I watched a broad variety of television, ranging from local news channels to movies in 5.1 surround. One thought that emerged clearly in my mind was that the slight emphasis in the mids and upper mids of this loudspeaker works quite well for most broadcast applications (particularly speech) but can pose some problems with music reproduction in some cases. This is not always true, but there were some music recordings that suffered a bit of nasal honk from the loudspeakers. In many other cases, however, the energy dispersion was perfectly fine for music. I listened to quite a range of music, including hard rock, orchestral, jazz, and electronic pop. These loudspeakers deliver a reasonably accurate representation of the recording. Probably the only one issue that caused me concern was some audible distortion in the mids to high mids, but this was only at high SPLs. At quiet to moderate listening levels, no distortion was audible.

The Snap AV Episode ES-700-TWR loudspeakers are intended for residential AV or commercial AV applications that call for an aesthetically pleasing traditional loudspeaker. They're reasonably priced, but deliver solid performance. I would definitely consider specifying these for the applications I've stated prior; they're unquestionably worth a listen.


John McJunkin is the principal of Avalon Podcasting in Chandler, Ariz. He has consulted in the development of studios and installations, and he provides high-quality podcast-production services.


Product Summary

  • Company: Snap AV
    www.snapav.com
  • Product: Episode ES-700-TWR
  • Pros: Aesthetically gorgeous.
  • Cons: Some distortion at higher SPLs.
  • Applications: Residential or commercial AV scenarios that call for aesthetically pleasing loudspeakers that deliver good-quality sound.
  • Price: $749 each

Specifications

  • Power handling: 200W RMS, 500W peak
  • Nominal impedance: 6§Ù
  • Frequency response: 35Hz-23kHz
  • Sensitivity (-2.83V/1M): 90dB
  • Crossover frequency: 1.9kHz
  • Dimensions: 37"x7.5"x12.5" (LxWxH)
  • Weight: 39.25lbs.



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