Bumping this up because I am also looking for a replacement woofer for a Type E/III, but specifically do not want to lose the per-driver factory crossover tuning.
I know that Atomic HiFi
in Mass has the remaining Snell inventory, and lists Type E woofers at $186/each. I have sent an email to them inquiring as to whether or not this includes the necessary crossover components to match Snell's original factory woofer reference tuning.
Are there any viable alternatives? Obviously any 8" woofer will fit, and I have heard of people using Seas or B&W drivers, among others, but I am looking specifically for maintaining the tuned accuracy that made these speakers special in the first place.
I do know of The Speaker Exchange
in Florida, and that they are known to recon Snell drivers (and claim to be able to match or exceed Snell's initial tuning with some degree of fidelity). They also sell component Vifa tweeters - but again I am not sure if they match to the factory reference when sending replacements.
A little more backstory, this is really for my father. He bought his E/IIIs brand new in ~1990, and they have always been one of his most prized possessions. Curious about them, I did some e-sleuthing and discovered the history of Peter Snell and his untimely death in 1984, followed by the controversial Voecks
era into D'Appolito
and ending in D&M Holdings "discontinuing the operation of Snell Acoustics."
In the meantime, Peter Qvortrup, Snell's European distributor in the early 80's, bought all the remaining Type J, K, and E stock and components along with the intellectual property rights necessary to keep making them on his own. Fast forward to today, Qvortrup's company Audio Note UK
sells modern-day Type E's (their AN-E line) for $2,750 up to the $39,775(!!) AN-E SEC Signatures
I also learned some specifics about Snell's secret sauce in fine-tuning it's crossovers from Stereophile's Voecks interview:
Originally Posted by http://www.stereophile.com/content/kevin-voecks-loudspeakers-crossovers-rooms-page-2
"I think this is an incredibly important point about Snell—we all know that tiny amplitude response differences are very, very critical; a tenth of a dB in level change over a third of an octave or more is something that would be demonstrably audible in blind listening tests. So if you think about most drivers being manufactured to a tolerance of, say, ±4dB, typically, it's ridiculous. So we first screen the drivers to make them fit within a particular window. Then we adjust the crossover components so that a specific driver's characteristics, when used with this individually tuned crossover system, will result in amplitude response within ±0.5dB of the original reference speaker that made. In practice we approach more like ±0.25dB, but what we're guaranteeing is 0.5dB."
In any event, my father's woofer surrounds had deteriorated over the years, so at some point he had them re-foamed by a local shop in northern Vermont. It turns out they did a very shoddy job and recently one woofer completely stopped making sound. When I was home for the holidays, I took the bad woofer out of its cabinet only to find broken terminal to voice coil wires (almost like a mouse ate them!) - meaning the voice coil wasn't connected to the input leads. So, either the voice coil needs to be re-connected to the terminals, or it needs a new driver. A new driver means it will lose that special factory tuning, which as far as I can tell is a major reason they sound so damn good.
I am much more of a tinkerer than he is, so I figured what I should do is find him a good working E/III and trade him for his bad one. This way he'll get a factory-tuned unit and I can see how to make my own if I have to. I found a good used pair in the same finish and am planning on trading one for his busted speaker, so I can fix it. For that reason, I greatly appreciate any guidance anyone has on the subject.
Thanks in advance for the insight,