Asking someone else to choose speakers for you is not a good idea.What Joe Blow likes might not work for you at all.You say that you've heard most of the ones on your list.What do you like?If possible listen to some of your favorites with your system.Speakers will sound very different in your room with your equipment than they do at a dealers.Just a thought.Good luck.
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I don't know about that Joe Blow dude either. I've seen him giving some pretty shaky advice here as well. You might want to choose your new amp at the same time as the amp>speaker interfaces is absolutely critical. You might also consider that your room dimensions are less than ideal for a listening room (square dimensions are usually pretty bad in my experience). Perhaps some investment in treating the room or creative dividers (bookshelves, plants, etc) might be worth considering as well.
slinker, since you asked for input on your specific canditates, this joe blow offers the following:
1. psb synchrony is a great, well-balanced speaker with no discernible flaws and a very good value. the pmcs are also very, very good, with excellent low end extension, and would be my other top choice.
2. the proac response is also excellent; very lively; good rock and roll speaker; fussy about placement and might not sound good with your current denon receiver;
3. i personally don't like the b&ws.
4. the mls and the magnepans both need a ton of power and a sub; i think a more conventional dynamic design will serve you better.
5. i haven't heard the gershmans or zus, either; both get a lot of play on these forums and would certainly be worth checking out.
Thanks for the advice and agree. Do you love or hate any of the aforementioned? Just trying to narrow down the field a little.
The only direct experience I have with any speakers on your list is with the Zu Druids which I tried in several different systems and absolutely hated them. Left be baffled as to why anyone would like them. FWIW.
I've liked all the Proac speakers I've heard at shows very much, but cannot recall if the two models you mention have been among them.
My friend was very impressed with the Maggie 1.7's recently, pushed by only 100 watts (light power for Maggies). Definitely cat bait though. I think the Maggies may have a narrower sweet spot and might require a bit more room to breath, and may be more sensitive to the wall behind them. That based on experience with other models, and NOT the 1.7's.
My opinion is that you should listen yourself and figure out which works best for you. The Zu's for instance, seem to be liked by many folks, but if you go on my opinion you may be losing out on what might occur to you as a really great speaker for you. I've also tried the Benchmark DAC 1 in two different forms and am equally baffled as to why anyone would like that DAC...yet plenty of folks do. So what's the use of a poll like this? You may be narrowing down selections that really would work well for you. If you are replacing your amp it would be a very good idea to consider exactly which amp you will replace it with in order to pair it off with the speakers you choose. That link is pretty important, as you probably are aware.
Slinker - I just upgraded to Ohm Acoustics Walsh 2000. They are a little too expensive at $2800/pr, but the 1000 model comes in at $2000/pr. With a subwoofer, they would probably work well in your room. Cubic footage ranges for each model (without a sub) are listed on the Ohm web site. You get a 120-day in-home trial, and get all your money back, less shipping, if you don't keep them. I am very happy with mine, and I am keeping them. I bought a smaller pair of Ohm Walsh speakers as surrounds, and will eventually add the matching center channel. Especially without a sub, the Ohms do like a lot of wattage, though.
Think about adding Ohm to your list, especially since you're doing HT. The Magnepans are a great value, but for single listener, dedicated rooms. The Ohms are also an excellent value. They have a wide sweet-spot good for HT and generally more forgiving overall. Either choice, you'll need to add a good subwoofer.
Hi again, Slinker. I just took a look at used Merlins here on the site. I see a pair of VSM for $1795, or thereabouts. Just want to make you aware that the various Merlins have been improved signficantly over the years. If you are thinking about used Merlins, I would call Bobby at Merlin and ask him which way to go, i.e., the older VSMs or newer TSMs.
In any case, I personally don't think you can go wrong with Merlins.
Consider the Salk SongTowers, which I am very happy with - under $2k in a beautiful veneer, shipped.
Many owners are happy to audition: