Among audiophiles, Snell Acoustics is both well-known and well-respected for producing some of the best-sounding speakers ever made in the U.S.A. The manufacturer’s zero-compromise approach to speaker design and enthusiasm for using the best available materials has resulted in a lineage of high-end speakers usually sold through hi-fi specialty stores. As such, the firm’s popularity has remained confined to the more enthusiastic amongst us audio fans. However, we think that the new IC(in cabinet)-K7 bookshelf speaker may nudge Snell into a new category that will have a whole new audience enjoying its products and their exceptional sound. With the IC-K7, Snell has designed a new high-performance, lower cost and quite handsome cabinet to house the same drivers and crossover components as their K7 bookshelf speaker. The result is a versatile, unassuming speaker that sounds just as incredible in a cabinet or on a bookshelf as it does sitting on a speaker stand.
Out of the Box
The Snell IC-K7 came to us in a very smart bit of packaging. Rather than use messy, environmentally unfriendly foam to protect the speakers, a well-engineered corrugated cardboard was used that effectively buffered the speakers in transit and wasted no room. The IC-K7 was sealed in heavy-gauge plastic with a card of self-adhering, black rubber foot pads and a short manual.
The 12”x7”x10.5” IC-K7 uses the same components as Snell’s more expensive K7 speaker. The tweeter is a 1” SEAS silk dome, the woofer a 5.25” treated paper. The cabinet is clearly the defining difference here. In place of the K7’s lush, painted hardwood and solid aluminum cabinet, Snell has outfitted the IC-K7 with a very rigid and anti-resonant HDF cabinet that is finished with textured, black anthracite paint. The speaker’s front baffle is covered by black grill-cloth adorned with Snell’s silver badge rather than the perforated aluminum grill found on the K7. The result is a resilient, attractive finish that is practical for a bookshelf or cabinet application and refined enough to be placed in the room as the star of an entertainment system.
Like the K7, the IC-K7 also features a boundary switch. However, with the IC-K7, this feature has been customized to benefit those who must place the speaker in a cabinet, bookshelf or otherwise constrained environment. As with all Snell speakers, each unit is hand-tuned to meet strict criteria before being given Snell’s approval.