$1700 floorstanders

Hello all. I am looking for some new speakers. I have upgraded everything else in the system first, following the "front-end" first school of thought. I feel like I have made some well thought-out decisions. Here is my story. 

I started out with a 5.1 home theater set up: JBL Northridge speakers, an Onkyo AVR, and a Sony blu-ray.  That was it for music too.  I wanted more out of my system for two-channel music, so I decided to upgrade the AVR to the Marantz SR7001 mainly for its pre-outs (I knew I needed the ability to have a separate power amp), but also for its improved DACs. Then I discovered that listening to music in the "pure direct" mode was extremely satisfying, and solved all of the problems I had had trying to integrate the subwoofer for music. 

Then I picked up the Sony sacd player, and this was another step in the right direction. Then came the Cambridge DacMagic, and finally, only a few days ago, a decent power amp: NAD C272. 

Which brings us to the speaker question. What music do I listen to? Mostly symphonic classical, as I am a professional orchestral musician. I listen at pretty loud volumes, but not as loud as some of my colleagues. Sometimes I listen to jazz or big band.  I want something full-range, floorstanding. Not interested in monitors. I am actually fairly pleased with how my JBL E80s have kept up with the electronics upgrades, but I still find them to be unrefined at the high end, and a little lacking (but not totally lacking) in the bottom end.

Budget is $1700 for speakers and interconnects and cables.  I am open to used, but am interested in new mainly because I would like to audition. I have heard some high-end setups already. Magnepan (20.1s maybe(?) powered appropriately with 500-watt mono blocks), Dynaudio C2s, Vandersteen models 2ce sig II and 3a sig. I have to say I enjoyed the Vandersteens 2ce sig II the most, which I heard at a dealer being driven by $5k of electronics. At my price level in stores I have heard PSB Image T6 and Paradigm Studio 60s.  I am excited about the PSBs on paper, but I heard them in a shop that ran them with crappy electronics (cheapo AVR). They sold washing machines too!

One question is how much of that $1700 should be reserved for cables. Right now I am using cheap Monoprice stuff. I would need three pairs of interconnects, two optical cables as I have an Airport Express too, and speaker cables.

I am interested in hearing Monitor Audio RX6 and RX8, Revel Concerta F12, PSB Image T6 (with good electronics), Paradigm Monitor 9 and 11. I would like to hear the new Mag 1.7, although that would stretch the budget and I would have nothing left for cables.  What else should be on my list? Maybe a used Mag 1.6? I know used Vandersteens fall into my price range. Should I get over my hesitation for used speakers?

By the way, I started this journey with a $3000 budget. I have gotten all of the above equipment for $1300, which is why there is $1700 left.    
check out castle howards...they rule
In that price range, I'd recommend the following.

New: Monitor Audio RX6 (RX8 is too bassy). RX6 is one of the best value for money speakers on the market period. If you want full range, these will give it to you in spades.

Used: Dynaudio Focus 140 or Dynaudio Contour S1.4. More laid back, but still highly detailed with a gorgeous rich lush sound that never sound harsh. No other stand mount speaker can compete with these in the bass department.

New: ATC SCM 11. These speakers can compete with speakers costing 3 times as much. These are sealed boxes and do not have the bass slam, but the midrange and treble is to die for. You will hear deeper into recordings than with almost any other alternative in this price range. Lifelike vocals that will leave your jaw on the floor.

Used: PMC TB2i. These stand mount speakers have most of the detail of the ATCs, but with more bass. Extremely engaging speakers.

New: B&W CM7. Super detailed compact floorstanders with nice balanced bass. Full range and clean top to bottom. Very dynamic. Very nice high end sound. Fantastic for the money.
skip the cables for the time being and blow it all on speakers. you can always get cables later. optical cables are $20 and you can make your own speaker cables. If you get fancy with cables (which someone will likely suggest) you will be looking at $1000 speakers and the extra 700 will get you something if you are patient.

Best I've heard lately given your interest has to be the PMC small book shelve (one down from the tb2) units. I saw several pairs used for that money. very nice. Maybe the mag 1.7 as you mentioned as well. not heard that. THe units Jaxwired mentions are all good choices as well.
Do some research into the Fritzspeaker line.

Fritz has been receiving some excellent user comments, and he offers a home trial period.
I agree about going cheap with the cables for now (and maybe forever!). Moving the speaker and listening positions, even slightly, will absolutely swamp any changes that cables will make.

Why not used Harbeth's on stands?
Don't spend your money on cables now. Put the money into speakers.
ATCs are phenominal speakers when powered and set up right. They need a ton of power - far more than the Marantz you're using. I've heard Naim seperates struggle with them. Unless you're willing to buy at least 200 watt monoblocks from companies like Bryston or Pass, I wouldn't go near them. They sound way too dull and uninvolving.

The Paradigm Studio 60s should also be powered with a seperate amp, but they don't need what the ATCs need. I used to own PSB Image T55s. They were very good, but not as good as the Studio 60s IMO. They're a bit easier on an amp, so that may play a role. I powered them with an NAD 320BEE in a small room with no issues.

PMCs are pretty similar to ATCs. They're far easier to power, making the lower end of the range more appealing to me.

If you liked the Vandersteens as much as you say you do, I'd stick with those. They're excellent speakers. If buying second hand, pay close attention to how much they'll cost to ship. They get pretty heavy, and need multiple boxes - 2 speakers and 2 stands, all individually packed.

If you liked the Vandersteens as much as you say, why not go with those?
The Revel F12s are very good as well. I think they're on the same level as the Studio 60s, yet are easier to drive. They need a lot of space to breath, and they're very big physically. If you like bass, they're outstanding for the money.

I think the Vandys and ATCs are easily on another level though.
Thanks everyone for the responses. I know my initial post was long, so thanks for reading through it. I do have a separate power amp: Nad C272. It is 150 watts, and lots of dynamic headroom, but certainly is not a Bryston or Pass monoblock. Should I consider the ATCs with this amp?

Whatever direction you take, I strongly suggest listening to the speakers before you buy them, no matter how strongly the speakers might be recommended by people who own them or have heard them.

Everyone has different tastes and systems.
I'm in the same situation.

Best advice I can give is spend the whole budget on speakers, then add cables when you can afford decent ones and get a better amp whenever it is convenient for you to do so.

I'm on the verge of purchasing my first 'high-end' set of speakers and I only have a mainstream Onkyo receiver, I know it's got to go at some stage, but I'm one of those people who just can't do it all at once.

I don't think the choices that you've mentioned are bad at all, but if you save up a little more for your speaker budget, you'll be able to afford some that are in a different class altogether.
You may be interested in taking a read of John Marks review of the ATC in Stereophile December 2009 being driven by a 100 watt Luxman Integrated. There is no mention of requiring 200 watts or more to power them. Maybe an idea to email him for an opinion of your 150 watts.
The NAD 272 can easily power ATC SCM11s. The SCM11s are power hungry, but the NAD amp has bags of dynamic headroom. No worries at all. There are two barely used pairs of SCM 11s on audiogon right now. Like I said, you will only miss out on the bass slam, but the midrange is flawless and no speaker under 5k will give you more detail. When you hear a violin or acoustic guitar with these things it's just plain spot on.
You're in luck. I had Regnar completely refurbish three pairs of Dahlquist DQ 10's and they can be yours for $1700 shipped anywhere in the US. I've invested $2500 into each pair of these speakers. They were completely refurbished with everything from soup to nuts including wood and grill cloth. You can have your choice of walnut, oak or mahagony. These speakers sound incredible and can ship out within several hours.
I've heard the ATC SCM11 powered by the 372. It can drive them. All of the ATC magic that jaxwired mentions wasn't there. It doesn't have the grip and control they demand IMO. It's like putting a VW GTI engine Ina a Ferrari. I'm not bashing NAD - I happily owned their gear for many years. It's probably the best gear for the money.

ATCs are genuinely a great speaker under the right conditions. They need a lot of clean and stable power. They also need a few more db's to really open up and shine. They're in no way a low volume speaker. Under the wrong conditions, they're a bit dull and uninvolving. They're just another speaker in an endless sea of speakers. With a monster amp behind them and a few extra db's, they're easily the best speakers I've heard in their price range.

ATCs are ruthlessly unforgiving. NAD isn't the cleanest, purest amp out there. Again, I happily owned NAD gear for more than a few years.

I honestly think a lot of the other speakers mentioned will sound better with the NAD than the ATCs. I'd look into Paradigm Studios, Revel F12s, Vandies, or Monitor Audios over the ATCs.

Just one guy's opinion. If you can, call a dealer and ask their opinions. There's a great dealer in Missouri that I stumbled into while I was away on business. Look them up and see what they have to say if you don't have a dealer nearby. I've also heard them a bunch of times at a local dealer who dropped the line.
Try new Zu Soul.

60 day money back gaurantee. You cannots go wrong.
As much as I'd love to tell you to get some of the 1.6 maggies, I don't think the NAD has the power for high level listening.
If you like the panel presentation, try some of the MMGs available mailorder only with a 60 day return policy and 1 year full-credit upgrade.
You'd still have about 1k remaining, too, for the sub you'd want.
Am I missing something? You said that you really enjoyed the sound of Vandy 2ce Signatures in the store. Those are definitely available in your price range, used here on the 'Gon. And your 150 watt NAD power amp should be enough to drive them nicely, although something that delivers more current might be better in the long run. But you heard these speakers with more expensive gear and liked them, so that would also tell you that they could be the foundation for a long-term upgrade path. I think the 2ce's are one of audio's great values, and you would do yourself well to latch onto a pair. And, no, I don't have them...
Maggie 1.6 or new 1.7 if u can go 2k...phenominal sound...
05-16-10: Dawgfish
Am I missing something? You said that you really enjoyed the sound of Vandy 2ce Signatures in the store. Those are definitely available in your price range, used here on the 'Gon.

Thanks for the insight. After re-reading my post, it does seem like the Vandersteens would be the obvious choice. I am concerned about buying used, to a certain extent, and I would definitely like to audition more speakers, so I am trying to figure out which ones to go audition.

Also, thanks to those who offered all of the advice on monitors, but I really am only interested in floorstanders right now.

Zu audio have the new Soul Superply floorstanders for the intro price of $1800, I'm sure Sean At Zu would help out with cables if asked, they have demo ones. Doesn't require high power and 16ohm is easy load.

Just a thought.
I can understand your hesitancy regarding buying used, but I certainly would be more comfortable with used speakers than with something like a used phono cartridge or turntable or tube amp. I think if you are patient, and wait for a a set with clear photos from a seller with good feedback (maybe even a dealer or someone in your area), you're probably going to be good. Happy listening.